Is Borax Safe For Pets?

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. While you want a sparkling home, you want to ensure that your pets won't get sick from the cleaning products.

Puppy lying in laundry basket
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One product you've heard about is borax, also known as sodium tetraborate decahydrate. You're curious about borax and whether or not you can use it in your home, even with your dog or cat around. First, you need to learn about this cleaner prior to purchasing it.

What is borax?

Borax is a naturally occurring mineral that's made up of water, oxygen, boron, and sodium. You may have seen it 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 odor like mildew smells and pet urine smells. You can also utilize borax when cleaning toilets, mopping the floors, removing rust, and washing dishes.

Sodium tetraborate decahydrate is found in small amounts in some plant, garden, and lawn fertilizers as well. Sometimes, people will confuse borax for boric acid, which is not the same thing.

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 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.

Dog looking at washing machine with stuffed dog toys inside
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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 safe for 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, 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.

Yellow labrador sleeping on sofa near laundry
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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.

Conclusion

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 highly toxic to pets.