What To Do About Clumpy Hard Borax And Washing Soda

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When I started to make my own cleaning products and make my own laundry products a few years back, most of the ingredients I needed were pretty familiar to me. But there were two ingredients that kept popping up in a whole lot of recipes that I was not familiar with at the time, and those ingredients were borax and washing soda.

I remember the first time I went to the store in search of borax and washing soda. I didn’t know if I’d be able to find them but was pleasantly surprised to discover that they were right there on the laundry aisle of my local Meijer grocery store. I just hadn’t ever noticed them!

Borax and washing soda in containers

So yeah, I’ve gotten more comfortable finding and buying my borax and washing soda as time has gone by. I’m enough of an expert on those two white powdery substances now that I’m also familiar with something else that nobody prepared me for. They clump up. They turn rock hard. Especially borax. Man oh man, borax can turn into one giant rock !!

If I’m using a complete box of borax or washing soda (like I do in my Big Batch Homemade Laundry Soap), then it’s not a problem. But sometimes I only use a tiny bit of borax (such as in one of my homemade cleaning sprays) and that leaves me with opened boxes to store for several months.

Dealing with clumpy or hard Borax and Washing Soda

So what’s the deal with those opened boxes of borax and washing soda turning all hard and clumpy??

A little research helped me confirm what I was already thinking. Humidity is the bad guy. Heat can be part of the problem too, but heat and humidity often go hand in hand so I think it almost always tracks back to humidity and moisture. There’s a few strategies people use to keep their powdery substances from getting clumpy (and this includes things like sugar or onion powder too), and they are:

  • Keep in a cool dry place where moisture is low
  • Put something in with the powder like rice or a dry crust of bread that absorbs moisture
  • Store in a tightly sealed container to keep the moisture out

So let’s take a look at those options.

The first change I made a while back was to stop storing my borax and washing soda in the basement. This was the “keep in a cool dry place” strategy. Even though our basement is cool, it can be damp. I was hopeful that move would do the trick but it did not. When I got my borax out again it had once again turned hard. I haven’t come up with any place cooler or drier to put it, short of the freezer. I suppose that’s an option but I’m a little worried about it in with my food stuffs.

And on the flip side of that, I wasn’t crazy for the next option either of “putting something in with the powder” because I didn’t want remnants of any foods ending up in my laundry soaps or cleaners.

I made a small attempt at the “tightly sealed container” option by taping my boxes shut one time after opening them, but that wasn’t really tightly sealing them. I decided I had to take this option more seriously as this seemed like the best bet at a solution.

Prevent Hard Borax – Find New Containers!

I’ve suspected for a while that the cardboard boxes that borax and washing soda are sold in probably make sense from the manufacturers’ point of view as good containers for packaging and shipping, however those cardboard boxes don’t make as much sense for us as the consumer of the product to use for storage.

Twice now, I’ve ended up ripping apart the cardboard box of borax to get at the hard clump inside (cuz you know it ain’t gonna pour out!!) and then putting that clump in something like a large Rubbermaid container and hacking away at it to try to get it back to being kind of powdery again. Once that was done, I would put it into some other storage container because, well, the box was a total goner at that point.

What to do about hard borax and washing soda

{ On a side note, you can see below that I cracked my wooden spoon in half while chopping away at a clump, but guess what? My half-spoon made a very good paddle for clump bashing! lol }

clumpy borax in a container with a broken wooden spoon

So ~ finally and at long last ~ it’s dawned on me that maybe instead of waiting until I’m to the point of smashing up a rock-hard clump of borax and putting it in a better container, I should be transferring my borax and washing soda to a better type of sealed container right from the get-go!

Update: A Borax and Washing Storage Solution that has worked!

This paragraph is an update written eight years after I first wrote the paragraphs above. I’m pleased to report that my plan of transferring the borax and the washing soda to new containers has indeed been a solution that’s worked perfectly for me!

containers of borax and washing soda to help with no clumps

I have a couple of large ziploc containers that I now dedicate to this purpose. I cut out the names from the boxes several years ago and taped them onto my containers to help identify the contents. Now, upon purchasing a new box of borax or washing soda, I immediately empty the contents of the cardboard box into these containers that have well-fitting lids and toss out the cardboard boxes. I even started keeping these containers in the basement again with no problems!

If you’ve also been dealing with a problem with washing soda or borax getting hard and clumping up, I would certainly recommend not keeping them in their original cardboard boxes and instead finding yourself some kind of new containers with well fitting lids. Make sure to label your containers in some way too.

