Whether you’re removing stains from clothes or cleaning hard surfaces in your home, borax and OxiClean are go-to products.
But what’s the difference? When should you use each? Is one safer or more effective than the other?
In this comparison of borax vs. OxiClean, I break down their ingredients, uses, safety, and performance.
By the time we’re done, you’ll know the six key differences between borax and OxiClean and have all the facts necessary to decide which product is the best fit for your needs.
Use the links below to navigate the comparison:
- Borax vs. OxiClean: Comparison Chart
- Difference 1: Ingredients
- Difference 2: How It Works
- Difference 3: Uses
- Difference 4: How to Use
- Difference 5: Safety
- Difference 6: Other Products
- FAQs About Borax and OxiClean
- Bottom Line: Should You Use Borax or OxiClean?
Borax vs. OxiClean: Comparison Chart
If you’re in a hurry, below is a quick side-by-side comparison of borax vs. OxiClean. I’ll go into further detail on each of these categories later in the article.
|Boron, sodium, and oxygen
|Sodium percarbonate, sodium carbonate, surfactants, and polymer
|How It Works
|Alkaline formula breaks down acidic stains
|Breaks down stains and emulsifies oils to lift them off surfaces.
|Laundry, household cleaning, odor reduction, water softening
|Fights stains on laundry, linens, carpets, and hard surfaces
|How to Use
|Dissolve in water and use as an all-purpose spray, stain removers, or laundry booster
|Add to laundry or apply to stain following directions for specific products
|Do not ingest, avoid eyes and mouth, avoid prolonged skin contact
|Do not ingest, avoid eyes and mouth
|Borax is an ingredient in products like Lysol, Air Wick, Gain, Tide, OdoBan, and Windex
|Cleaning spray, laundry detergent, detergent paks, disinfectant, laundry sanitizer
Difference 1: Ingredients
Borax is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of boron, sodium, and oxygen. It’s found all over the world but most commonly in dry lake beds.
Unlike OxiClean, borax is not a brand; it’s an ingredient used to formulate products. It’s used in various household cleaning products and stain removers, and it’s also found in specialty toothpaste, skincare products, and even ceramic glazes. Here’s a list of 19 popular products containing borax.
That said, you can buy pure borax, and the most popular brand is 20 Mule Team.
Alternatively, OxiClean is a brand with several products containing various ingredients.
OxiClean’s most popular product is the Versatile Stain Remover Powder.
The active ingredients in that product are sodium percarbonate, sodium carbonate, surfactants, and polymer. The proprietary blend of chemicals is designed to cut through stains safely without harsh bleaching agents.
Difference 2: How It Works
The PH scale measures the acidity and alkalinity of a solution. It ranges from 1-14, with 1 the most acidic and 14 the most alkaline; 7 is neutral.
Borax is alkaline, measuring approximately 9 on the PH scale. When it comes into contact with an acidic stain, like tomato sauce or coffee, borax neutralizes it, making the stain easier to pull out of the fabric.
Also, when borax mixes with water, it converts some of the water molecules into hydrogen peroxide. This bleaching agent brightens stains, making borax even more effective.
Oxiclean contains sodium percarbonate. When it’s mixed with water, it breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate.
Hydrogen peroxide is the same bleaching agent that occurs when you mix borax with water, and it removes the stain the same way. Sodium carbonate alkalizes the water, breaking down acidic stains the same way borax does.
When you mix OxiClean and water, you’ll hear and see fizzing. Those oxygen bubbles help loosen and remove stains from fabrics, hence the name OxiClean.
Ultimately, borax and OxiClean work almost the same way chemically, which is why they are compared so often.
Difference 3: Uses
Borax has several uses, but it’s associated mostly with laundry. It can be used as a spot-stain remover or as a detergent aid.
But borax also has many other applications aside from laundry. You can use it as an all-around cleaner for kitchens and bathrooms, an odor reducer, or even a water softener. Borax is also great for eliminating bugs and weeds.
Be sure to research how to use borax in each application to keep yourself and others safe.
OxiClean’s Versatile Stain Remover Powder can be used to fight tough stains on laundry, carpet, upholstery, and other fabric.
You can also use it on hard surfaces like tile, vinyl, porcelain, granite, and more.
Overall, borax and OxiClean are incredibly versatile and have similar applications.
Difference 4: How to Use
If you’re using borax as a spray cleaner, dilute ½ of a cup into 12 ounces of warm water. Softly mix until no clumps remain. Pour the mixture into a 12oz spray bottle and use as required.
When using borax for laundry, add a tablespoon of borax per gallon to warm water and pre-soak your clothes for 30 minutes. Alternatively, add ½ cup of borax to your washing machine and run the pre-soak cycle.
