Borax vs. OxiClean

Anytime you search for efficient stain removers and cleaning agents, Borax and OxiClean come up. These items are similar in appearance, characteristics, and methodology, and you might wonder which one to use.

Some might consider them interchangeable, but upon further review, the slight differences between Borax and OxiClean become clear based on the products’ multiple functions and user preferences.

Description of Borax and OxiClean

Understanding the makeup of Borax and OxiClean is the first step in clearing the confusion between the two.

What is Borax?

Borax is a white alkaline naturally occurring substance found in deposits along arid seasonal lakes around the world. It is a solid mineral that remains long after the lakes evaporate.

Scientists found many significant uses for Borax, making it a vital ingredient in many products and a stand-alone product. It is primarily a laundry additive used to remove tough stains, although it can also be a preservative and pesticide.

However, the natural source is not sustainable to meet the global demands for the chemical, which is why they found ways to synthesize Borax from other substances.

What is OxiClean?

OxiClean is a brand well-known for its wide range of effective cleaning products. The products utilize the eco-friendly oxygen cleaning technology famous in green laundry spaces.

Their range features whiteners, stain removers, colorfast brighteners, etc., used for many cleaning and bleaching purposes.

Different Forms of Borax

Borax is a blanket term for many similar minerals that differ in their water content. The item known as Borax is technically sodium tetraborate decahydrate – with ten water molecules. Other similar forms are sodium tetraborate pentahydrate and anhydrous sodium tetraborate.

Another similar chemical is Boric acid, which is mainly a pesticide. Boric acid should never be mistaken for Borax because it can be highly toxic.

Several companies package and sell Borax, but one of the most dominant companies is 20 Mules.

Different Kinds of OxiClean

Since OxiClean is mainly a cleaning brand, they have products that cater to several cleaning needs like; powerful stain-removing abilities, whitening white clothes, and ensuring colored clothes don’t bleed.

The products are either in liquid, gel, or powder form.

There are dozens of products in the OxiClean brand; the central ones are OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover, OxiClean Laundry and Home Sanitizer, OxiClean Max Force Spray, OxiClean White Revive Laundry Whitener (powder and liquid).

How Borax and OxiClean Works

Although these two items have a similar methodology, the science behind how they work exposes a slight difference.


On its own, Borax is not a cleanser; it is a laundry booster. It works by creating an alkaline solution that helps neutralize acidic dirt and stains.

Borax is alkaline, water has a neutral pH, and most stains are acidic. When Borax mixes with water, it raises the pH of the solution, causing the detergents to work better. It also releases hydrogen peroxide, a powerful cleaning and bleaching agent.

This phenomenon also makes Borax a powerful stain remover capable of getting into the fabric and surfaces to remove visible and invisible stains and residue.

Borax doesn’t just boost detergents; it also aids bleach by enhancing its whitening abilities.


The main ingredient in OxiClean is Sodium Percarbonate, formed from the crystallization of a combination of hydrogen peroxide and washing soda. It is essentially a powdered form of hydrogen peroxide mixed with washing soda.

When this ingredient comes in contact with water – during a wash cycle – it breaks down into hydrogen peroxide, which in turn breaks down to water and oxygen. The oxygen gas released is responsible for cleaning the stains in the laundry.

Other ingredients in OxiClean are washing soda and surfactants, which aid the cleaning efforts, and polymers to stabilize the product.

The Major Difference between the Cleaning Method of Borax and OxiClean

On the surface, Borax and OxiClean perform similarly during cleaning operations, but the added surfactants in OxiClean enable it to be a suitable detergent, unlike Borax.

Another difference between the two is Borax can only dissolve in hot water and is not suitable for cold water washing, unlike OxiClean.

Uses of Borax and OxiClean

Knowing the uses for Borax and OxiClean can help in selecting one over the other.

Uses of Borax

  1. It enhances laundry detergent.

Laundry detergent doesn’t sufficiently remove tough stains; it’s why they require pretreatment. Soaking stained clothes in a solution of water and Borax is appropriate during the stain pretreatment stage.

Another way Borax enhances laundry detergents’ abilities is by adding an appropriate amount into the washer during the wash cycle.

Some detergents and stain removers have Borax as an ingredient to give them an extra boost.

  • It Softens Hard Water

The minerals in hard water leave residue on clothes and appliances, leading to severe damage in the long run. There are many notable ways of softening hard water, but adding Borax – containing sodium – into the washer will counter the effects and remove the hardness.

  • It Acts as a Pesticide

Borax is toxic to ants, and other household pests, mixing two tablespoons of Borax with two cups of water should create a suitable enough pesticide.

  • It Acts as a Deodorizer

Another way of utilizing the high pH of Borax is by creating an environment that makes it hard for mildew and fungi to grow and thrive, eliminating the musty smells that occur in damp areas.

Borax also removes hard-to-remove odors in baby clothes and diapers, workout clothes, etc.

  • Laundry Stripping

Borax is the main ingredient in laundry stripping recipes. Laundry stripping is a deep cleaning method of removing invisible residue from clean clothes.

Uses of OxiClean

Unlike Borax, the use of OxiClean depends on the particular product you have. There are products specifically for white clothes, products for dark or colored ones, and there are the ones for appliances.

Read the instruction label before proceeding.

  1. Stain Remover

OxiClean can remove all kinds of stains, like food, oil, paint, etc. It works on clothing, upholstery, furniture, and even baby clothes.

You can spot clean stains with OxiClean or soak stained clothes in a mixture of water and OxiClean powder.

  • Detergent

OxiClean can work as a detergent on its own. The labels come with sufficient instructions to guide the user. However, do not mix OxiClean with bleach; it can create toxic fumes.

It has the bonus of acting as a deodorizer.

  • Clean Appliances and Tools

When you need to clean your washer, bathtub, toilet, sink, bathroom and kitchen walls, etc., OxiClean is a suitable choice.

Make a solution with one cup of OxiClean powder and one gallon of water to aid the cleaning.

Safety Concerns

Is Borax Safe?

The safety of Borax is a polarizing topic with conflicting opinions. While many agree that ingesting Borax is toxic to humans, they disagree on what qualifies toxicity levels.

Borax has a warning label that advises people to keep it away from children and pets. It also tells you to be careful of inhalation as it can cause damage in the long run.

The use of Borax as an ingredient in preservatives and pesticides has slowly decreased over the years, with some countries banning it. But the Environmental Protection Agency finds moderate use of Borax acceptable.

Is OxiClean Safe?

Like any detergent or stain remover, OxiClean is harmful and will cause disease if ingested or inhaled; be careful when handling this item and follow the instructions on the warning and directions label to know the recommended amount to use.

Any damage OxiClean poses to the environment and aquatic life is not a cause for much concern because it is biodegradable.

Leave a comment