Is Borax Safe to Use?

Is Borax Safe

Borax is often touted as a wonder ingredient for natural cleaning in recipes like homemade cleaners and even in homemade beauty products as a preservative. It is a recipe in my popular All-Purpose Cleaner and laundry detergent, so I’ve gotten so many questions about the safety of borax that I decided it deserved more research and it’s own post.

What is Borax?

Borax, of the mule team variety, is sodium tetraborate or sodium borate (to get all official for a second) and NOT boric acid (hydrogen borate), which is a common misconception on the interwebs apparently.

Sodium Tetraborate (hereafter referred to as Borax) is a salt of boric acid but it is not chemically the same as boric acid. If you’ve read an article claiming borax is dangerous that goes on about the dangers of boric acid or says they are the same thing, I would not consider that article credible.

Borax vs. Boric Acid vs. Sodium Borate

Both are used as natural pesticides, which is probably the reason for the misconception, but boric acid carries a risk for toxicity at a much lower dose than borax does if ingested.

Borax is used in the process of making boric acid, but there is a tremendous chemical difference between the two. Borax is a naturally occurring mineral, though of course, that doesn’t make it inert or safe either. Arsenic is a naturally occurring metalloid but it isn’t safe for human use. Natural doesn’t always mean safe.

At the same time, the studies used to back up the safety (or danger) of borax often use boric acid or are ambiguous about which was used.

The product safety data on Borax also combines borax and boric acid, and it is unclear which substance the various warnings pertain to, but they list cautions like:

This product is white, odorless, crystalline powder. Direct contact with eyes may cause severe irritation with redness, pain, blurred vision, and possibly corneal injury. Repeated or prolonged excessive exposure with skin can result in irritation.

No chronic health effects are expected from the intended use of these products or from foreseeable handling of them in the workplace. Nonetheless, the following effects have been reported for a component, sodium borate, and boric acid. Sodium borate upon entry into the body becomes boric acid. Sodium borate and boric acid interfere with sperm production, damage the testes and interfere with male fertility when given to animals by mouth at high doses.

So the most menacing warnings about substances related to borax (including boric acid) relate the skin contact, eye contact or when it was “given mouth at high doses.”

You know what else can irritate the eyes and skin and even cause digestive problems at high doses? Vinegar, and oregano essential oil (caused a cornea burn in my mother in law) and probably cayenne pepper too. That doesn’t mean that those things aren’t safe but just that they must be used safely. Borax is extremely alkaline, which makes it irritating when used undiluted.

Makes sense not to use any form: borax, sodium borate or boric acid as an eye wash, skin scrub or drink it, but it doesn’t answer the question about if occasional indirect contact (in things like cleaning products) is safe.

Here’s the full material data safety sheet if you want some light reading.

That data sheet does give borax a safety rating of “1” which is the same as baking soda and salt. (I wouldn’t recommend putting those in your eye or rubbing large amounts on the skin constantly or ingesting large amounts daily either)

The Environmental Working Group lists Borax as a safety rating of 5-6, though again, the studies used contained both borax and boric acid and the warnings referred to ingestion, eye contact or prolonged undiluted use.

What about Boron?

Boron, is a chemical element (atomic number 5) and a fascinating character (because I am a dork and easily fascinated by chemistry). There is a biological need for boron in small amounts, and things in the boron family are considered non-toxic to humans but dangerous to insects (thus the use as a pesticide):

In biology, borates have low toxicity in mammals (similar to table salt), but are more toxic to arthropods and are used as insecticides. Boric acid is mildly antimicrobial, and a natural boron-containing organic antibiotic is known. Boron is essential to life. Small amounts of boron compounds play a strengthening role in the cell walls of all plants, making boron necessary in soils. Experiments indicate a role for boron as an ultratrace element in animals, but its role in animal physiology is unknown.

Back to Borax… Toxic or Not?

There are a lot of confounding factors based on the source. The main points I found in researching were:

  • Actual warnings for Borax use relate to avoiding eye contact, undiluted skin contact and ingestion.
  • Borax is banned for food use by the FDA and the ECA (European Chemicals Agency) considered a substance of high concern but didn’t provide any documentation other than soil level dangers
  • I was unable to find any studies that proved a danger to borax in natural cleaning products in diluted amounts as long as it didn’t get into the eyes or wasn’t ingested.
  • The Skin Base Database classified Borax as moderate hazard, but most of the studies and listings related to borax use in food.

The Bottom Line: Is Borax Safe?

I could not find any data that was compelling enough for me to avoid natural borax powder completely. Obviously, I would not ingest it or feel comfortable using it in cosmetic or food preparations.

At the same time, most products I use borax in (like All-purpose Cleaner and Laundry Detergent) aren’t coming in direct, undiluted contact with my skin, I’m not ingesting them and I’m not getting them in or near my eyes, so most of the concerns and warnings with borax are not valid.

