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Everyday Cheapskate: Around the House, Borax Is as Good as Gold

Mary Hunt on

Buried deep in the Mojave Desert is one of the biggest and richest deposits of borax on the planet -- one of the best-kept secrets of the Southern California desert. Around your house, this pure white mineral is as good as gold.

Commercially, borax is marketed as 20 Mule Team Borax to boost the power of laundry detergent. Look for it in the laundry aisle of grocery and discount stores everywhere.


Borax has a pH of about 9.5, which makes it alkaline, forming a basic solution when added to water. Basic solutions are super useful for both cleaning and laundry purposes because of the way they break down acidic, fatty and oily substances -- all the things we find in laundry stains and in the kitchen.


Used in the way it is intended around the house, borax is perfectly safe, as long as you plan to handle it with the same care that you would use with any other household cleaning product: Keep it away from children; avoid ingesting it or getting it into your eyes, nose or mouth; use it in a well-ventilated space, avoiding skin contact by wearing gloves.



Stubborn pot marks -- even rust stains -- will disappear when you make a paste of 1 cup borax and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Put some of the paste on a cloth or sponge, and rub it into the stain, and then rinse with warm water.


Before calling a serviceman or using caustic commercial drain cleaner, try this trick on that sluggish drain: Pour 1/2 cup borax into the drain, and then slowly pour in 2 cups boiling water. Let the mixture set for 15 minutes, and then flush with hot water. If the problem is severe, repeat as necessary.


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