To keep my home clean and as close to clutter-free as possible, I try to stick to items that have dual purposes. Our guest room has a vanity that doubles as a nightstand, and our entry table doubles as extra storage for knick knacks.

The double-duty designation also is handy in the kitchen. I always keep a good stash of lemons on hand, not just for flavoring food, but also for kitchen décor, garbagedisposal deodorizing and butcher-block cleaning. Another handy double-duty staple I’ve grown to love is Borax.


The all-natural substance has been around and in use since 1891, according to 20 Mule Team, which is one of the most recognizable Borax brands. While it is touted as a detergent booster, this handy substance can serve many more functions:

Deodorizer: Combine ½ cup of Borax with a gallon of hot water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray things like pet beds or other items that could use it. For a fresh scent, add essential oil such as lemon or tea tree.

Bathroom Cleaner: Pour ¼ cup of Borax around your toilet bowl and let it sit for several minutes. Then, scrub the bowl with a toilet brush, and flush when finished. For general bathroom cleaning, use Borax as you would any other powder cleaner. Sprinkle a bit on a damp sponge and scrub bathroom surfaces before rinsing with warm water.

Pest control: Mix equal parts Borax and flour or sugar and sprinkle in areas prone to insects like roaches. You also can sprinkle some Borax along the perimeter of rooms that have mice. The Borax sticks to their feet, which irritates them and deters them from coming back. If you have pets or children, keep the sprinkling to areas that are out of reach, such as behind counters and other large objects.

Kitchen Cleaner: Mix ½ cup of Borax in 1 gallon of hot water until it dissolves completely. Pour into a spray bottle and use as you would any all-purpose cleaner. The brand 20 Mule Team recommends storing the solution in the spray bottle and refreshing once a month to keep the ingredients active.

Borax typically is safe to use on most surfaces, however, remember to test small, inconspicuous spots before moving onto larger areas. If you are unsure, contact your product’s manufacturer before proceeding.

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