Also, I’m using homemade products with borax to replace things like regular laundry detergent or cleaners that rate “D” or “F” on the EWG Database.

Borax is an effective natural cleaner and a safer alternative to many conventional cleaners. Yes, it is also a pesticide, but a natural one (and great at getting rid of ants- here’s a great tutorial) but I’m yet to find conclusive evidence that it is either safe or harmful to humans (other than if it is ingested, rubbed in the eyes, etc).

I still consider borax safe for use in natural cleaning, but absolutely do your own research and make sure you are using in any capacity. I use a natural borax powder from Mountain Rose Herbs so it is free of any added surfactants or detergents, but Mule Team Borax is also considered a pure/natural form of borax.

Do you use Borax? Do you consider it safe?

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Reader Comments

  1. I basically came to the same conclusion when I looked a bit into it. I do use the all purpose cleaner my tabletop or countertop, and wipe it down with a wet rag I lovethat cleaner and dont think that the small amount of borax is dangerous in any way.
    That’s my opinion.
    I actually read somewhere that because borax is so alkaline someone was using like a tsp or less don’t remember exactly in a cup of water and drinking it to alkalize her body. I wouldn’t do that myself however it was don’t by someone who lived to tell the tale ????.

    • I use use Calben Seafoam powdered laundry detergent. I also add some washing soda in really dirty loads. I have 25 pounds of it so I am using it. I do not use borax in my laundry because it makes me itch.

      I am going to try a Borax free recipe I found last week.

    • Just wondering if anyone else has read the borax conspiracy? I read it just the other day and found it very interesting. Would love to hear from anyone else who may have read it especially you, Katie.


      • I have been taking the borax concentrate mixture (1 heaping teaspoon of borax to one (16.9) ounce bottle of water) at 1 ounce per day now for about a month and have had a significant reduction in arthritis symptoms. I also use it in my “no poo” regimen” as baking soda irritated my scalp, but the borax has not caused me any issues… approximately 1/4 cup mixed into 32 ounce cup of hot water – I use the first amount of mixture that comes out of the cup into my hair which I have gotten wet in a bath. I add the remainder of the borax/water to my bath after washing my hair one time and soak in the water for a little while. Rinse with tub water to start, then I do a 50/50 ratio of vinegar in a shower rinse after to finish rinsing out the borax wash and soften my hair. I LOVE it! My face, which has always had issues with pimples and black heads, is clear for the first time in my life – and I didn’t break out during my cycle like I normally do. DO read the article as I feel the Herxheimer reaction is something to be aware of — I did get sick the first few days of taking the mixture but muddled through it and kept taking it and bathing with it. I did have a yeast infection too in the nether regions.. and that has resolved. I cannot take the “prescription” medications for yeast infections – those make me seriously ill – like ER visit ill…. so, this was a nice alternative – and natural too.

      • yes i have and it is revealing as to what is going on in our medical world. the bottom line is this, there are people who want to control and bleed us financially. i have seen evidence of this everywhere.
        good farmers cannot put boron back into the soil except thru mulching and composting. that doesn’t work in the production world so we are all becoming deficient. the reason is that boron kills bugs. only thru natural mulching can it not harm the complex chains of algae (mycrorisae spelling?) ants and many other sensitive critters. this means all the farmers soils are deficient in boron. the powers behind the medical industry know this, they have banned borax in europe austrailia and USA . the story gets better i mean worse. good luck with your research , be prepared for a rabbit hole like alice and wonderland.

      • I take borax water every day, along with magnesium water (1 liter carbonated water plus 3 tablespoons plain milk of magnesia, makes a magnesium that is well absorbed, 1/4 to 1/2 cup,several times a day) and diatomaceous earth.

    • I have been taking a pinch of borax in a liter of water each day for the past year with no bad effects. From what I have read it is less toxic than table salt. I think the reasons for it being banned from food use have more to do with covering up it’s importance as a treatment for arthritis (too cheap for the drug companies to make money from). I wonder if the scientists have ever done a comparative investigation into the toxicity of NaCl vs Boroax? Maybe they should!

    • hi, you could just have lemon juice to alkaline the body. I know that sounds ironic, but lemon juice does make the gut become more alkaline than acidic.

      • I tried having the juice of half a lemon in a glass of water, a month ago when I had a UTI. It really hurt my stomach! It’s still acid at that stage, and it was too much for me. Dilute borax is already alkaline when it hit’s the stomach, and if taken on an empty stomach,it doesn’t interfere with digestion by raising the Ph of the stomach acid. The same happens to me when I try Apple Cider Vinegar – too much acid.

  2. I’ve always wondered about borax, since it’s in so many ‘recipes’ for homemade cleaning products and detergents… thanks for clearing it up with some facts!

