Skip to Content


Borax vs. Washing Soda: What Can They Do and How Are They Different?

Borax vs Washing Soda

The addition of chemical ingredients in common household detergents and cleaning products has sparked questions about the safety of these products. As time goes on, more and more people are turning to simple powdered solutions in order to supplant the less natural detergent options.

Washing Soda and Borax are examples of all-natural minerals that have a wide variety of home care uses. But, what can you use each other these products for and how are they different?

What are they made out of?

Washing soda or soda ash is the common name for sodium carbonate, this naturally occurring mineral carries the formula Na2CO3. Washing soda itself is extremely alkaline with a pH level of 11.

This unique chemical composition makes it extremely effective at degreasing and deep cleaning clothes. However, because of the high pH level, washing soda is quite caustic and should never be touched with bare skin.

Borax on the other hand has a slightly different chemical composition of sodium tetraborate or Na2B4O7. Like washing soda, borax is also quite alkaline, though not quite to the same level as the other substance.

Borax has been used for thousands of years to help launder clothes and clean surfaces because it also softens water in the same way washing soda does. However, the molecules in borax are much less “sharp” so they dissolve in water more easily change the composition of the molecule itself.

Key Uses

Though borax and washing soda are chemically quite similar, they each have their own specialties. Because of the shape of their molecules, they have slightly different properties that make them useful in a number of different ways.

Further Reading

  • 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. 

  • Borax vs. Boric Acid

    Borax is sometimes confused with boric acid.