To use OxiClean on hard surfaces, fill the scoop to line 4 and add it to a gallon of warm water. Apply using a cloth or sponge and let stand for 5-30 minutes. Scrub if necessary and rinse well with warm water.
If you are using OxiClean with laundry, fill the scoop between lines 2-4 per gallon of warm water. Submerge your clothing in the water and let it soak for up to 6 hours. Then wash as directed.
OxiClean offers a variety of products, each with different usage instructions. You can find the instructions for each product on the bottle label or product page on OxiClean.com.
Difference 5: Safety
Borax has some well-known safety concerns if inhaled, ingested, or with prolonged skin contact.
Borax can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if ingested, and large amounts can cause shock or kidney failure.
Inhaling borax can cause severe respiratory problems, including inflammation of the lungs, nose, and throat. It can also lead to rashes due to skin contact and has been linked to problems with male reproductive organs.
Due to these risks, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) gave sodium borate (borax) an F rating.
OxiClean is relatively low risk, especially OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Free, which is fragrance- and dye-free and receives a B rating by EWG. That said, OxiClean is still harmful if swallowed or inhaled.
Always keep borax and OxiClean out of reach of pets and children.
Difference 6: Other Products
Since borax is a compound and not a brand, it doesn’t have any other products. However, borax is used as a key ingredient in various products, including AirWick, Windex, Cheer, Gain, and Tide.
If a product includes sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, it contains borax.
OxiClean has a full lineup of other products, including stain removing spray, liquid laundry detergent, laundry pods, and disinfectant spray.
The formula varies by product, but most OxiClean products contain sodium percarbonate as the active ingredient.
FAQs About Borax and OxiClean
This section answers the most commonly asked questions about borax and OxiClean.
OxiClean does not contain bleach or detergent. Both break down into hydrogen peroxide when combined with water, and that’s a bleaching agent.
The pH of borax is about 9. The pH of OxiClean can be as high as 11, depending on how well it’s diluted.
Both will dissolve better in warm or hot water, but they’ll work in cold water if you mix them well. In general, cleaning with hot water is more effective than with cold water.
Hydrogen peroxide is a highly effective disinfectant. Since borax and OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover break down into hydrogen peroxide when mixed with water, both successfully kill germs and viruses.
OxiClean also makes products specifically for disinfecting, such as its Daily Clean Multi-Purpose Disinfectant spray and the Laundry and Home Sanitizer powder.
Yes, borax and OxiClean are both septic-safe.
It’s unsafe to mix any cleaning chemicals unless the label explicitly states that it is okay. You can mix OxiClean and borax with most bleach-free laundry detergents, but always check the label first and call the brand if you’re not sure.
Mixing OxiClean or borax with cleaners that contain ammonia or bleach could produce toxic gas.
As a general safety rule, only mix borax and OxiClean with water.
OxiClean is safe for most household surfaces, including wood, tiles, grout, upholstery, fabrics, flooring, painted surfaces, carpets, vinyl. Borax is also safe on most surfaces, like tile, ceramic, porcelain, slate, marble, granite, and stainless steel.
Borax and OxiClean should not be used on highly porous surfaces, like bare end-grain cutting boards or surfaces that are delicate, like silk fabric or lace.
Borax and OxiClean do not expire as long as they are kept in a dry environment. If they are exposed to humidity, they will crystalize and harden.
Bottom Line: Should You Use Borax or OxiClean?
Although borax and OxiClean are both used as stain removers, laundry aids, and all-purpose cleaners, they have several distinct differences.
- Ingredients: Borax is a naturally occurring compound made up of boron, sodium, and oxygen. OxiClean’s active ingredient is sodium percarbonate, which breaks down into hydrogen peroxide when mixed with water.
- Uses: Borax is most commonly used as a laundry aid, although it can be an all-purpose cleaner as well. OxiClean is used as a spot stain remover, as well as a laundry aid and all-purpose cleaner.
- Safety: Borax has more of a reputation as a safety hazard than OxiClean. Both borax and OxiClean are harmful if inhaled, swallowed, or if they come in contact with your eyes.
- Other Products: You can buy pure borax, but it’s used as an ingredient in various products, including glass cleaners and laundry detergents. OxiClean offers a versatile line of cleaning products, including powders, sprays, and detergents.
Bottom line — borax and OxiClean are both highly effective and inexpensive. But if you’re on the fence, go with Oxiclean.
Borax, while safe if used properly, poses a greater health risk. The EWG rates sodium borate (the main component of 20 Mule Team’s borax) an F for high health and environmental concerns, while it rates OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Free a B.
The main ingredient in most OxiClean products, sodium percarbonate, gets an A rating from EWG.
Both products perform similarly and cost about the same. Go with the safer option.
Not only is OxiClean the safer option, but it comes in several forms, including powder, liquid spray, and laundry detergent; borax is only sold as a powder.
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