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Does Borax Bleach Clothes?

Have you ever been enjoying a meal and accidentally slopped food or sauce on your blouse shirt? If you have, then it’s necessary to have a reliable way of removing stains that won’t damage clothes. Borax is an available option, but is it safe to use in your laundry? Does Borax bleach clothes?

No, Borax alone does not bleach clothes when added to your wash. Instead, it works to boost the laundry detergent you already use, helping to remove stains, brighten white clothes, and reduce odors. Borax is only effective when used alongside a laundry detergent.

In this article, we’ll discuss how Borax works, how to use it as instructed, and how Borax can be a safe and beneficial addition to your laundry routine. We’ll also explain how to use it to wash your clothes and to remove stuborn stains.

Does Borax Bleach Clothes

Does Borax Bleach Clothes?

Borax is a naturally occurring salt that releases a small amount of hydrogen peroxide as it dissolves which will boosts your laundry detergent’ cleaning ability. When too much of it is present, hydrogen peroxide can lighten clothes. However, when used correctly Borax won’t cause any harm.

Borax is safe to use on colored fabrics and doesn’t cause bleaching, bleeding, or other damage. It may even be a safer way of removing stains than traditional color-safe bleaches. Borax does not need any added chemical lighteners to reduce staining.

Borax is also safe to use on black clothes, and can even help to keep your colors bolder for longer. In particular, it helps to remove soap residue and soften hard water that can lead to clothes looking faded or dingy.

Things That Can Affect Color Fastness

Clothes do fade, and it may not be due to the use of Borax, the color fastness of your clothes can depend on a wide variety of factors. The types of fibers and dyes used in the creation of the clothes, how the fibers or fabric were dyed, as well as the heat of the water used to wash them are just a few of the factors that affect color fasness in clothes.

When it comes to fibers, each type has its own unique properties. Some fabrics, such as polyester, are known for holding colors well. Others, like linen or silk, tend to fade easily. Check the tags to see what fibers make up your clothes to determine how best to wash them to prevent fading.

Darker dyes tend to fade easier than lighter tones, as do many natural dyes versus synthetic ones. Additionally, many synthetic fibers have the dye mixed in as part of their fabrication, while most natural fibers have the dye added sometime later. So, regardless of what type of fabric the clothes are made of, your dark colored clothes may fade simply because of the dyes or the dying processes that were used in their creation.

Water temperature can also be the culprit. Over time, hot water can cause fabrics to lose their colors or to fade. Colder water temperatures are often the best way to help preserve color fastness in your clothing.

If you are concerned about laundry products and your colored clothes, you can always do a test spot. Mix up a small amount of the product using the directions on its container. Then, apply it to an inconspicuous location on the garment and let sit for 30 minutes before rinsing. If the test spot is difficult to discern once it dries, then the laundry product is safe for the garment.

What Does Borax Do?

Borax 20 Mule Team Detergent Booster, 65 Oz.Borax, also known as sodium tetraborate, is a naturally occurring mineral that, among other things, raises the pH of your laundry cycle. The higher pH helps to fight particularly stubborn stains. It can also make white clothes whiter by disolving old detergent trapped in the fabric which often causes whites to look dingy.

Benefits for Laundry

Adding Borax to your wash alongside your laundry detergent can be useful in ways beyond just basic stain removal. In particular, Borax:

  • Enhances your detergent
  • Removes soap residue
  • Inhibits bacteria, fungi, and mold growth
  • Eliminates laundry odors
  • Softens hard water
  • Acts as a buffer to keep water pH at an ideal level for cleaning

Other Uses of Borax

Think beyond just your laundry room when it comes to using Borax. Borax is also used to make homemade cleaners, which work on most surfaces in your home. These cleaners are especially useful for hard surfaces in your kitchen and bathrooms.

Borax is also handy as a pest deterrent, particularly against ants. Simply mix equal parts of Borax and white sugar and leave them in an area where insects are present (away from kids or pets). They will quickly pick up the mix and carry it back to be consumed in their nests, where they will then die.

On a fun note, Borax is also a common ingredient in a wide array of DIY craft projects or science experiments. Break out the supplies and have fun crafting with borax-based activities!

How to Use Borax in Laundry

To use Borax as a laundry booster, add ½ cup to every load of laundry you do along with your regular detergent. From there, wash and dry your laundry as normal.

Borax can be stubborn about dissolving in cold water, which can leave a residue of undissolved powder in the bottom of your washing machine or sink. The best way to avoid this is to use warm water in your washer or to pre-mix the Borax powder with warm water before adding it to your load.

