I got some great feedback from my blog about salt and vinegar as natural, safe household cleaning products. But I have not yet told you about my numero uno favorite cleaning product: borax. Yep, you got that right. Remember when President Reagan was the spokesman for Twenty Mule Team Borax on ads during “Death Valley Days?” Okay, well, maybe you need to be “of a certain age” to remember that. But young or old(er), we all appreciate a great product that works and is safe! Here again is my alter ego, Nancy Brenneman, a supporting character in DESIGNING HEARTS, with her green household tips column on borax. Take it away, Nancy!
I remember during the 1960s, there was a show on television called “Death Valley Days.” President Ronald Reagan (before he was president, of course) used to be the spokesperson for a product called Twenty Mule Team Borax that was advertised during the show. I still see the product in stores, and I know that you recommend using it. Can you tell me exactly what it is and why you like it so much?
Patti in Peoria
Borax is a natural chemical substance that I have been told is the result of repeated evaporation of certain lakes. It is a common commercial and household chemical that is found in laundry products and even a few personal care products. Used as directed, it is a safe, natural alternative to many chemical cleaning products, and it is a natural disinfectant.
I use borax in so many ways that I buy a box about every other month. Pre-treat stains on washable items of clothing by dissolving one tablespoon of borax in warm water in the sink. Pre-soak the item for about an hour. Borax helps remove stains like tomato sauce, grass, oil and grease, coffee, tea, and even blood. After pre-treating, wash the item with your regular detergent. If I have an especially dirty load of clothing, I boost the cleaning power of my detergent by adding another one-half cup of borax to each load.
Fine lingerie and pantyhose can be washed easily in a sink full of warm water with one-quarter cup borax and two tablespoons dish detergent or shampoo. Soak for about a half-hour, rinse with cold water, blot with an absorbent towel, and then allow lingerie to dry on a flat surface.
About once a week, I sprinkle one-quarter cup borax into the toilet bowl and allow it to stand overnight. Then I swish my toilet brush around the bowl in the morning to keep it clean and fresh.
Remember that borax is a disinfectant, so it also kills mildew in your shower. Gently shake two to three tablespoons of borax in warm water in a large spray bottle and lightly coat the surfaces of your shower walls and floor and around your tub. Rinse with cold water. Repeat about once a week to keep it clean and free of mildew. I also use borax on a sponge to clean soap scum, hard water deposits, and grime from around the tub.
In the kitchen and bathroom, sprinkle borax on a damp sponge to wipe down counter tops and sinks without scratching them. Okay, can you see how much I love this product?
Borax is a quick and easy way to clean and freshen your garbage disposal, sink drains, and even your dishwasher. Sprinkle three tablespoons of borax down sink drains and garbage disposals and allow it to do its magic while you watch your favorite show. (My husband, Hal, calls it my “Law and Order” time). Then flush the drain and garbage disposal with cold water while running the disposal. To freshen up your dishwasher, sprinkle one-quarter cup on the bottom of the machine and run your dish cycle, as usual. When washing dishes and pans in the sink, I squirt dish soap and add one-quarter cup of borax to the water for an extra cleaning burst that also kills germs.
Mix one-half cup borax in a pint of warm water, and use on a sponge to spot-clean rugs and carpets. Wait an hour, rinse and allow the treated area to dry before vacuuming.
Oh, borax, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.