  3. Thank you for this post (well, all of your posts, really! :)) I recently bought a natural moisturizing cream from a local beekeeper. The last ingredient is borax and I had never seen it used in a personal care product before. I assumed it was safe since it was the last ingredient and have not noticed any irritation. I would like to try to make it myself without the borax. Do you think it is added as a stabilizer or thickener? I wish I would have asked the merchant why it was listed, but didn’t notice until I got home.

    • I believe it is an emulsifier. My first home beauty product over 11 years ago was a diaper rash cream that included a pinch of borax with the liquids, to help emulsify the oils.

      • Thanks Courtney! That’s what I figured.

        • Love Wellness Mama – thanks. I use 1/2 cup all mule team borax in a bathtub of water
          weekly. It keeps away all fungus, e.g. under the breasts which break out after menopause.
          Also, on the feet. My body is now totally clean. I figured that if it is safe in the washer –
          why not. It works and I now longer spend money on hormonal creams of any sort.
          I have also read that it is not toxic and some people take 1/8 tsp. per day in water to ward
          off candida which is an internal fungus caused by taking antibiotics. Good luck!!

          • OMGoodness. This is the first time I’ve read any confirmation of the breast thing after menopause. You bring me hope and a good suggestion!

          • Just a slight film of coconut oil under breasts and other areas that can cause rash does the trick. I offered this to a nurse friend that is employed in a nursing home and she told me it is a magical panacea for the skin for the old folks. Most importantly in summer and those who sit a lot.

    • It’s a natural preservative.

  4. Thanks for an interesting article and all your hard work. I have a friend from Syria who would not let her daughter participate in making slime with borax and glue. I thought it was odd and have wondered ever since if this was a menacing product. I will continue to use it to make slime with no worries (but plenty of adult supervision 😉 ).

  5. I had already been making the liquid version of that 3-ingredient laundry soap for a number of months when our second son was born, so I was quite sure that his eczema wasn’t related to the fragrances or colours or other additives in my totally natural homemade soap! For a couple of years, we looked for food-based allergies, and just spent a lot of time creaming him up and keeping baths and swimming to a minimum. One day I thought, Well what if it is one of the 3 ingredients in my homemade soap? I bought some Ecos detergent and washed everything in the house, even if it was already clean. Within a couple of weeks, the eczema had all but disappeared. He can still get dry and itchy, but now I know that some people are much more sensitive to Borax .
    Borax is a known irritant, but just how irritating may depend on the person (didn’t make a difference to the rest of us). But if you have an unexplained skin rash and you’re using Borax…..try avoiding it for a couple months to see if things improve.

    • I’m so thankful I came across this article, and comment! I am trying like crazy to figure out why my daughter’s skin is soo dry. My son had a slight case of eczema, which cleared up when I switched to fragrance-free everything. When my daugher came along, we were already using what I thought were the most natural cleaning agents that we could! I just made a batch of borax-free laundry powder, and am working on a mountain of laundry! I’m praying that she has a borax sensitivity, and not food allergies. Thanks again 🙂

  6. I’ve used the Mule Team brand for years. I add it to the laundry to whiten my whites. It works great! I’m glad it’s safe to use it.

  7. WOuld you allow your children to make a concoction called ‘flubber’ that included Borax. I’m thinking not but before chastising a friend for allowing I wanted to make sure..thanks

    • My kids played with flubber as little kids with no harm. They are now 18 and 20 and smart and healthy.
      Flubber is fine.

  8. I think this is a case of a little knowledge can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Boric acid isn’t equivalent to borax. I too, use it for laundry detergent and a non-scratching surface scrub. After a family member contracted scabies from a flight (yes, that can happen!!) we used it to sprinkle on the carpets, mattresses, couch and then vacuumed it up. Worked great and no unpleasant chemicals or pesticides around.

  9. Thanks for this article & finding a borax alternative. I have super sensitive skin & laundry detergent that has borax in it, gives me a rash. Excited to look into the alternative.

  10. I have a couple questions. What are your thoughts on using Mrs. Meyers cleaning products? Also, using Biokleen. I am using these and wondering are they good natural products? Safe for children to use also? Thanks.

    • They are safer than a lot of conventional ones, but they do contain endocrine disrupting fragrances and chemicals. I stick to homemade or branch basics personally.

  11. This is completely off topic but I was wondering what kind of probiitics do you recommend for children. My daughter has been having stomach issues and I would like to give her probiotics but I am unsure what to give her? Please help??

    • I would personally recommend milk kefir. It’s a cultured milk product, very healthy, and great for digestive problems. It has lots of natural probiotics, more than yogurt, but can taste a little sour. There are many places you can get the kefir grains. I use it every day, and it has cleared up my digestive issues very well.

  12. Thank you for sharing such useful information. I am trying to pay attention to all the products that I use everyday make sure that they are not harming my health.

  13. Very good article. The only thing I don’t agree with is the consumption part. Borax is safe to ingest in small doses (1/8-1/4 tsp) in a diluted form. Usually recommended in a quart/liter. I highly recommend reading The Borax Conspiracy.

