My grandmother was not an educated woman. She left school at an age that would be illegal by today’s standards to get married and start a family. I only had a few short years to know her but from memories and the stories of others I can tell you: my grandma knew things! She knew how to cook like the Iron Chef! She could keep a clean house, catch and clean her own fish, and put my grandfather in his place, even on his worst days (and this was a man who once came home drunk in the middle of the night with a live turkey thinking she’d be HAPPY that he brought it home). All grandmas (well, ok. There may be the exception to every rule but… let’s go with the positive side of things, shall we?) are awesome. They are graduates of motherhood. They made it through to the other side. My totally unbiased opinion was that my grandma (AKA “The Good Cooker”) was the most fabulously awesome granny in the whole universe.
I’ve recently discovered a secret that every woman in my grandmother’s generation knew: Borax. I’m not sure how or why Borax became forgotten. I blame the fancy commercials during the afternoon stories.
I first heard of Borax when I wanted to make biodegradable laundry soap that was safe for cloth diapers. It was easy to find, very inexpensive and did a great job.
Then I read that you can use it to make dishwasher detergent. 1/2 TBSP of Borax + 1/2 TBSP of washing soda in the soap cup + a splash of white vinegar in the rinse cup = the sparkly-cleanest dishes you’ve ever seen for a fraction of the cost of commercial products and with no harmful effects on the environment or bad chemical smells in your house (ever get lightheaded walking down the detergent aisle? Ever think about why?).
So then I thought, if it cleans the dishes that well, would it clean my greasy stove? I had the perfect chance to find out after making fried chicken. Here is my before pic:
I sprinkled the Borax on and wiped it up with a warm, wet rag. I know I sound like a housewife on a commercial but I really didn’t need to scrub at all. I literally just wiped it up. Here’s the after:
So NOW I’m starting to get all enthusiastic! What else can this wonderstuff do? Well…. the box says it can clean carpet. ”Hmm,” I think. ”I do have that one mysterious stain in the living room that no one will admit to causing.” I sprinkled Borax on the stain, wiped it with a rag, waited for it to dry, swept it up and VOILA!
I’m so excited! My carpet is clean again! Hooray!
I used it to clean my toilet too, but I’ll spare you the pix. Suffice it to say, I have a nice white bowl again.
So I did a little looking and learned that Borax will kill the weeds that spring up in your sidewalk cracks if you sprinkle it there. It repels bugs. It removes rust. It kills mold. You can use it to make lotion. You can use it to make slime. I’m not really sure why you would want to make slime, except maybe to impress your kids. But, hey! If you want to, just get some Borax!
So now, after 35 years of living: 1/2 of them more or less as an adult on my own, I know what my grandma knew when she was just a girl. Every house needs a box of Borax!
A disclaimer, before I go. Borax is natural and biodegradable. It is NOT NON-TOXIC! Keep your wonderpowder locked away from your pets and children! There are some cautions out there about using it on dishes and cutting boards as it can, in LARGE QUANTITIES be harmful to the digestive tract and kidneys and also to the male reproductive system. My advice: don’t eat Borax in large quantities. Rinse things well. The 1/2 TBSP you put in your dishwasher that gets rinsed with 6-10 gallons of water (the amount used in an average cycle) is probably just fine. It’s going to be much safer than the paraben-loaded stuff sold commercially. Borax does not know the difference between a weed and a plant that you are hoping will thrive so keep it on the sidewalk cracks and far away from your garden. As with anything, use common sense! After all, that’s what grandma would do.
What other uses do you know for Borax?