Mixing Borax and Vinegar (Benefits and How to Safely Mix it)

When tackling some of the most challenging cleaning issues, you may have to reach for products containing harsh or toxic chemicals. 

However, if you are concerned about the environment and your family’s well-being, you may want to find safer cleaning alternatives. 

Borax and vinegar are two useful, green household cleaners. But can you mix Borax and vinegar to create a safer cleaning product for your home?

Yes! You can mix Borax and vinegar to use in the laundry, kitchen, bathroom, and beyond because they do not produce any harsh chemicals or fumes.

Let’s review the various uses of this power team and some safety precautions to keep in mind as you combine them. 

The Benefits of Mixing Borax and Vinegar

As a naturally occurring, colorless alkaline salt, Borax is considered a multi-purpose green cleaner because it does not contain any phosphates or chlorine. 

Although excessive exposure to Borax can be harmful to your health, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has deemed it generally safe for humans. 

With a pH of 2.8, vinegar is a non-toxic, eco-friendly liquid whose acidic properties can eliminate some bacteria, viruses, and mold.

Therefore, one of the main benefits of using Borax and vinegar together is that the two form a versatile, effective cleaning product that’s also safe for your home.

Additionally, a Borax-vinegar mixture can be used to fight mold, mildew, and tough water stains in the bathroom, as a laundry booster and deodorizer, an odor neutralizer around the home, a stain remover, and an overall multi-purpose green household cleaner.

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How to Safely Mix Borax and Vinegar

In general, Borax and vinegar are safe to mix because they do not produce any hazardous chemicals, fumes, or heat.

Although vinegar is a strong acid, with a pH of 8.5, Borax is a weak base, which when added to water works like a buffer solution – able to resist any change in its pH.

However, even though mixing Borax and vinegar is relatively safe, separately, the two should be handled with care.

Here are some safety precautions to follow when mixing Borax and vinegar:

  • Ingesting Borax can cause harm. Therefore, you must keep it away from children. Contact your local emergency services or local poison control center in case of accidental ingestion.
  • Borax is available in granular and powder form. Do not inhale Borax powder, as it can cause eye, nose, throat, and lung irritation.
  • While Borax is an odorless product, vinegar has a very strong scent. Therefore, never use cleaning products, no matter how eco-friendly and non-toxic they may be, in an enclosed area. Always ensure there is proper ventilation before using or mixing. 

When I clean an enclosed area, such as my bathroom, I always have the exhaust fan on, bring in a fan, or leave the door open to ensure there is adequate ventilation and I am not breathing in any potentially harmful fumes.

  • Wear long rubber gloves and protect your eyes with a pair of wraparound safety glasses.
  • If you get any of the solutions in your eyes or skin, flush the area with water for at least 15 minutes.

Mistakes to Avoid When Mixing Borax and Vinegar

While Borax and vinegar are relatively safe to use, there are a few mistakes you’ll want to avoid when mixing and using the two products.

Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t boil vinegar! While it may be customary to heat or boil vinegar when cooking, it is not a good idea to do so for cleaning purposes. Heating vinegar, even if diluted in water, will cause the water to evaporate, leaving behind concentrated acetic acid, which will be highly corrosive to your skin and surfaces.

You can add Borax to warm water to dissolve, however, it is best to let it cool before adding vinegar.  

  • Do not use the Borax-vinegar blend on wood or stone surfaces, such as granite.
  • Don’t use the wrong type of vinegar! Distilled/white vinegar can be used for food preparation and cleaning. Cleaning vinegar should never be consumed, and industrial vinegar is for outdoor use only, mainly as a weed killer.
  • Finally, test the solution on a small area before treating or cleaning it to avoid irreparable damage to the surface or material.

Risks When Mixing and Using a Borax and Vinegar Solution

Although Borax and vinegar are safe to mix and use because they don’t cause a chemical reaction, there are potential risks in handling each product when mixing them.

Borax is considered to be generally safe for humans because it would require a large amount of it to be ingested or inhaled to cause harm. 