    • ” The Borax Consiracy ” – Recommended reading.
      is a fascinating eye-opening article about the history of Borax use and how it is viewed differetly in different countries.
      It was used as a preservative in food for many years. Its toxicity level is the same as table salt! It has many medicinal uses.
      Among these , it cleanses the body of excess calcium which can deposit in muscles and soft tissue causing arthritis. It is also claimed to remove flouride from bones.

  14. There’s been ongoing research saying that borax and boron are completely safe in small amounts as mentioned in Wellness Mama’s article. This link is a good condensed list of the many benefits of borax and boron, with references at the end.

    Another little known fact is how borax (or boron tablets if taking borax makes you nervous) can help relieve arthritis pains. My mother has arthritis, I researched natural remedies and found out about boron so we got her some boron tablets. After a few weeks of taking them, she was able to make a fist and her hands didn’t hurt as much. Something she hasn’t been able to claim to do for over a year.
    Below is another great link listing out the history of borax, how it’s been inappropriately vilified over the years, with many more references and links.

  15. First of all, I love your website!
    I started using Borax a couple of weeks ago in my home made cleaning products and it is the best thing EVER! The toilet has never been so clean! 🙂

  16. Boric Acid is traditionally used as an eye wash. You just have to mix the solution as stated on the container.

    • Yes, this is what I’ve read too…and what most of us had in the classroom as an emergency eyewash in high school chem labs.

      Definitely a difference between boric acid & borax; haven’t heard of the latter ever being used as an eyewash.

  17. borax has always been my top choice for deodorizing and household tasks but i also use it all the time for personal care.
    i use borax for a lot of home treatments. it is safe for me and i find it very healing, it leaves my scalp clean and fresh and my hair soft and manageable.
    it is also good for detoxing fluoride and mercury as well as balancing my hormones. I have used it in many ways over the years as it is also a good way to alkalize the system.
    In my opinion it is too cheap and natural for main stream to back it.

  18. I’ve used mule team borax for years, but in recent months I have read that the method used for processing this product, not the product itself, is harmful to the environment. Any thoughts or research you can share on this aspect?

  19. Great post. I had heard rumours that borax was unsafe but didn’t really believe them…and I was too lazy to research it myself. Thanks for doing that for me 🙂 I started making my own laundry detergent containing Borax recently and I love it…so much cheaper too!

  20. How do you feel about Seventh Generation products? I have been switching over to them gradually.

    My father worked for Borax & Chemical Co. years ago and used to have us test their powdered soap products. Boraxo was commonly used throughout the U.S. in restrooms and homes. Wet your hands first, then add the powder.

  21. Thanks for posting this. I once wanted to use Borax to make my own candle wicks, but decided against it as the information available was too confusing. Both Boric Acid and Sodium Tetraborate are authorised as food additives in the European Union in particular cases, and can be identified on the label by the preservative codes E284 and E285 respectively. However, that doesn’t make it safe. We’ve had preservatives recalled after 20+ years of them being recommended as “Safe” before. Everyone interested in using Borax should do their own research.

    Here’s some “light” reading on it, from the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority), some may find useful.

    Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of boric acid (E 284) and sodium tetraborate (borax) (E 285) as food additives

    I think it all depends on the intended use. I wouldn’t ingest or use on any skincare products.

    • Thank you so much. This is a very helpful scientific article rather than just opinion like most of these comments. And it’s nice to see how they do it in Europe. Thanks!

  22. interesting. there is a anti-cancer diet that actually used borax (diluted to become a watery wash in a squeezy bottle) that is used as a body wash and a hair shampoo. I forget the name of the diet but it was all about flukes and not using chemicals that would encourage growth of them, chemicals that are contained in all the usual body wash, shampoo, and cosmetic products on the market. I used this wash in the shower for many years, also on my hair, with absolutely not problem.

  23. I am totally confused now: I am taking Borax on and off to help arthritic joint pain and it seems to work wonders. Am I poisoning myself???

  24. Rosemary Gkadstar’s book “Family Herbal”, has a bath salt recipe with borax and speaks positively about it’s use…

    • They are a regular on my reading list and I have a lot of respect for them too. I think they do awesome work, but the sources they have for the borax safety article are a stretch at best and most of the studies refer to ingestion and food use.

  25. Very interesting re the differences between Borax & Boric Acid, thank you!

    I’ve used Boric Acid (not Borax) for decades as a vaginal cleanser to address yeast infection-like symptoms. A very well respected Allergist/Immunologist & Author Dr. Ronald Greenberg, from Vancouver, BC Canada was the person who recommended this substance to my good friend. I’d buy a small 4 oz container of the Boric Acid powder then place it capsules (00 size). Per Dr Greenberg’s instructions, I’d insert one capsule vaginally per night for 5-7 nights which effectively cleared up the symptoms . It’s non-irritating but somewhat messy.

