Is anything ever safe?

A couple weeks ago I got asked if Borax was really safe. I thought it was. From what I had read about it, it was a naturally occurring mineral. And it is. But it’s also a chemical.

This is a quote from Borax’s MSDS sheet:

CHRONIC HEALTH EFFECTS: No chronic health effects are expected from the intended use of these products or from foreseeable handling of them in the workplace. Nonetheless, the following effects have been reported for a component, sodium borate, and boric acid. Sodium borate upon entry into the body becomes boric acid.

Sodium Borate: Sodium borate and boric acid interfere with sperm production, damage the testes and interfere with male fertility when given to animals by mouth at high doses. Boric acid produces developmental effects, including reduced body weight, malformations and death, in the offspring of pregnant animals given boric acid by mouth.

The above mentioned animal studies were conducted under exposure conditions leading to doses many times in excess of those that could occur through product use or inhalation of dust in occupational settings. Moreover, a human study of occupational exposure to sodium borate and boric acid dusts showed no adverse effect on fertility.

Government agencies also classify Borax as a toxin and recommend using gloves when handling.

With this information coming to light I have deleted my “recipe” for dishwasher detergent as it contained Borax and I myself will be going back to store bought until I can find a better option.

And Lindsey’s post may be of interest to you as well since she just came across this same info.

There’s always something isn’t there? And it got me thinking, can one ever be completely natural and non toxic in the home? And while this information makes me certain that I will not be using it anywhere near the kitchen as a cleaner or dishwasher detergent, I’m still left wondering if it has a place in my house.

I mean, is it not better than most conventional items? Is it safe for my laundry since we don’t ingest our clothes? Is it okay to use for cleaning really tough stains and cleaning projects? These questions I still haven’t answered. I don’t know if I can ever fully answer those.

And it also leads me to the point that everyone needs to do their own research. There are always 2 sides to every story and to know which side you stand on, you need to find out what you believe is truth. Research both opinions and prayerfully make a decision.

What do you think? Have you or do you use Borax?
About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. lizzykristine @ Uplifted Eyes says:

    This kind of news is precisely why I am slow to jump on any new bandwagon…. :) Sooner or later every single method or product touted as the new best thing ends up being nearly as or more flawed as all the options that went before it!

    I just don’t have the time and energy to constantly look for the new best thing. We use everything in moderation and don’t worry too much. Stress is as harmful as most chemicals, really! :)

  2. Well, I don’t usually Eat borax, but its no surprise that its a bad food choice. That aside, I use it in the ‘prewash’ cycle for my cloth diapers. The diapers get a whole wash and rinse cycle after that, and I don’t use much so I think its probably relatively safe for that purpose.

    If you want a homemade dish detergent that doesn’t use borax, you can try one with Castile soap and vinegar. Here is a link to a recipe:

    I haven’t made it, and the only comment about it is that it leaves a film on the dishes, but maybe vinegar would help? I admit, we just use store bought or a dime size squirt of regular dish soap if we run out.

  3. I have never used Borax. But lately I have felt so stressed about so many things – food, plasticizers, chemicals…..

    And so I decided to do what I can and stop worrying about so many things because in the end “is anything ever safe?”

  4. Catherine says:

    As for laundry I find 1-2 Tbsp of washing soda and a dash of castile soap works well. I was using up to 1/4 cup of castile soap but discovered you really don’t need that much.

    I’m still torn over whether or not I’m going to stop using my dishwasher detergent with borax. My recipe includes citric acid. Maybe I’ll try experimenting with citric and baking or washing soda to see if it will work as well.

  5. I haven’t used Borax. I’m too lazy to make my own cleaning solutions/ laundry detergent since I work outside the home full time, and I am usually doing well to keep the place clean at all. I do use “green” cleaners/ laundry detergents that are reportedly nontoxic, not tested on animals, etc.
    Eventually, I think guess I feel like just throwing in the towel and going with whatever is the least harmful, but still gets the job done effectively.

  6. Kathryn says:

    I do use borax. I've known for some time that it is a toxin, & we mix it with a sweetener (corn syrup i bought long ago & do not use for human consumption) to kill the ants we have around the house. (I do protect this from the cats getting into it, putting it into a closed yogurt container with small holes for the ants to get into.) I don't have children to worry about at this point.

