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Originally discovered in the dry lake beds of Tibet, borax consists of soft, colorless crystals that dissolve in water. Over the centuries it was used for food preservation, mummification, and as a pottery glaze. During the 19th century, it became a popular laundry detergent and cleaning product. Yet, nowadays, borax is something overlooked by many people as they walk down the laundry aisle. With such a large number of uses, borax is one item that everyone should be putting in their shopping basket.

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Give Your Laundry a Boost

Our ancestors knew what they were doing by using borax to clean clothes. It softens hard water and is great at removing stubborn stains. Borax has a natural scent which gives clothes a really fresh smell, as though they have been air-dried. And it’s so safe for fabrics that you can even use it on the most delicate items in your closet. Simply add half a cup of borax to your laundry, and your clothes will come out looking like new. You can also use borax as a pre-wash treatment for tough stains such as coffee or grass.

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Eliminate Pests and Insects

If you have a problem with ants, cockroaches, water bugs, or other pests, then borax could be your answer. Take equal measures of borax and sugar, mix well together, and sprinkle where the insects are. The sugar attracts the pests, and the borax eradicates them. Borax is also effective at getting rid of mice.

Always treat borax as you would any other pest controller or cleaning product and keep it out the reach of children. Place the borax/sugar mixture under your stove, refrigerator, or sink as these are the areas where pests like to hang out anyway.

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Make a General Household Cleaner

Borax is relatively inexpensive when compared to household cleaners on the market, so why not use it to make an economical all-purpose cleaner. Mix together two tablespoons of borax and 2 cups of hot water in a spray bottle. Use it in the bathroom, kitchen, and everywhere else that needs a good clean. If your kids have a habit of drawing on the walls with crayon, this cleaner will wipe it straight off. Make sure to patch-test your wall first to make sure paint is not removed. Diluted borax also makes a great de-greaser so your stove and countertops will come up sparklingly clean.

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Preserve Fresh Flowers

Although it cleans and controls pests, borax can be gentle and help preserve the life of fresh-cut flowers. A mixture of one part borax and two parts cornmeal will draw moisture from flowers and leaves to help prevent wilting. Place a layer of the mix in the bottom of a box, lay your flowers on top, and sprinkle more of the mixture on top. Cover the box, leave it for a week or two, and your favorite blooms will be perfectly preserved.

dried flowers preserve borax box Sonia Dubois / Getty Images
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Feed Your Fruit Trees

If you’re growing fruit trees, try feeding them borax every 3-4 years to help promote growth. Borax adds the mineral boron to the soil which trees need for good cell growth and the development of seeds and fruit.

Borax may help your fruit trees grow, but it also makes an effective weed killer. Just sprinkle it on the weeds that come up through the cracks in your driveway or walkway and watch them disappear.

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Freshen up Your Refrigerator

Use a solution of 1 tablespoon of borax and a quart of warm water to clean all the grime and spills inside your refrigerator. As a natural deodorizer, the borax will leave your fridge smelling really fresh. You can also use the same method to get rid of any nasty odors in your trash can.

refrigerator clean fresh borax AndreyPopov / Getty Images
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Renew Rusty Patio Furniture

Give your old rusty patio furniture a new lease of life with borax. Make a paste using two tablespoons of borax, one tablespoon of lemon juice, and a small amount of water. Apply the paste to the rust, leave for 15 minutes, rinse, and scrub with a sponge. Whether you are cleaning furniture or old pots and pans, the rust should lift straight off, leaving the metal looking like new.

remove rust borax patio furniture Antoninapotapenko / Getty Images
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Unclog Your Drains

Blocked drains? No need to pay out for expensive drain cleaner or treatments. For a cheaper alternative, reach for the borax! Pour half a cup of borax down the drain followed by 2 cups of boiling water and leave for 15 minutes. The borax breaks down grease and other gunk which is then washed away by the water. You can also use the same method on your garbage disposal. Your drains will be left unclogged and smelling much better than before.

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Keep Your Floors Clean

Tiles, linoleum, and hardwood flooring can all benefit from being cleaned with borax. Just add one teaspoon of dish detergent, 1/3 cup of borax, and one tablespoon of lemon juice to a gallon of hot water and get mopping! Even stubborn scuff marks from your kid's shoes will be gone in an instant.

Borax can also be used to clean carpets. Sprinkle the powder over your carpets and let it absorb all the dirt and odors before vacuuming it up. Get fresh, clean carpets throughout your home without having to invest in special products.

floor cleaner vacuum carpet borax Janine Lamontagne / Getty Images
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Make Slime

Keep the kids amused for hours by making borax slime. Combine half a cup of water with 4 ounces of school glue and a couple of drops of food coloring. In a separate bowl, dissolve a teaspoon of borax in a cup of warm water. Add the glue mixture with the borax water and stir. You should quickly see it become slimy. Drain any excess water and kneed the mix a little until it really is slime-like!

With so many different uses, borax is something that every household should have it in their cupboard!

make slime borax OryGonian / Getty Images

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