    I Love your blog! Thank you so much for the enormous effort you put into it;-)

  26. I will admit that I only skimmed this blog entry, but I will say that borax is a suspected hormone disruptor. Its extraction process (i.e. mining) is extremely devastating to the environment. And–although I’m not sure if there are any environment impacts to discharging borax into our environment after use (I follow a broad range of environmental news, and it sometimes gets jumbled)–that would be another criteria to look into.

    That being said, I haven’t followed this blog enough to know if Wellness Mama advocates for environmental health in addition to personal health, but, in my opinion, the two are inextricably linked. You can’t have healthy living organisms (humans included) without providing a healthy environment for them to live in.

  27. I have began to use Borax for household cleaning and I like it. I have a question about boric acid…… Why would a dr recommend putting boric acid in capsules and using it as a suppository for yeast infections?

  28. You might want to read this regarding the FDA using Boron as a preservative in food back in 1913 and knowing the effects it has on the body. The FDA was hijacked (still is) by Big Industry to protect the profits of the Industry without regard to the effects the Industry has on the flesh of man. Then research more from this article.. you might change your mind about Boron and Borax!

  29. desperate people do desperate things.began 1/8 teaspoon per liter water ,try and kill whats killing me.wish me luck.

    • Hi Michael, I am curious if this worked. I have been trying to decide if this is my next step.

      • Trace Mineral Research boron drops are safer,20 mule team works,but its too easy to get excited when your dying,and drink too I had a near fatal loss of blood pressure from having 10 extra mules hooked up.fungus is everywhere(cancer .auto immune diseases,leaky gut syndromes,acidic internal terrain providing cracks for the fungus).Borax/Boron kills fungus. Oregano oil(carvacrol) kills fungus.Olive leaf extract kills fungus(oleuropen).Neem leaves kills fungus.I would like to speak with you.I take all these I mentioned and more.

  30. The Environmental Working Group given Borax an ‘F’ for a grade because of the high concern for developmental and reproductive toxicity…

  31. I’m confused about the Branch Basics ingredients. How do they actually clean? You have: purified water, fatty acids, coconut oil, organic alcohol*, minerals and enzymes derived from edible and seed-bearing plants (*evaporated out during manufacturing process)

    The fatty acids and oils would have to be saponified in order to clean, but it doesn’t say anything about that. Minerals and enzymes…which minerals and what kind of enzymes? What actually lathers? What keeps the oils from separating from the water? The ingredients don’t add up to me. Doesn’t seem like a full disclosure. Shady.

    • i know that the castile soap i use, kirk’s, has quite the lather and have heard the ingredient coconut oil is what causes that lather so it may be the same with the branch basics.

      • I use a green, non-toxic product introduced in the 1960s when green was just a color – Basic H! The concentrated nature of it makes my all purpose cleaner only 20 cents per 16 ounce bottle and my window cleaner only 1 cent per bottle! It is cheaper by far than any homemade recipe or Branch Basics! It’s reformulated now to be even more concentrated, so it’s called Basic H2! Wellness Mama has all the tale-tell signs of someone who would be or should be using this safe and effective product. It’s derived from coconut and corn (non-GMO, corn). 🙂

  32. I love this article. Vary informative. I use Borax in a few of y homemade cleaning products.

  33. borax will harden bones and help with arthritis . drink it with water often and have had my back pain in kidney area disappear. even just a bit on the finger everyday is helpful. read walter last borax conspiracy for sure . the drug companies want to downplay natural things that will really help you .slaves even drank kerosine for health on occasion.

  34. I am very health conscious and have been for almost 30 years. At 59 I am fit, healthy and still learning. I wash my hair with borax water. It took a while to get used to it because it does not foam, but it leaves my hair squeaky clean. I rinse my hair with citric acid in water to remove borax (just because the article I read said so.) I also put 1ml borax in my litre bottle of water that I drink. Have done it for years and trust me, I’m fine. Maybe you should read a bit more about borax. It is a valuable mineral and great for cleaning too. I also wash my dogs with it and then rinse with apple cider vinegar water.

  35. I suffer from systemic candida. It’s gotten to my lungs it’s hard for me to breathe and it;s taking over my body. I have done my research and this is okay enough to drink with water and it supposedly will help cure candida. It’s a good anti fungal and anti viral. You can research it. I only reccomend doing this is your condition is severe like mine and have no other option.

  36. I have used and continue to use Borax internally for detoxing from fluoroquinolone toxicity (cipro… look it up. Hell on Earth) Also for arthritis pain, systemic candida and mold. It works, but this method is certainly not for everyone. I use it as a water softener, in my laundry detergent, fabric softener, carpet freshener, to ward off fleas, fungal infections on skin and nails. Have used it for years and years with no issue. There are always going to be people with sensitivities, however. For me, it is inexpensive, works well for us and has so many uses in my household that I cannot even list them all here. Chlorinated, fluoridated water is more harmful than Borax and many still shower in and drink their tap water.