Once the borax and washing soda harden up, it can be quite a struggle to get those substances powdery again, and sometimes downright impossible. It’s been interesting to read many of your comments below about these struggles!

How about you? If you’re a person who keeps borax and washing soda in the house, have you had this hardening and clumping problem too? Feel free to add to the conversation below with your experience and solutions!

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  1. I had a years-old box of Borax and decided to use some in the laundry (front loading machine). I mashed it into powder and small clumps and put it in the detergent dispenser.

    It failed to load into the washer so I scooped out the residue. A few small clumps made it in to the wash, but some solid clumps still remained in the drum after the load was complete.

    I also tried soaking the remainder that I’d scooped out, in a cup filled with water. The Borax failed completely to dissolve or even to melt the clumps.

    Gonna say this box is toast.

  2. I am dealing with clumped borax but also have severe arthritis in my hands. I’m about to put the clumps in my food processor!!

  3. Thank you so much for this information! I have a brick too that I don’t want to discard so I will give this a try.

    1. probably not as much as all the toxic laden cleaning products borax replaces! just because the government says it’s bad doesn’t mean it is. do some more research.

  4. When I recently had “brick” Washing Soda I used a wooden hammer for awhile to break up the “brick” but then switched to a box grater! It worked great and much faster than the wooden hammer. The Borax “brick” broke up just by squeezing it with my hand – much easier to do. THANKS for all the great tips above I did move my Washing Soda and Borax to another container with a screw on lid.

  5. I put my hardened soap powders in a double plastic grocery bag and bang on concrete until it breaks apart. Then I put in a marked plastic container with a couple of those silicone packs that come with many new items.

  6. My problem isn’t while it is in the box. I poured perfectly granulated 20 Mule Team Borax, into my washing machine as I was adding warm water, by the time I turned around to do something and looked back, there were balls of it all over the bottom of the machine. I have not had to rewash anything, yet, but I don’t want to get to that point. (I may try to get some large air tight containers to store it in. I will update this later after seeing what the results are.

  7. My borax is sometimes a solid brick when i bring it home from the market.. usually more often than not. But i do live in the deep south where heat and humidity can be a real doozy.. maybe that is why

  8. If your box of Borax has turned into a solid brick, rip open the box, put the “brick” into a zip lock bag, get out your meat tenderizer hammer and beat on the bag with the flat side of the hammer. Your borax will revert back to a powder and then, YES, store it in an air tight container to keep it from clumping.

  9. I run it through the food processor and store in an old Oxyclean container with a silica packet.

  10. I have put my newly opened box in a 6qt Ikea ziploc bag and pushed out as much air as possible. After pouring out about 1 cup into a smaller ziploc bag for upcoming use. I think the large bag should work at warding off humidity from the contents

  11. I put some clumps in water thinking they would dissolve and I’d use in the wash. Guess not, eh!! So can I save them? I wondered about drying them out in the oven.

    1. I would say they are only worth saving if you can get them back to powder form again. If they are really hard that might not be possible. 🙁 I have a feeling the oven would not work either.

  12. I used a vacuum sealer and put small amounts such as a cup or a half cup each into vacuum sealed bags . I did this as soon as I brought the borax and washing soda home from the store. Then I put the bags of borax back into the original cardboard Borax box.

  13. If you are using these soaps for ecological/economical reasons, consider the mason jar. They last forever…I still use some that came from my husband’s mother. They keep everything dry and are also nice to look at. All of my dry goods are in plain view, where I can manage them well and have virtually zero waste. If they expire, I write the date on the bottom with a sharpie marker, and/or the name of what is inside with green painter’s tape (if I don’t know by looking at it). I turn the label to the wall, and the un-patterned side of the glass out, and everyone loves seeing all the textures and colors of the foods and bulk spices. There is almost zero food waste as well.

  14. I was trying to use borax and vinegar as a cleaning solution. I mixed the borax and vinegar and began to stir. I was hoping to create a paste. As I stirred it did reach the consistency I was looking for but to my surprise it continued to harden. I have no idea what happened

  15. After reading most of the suggestions in this post, I wanted to report that using a Toyota Corolla to run over half of a box of solidified washing soda doesn’t work. I ran over the box three times, but the soda remained intact. I ended up hitting it with a hammer, which was somewhat effective. Anyway, I’m now looking to purchase an F150 pickup for the task. Someone other commenter mentioned using a truck.

