Ditch That Borax & Better Alternatives

Ditch That Borax
& Better Alternatives

Effects Of Using Borax

My mother-in-law asked me about Borax yesterday and its safety so I decided to do a little digging so I can give her an answer (and learn about it myself).

How many Borax users do we have? Welllllll you might not like the news I have for you here, I'm sorry!! Borax is not a green cleaning ingredient, as many have been led to believe. EWG does not recommend using borax to clean your home.

What is borax?

Borax is also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate. (Look for these names in your products!) A close cousin of borax is boric acid, which has many of the same concerns as Borax. Knowing these other names will help you when reading labels.

So Borax is used in many household and clothes cleaning products as a whitener. It's also a pesticide that poisons insects, fungus and weeds.

What's the bad?

It's got short term and long term issues.

Short-term irritant: Borax can be irritating when exposed orally or through skin or eye contact or even breathing it in. "Poison reports suggest misuse of borax-based pesticides can result in acute toxicity, with symptoms including vomiting, eye irritation, nausea, skin rash, oral irritation and respiratory effects. Toddlers and young children face special risks from hand-to-mouth transfer of carpet or crack and crevice, dust or spray borax treatments," including the slimy toys.

Hormone disruption. Borax and its cousin, boric acid, may disrupt hormones and harm the male reproductive system and cause decreased sperm count and libido!!! According to EPA's safety review, "chronic exposure to high doses of borax or boric acid causes testicular atrophy in male mice, rats and dogs."

Ladies, we are not in the clear with this one, as Borax can affect our ovulation and fertility as well. Borax and boric acid can cross the placenta, affecting fetal skeletal development and birth weight in animal studies of high-dose exposures. Definitely not a chance to take.

Where do we see Borax?

  1. Cleaning Products: sooo important to know what's in cleaning products as they affect our home environment and can create a toxicity very harmful for kids and pets. Avoid any Borax DIY recipes as well!
  2. Personal Care Products- Boric acid or sodium borate can also be found in personal care products. "The cosmetic industry's own safety panel states that these chemicals are unsafe for infants or damaged skin because they can absorb readily into the body. Despite this guidance, boric acid is found in some diaper creams." The European Union and even Canada actually restrict Borax in ANY product for kids and if on the ingredients list it must be labeled. No similar safety standards are in place in the United States. (I truly wonder why)
  3. CHILDREN'S TOYS!!!!! Play-Doh, silly putty, and other slimy toys may also contain boric acid!?!?? Unbelievable since it's so toxic to kids! My mom makes Micah a homemade one with oil, flour, salt, and water! You can add a non-toxic food coloring well! He absolutely loves it and I don't worry about him playing with it.
  4. Nutritional Supplements: in supplements, you'll see Boron, a component of borax and boric acid - always check the list of ingredients.

So what do we use instead?

If you must buy a product:

You want to look for certified green products with the Green Seal or EcoLogo mark on the label whenever possible. Also only buy a product with a fully disclosed ingredient list. A great brand I love is Branch Basics!

Making your own: Vinegar, lemons, and baking soda make great homemade cleaning supplies. Always take care when combining ingredients! See the new website for safe combinations and for more information on this topic!