Borax vs. Washing Soda vs. Water Softener

Regular maintenance, including cleaning and regular inspections of appliances, can help ensure a smoothly running household.

Using multiple products around the home, such as borax for cleaning, washing soda for laundry and water softener for the plumbing system, can help increase a home's efficiency as these products work together and expedite home cleaning and maintenance.


Borax is typically a white powder, but it may also have a brown, yellow or green tinge. It has been used for about 1,000 years for a variety of purposes, such as pottery glaze or as a cleaning agent. It occurs naturally in lakes that repeatedly evaporate and has been found all over the world. It can also be produced artificially. Borax works by turning water molecules into hydrogen peroxide, which can be used for cleaning walls, counter tops, windows, floors, toilets and showers. When borax is mixed with salt, it can also be used as an insecticide or pesticide.

Washing Soda

Washing soda is a naturally-occurring product made from salt and limestone. Like borax, it has been around for a long time; the Egyptians used it to mummify their dead. There are natural deposits in Wyoming. When using washing soda, you need to wear gloves as it can irritate the skin. Washing soda is a bit more versatile than borax as it can be used to clean grease, blood, ink, coffee and tea stains, dissolve wax or grease deposits, remove soap scum, burnt-on foods and moss and slime from walkways. Washing soda can also be added to laundry, during washing, to soften the water and make detergent more effective.

Water Softener

A water softener is entirely different from borax and washing soda; though washing soda can be used to soften water, that is not its sole purpose. A water softener is an appliance that removes hard minerals from the water. Hard water occurs when minerals, such as calcium or magnesium, are present in the water in high concentrations. A water softener, with either sodium or potassium inside the unit, uses ion exchange technology, where the sodium or potassium ions are swapped out with the calcium or magnesium ions, thus softening the water.

Working Together to Improve Home Maintenance

Each product performs separate tasks, though they can be combined to improve the owner's use of time while maintaining the home. For example, a water softener removes hard minerals in the water, resulting in less build-up in sinks and in plumbing fixtures. As a result, less borax is needed to clean these fixtures, which saves time and money, resulting in a more efficient use of time for the owner. A water softener also increases the efficiency of washing powder, which translates into using less washing soda. This, in turn, saves even more money and time.