Is Borax Really Safe?

This post contains affiliate links, which means Vintage Kids Modern World receives a small commission from some of the links on this page.

Is Borax Really Safe? :: Vintage Kids | Modern World

hhmmm…good question.

Actually, there are quite a few answers to that, and this is one of the most common questions I see in my email.  In my mind, the jury was still out on the safety of Borax, so I put together a recipe for Borax-free liquid laundry soap, and it’s been one of our most popular posts here at Cheeky Bums.  I wasn’t ready to jump on anybody’s bandwagon until I had looked into it…

Come to find out, Borax is actually a “hot topic” in the natural world and you’ll find a myriad of results if you google it.  Obviously, it has quite a few people confused…

After doing some research, there are a few things I DO know for sure…

  • The most important thing to realize is that  Borax (Sodium Borate) is not the same as Boric Acid.  Boric Acid is highly acidic and toxic and is made by mixing Borax with another acid, such as sulfuric.  The end result is a highly acidic compound, where as Borax is alkaline.
  • Borax is generally safe, as long as you aren’t consuming large quantities of it. (um. ick.)
  • Borax CAN cause mild skin irritation but it  does not readily absorb through the skin.  Personally, I’m guessing that  it’s an irritant  because of it’s highly alkaline state, and it causes irritation, just like baking soda could.  Some people may be more sensitive to it than others.  Rest assured though, it is shown to have no bio-accumulation (it doesn’t build up in your system) because it does not absorb through your skin.
  • Borax is wholly natural and is non-carcinogenic.

However, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) lists Borax at a 5-6 hazard level (or moderate level) depending on usage, and this has left a lot of all-natural, hippy, crunchy green people with their panties in a knot.  This is based on the fact that the European Union Classification & Labelling Department cites limited evidence of reproductive toxicity – and though the information is sketchy, the best that I can tell is that this is from rats that ingested LARGE amount of Borax over a a span of time (again. um. ick. who would do that?)

So my personal take on it?

I’m not going to lose sleep over it and I may start using it in my laundry again.  Initially, I came up with the Borax-free laundry soap recipe because I had two little girls in cloth diapers that had extremely sensitive skin and I didn’t want to ruin a good thing.   In hindsight, I don’t regret going without it, but after reading up on it, I’m not quite as concerned about using it as I once was.

What are your thoughts?  Do you use Borax around the house?

image credit


This entry was posted in Cleaning Concoctions, Health + Home Remedies, Homemaking, Living Naturally, Simple & Frugal   |    Bookmark the permalink.


16 Responses to “Is Borax Really Safe?”
show comments ⇓

  1. Rachael

    I had done some research of my own and I came up with the same conclusion you have. We only use it for making laundry soap and so far we love it, I’ve saved a ton of money. As for cloth diapers I only use soap nuts 🙂

  2. I make the laundry soap with borax, fels naptha, and washing soda. Cheapest thing to wash the mountains of laundry we produce. 🙂

    Hadn’t heard the controversy. Kind of glad I didn’t, because it’s been working so well for us. I don’t want ANOTHER thing to worry about! LOL!
    Daja recently posted..Prayer For the Week of March 18–Fixing Our Eyes On JesusMy Profile

  3. Kathy

    I do use borax in my homemade laundry detergent. Also a small amount in my cleaning spray.

  4. Cheeky Bums

    That’s good to know! We tried soap nuts for our cloth diapers but with no luck 🙁 Our water has SOOOO much lime that it wasn’t getting them clean, though I’ve heard amazing things! I’m still using my homemade Borax free recipe for our diapers, but we’re switching to Borax for the rest of the laundry! – kelsi

  5. Cheeky Bums

    I hear ya. Once major controversy at a time, please….?!?!

  6. Cheeky Bums

    Kathy, I’m thinking about adding it to my counter top spray. What all do you add to yours? – Kelsi

  7. Kathy

    I use a spray that a friend uses in her green cleaning business.
    2 cups warm water
    1 tsp borax
    2 tbs eco-friendly dishwashing soap
    1/2 cup white-distilled vinegar
    add 7-8 drops essential oil for scent. I use lavendar.

  8. TJ

    I use Borax in my laundry detergent as well as dishwashing detergent… the former for about a year now, the latter for a few weeks. Love it!

    I did discover that my daughter and I were sensitive to Fels Naptha soap though – UTI issues. 😛 So have swapped to natural lavender soap instead, which works wonderfully .

  9. Tonita

    I keep trying to pin this so I can send it to a friend. For some reason it won’t let me, but just this article. I found you through Pintrest and I pin many of your articles. Just wondering if there was some reason this one won’t pin? Thanks, love your blog!

  10. Kelsi

    Tonita – thanks for letting me know! I’m not sure why it’s being funny for you – but I’ll look into it! so glad you enjoy it!

  11. Brianna

    My daughter wants to make silly putty with borax, but will it be safe to be in her hands?

  12. Kelsi

    Brianna, from what I can tell, I would *personally* shy away from borax playdough recipes. I’ve seen a lot of them posted, and even though I don’t think Borax is toxic in nature, it’s still not meant to be food (and in my house, playdough is occasionally ingested…!)

  13. Sam

    Borax can cause skin irritation. Think twice using it as detergent

  14. Sam – agreed – if it’s in extreme concentrations then it will definitely cause irritation. However, in most recipes, you’re using less than a tablespoon per load, and at that concentration, most people don’t seem to react. Obviously use your judgment and discontinue if it’s a problem, but I’ve been using it on my family (newborns and cloth diapers included) for the last 6 years with no ill effect.

  15. Linda

    Boy did this open a can of worms. I think I just lost a friend over the use of borax. They absolutely will not touch the stuff! No matter how much I explain testing procedures and how it was tested by direct prolonged skin contact, inhalation or ingestion of large quantities. When used in homemade laundry soap you are mixing one part borax to 32 parts water. You are then only using half a cup of this diluted mixture in a wash machine that adds several gallons more water and THEN sending it through a rinse cycle of MORE water. I’d say exposure is very minimal.

  16. oh goodness – I hope your friend can still love you – Borax or no! We all need to choose our level of comfort, and at this point, from what I’ve read, Borax doesn’t scare me as much as it used to!