uses for borax substitute

6 Awesome Uses for Borax Substitute in Cleaning & Laundry

Borax is one of those natural ingredients that pops up in household cleaning recipes everywhere, and has likely been used by your parents or grandparents too. Borax has been used throughout the years to tackle all kinds of cleaning tasks, from laundry, to toilets, and even for pest control.

What Is Borax? 

What Is Borax or sodium borate

Borax, or sodium borate, is a soluble, natural mineral that can be used for a variety of purposes in homes and businesses. This powdery white substance is most commonly used in household cleaning and washing.

Borax is made from boron, sodium, and oxygen, and is commonly found in dried lake beds where the water has evaporated away to leave behind mineral deposits. 

Borax and boric acid are made from the same compound, and they even look very similar. Borax is most commonly used in cleaning, whereas boric acid is used as a pesticide. Both chemicals are an irritant, and can be harmful if ingested.


What Is Borax Substitute?

What Is Borax Substitute

Relatively recently, pure borax was added to the EU’s list of Substances of Very High Concern. As a result, you are unlikely to find pure borax in the UK or the EU. Instead of borax, you will find a substitute.

Borax substitute is sodium sesquicarbonate. This chemical is a mixture of sodium carbonate (soda crystals) and bicarbonate of soda. The pH is similar to borax, and it is more gentle than pure sodium carbonate, yet stronger than bicarbonate of soda.

The combination of the two chemicals means that borax substitute is soluble even in cold water.

Despite the differences in chemical composition, borax substitute can actually be used in place of borax for most household uses. The only real exception is in pest control.

Borax substitute can be bought online at



Safety First

safety precautions for borax and borax substitute

It is well known that borax can cause skin irritations and have serious health consequences, however borax substitute is the opposite. Studies into the safety of borax substitute have concluded that the substance is not harmful to either health or the environment. As a result, the Environmental Working Group has classified borax substitute as being low risk.

Like most chemicals, borax substitute may irritate sensitive skin, and the eyes if the dust gets in. It would also be harmful if it is ingested in large quantities.

Despite studies demonstrating the safety of borax substitute, it is crucial that you still take precautions to protect yourself and keep it out of the reach of pets and children.


Use 1: Multi-Purpose Cleaner

using borax substitute as Multi-Purpose Cleaner

Like borax itself, borax substitute does a great job at tackling all those cleaning tasks that you would normally use off-the-shelf multi-purpose cleaners for.

To make a multi-purpose cleaner from borax substitute, simply mix it with water, lemon juice, or distilled white vinegar. This will create an abrasive multi-purpose cleaner that can tackle general cleaning tasks.


Use 2: Cleaning Toilets

Another nasty task that borax substitute can be used to tackle is the toilet. Rather than spending lots of time scrubbing the bowl with a brush, simply add a handful of borax substitute to the toilet bowl and let it sit overnight.

The next morning, give the surfaces a gentle, quick scrub with the brush, and flush away the residue.


Use 3: Laundry Booster

using borax substitute as laundry booster

Borax substitute is an effective addition to your typical laundry routine for multiple reasons. One is that it will help to remove stains from your clothing and make white garments brighter.

Another is that it actually helps to soften water, which will make your detergent more effective, even at low temperatures.

To benefit from borax substitute in the wash, simply add two teaspoons to your detergent drawer along with your regular detergent.


Use 4: Stain Remover

using borax substitute as stain remover

Whether it is in clothing, curtains, or other machine-washable soft furnishings, borax substitute can be used to remove stubborn staining. Simply mix just enough water into borax substitute to make a paste.

Rub the paste onto the stain, and leave to soak in. Wipe the excess paste away, then wash the item as normal.


Use 5: Carpet Cleaner

using borax substitute as carpet cleaner

In terms of a dirty carpet, mix half a cup of borax substitute with two cups of water. Work the mixture into the dirty carpet, and leave it to work for thirty minutes.

Use a damp cloth to remove most of the paste, then vacuum the carpet well once it has dried. 

Before getting started on a large area, test a small area of the carpet in an inconspicuous place to test for colour fastness.


Use 6: Carpet Freshener

using borax substitute as carpet freshener

If your carpets just smell a little musty and you want to give them a lift, you can do so with borax substitute. Simply sprinkle it over the carpet, leave it for ten minutes, and vacuum thoroughly.