Borax (also known as sodium borate) is a naturally-occurring mineral found in soil, plants, and even our own bodies. When I was growing up, my mom used it as a laundry booster, which is what most people use it for. In my twenties, I learned to use it as an ingredient in homemade laundry detergent. Then in my thirties, I was surprised to discover over 30 other things you can do with borax!
Granted, most of these uses have nothing to do with survival. But what I love about versatile items like vinegar, baking soda, and borax is they eliminate the need to store lots of cleaning supplies. One four-pound box can be used to clean almost anything around the house and it takes up very little space, leaving you room to store more important things, like food. That’s why I recommend adding borax to your survival supplies.
If you’re still not convinced, check out this list of uses for borax:
1. Clean Tubs and Showers. Sprinkle some borax on a sponge or damp cloth–like you would a powdered cleaner such as Ajax–and scrub tubs and showers. When you’re done, thoroughly rinse every surface with water.
2. Clean Brushes and Combs. Fill your bathroom sink with warm water, add 1/4 cup of borax and a squirt of dish soap, and stir it up with your brush and/or combs. Then let them sit in the mixture for 30 minutes before rinsing.
3. Clean Toilets. To clean toilets, simply pour one cup of borax into the water, stir it up, then let it sit overnight. The next day, scrub it with a brush and your toilet will be sparkling clean.
4. Unclog Toilets. Scoop as much water as you can out of the toilet, then add 1/2 cup of borax. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes, then add 2 cups of boiling water and flush. Repeat as necessary.
5. Unclog Drains. Use a funnel to pour 1/2 cup of borax down the drain, then slowly add 2 cups of boiling water. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes, then flush it out with hot water. Repeat as necessary for tough clogs.
6. Clean Sinks and Counters. Put 1 tablespoon of borax and 2 tablespoons of vinegar in a spray bottle, then fill it up with hot water and add a few drops of dish soap. This makes a great all-purpose cleaner.
7. Clean the Fridge. That same all-purpose cleaner works on the outside of the fridge. But for food spills on the inside, all you need is one tablespoon of borax per quart of warm water.
8. Clean Mold and Mildew. Mix 1 cup of borax with 1 quart of hot water and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray the mold and mildew until it’s saturated, wait several hours, then rinse thoroughly.
9. Wash the Dishes. Mix 1 tablespoon of borax with 1 tablespoon of finely grated soap, then add 2 cups of boiling water and whisk until blended. Let it sit until it cools, and then you’ll have homemade dish soap.
10. Clean Cast Iron Cookware. You don’t want to use soap on cast iron because the taste of it could get in your food. Instead, mix 1 teaspoon of borax with 1 teaspoon of salt, spread it on your cookware, and scrub it.
11. Remove Rust. Mix 1 part borax with 1 part lemon juice, spread the mixture onto the rust, then let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Finally, just wipe it clean. Repeat if necessary.
12. Clean the Floor. Put 1/4 cup of borax and 1/2 cup of vinegar into a bucket, then fill it up with hot water and add a squirt of dish soap. Use the resulting solution to mop your floors.
13. Get Rid of Goo. Mix 1/2 cup of borax with 1/4 cup of water to make a solution that can be used to scrub away things like gum, tar, grease, and other adhesive residue.
14. Remove Laundry Stains. Mix 1 tablespoon of borax with 2 tablespoons of water, and spread it on the stain. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then scrub it away and wash as usual.
15. Remove Carpet Stains. Mix 1/2 cup of borax with 2 cups of warm water, then use the solution and a sponge to saturate the stained area. Scrub it thoroughly, let it sit for 30 minutes, then vacuum the area and let it dry.
16. Deodorize Your Carpet. Mix 1 part borax with 1 part baking soda then sprinkle it all over your carpet. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then vacuum it up. This will neutralize odors in your carpet.
17. Deodorize Other Fabrics. Mix 1/2 cup of borax with a pint of water and pour it into a spray bottle. The resulting solution can be sprayed on things like curtains, couches, and padded chairs.
18. Clean Your Mattress. You can remove stains and deodorize your mattress with the same methods that are used for carpets. To make your mattress smell even better, add a few drops of lavender essential oil.
19. Deodorize Your Trash Can. Fill your trash can with water and 1/2 cup of borax, then stir it up. Let it soak for 30 minutes, rinse it out, dry it, then sprinkle some borax inside the trash can.
20. Deodorize The Litter Box. Just mix 1/4 cup of borax into the kitty litter and it will significantly reduce unpleasant odors. As long as your cats don’t ingest it, it’s perfectly safe.
21. Make Candle Wicks. Mix 1 tablespoon of salt and 3 tablespoons of borax in 1 cup of boiling water. Soak a length of twine in this solution for 24 hours, then hang it up to dry for 2 days.
22. Put Out Fires. Baking soda is normally recommended for grease fires, but borax works just as well. You can also use it to put out campfires or any other type of small fire.
23. Kill Ant Colonies. Mix equal parts borax and sugar and sprinkle it anywhere you see ants. Not only will ants die when they eat it, they will carry it back to the colony and get other ants killed, too.
24. Keep Bugs Away. For cockroaches, sprinkle it on shelves around your food. For bedbugs and fleas, sprinkle it on your mattress or carpet, let it sit for at least 30 minutes, then vacuum it up.
25. Keep Mice Away. Sprinkle it along pathways and anywhere you see signs of mice. This will deter them. You can also sprinkle bait with borax. With any luck, one of them will bring it back to the nest and poison the others.
26. Wash the Windows. For very dirty windows. Soak a wash cloth in a mixture of 2 tablespoons of borax and 3 cups of water and wipe your windows. Repeat with equal parts water and vinegar before drying.
27. Wash Patio Furniture. Add 1 tablespoon of borax and 1 tablespoon of dish detergent to a gallon of hot water, stir it up, then soak your sponge in the solution and use it to wipe down your furniture.
28. Kill Weeds. Sprinkle it on weeds between cracks on walkways. For garden weeds you have to be careful because it can kill other types of plants. Don’t use it on windy days or when rain is forecast.
29. Fertilize Plants. Although large amounts of borax will kill plants, tiny amounts can increase the soil’s boron, a mineral essential for cell wall growth. Here are more details. Only do this is your soil is boron deficient.
30. Preserve Flowers. This isn’t something I would ever do myself, but if you’re interested in preserving flowers, this article has detailed instructions on how to do it with borax.
You can find borax in most grocery stores or you can buy it online.