Particularly stubborn or set-in stains can be pre-soaked in a Borax solution. Mix ½ cup of Borax per gallon of warm water in your sink, a bucket, or washing basin. Rinse the stained clothes to wet them and add them directly to the borax-water mix and let soak for 30 minutes before washing as usual.

Borax can also be used for spot treatment of smaller stains, by mixing one part of Borax with two parts of warm water. This 1:2 solution can be added directly to the stained area and allowed to sit for 30 minutes before it is rinsed out.

Add Borax to your washing machine by sprinkling it onto the bottom of the empty wash tub before adding the dirty laundry. You want the borax to be in the laundry at the beginning of the cycle so that it has adequate time to dissolve and work on your clothes.

For handwashing clothes, mix the borax and your regular detergent in water before adding the dirty clothes. Then, handwash as usual before rinsing thoroughly to remove any remaining soap or Borax. Borax can irritate the skin with prolonged contact, so consider wearing rubber or latex gloves during this process.

Can You Use Borax Instead of Laundry Detergent?

Borax is not a replacement for your regular laundry detergent. Many detergents may contain Borax as an ingredient. However, it alone is not enough to properly eliminate dirt and unwanted grime from your laundry.

You can, however, make homemade laundry detergent that features Borax as an ingredient. Simply mix 1 cup of Borax with 1 cup of washing soda, a grated bar of Fels-Naptha soap, and ½ cup of laundry softener crystals. Add 2 tablespoons of the mixture to your washing machine per load of laundry.

Can You Use Borax Instead of Other Laundry Add-Ins?

While Borax is an ingredient commonly found in many laundry add-ins, it is not a direct 1:1 substitution for most products. Instead, Borax is typically used as an addition to most chemical or processed laundry products.

Borax vs. Bleach

Bleach is a chemical that cleans clothing while working to remove the color from it – regardless of whether the color is from a stain or is the dye of the clothing itself. While Borax is found in many laundry products, it is not generally an ingredient in most available bleaches. This means it is even less likely to act as a direct substitute for bleach in your laundry.

Borax vs. Oxiclean

Of the laundry products available, Borax and Oxiclean are both stain removers and work in similar ways. So if you are looking purely for stain removal, the two may be somewhat interchangeable. However, they contain different ingredients that don’t work in the same ways – meaning that Borax isn’t going to be a direct substitute for Oxiclean.

Borax vs. Washing Soda

Borax and washing soda are often confused with one another, despite being entirely different products. Washing soda, also known as soda ash, has an extremely high pH level and uses its alkalinity to clean clothes. Borax, while also alkaline, has nowhere near as high a pH and therefore won’t be a direct substitution for washing soda.

Borax vs. Vinegar

Borax and vinegar are in the simplest of ways opposites of one another. Vinegar is an acid that lowers the pH of your laundry to remove unwanted dirt or stains. Borax is alkaline and therefore raises the pH of your laundry to accomplish its tasks. So the two substances act in opposite ways to accomplish some of the same goals, and if used together can neutralize each other.

Can You Mix Bleach and Borax?

Bleach and Borax can be safely mixed in your laundry. However, bleach will discolor any clothes that are not white already. This mixture should only be used on clothes that will not be harmed by the added bleach. It should be noted, though, that Borax is one of the few cleaners that are safe to mix with bleach. For any other combinations, consult the labels or manufacturers of the products to ensure that no toxic fumes will be produced by the mixture.

Is Borax Safe for Laundry?

Generally speaking, if used correctly, Borax is safe to on your clothes. Much of this comes from the fact that Borax is an natural mineral that is mined from dry lake beds all around the world. There are no harsh chemicals or other additives.

Precautions and Warnings

Undiluted borax can cause irritation when it comes into contact with your skin or eyes. For this reason, it should be kept out of reach of children and pets. If Borax comes into direct contact with your eyes, immediately rinse them with cool water for 15 minutes. Contact your doctor if irritation persists.

Borax is dangerous if ingested. If this occurs, drink a large glass of milk or water and call your physician immediately. Do not induce vomiting.

Borax is banned in the European Union as substances within the Borate group of chemicals were all reclassified as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC). This is due to some early studies that suggest that the Borate group of chemicals may potentially be hazardous to reproductive health.

Can You Use Borax on Colored Clothes?

In short, yes! Borax is safe to use on any clothes regardless of what color they may be. There’s no need to fear bleaching or other harm when using this natural mineral to boost your detergent.


Borax is an excellent addition to your washing routine, without the added fear of bleaching or damaging your clothes. Don’t forget to always add your regular laundry detergent to get the best results, and be sure to follow the instructions for using Borax correctly. The tips and advice given in this article should help you harness the full benefits of Borax for your clothes.