Beautiful Borax…..

beautiful borax
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beautiful borax

My wife recently bought a box of Borax to use in the laundry as we attempt to shift away from chemical cleaners and factory-made detergents in our household.  You can read a bit about Borax here.   As the link explains, borax is a mineral substance.  I’m less interested in the chemistry and, as a writer, more about whether it should be Borax or borax? (to capitalize or not..it’s a brand-name in the above photo, but it’s also a chemical compound in which case I don’t think it should be)  Anyway, I’ve become familiar with borax/Borax over the years because it seems to be a mainstay in the household cleaning arsenal of most Amish women.  A combination of it, lard, and lye can make for a mighty fine soap.  My question is that borax/Borax seems a bit like baking soda in the sense that it can have many different uses (although unlike baking soda, I don’t think you want to put Borax in your brownies).  So, I’m wondering if we have any or Borax users among our Amish Cook audience and if so what are some of the things you use it for?  Below is Lovina’s recipe for homemade soap using Borax. Some Amish go as natural as can be and use rainwater in the recipe.

HOMEMADE SOAP

1 /2 cup Borax soap

11 pints cold soft water

9 pints melted grease (just melted enough to pour)

2 cans lye

Dissolve the Borax soap in the cold soft water. Add grease and stir. Then gradually add the lye. Stir until it forms soap. Let it set in dish pans and cool. After it’s cold then cut it in chunks. Works best when you use soft water to do your laundry.

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The Discussion

  1. Cynthia Andrews says:


    I use a mixture of salt and borax and cast it on my carpet before vacumming. It rids my house of fleas! Works terrific, has for many years!

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  2. Virginia Souther says:


    Borax is a softening agent and when used in hard water, it softens it. It also helps in cleaning laundry with hard water. Also, it is used to kill fleas on your carpets. Just sprinkle it over your carpets and brush in.

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  3. It is a mined mineral and accesible supplies are becoming scarcer. Washing soda (sodium carbonate) can be used instead. Note that washing soda also cannot be substituted for baking soda. Plain soda or borax are good for cleaning bathtubs and sinks, or anything that needs a very mild abrasive. A lot of commercial washing sodas have fragrance added, which keeps me from using them.

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  4. I use Borax, Arm & Hammer washing soda and Fels-Naptha to make my own laundry detergent.

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    • What is Fels-Naptha? I have never heard of it (I know, I could just Google it, but that’s no fun!)

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      • it is laundry soap found in the laundry isle,however you can also use ivory instead,I do and its much cheaper to get

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      • Melisa Peterie says:


        Fels-Naptha is a bar soap. A laudry pre treating soap.

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      • Elisa Beury says:


        fels-naptha is an awesome stain remover. It is bar like soap that last a long time. I use it a lot when hand washing laundry. it is found at most big box stores or grocery stores usually on the bottom shelf and is only about $1 a bar. I just rub on the stain and let sit for a while and then wash. great stuff to use if you make laundry detergent. I just grate it and mix with borax and washing soda for the best powder detergent for our water. it has lots of minerals in it. try a bar and you will love it.

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        • Stacey Soefje says:


          Sometimes at our Wal-mart they are out of Fels-Naptha. You can use Zote (found on the same aisle as the Fels-Naptha) or you can use the Ivory Bar Soap.

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    • I have used this recipe for laundry soap for over a year love it!!!

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    • JoAnn Kelley says:


      I also use the same ingredients to make laundry detergent. Everyone I’ve given the recipe to loves it. I didn’t know about the use of Borax for fleas, very useful.

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  5. I managed hotels, and no matter what quality the service and guests, there was always a concern for bedbugs. I had the housekeepers sprinkle borax between the box spring and mattress, use it in the water for dusting, etc. It left a clean scent instead of a chemical one…an I never had a bedbug problem in all those years.

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  6. the name of the item is “20 Mule Team Borax”, product inside the box is borax :-) Fels-Naptha is an old fashioned soap. When I was little we washed with it if we were exposed to poison ivy.

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  7. Kevin~
    This soap recipe for body or laundry? Sorry for the dumb question.
    I too use 20 mule team borax in my laundry and housecleaning…I’ve used the Fels-Naptha also with good results.
    In todays mindset of omiting chemicals I’d say this is a great way to do so.

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    • Not a dumb question, it is body soap…I have a couple bars of homemade soap that I bought from some Schwartzentruber Amish and it follows a similar formulation…it’s a good, solid soap….

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  8. Nancy LaLiberte says:


    I have used 20 Mule Team Borax in our laundry for years. Add some to the small amount of liquid laundry detergent I use (Arm & Hammer), and I’m always pleased w/the results. It’s like a “booster”, makes the detergent work a little bit better.
    Also the Fels Naptha bar, is older than the hills, and is great to use on grass-stained knees of jeans.
    Can you tell a really clean laundry excites me?

