Borax in home cleaning supplies: How safe is it?

I received this question from Tania:

I was interested in making the cleaning supplies (I'm guessing you mean the homemade scouring powder! Smile) and detergent, but came accross these articles about Borax.  Just wondering what you thought.  It this still safer than store bought cleaning supplies?

Hi, Tania! :)

First, let me say that borax is toxic, and shouldn't be stored where children have access! Just because it's "natural" doesn't make it non-toxic, or as safe as something like baking soda. :) So be sure to read the box and use care when handling borax. :)

Second, now, I agree that the page you sent me a link for makes borax sound rather dangerous! Do I think it's safer than using Comet to cour my sinks? Yes, because in my experience, the bleach in commercial scouring powders is just as dangerous (or more dangerous... just Google that one too! Wink) and I had difficulty getting my sink/shower completely rinsed after scouring with Comet. I would rinse and rinse and rinse, but there was still gritty, bleach-smelling residue. My homemade scouring powder rinses easily and I don't feel as though it lingers like the commercial scouring powder did.

If you want a safer scouring powder, you could always try just baking soda and salt! Or, purchase some sort of all-natural one if you live near a health-food store. :)

About using borax in laundry detergent -- laundry detergent from the grocery store should be stored away from children and has warnings about possible eye and skin irritations. Treat your homemade laundry soap in the same way! :)

To be honest, I am not any expert on borax and its safety. :) However, I've found that many, many ingredients in household products have questionable levels of safety. (Just Google for information about triclosan, sodium laurel sulfate, talc, etc.)

It's my personal opinion that something like my homemade scouring powder (borax, salt, and baking soda) is better for us than using the commercial scouring powders that I have used in the past. :) But definitely, do your own research, and come up with a solution that you feel is best for your home and family! :)

Comments

Clean rinsing is especially important for bathtubs. I've had some borax in the cabinet since I got married and haven't used it. I'll have to try the scouring powder when I run out of Soft Scrub (no bleach kind).

I've never used comet, or needed to use it.
I use three tools for cleaning in my house. Baking soda, ammonia, and bleach.

I use bleach the most, and you do need to dilute it. Dilute it as the directions on the package suggest, and put it in a spray bottle. It becomes very handy. And the bleach smell doesn't last very long.

Ammonia is best for cleaning glass.

Baking soda is good for cleaning up anything that is really smelly.

I don't use bleach very often at all! :) And plain white vinegar works great for cleaning glass, so I don't keep ammonia on hand. :) I do use baking soda frequently, though! :)

I was at the grocery store and spotted Borax! I looked for the washing soda, (by arm and hammer) but to no avail, they didn't have any.

I love my Comet, to me it's the best thing to clean the tub with. It looks brand new!

I did see Amonia at the store. I don't know, I think if I don't use clorox, or Comet, or Lysol, my home won't feel clean. I'm not sold on homemade stuff yet.

Give me bleach, ammonia, comet, lysol, laundry soap, cascade and gold dial soap.

Well, I might be strange... because I like the smell of vinegar. :) When my sister came over and I told her to use vinegar to clean in the bathroom, she thought it smelled funny! :) It's a "clean" smell to me... that and baking soda, which really means no smell. :) Usually my house smells like food (whatever I've been cooking or baking) and if I smell any "bad" smells, I try to take care of the problem (by cleaning) to get back to the "no smell" smell. :)

Not to say that I don't like the smell of some cleaning supplies... I just feel more comfortable not using them so frequently, for health reasons. :)

I finally ran out of Comet and used the homemade scouring powder. I agree that it is so much easier to rinse out and I was very happy with the results and lack of fumes. Thanks Tammy!

Oh, good! I'm glad you liked it. :) I definitely do not miss Comet when it comes time to scour the sink or bath tub!! :)

I read has the same toxicity as salt. :)
Here is one link of many I have read...
http://www.earthclinic.com/Remedies/borax_questions.html#Question_113
Just wanted to add they have to put the warning labels on there so people won't eat it. I certainly wouldn't go sprinkling it on my food but I also try to really look at whatever I am being given scary information on.

Also as to the efficacy... tests have shown that vinegar, lemon juice and natural cleaners overall are just as effective for cleaning household "germs" as the toxic stuff. The bonus is that the natural cleaners are not full of endocrine disruptors that mess with people's health and hormones. The cleaners we use now were once a status symbol, people had enough disposable income to BUY cleaners they would have normally made themselves... housewives helpers...
I have used homemade cleaners for years and I am still here to tell the tale. My cutting boards get washed and wiped with either hydrogen peroxide or vinegar and I haven't been over-run with e-coli.

Doing some research will show we have been trained to believe a great many things that just aren't true about cleaning products. (Among other things!)

I'm 72 yrs old & have been making laundry detergent for several yrs now. It's all because of the internet! Just googled "homemade laundrey detergent recipe" and a bounty of recipes came up. I use this one because it's simplest: 1c. borax, 1c. washing soda, and 1 bar of Fels Naptha soap - grated. I put all 3 ingredients in my food processor (approx. 42 yrs old) & blend thoroughly. I make 3-4 batches at a time. Clothes are cleaned as good or better than purchased laundry detergents. I also have a recipe for pre-spotting really dirty clothes, which I've used for yrs. I too find that vinegar has many uses around the house. Ant the smell is refreshing. But I also use a bit of ammonia to clean floors.....it's so cheap and does a great job. Have to admit it's hard for me to give up bleach too - nothing seems to keep whites white as well as bleach. I think vinegar is a mild disinfectant too.

Tammy,

I just read this post of yours and have to admit for years I used all the toxic stuff: ammonia, bleach, comet, etc. It was only after I started having health problems that we discovered some of it was brought on by the very products we were using to keep our home clean. They were irritating the lining in my lungs and sinuses no matter how well ventilated the room was. As a child growing up in the 70's my mother made our own window cleaner which left her windows streakless! I now use vinegar, baking soda, borax, salt, lemons/lemon juice, tea tree and grapefruit seed eseential oils as well as a couple of different mint essential oils. I like a clean citrusy smell in my house and we have had no problems with food borne illnesses.

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