When cleaning your home, you may be concerned about how synthetic or natural the chemicals you're using are, as well as how your dog or cat will react to them. One product you've heard about is borax, also known as sodium tetraborate decahydrate, and unfortunately, borax is not safe for pets and is extremely toxic if ingested.
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What is borax carpet cleaner?
Borax is a naturally occurring mineral that's made up of water, oxygen, boron, and sodium. This molecule is called sodium tetraborate decahydrate. The chemical is found in small amounts in some plant, garden, and lawn fertilizers as well as borax-based laundry and cleaning products. Sometimes, people will confuse borax for boric acid, which is not the same thing. You may have seen borax at the grocery store or Home Depot under the brand Twenty Mule Team Borax.
Borax is a soft white crystal that can be used to clean carpets and to do laundry, as well as to combat odors like mildew smells and pet urine smells. You can also utilize borax when cleaning toilets, mopping the floors, removing rust, and washing dishes.
Borax vs. boric acid
While borax is used for cleaning, boric acid is used as an insecticide to kill pests like ants and fleas. Both are borates, which means they are derived from the element boron, and they are found in desert-like places like Nevada and Utah. However, boric acid is highly toxic to pets when ingested; it can cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting at the very least. If it's ingested, you need to take your dog or cat to the veterinarian immediately for treatment.
Before trying to use boric acid to rid of pests in your home, ask your vet about safety issues. For instance, you may need to place it on the ground, but your dog or cat could easily access it this way and become very ill. Inquire with your vet about where to place the boric acid where it will still be effective and out of reach of pets.
Is borax harmful to pets?
Borax is harmful to pets if ingested, like all laundry products, but it doesn't carry the same high risks as boric acid. You need to keep borax away from your pets at all times, just like you would any other laundry detergent or cleaner. Make sure you keep it in a cabinet, locked away, and not left open. Transfer the borax into a tightly sealed container once it's already been opened.
Borax is a skin irritant for humans, and it can cause an upset stomach as well as irritation. Eye contact with borax should always be avoided. If a human ingests it, they need to go to the doctor immediately, so a pet that ingests borax also needs to go to the veterinarian right away.
Other natural cleaners
If you're still worried about borax not being safe for pets, you can make your own homemade cleaners out of things like white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice. You can use a baking soda scrub, made up of baking soda, warm water, and salt, to clean your dog's bowls as well as your floors and countertops.
If you want to make your carpets look better and smell fresher, sprinkle baking soda on them, let it sit for 15 minutes, and then vacuum it up. You can also clean your carpet with a mixture of ½ cup of white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of salt as an alternative to borax on the carpet.
Whenever you're cleaning with baking soda or other natural products, keep your pets away. You don't want them to accidentally eat the baking soda, for instance, which could make them ill. By being aware of where or cat or dog is while you're cleaning and keeping all products away from them, they should be safe, happy, and healthy at all times.
Borax is used for cleaning, while boric acid is used as an insecticide. Borax should not be ingested by pets, and it's safest to keep it away from them at all times. However, borax should not be confused with boric acid, which is also highly toxic to pets.