Domestic borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) is a mild alkali and comes in the form of a white powder resembling bicarbonate of soda.
Household Borax has now been replaced with Borax Substitute.
Stronger than bicarb, it is versatile and effective and it fulfils many of the same functions.
It can be used as an all-round cleaner.
It is useful for removing grease and stains.
It can be used as a fabric and water softener, and as a bleach and a disinfectant.
It absorbs and controls odours. Unlike bicarb, however, it is toxic – only mildly so, but it should not be ingested.
• WHERE TO BUY Borax can be difficult to track down. Because it is unbranded, younger shop assistants may not have heard of it and react as if you have asked for eye of newt. Smaller independent pharmacies are your best bet. Boots also sells borax (though assistants may deny all knowledge of it) for £00.00 for 750g. In my local branch, it was stocked in the household care section. Online, you can find borax at Greenshop (www.greenshop.co.uk). It costs £3.50 for 500g.
• General cleaning Make a solution (5tbsp borax to 1 gallon water, or in proportion) to create a general surface cleaner. For tiles, sinks or greasy surfaces, sprinkle neat borax on a damp cloth and use undiluted. Rinse off. For glass and mirrors, use a weaker solution (2tbsp to 1 gallon water). To clean fridges and freezers, make a solution of 1tbsp borax to 2 pints of warm water. As well as cleaning, the borax removes odours. If you are plagued by ants, sprinkle borax around the ant runs.
To clean and deodorise drains, flush with very hot water, sprinkle 1tbsp borax down the drain, slowly pour through a teacup of hot water and leave for a couple of hours. Flush with plenty of hot water.
• WASHING UP When doing the dishes, use as little washing-up liquid as possible – I have found that 1tsp is all that is needed for a sinkful. However, when dishes are very greasy, add 1tbsp borax along with the washing-up liquid. Also add 1tbsp to rinsing water for glassware. Borax cuts any grease and leaves the glasses extra shiny.
• LAUNDRY As a pre-wash soak for whites, add 2tbsp borax to the soaking water. Leave to soak for at least 15 minutes, then wash as normal. Note: borax can bleach coloured fabrics.
When using a machine, put 2tbsp borax on top of the clothes in the drum before washing. When washing by hand, add 1tbsp to
1 gallon water along with the soap flakes (the best product for woollens and delicates). The borax softens the water, making it easier to rinse out the soap and giving a brighter wash. Note: use only if you are sure of the colour-fastness of a garment.
• IRONING If you like a starched finish, borax can prevent the iron from sticking. Allow 1tbsp borax for every 4oz starch. Dissolve in boiling water and add to the starch.
- Household plc: borax - Telegraph: "www.greenshop.co.uk"
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