  16. I had a box of completely solid Borax. I remembered reading about someone’s favorite method of dehusking black walnuts by running over them with the car so I put the Borax box into double-bagged grocery store paper bags, tucked it under one of the front wheels of my truck and in less than a minute, it was pretty well pulverized. If I can’t crush the remaining small pieces with my fingers when I put the Borax in my washer, I’ll just collect up the small pieces until I think to run over them again. For storage, I use quart canning jars (with old two-piece lids) for storage near my washer; the Borax stays dry.

    1. I imagine running over the hard borax with a truck would do the trick!! That’s one method I sure hadn’t thought of yet 🙂

  17. I too deal with the hard clumping but I am seeing it in a plastic container too. I mix Borax, baking soda and some oxygen. I mix old oxyclean plastic containers with 1/2 baking soda, 1/4 Borax and 1/4 Oxyclean. Note: I have just changed to this recipe, and this is the first time I have had clumping this bad. I am still researching and will report any other findings here. Otherwise I will opt for possibly rice in a mesh bad if some type

  18. Hello, I have the same problem with borax. Thanks for the tips. I’ll try to put some rice in a ‘tulle’ cloth bag to see if the clump disappear. It sucks! Hope it works! Bye!

  19. Thanks for this!! I toss some in with my cloth diaper laundry loads to prevent hard water buildup, and recently after a few humid weeks my loads come out with these hard sharp pointy chunks of washing soda. I’m worried about ripping holes in my cloth diapers when they agitate so I googled about this problem and was happily surprised to actually find advice about it! I’ll try the declumping with a wooden spoon and the sealed container methods.

  20. I love Borax and the box said to dissolve it with warm water. I did that to a few cups and only used 1/2 cup.. the liquid in cold water washing load. Well, the rest of the borax separated and the borax is a rock. No hope???

    1. Yeah, once it’s hard as a rock your only options are to really whack on it with a hammer or something, or just toss it out.

  21. Anything STORED in CARDBOARD should be repackaged after purchase. Table salt, washing soda, baking soda, borax, laundry detergent, etc. These products and possibly other products are able to absorb moisture through the CARDBOARD.
    Sometimes they absorb odors. Never store Morton’s Table Salt LONG TERM. It contains additives and the salt turns into a brick due to the moisture it absorbs through the cardboard. When storing salt, use pink salt. Metal cans w/lids, Rubbermaid, Tupperware, Sterilite, etc. are good plastics to use – be sure to use a lid. Good pink salk in glass is ready for storage. Glass is good stuff but it breaks.🙄🤔😒

  22. Blender breaks down borax pretty well.
    Fresh borax poured into a baggy then place into original box for storage.

  23. I have found that it’s easier to saw it off, I use a bread knife to grate it off. Although I am sawing it off to store in plastic containers. I might would try to store it on the dashboard on a sunny July day to see if that would loosen it up some as well.

  24. loved your comments about washing soda. so true. I am in the process of breaking a knife chopping it away. I think changing the container is a great idea. Thanks very much. My son just came in with an ice pick. wish him good luck.

  25. I’ve had several boxes of baking soda wash do this. The one today was so hard when I opened it, I couldn’t use any of it. I contacted the company and they acted like this never happens. Bologna! I hated throwing it away but that was their only suggestion and are sending me some coupons for free boxes.

    1. That’s too bad they didn’t acknowledge this happens because it certainly does. Thankfully I haven’t had any hard clumps now that I always transfer the borax and the washing soda into containers with good fitting lids.

  26. Hi, I was hoping to find a way to get my hardened epsom salts out of the glass container. Mine had drops of essential oil in it to be a spa treatment but somehow it has hardened like rock solid now and I’d like to find a way to save it and use it. Ideas??

  27. Mine laundry soap mix clumps in the dispenser of my front load HE washer. Any suggestions on how to keep it from doing that?

    1. I think you have to just add the homemade powdered soap directly to the drum rather than use the dispenser. You can also dissolve the powdered detergent in a cup of very warm water first before adding it to the drum to make sure it’s all dissolved.

    1. In researching your question, I came across this page online with a list of approved cleaners for Bathfitter products. I noted on the list that there are many commercial cleaners on the list, and in fact #44 on the list was regular vinegar! Many of the commercial daily shower sprays are on the list, and my homemade version is probably more gentle than those so I believe my homemade one would be safe too. Here is the link to my recipe that you might like to try: Homemade Daily Shower Cleaner.