  37. Borax totally SAVED my skin when a small tube of super glue exploded all over my hand! Diluted in warm water in the sink and was able to soak my hand while slowly peeling off the glue (without peeling off my skin). I only have it on hand for laundry detergent, and now I’m SO glad it was there!

  38. I’m so glad you do what you do! I love your blog! I just wanted to add that I just learned the reason you add borax to the carpet deodorizer rather than just using baking soda is to kill the dust mites. I hadn’t been adding the borax, so now will try that.

  39. I am interested in making my own laundry detergent with borax, but am concerned about the ingestion part. I will have a new born soon and am concerned about her sucking on clothes, wiping with rags/burp cloths, etc. Could she ingest a dangerous amount that way?

    • I’m not sure honestly. I would think most would be wiped away and I know some people do ingest borax.

    • Word of warning: Borax is very caustic and can irritate skin. My youngest had eczema for 2 years, from birth onward. I didn’t think it could be my “pure” homemade detergent, but within two weeks of switching to store-bought (and rewashing everything in the house), his rashes cleared up and haven’t been back. Pity, as I really like this detergent!

  40. Borax, like anything natural, can irritate a few people and not irritate other people. I have a good friend who is allergic to lavender essential oil, while for most people it is one of the most beneficial and mildest ones. Borax is an excellent alternative to some very toxic chemicals typically used for cleaning or pest control. I use it in the laundry, for cleaning bathrooms and getting stains out, and I use it anytime my cat gets fleas – I sprinkle some in the carpet and upholstery, let it sit for a while and then vacuum. It works like a charm. If you have a reaction to it, simply use something else, just like you would if you had a reaction to any other natural product.

  41. Katie, if I click on the borax link in this article it takes me to the Mountain Rose Herbs website for purchasing it. However, if I click on the borax link from the actual laundry detergent “recipe” page, it takes me to Amazon to purchase 20 Mule Team Borax. Is one brand better than the other?

    • I like the MRH one better, I just haven’t updated all the links… sorry about that and thanks for the catch!

  42. I enjoyed this article very much. I am partnered with Melaleuca, a Health & Wellness company and I sometimes am asked the question about Melaleuca products, “is it natural”? My answer is as this article explains, “NATURAL” is not necessarily SAFE. There are many NATURAL chemicals found in nature that are poison. SAFE is really what people should be more concerned about, as this article explains.

  43. If borax may not be safe to injest, is it safe to use in my homemade dishwasher detergent?

  44. Hi Katie, the 20MuleTeam brand borax is sodium tetraborate. Is this different from sodium tetraborate decahydrate? Please let advise. Thanks.

  45. I looked up borax on (a health site that rates items based on if it is harmful to your body and/or the environment) and borax was given an F on a scale of A-F. It was shown to have a high concern for developmental & reproductive toxicity and a some concern for skin allergies, irritation, asthma and respiratory.

  46. Hi Wellness Mama do you prefer to buy your washing powder than make your recipe ? Im a little confused I bought both your books are the recipes not as good as natural brands from the shops ?

  47. I finally had to stop using Borax as it was causing a skin irritation on my face from the Borax on my pillow cases. I didn’t even consider it until I went on vacation and I didn’t have the skin issues because I was using hotel pillow cases. I stopped using the Borax and my itchy, irritated facial skin on my cheeks went away.
    I Juarez wanted to write this in case anyone else with really sensitive skin had an issue too.

  48. Is borax a remedy for dog mange?

  49. my family has scabies, we have couches, beds, and all sorts of things you can’t just tie up in a bag and let sit for a week.

    i have a baby and a toddler

    anyway, can i use this to safely remove the infestation from my couches and stuff?

    • my family has scabies, we have couches, beds, and all sorts of things you can’t just tie up in a bag and let sit for a week.

      i have a baby and a toddler

      anyway, can i use this to safely remove the infestation from my couches and stuff?

      also wife says i need a commercial rebreather if i wanna use borax in the steam cleaner or it’ll destroy my lungs. is this true?

  50. Hi, I am a home soapmaker. It’s been mostly cold process, but I am trying my hand at hot process, liquid soaps now. I want it to be as natural and safe for sensitive skin as possible. With the right combo of oils I can thicken the liquid soap with salt, but I know that using borax is also a common thickener (and neutralizer). I’m wondering what your thoughts are on using small amounts of borax to thicken liquid soap. Do you think it would be safe enough for baby’s sensitive skin? Thanks

    • I am here looking for the same answer im sure if people can ingest it it would at least be safe for adults maybe not babies incase of irritation but all my books use boric acid,hydroxyethyl cellulose(HEC) or citric acid to thicken shower gels or liquid soaps HEC is natural and made from polymer cellulose it is water soluable and stays clear citric acid can leave a cloudy appearance HEC is therefore my sources favorite

  51. I actually use Boric Acid for yeast infection. When I first feel one coming on I put a bit of the powder on my palm with a bit of water to make a paste, and… without trying to get too graphic, I apply it to the vuvla and kind of push some on the inside. No yeast infection the next day. I do this for 2-3 days to make sure it’s gone. You can do your own research on it, but it works for me. I used to suffer from chronic yeast infections and now I rarely have any issues.

