When it comes to at-home natural cleaners, vinegar and baking soda seem to be the two star players. What many do not know is that a lesser known player, borax, is key to successful environmentally-friendly at-home cleaning. Unlike baking soda and vinegar, borax needs to be handled with a touch of care. Its high alkalinity can cause mild skin irritation if too concentrated.
What is borax and how does it clean?
Borax is a natural mineral compound formally known as sodium borate and is found deep within the earth’s crust. To put it simply, it is a boron mineral and salt that’s mined directly from the ground. Borax crystals are whitish in color and are odorless. They are non-flammable and non-reactive, primarily because borax is alkaline as opposed to acidic. With a pH of 9.5, borax is safe to mix with most other household chemicals – even chlorine bleach! (For a refresher on which chemicals to mix and which not to mix click here.) Borax cleans and bleaches by converting water molecules to hydrogen peroxide which is more favorable in hotter water. It produces a basic solution in water, thus intensifying the effectiveness of bleach and other cleaners. Borax is great for cleaning, deodorizing and disinfecting. It can be used as a fungicide, a water softener and a great laundry boost!
If you are wary of the safeness of using borax be aware that oftentimes those criticizing borax are actually referring to boric acid which is not the same as borax. Borax is classified as non-carcinogenic and a mild skin irritant. The high alkalinity of it is what most likely causes the mild skin irritation. The Material Safety Sheet lists borax as a health hazard of 1, same as baking soda and salt. It is also not deemed to be bio-accumulative which means that if you use it repeatedly it will not build up in your system over long periods of time. So as long as you are using common sense and wearing gloves and not ingesting it, borax is entirely safe for household cleaning. Look in the laundry aisle at your local supermarket, and borax crystals are usually sold under the name 20 Mule team borax.
Be sure to follow our blog – coming soon: Borax is Great for Green Cleaning, Now What?
In the meantime if your office is in need of a good cleaning, call Envision Commercial Cleaning for your free quote today! We use green cleaning techniques which can help boost your company’s green credentials!