What on earth is Borax? And what does it do?

You can buy Borax Substiture from our favourite natural products online store

Borax is a natural, powerful cleaning agent which has been used for over 4000 years. It boasts a range of green qualities that make it an ideal product to have around the house; it’s great as a natural laundry booster, multi purpose cleaner, disinfectant, floor cleaner, and even as a general deodoriser.


Although Borax is an environmentally friendly product, it’s actually mildly toxic to children and pets if consumed, and can kill plants in high doses, cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation, so if used, should be used with caution. As a result Borax is no longer available in the UK, but have no fear, a better, safer alternative can be found, called Borax substitute. Borax substitute still has all the same cleaning and laundry uses, but you get a safer alternative for your money.

Uses of Borax Substitute

Borax Substitute has a number of qualities that make it ideal for a variety of tasks around the house. Although Borax substitute is much safer then Borax, it should still be used with caution; we recommend you always wear rubber gloves just to be safe.

I mainly use it as a natural laundry booster. It converts tiny amounts of water into Hydrogen Peroxide, giving it a mild bleaching effect; perfect for stained white clothes. Borax Substitute also softens water, increasing the efficiency of the laundry detergent, and therefore meaning less detergent is needed per wash saving you money. Borax is also a natural deodoriser and degreaser, making it great at removing the oils and smells from particularly dirty clothes.

Borax Substitute also works great as an eco friendly degreaser. Mix with water and lemon juice or white vinegar, and then apply to a greasy surface such as the hob and the tiles around it. Leave for a few moments and then simply wipe the dirt away.

I have tried using it for cleaning my bathroom and it performed better then expected. The grim in the tub was noticeably much better with very little effort from me. It’s amazing for cleaning really dirty toilets such as those found in rented student houses. Mix Borax Substitute with a small amount of vinegar to make a paste. Apply the mix directly onto stains in the toilet bowl and leave for at least 5 hours. Come back later and the dirt will have gone.
Although Borax can be used to clean the oven, in my opinion there are far better, quicker, and easier alternatives. If you want to give it a try here’s how. Make up a paste of 1/3 Borax Substitute, 1/3 soda crystals and 1/3 vinegar. Apply it to the oven with a sponge and leave it to do its work overnight if possible. Wipe away the dirt the next day with a damp cloth and you’re done.

Do you have any other uses for Borax substitute? We’d love to hear any creative ways you’ve come up with to us it around the house.

You can buy Borax Substiture from our favourite natural products online store

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38 Responses to What on earth is Borax? And what does it do?

  1. oven cleaning Epsom says:

    baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice are all great green alternatives to chemical products.

  2. michael says:

    Borax substitute can be used for cleaning pure badger shaving brushes.soak overnight and then rinse out with warm water next morning. gets rid of the grease buildup.

  3. Chris says:

    We use Borax to clean roofs with here in Florida, and find it keeps the mold from returning so quickly!

  4. Dan and Mel says:

    I haven’t ever used Borax for windows, but I did use it once to kill flea’s in carpet. Apparently it dries out their skin/shell and they get dehydrated. It worked quite well.

    • michelle says:

      hi i was wondering how long did it take for the fleas to go coompletley and how long did you leave the borax on for

      • Emma says:

        Mix with salt and leave over night.
        I think it’s 1:4 salt to borax.
        Sprinkle like shake n’ vac.
        Afterwards you can put down rock salt as a permanent measure

  5. Jen says:

    can you use this Borax substitute for making slime for kids to play with? (I have made the slime using glue, borax and water, and wanted to make it in the UK!)

    • Adam says:

      Hi Jen. Thanks for the comment. I didn’t know the answer to this question so emailed the Bruce Maxwell the managing director of Dri-Pak and this was his reply. Hope it helps.

      Borax Substitute doesn’t work in this way unfortunately – however, we have another safe way of making slime. Take some Dri-Pak Soap Flakes, add hot water and stir – when if cools it makes a gel from slime to a thick gloop depending on the concentration. A guideline to start would be a handfull of flakes in 500ml of hot water and adjust to suit. Soap Flakes are not harmful to health in anyway and the only other instruction is that without a preservative, the solution is likely to go off (mouldy)before the next use.

      There are plenty of ideas in the childrens section of http://www.dri-pak.co.uk

      • Patrick says:

        This won’t make “slime”. The cross-linked PVA that is made with Borax is completely different from this as it has uniques viscoelastic properties. You might as well us gelatin or carageenan as the soap flaskes – these would do the same as the soap flakes, but would be less irritating to childrens skin

  6. April says:

    Hi there !

    I have been trying to get hold of some borax to spray on some theatre curtains, as it has great natural fire retardant qualities. However, as you say, it can’t be purchased in the UK now. Can you tell me, does the borax substitute have the same fire retardancy qualities of borax ? Also, if it has, would you use the same ratios ?
    Kind regards

  7. Paul says:

    I just purchased 2 kilos of borax from Ebay, the postage kicks the price up a bit though.

    • Adam says:

      We actually sell Borax Substitute from our website Natural Selection. Might be cheaper option for next time as well also sell many other natural products so you could qualify for free postage.