  52. I read your link to that chemical of the day article. While she may be correct in that the company isn’t being honest about their product, her reasoning doesn’t make sense. I don’t think she knows enough about the science of liquid soapmaking, so her experiments to prove her points don’t make sense. I left a very long comment in response to her article 2 days ago, but she has yet to respond or to publish my comment. I would probably just stay away from that product.

  53. Ewg has a site with household cleaners listed. Borax is rated F on a standard A-F rating scale.

  54. Too many comments to read them. I use a heaping 1/4 teaspoon of borax mixed into some amino acid protein. I use some of this everyday so it is spread out over 14 to 16 days or so. It has been found that most people are deficient in boron due to poor levels in foods.. Boron is important in regulating the calcium and magnesium losses in the body. This has been recently been found by researchers. Boron (borax) has been found to literally cure many people of arthritis / osteoporosis, probably for this same reason. Boron is helpful in weight loss. Borax laundry powder found in a typical store, which I use, is quite pure, > 99% pure, and has no significant heavy metal contamination. So, I see no problem in using it at a responsible level. As has been said, it is reasonably safe at reasonable levels like salt. I would say taking a heaping teaspoon QTY at a time is not a reasonable amount. Taking the equivalent of a coupe shakes of salt from a salt shaker is a reasonable amount.

    • I take Borax (20 mule team) every day and so do many of my friends. We are all doing very well on it.

      In the first few days my mind got clearer and I had more energy. A lot of us are noticing that our hair is growing in darker and thicker after being grey for many years! My front teeth had brown exposed roots due to receding gums and have now turned white (4 months of taking boron). The hygienist was shocked and is researching Borax. It seems to have recalcified the roots! A friend with severe arthritis is walking again and doing very well. It does detox the body so there are some affects like little aches and pains reappearing and then disappearing. Personally 3 tablespoons gave me diarrhea so I cut back to 2 or 2.5.

      I got the recipe from this article:

      Basically you make a solution of 1 slightly rounded teaspoon in 1 quart of water. I put 2-3 tablespoons of the solution in a glass of juice and sip it over the day.

      • Forgot to say that it also makes people feel a little frisky when they haven’t felt that way in many years!

        • Man that is awesome….that would be great if u had before and after pictures of ur teeth. That would be meet to see!

  55. Hi! I’m new here but had a question for all of you. I live VERY north and I have been using Borax to clean (along with vinegar, baking soda). I’ve noticed a lot of bad press about borax so I’m glad I found this. However, I’m worried about the earth more than myself. I live what would be considered “off the grid” for most of you but not in my neck of the woods. I do have electricity but we do without plumbing (no running water). Because of this, I must dump my “slop” water outside. It is a bucket that catches water draining from my sink. Will borax hurt the earth or any small animals that come by? Seems silly but I don’t want to hurt my trees that grow nearby.

  56. I washed clothes in Borax powder for many months during an infestation (2 tablespoons per load of washing in the washing machine) and I developed very sore skin (eczema) and my periods stopped completely and I went through an early menopause. I believe it is dangerous. I now know it can pass easily through damaged skin and is bio-accumulative. I had no idea the borax was causing my sore skin and was horrified to later realise I’d probably damaged my fertility. Be very careful of this product as if your skin is damaged you absorb it easily.

  57. I have wanted to try making homemade laundry detergent but all of the recipes require using a blender and most require using a saucepan. Do I need to get a blender and saucepan just for making laundry detergent?

  58. Thank you very much for your research! I was wondering about using borax. I’ve been using it along with washing soda instead of oxi clean. I know oxi clean is mostly borax however, something in it irritates my breathing when I’m anywhere near it. Anyhow, your time into this is appreciated. And with doing my research I am happy to have stumbled upon your blog which seems pretty cool. Thanks!

  59. I make my own laundry detergent and use borax. I use a lot less per load than I would with store bought and because it doesn’t lather that much I can use it in my HE washer. I also put it in a shaker container and sprinkle it on my carpet and rugs during the summer and it dries up any flea eggs that may be in the carpet. My neighbors spent over $300 each on an exterminator and I spent $4 for a box of borax. Definite win in my opinion!

    • It also works under the carpet!

    • It’s BS. If you look it up Borax is less toxic than salt. Someone is trying to put the borax companies out of business. Probably because it is TOO effective.

  60. I wash my face with borax once every ten days or so although I’m careful not to get it near my eyes. I mix it with two parts baking soda and my skin is glowing and healthy especially my neck area which was starting to show signs of age.

