Borax, also known as sodium tetraborate, is a naturally occurring substance that is produced by the evaporation of lakes. It is removed from the ground, then washed, dried and boxed for consumer use. Along with laundry detergent, adding 1/2 cup of borax to each load of laundry helps control odors, soften hard water and boost detergent power.
Borax has many uses outside of the laundry room. A mixture of 1/2 cup borax dissolved in 1 gallon of hot water cleans stains, grime and grease on kitchen surfaces such as counter tops, cookware, sinks and appliances. This cleaning mixture is safe for tile, ceramic, porcelain, slate, marble, granite and stainless steel. Sprinkling 1/4 cup of borax into the bottom of the dishwasher increases the power of the dishwasher detergent and reduces water spots and film on dishes and glassware.
In the bathroom, soap scum, hard water deposits and dirt can be removed by sprinkling borax on a damp sponge and wiping down surfaces such as tubs, showers, walls and tiles. Toilets can be cleaned by sprinkling 1/4 cup borax into the bowl and cleaning with a brush. This leaves both the toilet and the brush free of odors and harmful bacteria.