The Most Important Reason To Use Borax That You're Probably Missing

Borax is a white mineral consisting of boron, sodium, and oxygen, states WebMD, and it is generally mined from dried-up lake beds. It occurs naturally in soil and plants, and it is also found in the human body. Boric acid is derived and processed from borax, and when it was initially registered (in 1948), it was classified as a flea-killer, per How To Discuss. However, borax is familiar to homemakers for its all-purpose household cleaning uses, clothes-washing ability, tooth-whitening power, and hand-washing strength. Children also know it as a component of slime. 

Borax has another surprising function: It is a natural pesticide that can be placed around the home and yard to exterminate ants, cockroaches, termites, fleas, and silverfish. Bud bugs and spiders are also vulnerable, as well as mites, carpet beetles, moths, and some types of flies. Borax even works as a mouse deterrent when placed around the perimeter of your abode, according to Maggie's Farm Ltd. It also combats algae, mold, mildew, and fungi, and is an effective weed killer to boot.

The substance is a relatively risk-free and environmentally friendly pesticide but must be handled with care. It should be kept out of the reach of children and pets, and precautions are appropriate during application. In addition to wearing gloves and masks, you should use it in ventilated areas and wash your hands afterward.

Borax vs. cockroaches, ants, and termites

Borax is an effective cockroach slayer. However, it will not attract the insects alone; it needs to be combined with a cockroach bait, according to Cockroach Facts. Lightly dust areas with a half-and-half mixture of borax and sugar. A sugar dispenser works well to distribute the poison, but be sure to mark it clearly as poison. Cockroach Zone suggests combining borax with starchy foods to attract the roaches, possibly peanut butter or cocoa. Borax pesticide works by sticking to the victim's legs. The cockroaches clean themselves, and the subsequent grooming will prove fatal. Instant results may not be seen, but the roach population will be visibly reduced.

A dose of borax can also obliterate an ant colony. Again, a 50-50 mix of the mineral and a sweetener, sprinkled where ants have been seen, will do the deed, Urban Survival Site asserts. Worker ants will bring the bait to the colony, ultimately killing the queen. Ant mounds in a yard can be neutralized by the borax and sugar combination. Honey is an alternative to use with the borax. Maggie's Farm Ltd notes that a small amount of borax provides plant nutrition, but beware of large doses that can be destructive. Commercial borax ant killers are available if you choose not to go the DIY route. Termites are also no match for borax. It can be sprayed onto walls or surfaces if termite dust is noted. Borax can also protect outdoor furniture and decks.

Other insects and rodents

Idairco suggests lining bookshelves and the base of laundry room walls with borax powder to kill silverfish. Fleas and some flies will also fall victim to borax both indoors and out. Bugs that infiltrate woodpiles can also be given the borax and sugar treatment. Manomin Resawn Timbers recommends spraying reclaimed wood with borax and water to eliminate wood-boring insects and discourage newcomers.

Mice and rats seek food and water, and they generally travel along the bottom of walls. Sprinkle the poison along the suspected pathways. Na Na Pinches Her Pennies offers her own version of a borax weapon against the rodents. A sprinkling of bird seeds should be added to a one-quarter portion of borax mixed with three-quarters of sweetener as bait (two parts powdered sugar and one part cocoa powder). The hapless mouse or rat may expire on the spot or else carry the tainted food back to the nest. Again, keep the potion out of the reach of children and pets.

While doing housework, one is apt to use borax for any of the typical reasons — to deodorize, unclog drains or toilets, do the laundry, get rid of rust, clean the fridge, or wipe away stains. If a cockroach, ant, termite, silverfish, flea, or rodent should rear its head, be sure to reach for the ubiquitous powder too.