    Probably not for everyone but I now vet comments about my skin.

  61. Great info. thank you. Just to throw this out there. I have bad skin allergies. One of the things that I’ve had a bad reaction to is borax. It could be just one of those things, but be careful. I don’t want somebody to have a bad reaction & wonder why. On the other hand I know people who use it and love it.
    Once again thank you.

  62. Hello, I realise this is an old post but it’s the most informative I’ve read so I’m hoping you might be able to reply. I recently moved to a rented house with my just turned two year old son and our cat, and it seems there are active woodworm in the floorboards. From online research a treatment called Boron looks like the least toxic option. The active ingredient is disodium octaborate tetrahydrate. I am very anxious about the possible health impact, particularly on my son. I’m also wondering what I can do if the woodworm has spread to my furniture. Obviously my furniture isn’t my main priority, but the only thing of value I own is my bed and I’d like to keep it if I can – without harming my son who sleeps in it! The potential effects on male fertility particularly concern me as my son was born with hypospadias and the last thing I want is to make that situation worse. If you have any thoughts I’d be very grateful. Many thanks.

    • Personally I think a lot of the bad info about Borax is untrue. It replaces so many products that it’s not profitable to have it be a safe, healthy product.

      From Wikipedia: “EPA has determined that, because they are of low toxicity and occur naturally, boric acid and its sodium salts should be exempted from the requirement of a tolerance (maximum residue limit) for all raw agricultural commodities.[34]
      Although it cited inconclusive data, a re-evaluation in 2006 by the EPA still found that “There were no signs of toxicity observed during the study and no evidence of cytotoxicity to the target organ.”[36] In the reevaluation, a study of toxicity due to overexposure was checked and the findings were that “The residential handler inhalation risks due to boric acid and its sodium salts as active ingredients are not a risk concern and do not exceed the level of concern…” but that there could be some risk of irritation to children inhaling it if used as a powder for cleaning rugs.”

      In MSDS (material safety data sheet) it is considered less toxic than salt.

      I consume a dilute amount of borax every day and it has enormous benefits. One of them is that it increases needed hormones, the right ones for women and the right and different ones for men.

      So don’t worry. Get rid of the woodworm!

  63. I saw on YouTube a video called morgellions disease step by step cure of how you put put borax and antibacterial soap and water in a bowl mix it together and put it all over your body face and hair then it didn’t say on the video but I the used a hair dryer on my skin not burning it just worm enough for my pores to open more kept it on my skin till it dryed and the morgellions can popping out of my skin like crazy I then rinsed off and did it a second time keeping it on till It dryed then took a regular shower and after my shower then I mixed baking powder with cool water put it on my scalp and face and whole body to close my pores it’s been 2 days since I did this and I still have no systems of the morgellions disease but when I get the symptoms back I’m going to do it again I had to make sure I put avino lotion on because it dryed my skin but for now I and morgellions disease symptoms free

  64. The Environmental Working Group actually rates sodium borate an F, so I’m confused by your good review, especially if it’s to replace other F products. In the Spring 2016 update on cleaning products (EWG website), it says: “Fourteen percent of products contain sodium borate, also known as borax, or its boric acid relatives. Sodium borate is an acute respiratory irritant that has been linked to nose bleeds, coughing, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest tightness. It is also associated with reduced sperm count and libido in exposed male workers and decreased ovulation and fertility in lab animals. Sodium borate and boric acid can also cross the placenta and harm the developing fetus.” The highest concern according to them is the developmental and reproductive toxicity. Hope this helps people in making an informed decision.

    • I’m looking into this more. The EWG has really recently changed their position on this and I’m still trying to verify the sources and figure out why they changed.

  65. Hello. Not sure of the date of the final comment here so just wondering if any further scientifically verified info re toxicity has been uncovered? Thanks ?

  66. something is wrong with rating for borax and its list of ingredients:
    because borax has no sucrose in it nor lactose – I sense this is erroneous data and rating of “F” has got to be invalid

    curious that borax is rated “F” but boric acid which can be made from borax is rated “C”

    information taken from a website that mfgs boric acid powder:
    Boron (the key element in borate minerals) is an essential micro-nutrient. Borates are both safe and versatile which is why they are increasingly used as a safer alternative in consumer and industrial products. Safely used for centuries, boric acid and borax can be found in: pharmaceutical products, glass, fiberglass, cleaning products, paints, cleaners, lubricants, eye treatments, cotton and cellulose products, and many other products.

  67. Hi, I looked up the MSDS for borax. Just FYI for you guys since some of the commenters are ingesting this stuff.
    “Sodium borate upon entry into the body becomes boric acid.
    …interfere with sperm production, damage the testes and interfere with male fertility when given to animals by mouth at high doses. Boric acid produces developmental effects, including reduced body weight, malformations and death, in the offspring of pregnant animals given boric acid by mouth. ”