    Many natural things are toxic. Many things that are good for you can cause problems when you consume too much (WATER poisoning, anyone?). I think all things have to be in balance, but i have decided to use this in my laundry.

    I do use soap nuts & are very pleased with them. I also use baking soda (i can't seem to find washing soda, but i'm content with this; washing soda is poisonous, too), borax & vinegar in every load of laundry with the soap nuts. I'm pleased with the result. My MIL commented on how soft our towels are, & i don't have to worry about the chemicals/fragrances in commercial detergents or fabric softeners. It has gotten so that i'm so unused to chemical fragrances that i have to hold my nose walking down that isle in the grocery when i buy the borax.

    On rare occasion (a couple of times a year) i will use bleach. I do have to admit that my whites aren't sparkling, but much of that is marketing. Our clothes are clean, & that's enough for me.

  7. zebe912 says:

    I second much of what Kathryn said, but also lizzy…I have a box of borax. It isn’t open and I haven’t used it for anything. But I know it will come in handy every so often. But I don’t use it on a regular basis. Even when I hear the word “borax” it doesn’t sound natural or healthy. Even without knowing what it really was, the product name always made me wonder. I don’t plan on eating it and it will probably only ever go in our washing machine occasionally. With that sort of use I’m not worried.

  8. Virginia says:

    Ok, I have to tell you about Shaklee. They are a company committed to safe, powerful, green and smart cleaning products with a positive reputation for over 50 year. I’ve just switched over to their Get Clean line of household cleaning products. What an awesome set of products! I have white laundry now without bleach and NO toxic chemicals in my house! Woohoo!

    Check it out:

    AND Shaklee offers a 100% unconditional satisfaction guarantee that Get Clean does what it says, or you get your money back. Plus Get Clean out-cleans 12 national brands! (These products are even cheaper than cleaning with vinegar and water! And no vinegar smell!)

  9. Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship says:

    I’m following the comments at Lindsay’s post with great interest! I tried the DW detergent recipe too, but got nervous about the Borax facts…

  10. Donielle says:

    you know, for me borax wasn’t really something I hopped on so much for the non-toxic factor, but for the cheap factor. And I figured it was better than the conventional stuff that’s out there. That being said, I’m really only pulling it’s use from the dishwasher since in that case you do “eat it” if it’s not rinsed away. I’m still using it in the laundry since we use such a very small amount. (although I only use Allen’s naturally on my dipes)

    In the end good nutrition is what I remain the most passionate about. Because God gave our bodies the ability to remove toxins (aka the liver). But I also think if we remove the toxins as much as we can, we’re better off. To many toxins make the liver overwork itself and then it can’t get rid of excess hormones every month. So eat great food and keep your liver in top notch shape, and you know…a couple chemicals here and there may not be the end of the world if used properly and with care.

    But again, I’ll find something better for the dishwasher even if I have to buy it again. :-)

  11. rodnamomof2 says:

    Hi. I have been searching and searching for a recipe for a natural safe dishwasher detergent.
    I came across your blog and was hoping that perhaps you had found one that does not contain Borax.
    I am wondering if perhaps you could use Baking Soda alone?
    It does almost everything that the Borax does.
    I want a recipe for dishwasher and laundry detergent that does not contain Borax or soap that dries out the skin.
    If you have any advice I would Greatly apreciate it.
    Thanks, Rodna

  12. Donielle says:

    You could try this one from Lindsey:

    I haven't tried it yet, but it's on my list of to do's. :-)

  13. This link refers to a study on borax that actually lists other links and references. One paragraph about it like above may not be reliable. Borax in this study has been deemed safe. It is a study on borax miners. It was determined that one does not need gloves to handle borax, among other things.

  14. Actually this info about Borax is misleading. The doses they used in animal studies were very high, something to which it would be very difficult for humans to be exposed to. Furthermore, it appears through several studies that Borax or boric acid, does not get absorbed through the skin. Borax is however very useful for fluoride detox – you know, that extremely dangerous poison that they put in your water supply. Fluoride is the most reactive element in the periodic table and binds to anything almost – this screws up most physiological processes and that’s why it was used very effectively as a rat poison. Btw, I have a Ph.D. in pharmacology :)