Borax vs. Baking Soda:
If you're looking for a natural, affordable way to clean your home and enhance your laundry, you've probably come across articles telling you to use Borax and/or baking soda.
Both products have been used for over 100 years and they even look quite similar. So what's the difference? And which should you use?
Well, it depends on what you're planning on using them for. But first, let's look at the actual ingredients in these products.
Baking soda is the common name for sodium bicarbonate, which is a naturally occurring chemical compound with the formula of NaHCO3 (one sodium ion to one bicarbonate ion).
Borax is the common name for the naturally occurring mineral sodium tetraborate decahydrate (Na2B407-10H2O). It's found all over the world, including Chile, California, Bolivia, Tibet, Turkey and Romania.
Baking soda was first made commercially in 1846 and has been used in many different applications since, including cooking, cleaning and preserving. Borax was discovered in Death Valley in 1881 and has been sold commercially under the 20 Mule Team™ brand since 1981.
While chemically very different, both baking soda and Borax are all-natural alternatives to commercial cleaning products. They're both used to clean and deodorize. But there are a few differences. Below, we break down key differences about when to use each one.
Both baking soda and Borax are commonly used in laundry applications. However, there are some properties of Borax that help it make your laundry detergent clean more effectively.
Adding Borax to your laundry helps in a number of ways:
- Improves stain-fighting - Your detergent works to lift stains off your clothes where they swirl around in the wash water and can be redeposited back onto your clothes. Borax helps to keep those soil particles suspended in the wash water and prevents them from being redeposited onto your fabrics. Once your detergent has lifted the stain, Borax helps keep it off to make sure the stain goes down the drain.
- Improves cleaning efficacy of laundry detergent - Borax is an excellent source of alkalinity. Most stains are acidic, and alkalinity helps to neutralize and break them down. In general, higher alkalinity is better for cleaning. However, very high alkalinity can result in damage to delicate clothes. Borax offers a mild level of alkalinity that aids in the cleaning process without being too caustic.
A combination of Borax and washing soda is a common homemade laundry soap.
Both baking soda and borax are used by some to maintain their pool chemistry. But because of their different chemical makeup, they both do different things:
- Baking soda can raise your pool’s alkalinity without affecting your pH much.
- Borax can be used to stabilize and raise your pool’s pH.