How to Use Borax in the Laundry

Borax is a natural, age-old favorite that we're bringing back.

Published March 11, 2023
measuring detergent into the washer

When you jumped out of the swimming pool or came in from making mud pies in the backyard, your grandparents would lead you down the hall to toss your dirty clothes in the wash. You probably wondered what all the powders they tossed into the load were, since at home you only had to dump in a cupful of bright blue liquid. Powdered borax has been used in laundry for decades, and like bleach, it still works wonders to brighten clothes and pull out stains. Learn how to use borax in your laundry the right way with these three methods.

How to Use Borax in Laundry

Nowadays, borax is usually used for two different purposes - deep cleaning or getting out stains. Sodium tetraborate (aka borax) is a natural product and is used in its powdered form for laundry. There are several easy ways to clean your laundry using borax, making it a super affordable and safe laundry additive.

Pull Hard Stains Out of Your Clothes with Borax

If you've got tough stains baked into your clothes, then you should treat them to a borax bath. Before adding your laundry to any borax bath, check the tags to see what fabrics they're made of. Some fabrics can't handle hot water, and the last thing you want is for your stain to come out but your shirt to shrink two sizes.

To pull hard stains out of your clothes using borax, follow this easy method.

  1. Rinse your clothes in warm water.
  2. Fill a tub or container with hot water, making sure there's enough to cover the laundry.
  3. Pour ½ cup of borax powder to every gallon you used.
  4. Stir to agitate the borax and dissolve it.
  5. Soak your clothes for 30 minutes.
  6. Transfer clothes to your washing machine and wash them like normal.

Spot Treat Stains Using Borax

From grass stains on your knees to spilled drops of spaghetti sauce on your shirt, we all get a little something on our clothes that needs some extra power to clean up. You might not know, but you can create a borax paste to spot-treat stains.

Quick Tip

Spot test the borax paste on a small section of the bottom hem. Leave it for 30 minutes and see if there's any discoloring or deterioration before using it to treat stains.

We love the popular borax manufacturer 20 Mule Team's paste recipe, and it's as easy as these few steps.

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon of borax powder and 2 tablespoons of water into a paste.
  2. Using a spoon, spread the paste directly on the stains.
  3. Let the stains soak for 30 minutes.
  4. Rinse and wash as normal.

Get a Deep Clean by Laundry Stripping

Typically, we're so focused on deep cleaning our day-to-day clothes that we forget how dirty our linens can get. Blankets, duvets, dish towels, bath towels, and pillowcases all get some serious skin-to-fabric action that doesn't get washed away in just one wash cycle.

The idea of laundry stripping, where you use multiple chemicals to strip oils and dirt from your linens, has taken social media by storm. Everyone has their own take on the best way to laundry strip, and so long as you use the proper ingredients (borax, washing soda, and laundry detergent), you can't go wrong.

@mrslaurenelms Who’s here for the towel stripping? #laundry #cleanfreak #laundrymagic #laundrystripping #tide #borax #armandhammer #diycleaning original sound - MrsLaurenElms

To strip your laundry using borax, follow these easy steps.

  1. Dump your laundry load into a tub or container.
  2. Put ¼ cup of borax, ¼ cup of washing soda, and ½ cup of laundry detergent together. Let it fully dissolve.
  3. Pour hot water onto the laundry to cover them.
  4. Let sit until the water's fully cooled, stirring occasionally.
  5. Put the stripped laundry into your washing machine.
  6. Wash it on a regular cycle without any detergent.
  7. Dry like normal.

What Makes Borax an Old-School Favorite?

There's been a substantial shift towards using cleaning products with the least number of artificial chemicals in them in attempts to protect the environment and our own health. Borax is a leading natural cleaner that's resurfaced because of it. If you're thinking about going green in your house, borax is a great option.

But does it even work? According to the popular cleaning company, Grove, borax's alkaline nature increases the pH balance of your washing water. In laymen's terms, it makes the laundry detergent be able to pierce your clothes easier and really get in there for a super deep clean. So yes, it does work, and it's all thanks to science.

Borax Should Be Your New Laundry-Room Staple

Although you shouldn't substitute borax for a standard laundry detergent, it can be morphed into several different laundry boosters that'll help fight stains and deep clean your linens. And, you can feel better about what you're sending out into the environment since it's all-natural.

How to Use Borax in the Laundry