  28. Do you have a cleaner for PORCELEIN TILE FOORS AND I GOT A BACTERIA AND WAS TOLD bleach was the only thing that killed the bacteria do you have a cleaner for that.

    1. Well, bleach is always effective for killing germs, but if you’re looking for something a little less toxic than bleach, you could try a vinegar/water mixture. Vinegar has disinfecting properties too, and as far as I can tell from my internet research, it is safe to use on porcelain tile too.

      1. Bleach has been around for more than 100 years, during which our the lifetime of North Americans has increased by more than 20 years (which is one reason why most of us get to know our grandparents and overlap with our great grand parents). It is the gold standard used to control infection in veterinary medicine, and is one of the safest “chemicals” around. The dose is the poison, so research carefully (using reputable sources of information, and make sure you understand how to make a solution).

        Chlorox is used to disinfect water, and also produce that has to meet public health standards. When covid19 came around, everyone was running for the Purell…I bought a few gallons of Clorox, and have enough disinfectant for virtually everything for pennies by comparison. Having worked in a laboratory that studied deadly viruses every day, and never “taken my work home with me”, I could not recommend it more highly. In my Zoo work, no produce was fed to any animal without the exterior first having been lightly soaked in a dilute Chlorox solution and rinsed thoroughly. Preventative health is SO much easier than treating illness. I am not a hoarder or a prepper, but this is one supply I keep around in good amounts. In a survival situation it is the diarrhea from micro-organisms that gets you, not the chemical. Chlorox is an excellent broad spectrum (bacteria/viruses/fungi) disinfectant. One warning though, is to rotate stored stock…it does become less effective over time.

        1. Yes!!!! Periodontists (dentists who specialize in gum diseases) recommend a “bleach rinse”…it is extremely diluted!!! In fact, most dentists or dental hygienists also recommend this rinse to people who have bleeding gums or other excessive bacteria…also bleach is used in root canal therapy! So many ppl are shocked by this! U are right about the “dose”…I can’t remember now (I was a hygienist for decades but had to retire my license due to a medical problem so it’s been 10 yrs since I practiced) but the dosage was about 1/4 tsp to 1 gallon (or quart?) of water!

  29. I was just getting ready to buy more borax and washing powder and as you said it is as hard as a rock. In FL I do not have a cellar and a lot of humidity, no room to store it any where else but my hall closet. Do those containers keep all the humidity out? I put all my washing powders after mixed in a 5 gal bucket with a secure lid I got in the hardware dept. at Walmart, lid separate (I double the recipe). So far the soap is not clumping that is when it is all mixed together. I hate to buy more buckets to put the boxes in when they are only half full not too much space in the house. Thanks for your comments…

  30. I have found borax to be pretty easy to un-clump. I put it in the microwave and run it for about a minute at a time and break sections off as it softens a bit. (This works very well with sugar too.) However, the washing soda doesn’t respond to this treatment so I have gotten in the habit, as a couple of others mentioned, of immediately upon bringing it home putting in another container. I have quite a few of those large cans that dehydrated or freeze dried foods come in and put the whole box in there. I am careful to open it, use what I need, then immediately put the plastic lid back on. So far, no problem with clumping!

    1. I also think that the most important thing is to immediately transfer the borax (or washing soda) to another type of container with a tight fitting lid. This has worked great for me (but I will remember your tip of using the microwave if I still run into some clumps!)

  31. Here’s the solution! (I think! It seems to work for me!) Re-use those little packets of silica that you get in pill bottles, new shoes and such. I transfer my borax into large recycled plastic juice containers when I get it, (I think glass might be even better, but wet slippery laundry hands and glass bottles don’t mix!), and as I am pouring it in, I add any of those little packets I have saved up. If you don’t want to wait to get any of those little packets, you can buy containers of silica (used for drying flowers among other uses), pour some into a coffee filter, fold and tape with a piece of duct tape and throw it in the container of Borax. I use the same kind of thing in my fridge and freezer. I buy the largest coffee filters I can find and buy non food-grade baking soda at a Co-op or Tractor Supply company (used in stalls to absorb odour). I ‘think’ it is about $20 for a 50 lb bag.I usually set them on a small lid or dish in the fridge and freezer so no powder sifts through. I also give them a shake every now and then. After a few weeks (or whatever you prefer), Dump the baking soda down the drain while running hot water and put the coffee filter in recycling. (or you can give it a quick rinse and put it in the bottom of your potted plants to stop dirt from running out the holes! Patti

    1. Thanks for sharing that strategy Patti! Silica works to absorb moisture so it makes sense it would be helpful for borax too.

