Photo: Simple

It's time to ditch borax — a salt of boric acid — as a "green" home-cleaning ingredient.

Six reasons to go borax-free:
1. You want your home to be pesticide-free (borax kills ants).
2. You can clean well with food-grade ingredients only — baking soda, salt, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide (treat stains, too).
3. You can use borax-free "green" cleaning recipes.
4. You won't risk poisoning your child or pet.
5. You can clean risk-free while pregnant.
6. Your kids can help make the cleaners and do the cleaning!

To disinfect: Add food-grade hydrogen peroxide (three per cent) to a spray bottle. Spray on hard surfaces and wipe clean. Optional: Add a few drops of lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, tea tree, lemon grass, thyme, lavender, rosemary and/or eucalyptus essential oil, which have antibacterial, antifungal and grease-cutting properties.

To whiten: Try oxygen bleach, in liquid or powdered forms. Follow product instructions. Safe for cloth diapers!

To fight mould and mildew: Clean with salt or use diluted white vinegar (50:50) carefully on tub and tile.

The safety of borax (its salts and precursors) has been
under review:

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called boric acid an irritant and hormone disruptor based on toxicity tests on rats, mice and dogs. Health Canada's science-based screening assessment recommends minimizing exposure.
  • The Environmental Working Group does not recommend using borax to clean your home because it's a short-term irritant and hormone disruptor.
  • The European Union reported developmental and reproductive toxicity effects in laboratory animals. (No clear evidence of male reproductive effects in studies of highly exposed workers in boron mines. But a possible risk of harm to unborn children.)

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