Tonawanda News

August 18, 2013

PINSPIRED: So what to do with all this Borax ...

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — In my last Pinspired column, I wrote about how I had to buy a large box of Borax detergent for our bouncy-ball-making attempt. It was not, precisely, cheap and once the experiment was over, I had a mostly full box of the stuff squirreled away in our basement cabinet.

So, what to do with it? Get another column out of it, of course!

Pinterest is full of lists that claim “10 things to do with Borax!,” “25 things to do with Borax!,” “1,000 things to do with Borax!” (OK, maybe not that last one.) Since all seem to agree that it’s good for laundry boosting (I believe that’s the dominant use these days), I didn’t test that, but picked three of the claims that were particularly useful to me personally and gave them a whirl.

Results were mixed ... although I’m not sure that’s completely the fault of the tip or the Borax itself. Here’s what happened.

Toilet bowl cleaner

With two small boys in the house, our toilets can sometimes be ... less than ideal. Anything that helps would be greatly appreciated. Since ours (the toilets, not the boys) were in need of a cleaning, this seemed an obvious test.

The tips varied between suggesting 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Borax, so I used the former on our downstairs toilet (a newer model) and the latter on the upstairs toilet (an old porcelain one). You just dump in the Borax, give it a swirl and let sit overnight. Easy.

The next morning, I got out of bed and darted to the bathrooms with toilet brush before the boys could “help” things alone. (Such an exciting life I lead). 

The upstairs one ... eh. It might have helped a little, but I had to make a mental note to go back with our usual cleaner as soon as I could. Let’s just say there were still stains.

The downstairs — which actually had less cleaner in it — worked like a cleaner. A swirl or two with the brush and it was as pristine as a toilet in a home with two little boys gets. I was impressed.

I don’t know if this had to do with the material of the toilet or the condition before the experiment began, but it’s I suspect the latter. (It’s the site of all those late-night little-boy potty runs, if you know what I mean.) I might give it another try at some future point.

I’d consider this a provisional “Pin It.”

Stainless-steel sink 

I like our stainless steel sink, I really do, but sometimes it just looks ... cruddy. Scrubbing has varied results. Sometimes it just makes the sink look “clean” but not “really clean.”

The tip I read suggested making a paste out of Borax and lemon juice, applying it to a sponge and scrubbing away. So I did. Sorry, I didn’t take measurements of the two materials, but just gradually add enough juice to whatever amount of Borax you’re using to make a thick paste. (I just used the bottled juice because I had it on hand.)

Scrubbing ... scrubbing ... scrubbing ... I eventually noticed that the paste started to look a bit dingy, surprising because the sink was fairly clean that day to begin with. I continued, then rinsed off the whole thing.

I can’t say it sparkled, but it looked pretty darn good, better than any of the commercial cleaners I’ve used on it. It was easy, and for the most part, cheap.

Pin it!

Ant traps

I daresay most folks in Western New York have had ant issues at one point or another during the summer. We’re not exception. While it’s not a massive problem, we’ve had to take steps in several locations in our house, including — of all places — our computer desk. 

The most common tip I read suggested stirring together one cup of warm water, 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of Borax, then soaking cotton balls in it. I mixed it, but we were without cotton balls, so I used paper towels. (This may have been a problem, although I’m not certain why.)

The towels were mostly wrung out, then placed in little clumps on plastic lids that I then placed in a few places we’d seen the ants overnight.

The next morning ... nothing.

There was one dead ant on one lid near our back steps. (Actually, when I looked again later, it was gone. Zombie ant?) The other three were empty. Either the paper towels messed up the tip, our ants were gone anyway, or it just didn’t work.

Not enough information to make a call on this one. If it works for you, I’d be interested to hear about it.

• WHAT: Various Borax cleaning tips • DIFFICULTY: Easy • TIME: Minutes, for the most part. • RESULT: Varied