      • mark speed says:

        No offense but borax substitute is not Borax, Borax can be used to cure various health conditions and more but big pharma corporations don’t want it publicly known because that info would bring the collapse of the purely profit hungry medical industry so they have influenced borax to be classed as toxic and not for sale, just so the money keeps rolling in from their toxic and questionable medical products.

        • felicity says:

          Well said, there are so very many cheap naturally occurring alternatives to the mass produced proffit based products that fill the shelves in our stores.i just need to find somewhere that has a reasonable amount of info and instruction for making my own.im looking for a natural effective limescale destroyer must be ecologically green as its for taps at school

  8. Sam says:

    can anybody tell me, if borax substitute can be use for swirl painting?

  9. janina leach says:

    I have heard that borax can be used to stretch out shrunken wool jumpers, does anyone know if borax substitute will work the same way?


    On line I discovered that Borax in combination with honey/jam etc can be used to kill ants and potentially a whole nest. I purchased your Borax substitute in error without realising Borax is no longer sold in the UK. Will your product be effective as an ant killer?
    Many thanks
    Lesley Marklew

  11. Rebecca Taylor says:

    My friends in America tell me Borax is great for killing ants – they take little crystals of it back to the nest and within days, the entire colony has died out.

    Does Borax Substitute work the same way?

  12. Tom says:

    Borax can apparently be used as an effective mould removal agent, and then mould inhibitor (if a solution is left to dry on the wall). Is this also true of borax substitute?

  13. laura says:

    I’ve heard borax is great at removing mould from car interiors and was wondering is this true for borax substitute and if so, how would you use it? thanks

  14. T EDWARDS says:

    I am not an expert in toxicity, so read the following at your own risk. Check with manufacturers about toxicity of their products, who are required by law to warn you about toxic effects and ingredients in their products.

    In building construction, BORON, in form of rods about 6mm diameter, are used as a low toxic way to prevent rot in windows, external frames, fences at wet ground level etc.

    I needed low toxicity for a primary school wooden fence, that notoriously rot at ground level if not treated with a rot preventer, most of which are viciously toxic. Wood is drilled, rod inserted, and hole is capped with mastic and painted.

    Borax must be a salt compound of boron which is a fundamental element, which may not have precisely same low toxicity as boron, but similar.

    A Boron Rod manufacturer said that these rods were no more toxic than table salt. Table salt can kill you if you eat a handful, but a small amount is eaten a lot, and also used as a preservative in traditional pre-refrigerator days (eg salt beef, sauerkrout preserved cabbage etc).

    The boron rods work when, say a window paint fails, or a fence post gets wet. This alows moisture to seep into wood, and dissolves the Boron rod, which seeps through the wood as a mild anti rot chemical, in exactly where it is needed.

    Any wood which is more than 20% damp will rot. Rot spores/seeds blow around all the time in the air waiting for some nice damp wood to grow on. A tiny number of woods like heartwood of cedar or teak, are consedered fairly rotproof. Sapwood of these does rot.

    Table salt too, is a mild anti-septic, which helps protect us from infection, eg it is in our tears wetting our eyes, to reduce infection.

    Check your own facts, and stay safe.

  15. Suzanne Willson says:

    Sorry folk
    Just had a go with the old borax sub on my cooker hood, and sink, no good really.
    Perhaps only really good on white washing.

  16. kylie says:

    Borax can also be used for filtering water.

  17. kylie says:

    you can also make slime with it if you have two bowls you put some water in one bowl and two spoons of borax then mix them. then in the other bowl put a lot of glue depending on how much slime you want, then in the bowl with the glue in it put some food coloring then mix. mix some of the water with borax and the glue together. mix till slimy

  18. Penny Lewns says:

    I used to use Borax as a preservative and degreaser for preserving animal skins for zoology/teaching. Will Borax substitute work too?

  19. Julie Speed says:

    My husband has just returned from the chemists shop where he has ordered a 5kg pack of Borax so it would appear it is available in the UK

  20. maureenprice says:

    does borax substitute work in same way as borax ,when used as a treatment for mange when mixed with peroxie

  21. Serena says:

    I got borax from amazon.co.uk so it is available in uk – definitely not the substitute!

  22. Clive says:

    Can i use Borax Substitute to make a solution for Swirling with enamel paints?

  23. Roseanne says:

    I bought mine from eBay UK

  24. Cleaners Bayswater says:

    I had no idea borax has such a wide usage!

  25. Paul says:

    I’d never heard of Borax before seeing a post on google+

    I wondered (as it appears its mildly toxic) if anyone not on mains drainage has used for the bathroom & toilet pan cleaning option or laundry enhancer? What (if any) impact did it have on the wonderful ‘bugs’ that breakdown the solids in the tank?

    Also the ability to efficiently clean & even inhibit mould sounds ideal, for the very old (200 years +) cottage we live in in the mild but wet south west peninsula of the UK. Anyone in Cornwall or Devon found it to help with window-frame mould in retrofitted cob cottages?


  26. nicola says:

    Does Borax substitute work as a weed killer as I have pets and therefore cautious of using real Borax – heard vinegar makes a good weed killer too ?

  27. Caroline says:

    Is the borax substitute work for killing ants and nests – most importantly will it hard the plants and soil they live in – red ant nest in very large pot :-(

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