Nonetheless, overexposure to it can have harmful effects on a person’s health, such as:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Kidney failure
  • Skin, eyes, nose, throat, and lung irritation
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Fainting

Additionally, overexposure and repeated use can cause skin rashes and could affect male reproductive organs. 

Despite being non-toxic, vinegar is still a strong acid and can cause harm or damage if not used properly.

Improper handling can:

  • Burn or irritate eyes, skin, esophagus, and stomach.
  • Can damage some surfaces, such as wood and stone, such as granite, marble, limestone, onyx, or travertine.
  • Can harm or kill plants.

How to Clean Using This Solution

Mixing Borax and vinegar can be great for use in the laundry, kitchen, bathroom, and throughout the home. 

Here are some great uses for this great team:

In the Bathroom

For mildew removal in the shower and bathtub:

  1. Add ½ cup of Borax to warm water to help dissolve the product. 
  2. Allow the mixture to cool, then add ½ cup of vinegar. 
  3. Pour the solution into a spray bottle or apply it with a sponge to the problem area and scrub with a brush.

For stubborn hard water stains in the toilet:

  1. Flush the toilet.
  2. Pour ¼ cup of Borax into the toilet bowl and mix around with a toilet brush.
  3. Add about 1-2 cups of vinegar and allow the solution to sit for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Scrub the toilet with a brush and flush.

For extra difficult stains, use a 0000-grade steel wool scrubber. It is the finest grade available and will be less likely to scratch the inside of the porcelain bowl.

Alternative toilet cleaning technique:

  1. Mix 1 cup of Borax with ¼ cup vinegar to make a paste.
  2. Apply the paste to the toilet bowl and scrub with a brush.
  3. Allow the solution to sit for 1 hour.
  4. Scrub once again with a brush.

In the Laundry Room

To clean your washing machine:

  1. Add 1 gallon of vinegar and 1 pound of Borax into the drum.
  2. Start a normal cycle, but only allow it to run for 1 minute. This will mix the two ingredients.
  3. Allow the solution to sit in the washing machine for 1 hour.
  4. Then, run the longest, hardest working cycle, usually it’s the Heavy-Duty Cycle.
  5. When the cycle is finished, spray the exterior as well as the drum, the gasket around the door (if it’s a front loader), and the detergent compartment/drawer with a 1:1 vinegar-to-water solution.
  6. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then dry everything.

To do laundry, the most effective way to use Borax and vinegar is to use them in the same load but during different cycles.

  1. Add Borax, following the instructions on the package, during the wash cycle as a laundry booster to remove stains and odors and whiten whites.
  2. Then, add ½ cup of vinegar during the rinse cycle to remove soap residue, soften fabrics, and eliminate odors.
  3. You can also add vinegar to a fabric softener dispenser.

Around the Home

As a general household cleaner:

  1. Add 1 quart of warm water, one teaspoon of liquid soap, and one teaspoon of Borax.
  2. When cool, add ¼ cup of vinegar.
  3. Pour solution into a spray bottle to clean your bathroom and kitchen.

As a disinfectant:

  1. Mix ½ cup of Borax with 1 gallon of vinegar.
  2. For a scented cleaning solution, you can add a few sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary, or lavender. 
  3. Allow the sprigs to steep for about 10 minutes, then strain.
  4. Pour into a spray bottle.

FAQs

Can you mix vinegar and Borax to kill mold?

Yes, you can mix vinegar and Borax to kill mold. Borax and vinegar is an effective mold-killing solution.

Can you use Borax and vinegar together in laundry?

You can use Borax and vinegar in the same load. However, for best results, it is best to use them during different cycles.

For maximum effectiveness, use Borax during the wash cycle with your regular detergent and vinegar during the rinse cycle.

To Wrap Up

As you try to maintain a clean home while doing the best for the environment and your family’s well-being, you may be in search of products containing fewer harsh or toxic chemicals. 

Thankfully, Borax and vinegar are two useful, green household cleaners you can safely mix to clean your home without the fear of releasing harsh chemicals or fumes.

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