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  9. Cheryl Kelly says:


    I like fels-naptha. arm and hammer baking soda is great also.
    I am an ammonia fan with my liquid soap.

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  10. I use borax with white glue and food color to make homemade slime for the grandkids.

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    • LOL, homemade slime?? I’ll have to tell Lovina about that, that might be fun for her children!

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      • Rebecca says:


        Sorry, just now seeing this thread…

        I have a similar “slime” recipe for “oobleck” – there’s a Dr. Seuss book that goes along with it. My daughter brought it home from school when she was in Kindergarten. Only, she didn’t like that the food coloring got on her hands…

        So we put it in a gallon-sized ziploc bag and laid it flat on the table and it became like a mess-free finger-painting palette. Fun for them…no mess for me! Doesn’t get better than that! :)

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  11. Kevin,
    Not a comment on Borax/borax, but there is no longer a “contact” link on the front page. Also there is a place to log in but it won’t take my old log in information and I can’t seem to find a place to create a new account. Help!

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    • Joyce, I am going to add a contact spot, although, if you need something in the meantime just email me at kwilliams@oasisnewsfeatures.com. And,for the moment, you don’t need an account to comment….so enjoy exploring, totally unencumbered by logins, etc….I may just keep it that way. The login spot at the top is only for WordPress bloggers, everyone else can ignore it

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      • Thanks, I was making myself crazy looking for things that weren’t there. By the way I’ve made the “slime” with borax and it’s really like the stuff you buy in the store.

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  12. I do need to add a clarification on this…the soap recipe above can be used for laundry OR body soap….Lovina has told me that this soap was used as body soap mainly after getting poison ivy or burns, so I’m not sure that you would want this particular recipe for everyday soap, although she said some people do. We do have a recipe for pure just body bar lye soap in our upcoming book, Amish Cooks Across America scheduled for fall 2012 release. The recipe is from Mattie Stutzman of Sinking Spring, Ohio, so stay tuned:)

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  13. tracey berthiaume says:


    I use it in combination with Arm & Hammer washing soda and fels naptha brown soap and make a years worth of laundry detergent at a time.

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    • Tracey,
      That sounds interesting, my wife was wondering if you’d share your formulation/recipe for that? – Kevin

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      • Stacey Soefje says:


        Powdered Laundry Detergent
        ShareThis
        1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
        1 Cup – Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
        ½ Cup Borax

        -Grate soap or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered. Mix all ingredients. For light load, use 1 Tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 Tablespoons. Yields: 3 Cups detergent. (Approx. 40 loads)

        *Arm & Hammer “Super Washing Soda” – in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Meijer.com). Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent – It must be sodium carbonate!!

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        • Stacey Soefje says:


          Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap-
          4 Cups – hot tap water
          1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
          1 Cup – Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
          ½ Cup Borax

          - Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

          -Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

          -Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

          -Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

          -Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

          -Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

          -Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

          *Arm & Hammer “Super Washing Soda” – in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Meijer.com). Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent – It must be sodium carbonate!!

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        • Vicki Sprague says:


          I am going to try your recipe. My Mom always used Fels-Naptha. Thanks

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  14. cheryl wise says:


    i have used borax for years!!! usually in the laundry, as an additive for really nasty dirty clothes. i also use it to make my own cleaners around the house. i have found that as i get older, i can’t handle the scents as well. mix it with baking soda, and dish soap, and you get a soft scrub type cleaner for in the bathroom.

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  15. Borax is a great cockroach killer, and is reasonably (as reasonable as anything can be) safe around kids and pets.

    Combine 2 C borax with 1/4th C sugar, stir well to blend and put in back of cupboards, behind refrigerator/stove, in other out-of-the-way places. Cockroachs are GONE!

    Used this in my apartment building when a tenant accidently brought some roachs home from somewhere. Commercial spraying didn’t work; this did.

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  16. Vicki Sprague says:


    A question concerning your recent recipe for Homemade Soap. Is this hand soap or laundry soap. I have made my own soap before, but do not know what to use when the recipe says to use melted grease. What should I use for the melted grease? Help me please!

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    • Vicki, melted lard would be what you want to use when it says “melted grease.”

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  17. Barbara Weber says:


    I’m 81 and know all about “that stuff”. Been there, done that. I’m sure none of you have a “front loader” or an excavating business. One “Tide Pod”, the size of a quarter. Does ALL that, AND better, than you could ever believe.I could NEVER “go back”. Things always look better, IF you hadn’t HAD to live through them.

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  18. JoAnn Kelley says:


    I wanted to make a comment on the origins of Borax. My brother-in-law worked for 20-Mule-Team for years in Boron, Calif. The plant where it is dug out of the ground and processed is in the Calif. desert. My brother-in-law worked for the company for over 20 years. The “20-Mule-Team” name comes from the way it used to be hauled before automation. Temperatures in the desert are pretty high, even with automation it is often a tough job.

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