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Mighty 20 Mule Team Borax

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In my quest for earth-friendly and inexpensive cleaning supplies I have found another favorite product…  20 Mule Team Borax.

I might be tempted to like it just for it’s name.  It really sounds like it “pulls it’s weight” in the cleaning department.  It’s not new-fangled… my grandmother used it and loved it (and probably her mother too.)

Did I mention it is a naturally occurring mineral composed of sodium, boron, oxygen and water?  Very cool.  And it won’t hurt the environment.  Here are a few ways I have used it:

  • Cleaning toilets-  Just sprinkle 1/4 cup into the bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes or overnight (I can’t leave it overnight, someone always gets up to go the bathroom!)  Scrub with a toilet brush.  It does a great job getting rid of stains and making the toilet smell fresh.
  • Getting rid of ants: My mom had an invasion of ants this Spring.  An exterminator wanted $60 to come get rid of them.  She “Made it Do” by using Borax instead– No chemicals and no waste of money!  Mix equal parts of Borax and jam.  Cut an index card into 4 pieces.  Place a small amount of the Borax/jam solution on the index cards and place cards everywhere you are seeing the ants.  It took just a few days and the ants were totally GONE.  My Mom felt like superwoman…  then she went out and spent that $60 she saved on fabric!  (Just a note if you have pets… Borax can be toxic if ingested, so don’t leave those little cards around where your pet might eat them.)
  • Cleaning my tile floors-  It worked awesome for cleaning my bathroom tile floors.  Mix together one to two gallons of warm water with 1/3rd cup borax, a teaspoon of liquid dish soap.  For serious grout cleaning: Combine 1/2-cup baking soda, 1/4-cup borax and hot water to form a thin paste. Pour over the tile, scrub and rinse.  If it leaves a residue on the grout after rinsing, dip a clean cloth in white vinegar and wipe the tile down again.  It even removed a few stains in the grout that had been there for a while.
  • As a laundry booster- I have used it in loads of stinky laundry (ie. my husbands workout clothes) and it worked great at removing odors. I just added 1/2 cup in with my regular detergent.
  • Deodorizing mattresses- I sprinkled Borax on the kid’s mattresses and rubbed it with a damp towel.  I let it dry and vacuumed it up.
  • Cleaning the garbage can- I poured about 1/4 cup of borax into the garbage can and then used a sponge dipped in warm water and scrubbed.  It cleaned nicely and really removed odors.  Once the can is dry, you can leave a little Borax at the bottom to absorb odors.
  • Cleaning floor boards-  I sprinkled a little Borax on a soft damp cloth and wiped the floor boards down.

These are just a few of the many uses of Borax.  I feel like I have just scratched the surface of what it can do.  Have you ever been excited to clean?  I am right now.  Is that Spring Fever talking or what… I just need about 5 more hours in the day to do it!

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13 Responses to “Mighty 20 Mule Team Borax”

  • I’ve never used this but I have heard about it’s many uses. Similar to baking soda, I guess.
    I’ve been trying to go more “natural” with my cleaning supplies also. I have found Green Works spray cleaner… love it! It’s made from lemon and coconut so it smells wonderful and works just as good as chemical cleaners.
    I also try to use baking soda as much as i can for day to day cleaning.

    • I haven’t used the Green Works cleaners yet… but I think I will pick some up next time I go to the store. Thanks for the recommendation! -Calli

  • Awesome! I bought a box of Borax a while ago, knowing it was a good thing, but haven’t used it much other than laundry. I’m so excited. Esp if those yearly ants show up! Thanks, Calli.

  • Paula McKinlay:

    The reason I have Borax in my cupboard is to make “Gak” a really fun science project you can play with. e have made it every New Years Eve for years.

  • If you’re ever feeling super-thrifty & have a big chunk of free time, you can use Borax to make your own laundry detergent. I’ve never done it, but I have the recipe & am dying to at least try it once!

    • Teri Burkes:

      I used this to make the laundry detergent. & I soooo love it. Very cost effective & it really does work. If you want smell good then add essential oils.

    • DM Sherman:

      I make the laundry detergent with 1 bar of Fels Naptha soap (finely grated), 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of Washing soda. All were found at my local grocery store. I only put 2 tbsp into each load and the clothes come out clean. I pretreat any stains and add fabric softener so the clothes smell great. It is even safe for HE machines.

  • Isn’t it funny how the old tried and true ways are best. We have to come full circle sometimes. My mom used Borax and I use it from time to time. My one daughter loves it and swears by it. She can get any stain out of anything. She has lots of tricks. I read an article today that said lard is back! I know that sounds icky but they are now saying it is better than the “unnatural”oils out there and people should start using lard again. Funny how things change and then come back.

    • Paul Dupre:

      My dear wife always says “If it wasn’t food 200 years ago, it still isn’t food”. We have used lard for many years. We also use coconut oil and virgin olive oil, which are very healthy. Avoid canola oil. It is very bad for you.

      It is a tragedy that so many parents have put their children on “low fat” diets. Children should have a great deal of fat (natural, good fats) in their diet. They need it for brain development (the human brain is 60% fat) and many other things. Low-fat foods are full of sugar. Of course! Fat is what gives food its pleasant taste and creamy texture. Without fat, food is tasteless. So the food companies load the low-fat foods with sugar to make them taste better. Parents who deprive their children of fats and feed them sugar are endangering their children’s neurological development and overall health.

      What people these days don’t realize is that eating fat doesn’t make us fat. Our bodies are designed to process and metabolize fat (plus fresh vegetables and fruits). Fat is, after all, what our ancestors ate a lot of and obesity was nearly unheard of 200 years ago. What our bodies are NOT designed for is consuming lots of sugar and other refined carbohydrates. The sugars and other carbs in the Western diet is what makes people obese and unhealthy.

      Refined carbs also create inflammation in our bodies. Most modern diseases are caused by inflammation.

  • [...] from Martha Stewart.  It couldn’t have been easier. I used white pipe cleaners, my favorite Mighty 20 Mule Team Borax, boiling water and a small amount of blue food coloring.  For the how to click on over to [...]

  • Tiffany:

    Got fleas? Sprinkle it on the carpet, work it in with a broom, let it set for a while, and vaccuum! Worked like a charm for us!

  • Paul Dupre:

    I am old enough to remember that old TV western “Death Valley Days”, hosted by Ronald Reagan and sponsored by 20 Mule-Team Borax. Both my grandmother and my mother used it for just about everything.

    We were overrun by ants (in So CaI ants are a major problem). I followed a recipe for ant killer – mix 1/4 cup peanut butter with 2 tbls Borax. I put it where the ants were traveling. After a few days, never saw another ant. It’s been 7 weeks now and not a single ant. I guess it killed the entire colony.

    I am also following your recommendations for cleaning. It does a great job on toilet bowls. My wife is pleasantly surprised that we can replace expensive Oxy-Clean in the laundry with very inexpensive Borax. It is especially valuable here because the water is so hard. Borax softens the water so everything gets cleaner and the smells come right out of the clothes.

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