What Is Borax Used For?

Reviewed on 3/11/2021
Borax is mainly used for cleaning purposes and as a pesticide.
Borax is mainly used for cleaning purposes and as a pesticide.


Borax is mainly used for cleaning purposes and as a pesticide. When used as a pesticide, it is effective against the following:

  • Insects
  • Spiders
  • Mites
  • Algae
  • Molds
  • Fungi
  • Weeds

Household applications:

Household applications of borax include:

  • Specialty toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Cosmetics such as lotions, skin creams, moisturizer, sunscreen, and acne care products
  • Paint and ceramic glaze
  • Herbicides (a substance that is used to destroy unwanted plants)
  • Soaps and detergents

Medical applications:

Borax is known to have mild antiseptic properties. Hence, it has been mainly used in

However, scientists no longer recommend adding borax for human use owing to the adverse effects of borax such as irritation and hormone imbalances.

Scientists have been studying whether the compounds in borax might help your body fight conditions such as

However, more research is required to know about its effectiveness.

Other applications of borax include:

  • Plant fertilizers
  • Laundry detergents
  • Treating mold and mildew
  • Softening hard water
  • Neutralizing odors
  • Acting as a fire retardant

Borax is used in various agricultural and nonagricultural sites such as:

  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Medical
  • Veterinary
  • Industrial
  • Forestry
  • Food handling area

What is borax?

Borax is a white, powdery mineral salt of boric acid. Other names of borax include:

  • Sodium borate
  • Sodium tetraborate
  • Disodium tetraborate

Borax is a combination of boron sodium and oxygen. It is mainly found in dry lake beds in places such as California’s Death Valley.

Borax is mainly used in household cleaning agents. In cosmetics, borax may be used to prevent or restrict bacterial growth or as an emulsifier to stop product ingredients from separating. However, borax use is prohibited in children and people with damaged skin.

Is borax safe for humans?

Borax isn’t safe for humans. Boron toxicity may be possible with an overdose of borax. Symptoms of boron toxicity include:

Excessive doses of boron can be fatal, particularly at 15,000-20,000 mg of boron.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned borax as a food additive because of its safety concern. Inhalation or ingestion of boron can lead to severe poisoning and organ damage.

Borax consumption may also result in reproductive issues including damage to

What are the other cleaning alternatives for borax?

Because borax has severe safety concerns, it is better to replace borax with other affordable and safer alternatives. You can also make your own cleaning products if you wish to avoid harmful chemicals. Some of the better options include:

  • Vinegar: Mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and use it to clean sinks, counters, and floors around the house.
  • Lemon: You can mix lemon with baking soda to make a paste to clean dishes and scrub surfaces. A mixture of olive oil and lemon makes a good polish for hardwood furniture.
  • Baking soda: It is useful as a nonabrasive cleanser.


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