When added to a laundry wash, borax makes detergents even more effective. It’s also “quite alkaline, so it kills mold and fungus and softens water,” says Robert Wolke, Ph.D., author of What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained ($11, amazon.com).
Price: About $5 for 4 pounds at supermarkets.
Use It to Clean Your…
Baseboards, countertops, and walls: Dissolve ½ cup borax in 1 gallon hot water and pour the solution into a spray bottle (which you can store for later use). Spritz generously, wipe down with a damp cloth, and let air-dry.
China (including hand painted): Soak china in a dishpan filled with warm water and ½ cup borax; rinse well.
Dishwasher: If the machine is smelling like last night’s chicken cacciatore, sprinkle borax in the bottom, let it sit overnight, then wipe down with a damp sponge. No need to rinse; just run the next load.
Pots and pans: Rub borax into cookware with a damp sponge; rinse well.
Toilet: Pour borax in the bowl and let it sit overnight, says Annie Bond, author of Better Basics for the Home ($13, amazon.com). Swish the bowl a few times with a toilet brush and flush the next day. “Borax really gets rid of rust stains,” she says.