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

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.

Laundry Care

When most people think of using borax or washing soda, laundry is generally one of the first things that comes to mind. As mentioned before, both minerals are quite alkaline due to their high pH levels. Because of this, they are both fairly effective and increasing the efficiency of other detergents.

However, their molecular shape comes into play when they dissolve in the wash. Borax is a softer molecule with a lower pH, so it is able to dissolve much more easily than washing soda. This means that it is able to work for longer and is less likely to damage your clothes in the wash due to these softer molecules. Washing soda on the other hand, doesn’t dissolve as easily and may leave a residue.

Many refer to the Borax as acting as the catalyst while washing soda acts as the main cleaning agent.

Deep Cleaning

Both washing soda and borax are known for their intense stain-fighting power and ability to loosen those especially tough soils. Whether it’s cleaning carpets or clothes, both are extremely effective in this task.

Washing soda is effective and can be sprinkled and scrubbed into offending stains in order to get rid of them for good. The roughness of the sodium carbonate molecule will make quick work of tough stains. But, it is important to remember that because of the high pH, you should keep washing soda away from skin and be sure to wear gloves while handling it.

Borax is slightly less effective at scrubbing, but is much safer to use on household surfaces.

Household Care

Besides laundry and stain fighting, borax and washing soda have a number of common uses around the home. For example, borax can be used to fight odors in the home that washing soda is less effective at. The shape of the borax molecule helps it easily capture odor molecules and help to deodorize pet stains.

The sharpness of the molecules makes it a great grout and grease cleaner. The friction of the scrubbing helps it scour out pots and pans that borax can’t touch. As stated before, just be sure to use gloves with washing soda at all times.

Please use only as directed and do not ingest. May be harmful if swallowed
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