  32. I look for products that come in cardboard as it’s better for the environment. There’s so much plastic waste out there that our kids, grandchildren & generations to come will be drowning in it!

  33. I transfer borax and washing soda from their original cartons to glass jars. I then take a section of plastic wrap and fold it a few times to make a square that will fit the jar opening with overhang. I place the plastic square on the jar opening and place the jar lid snuggly. I have both these products in my laundry closet that houses my washer and dryer so there is a good bit of humidity there and have had no clumping issues whatsoever. The current washing soda I have has been in a jar probably 5 years with no clumps. Years ago I tried making laundry soap, but wasn’t happy with the results, thus the 5-year-old washing soda. I now use the soda to soak labels off jars and containers and it works well for that.

      1. For those like me who are trying hard to use less plastic, wax paper works as well…this humble product has been around a long time before plastic and in many, many applications, works just as well. Lots of plastic use could be substantially reduced by thinking about if wax paper will get the job done.

  34. I found a way to easily unclump powdered detergents!!! Drill, bucket, mask and a ROTTO stripper drill attachment. Put a clear plastic bag over the area loosely so i could see as well as keep the dust down. Less than a minute later it was almost perfect. I sifted out what little chunks we’re left and rottoed them too. Works like a charm. They make a grinder that’s really rough for drills that also may work. I had the ROTTO so I just used that. I thinks it’s about $5 part. In the long run if you have caking problems with detergents it’s well worth it.

  35. did you know you can make your own washing soda by buying a big container of baking soda at the “big box’ store and heating it over low heat in the oven.. saves money

  36. how about dividing the product into the amounts you will need before it gets a chance to clump on you?? and if you are already stuck with a clump that you need to use, how about using an old grater to loosen the clump as best you can then pound the daylights out of the smaller bits… hope this helps

    1. Both of those are good suggestions Linda! I often keep some of my borax and washing soda in smaller containers in another closet and those almost never clump up.

  37. You can take the hard clumps, and put them in a ziplock bag, get most of the air out of the bag. Then, using a WOODEN mallet (which can be bought where wooden spoons are located in most housewares stores)…. you can place the bag on a worktable and take your frustrations out on that bag. Beating the clumps into submissive little powder particles. To further add to the fun… pour the powder through a sieve into a storage container, and any remaining little clumps can be placed back in the bag & be beat to death, until they too are powdery enough to go into the container.

    1. Oh yes! Clumpy borax can be a good way to get out all your angry frustrations with all the beating and bashing 🙂

  38. I made a paste of borax, sugar and water to get rid of cockroaches; it has now hardened and I can’t get it out of the cup. Boiling water loosened it a bit but not enough. Any suggestions for saving this cup and removing the hardened paste?

    1. About the only idea I had was boiling water too. Maybe it will take several treatments of boiling water. Other than that I don’t have any bright solutions other than just chopping away at it. 🙁

    2. Try a tiny drill. Mark the approximate height of the clump on the drill so you don’t go deep enough to drill into the cup. Then start making holes until it cracks off. Keep drilling and scraping and then see if it will disengage from the sides and bottom.

  39. I am trying to make body powder but have trouble with it caking. I used corn starch, rice flour and even ground up jasmine rice. The rice makes it a little grainy. Any thoughts?

    1. Moisture is usually the problem when there’s clumping. Some people have success adding dried beans, dried split peas, or unpopped popcorn kernels. They’re larger than rice so you might get better results. Also make sure you are using a container with a tight lid and for one more level of protection you could try putting a small piece of saran wrap over the jar opening and then screwing on the lid. And finally, you could try keeping the mixture in the freezer, but of course that’s not very convenient.

  40. My washing soda box was very hard today. I eased it out of the box, Just used a knife to scrape it, and it easily became powder again. It took a little time, but not hard (pun) to do. The left over washing soda I put in a ziploc and returned it to the original box for next time’s laundry making. The borax box was not hard. I’m hoping the ziploc will prevent it to harden again.

    1. Yes Ann, I think a ziploc bag would work the same way as a container with a tight fitting lid and should certainly help toward keeping your washing soda from getting clumpy.

  41. I have had this problem with Epsom salts. I have some in a pretty glass apothecary jar next to my tub and now they are rock hard. I can’t go pounding away at a glass jar to soften up the salts. What if I break the jar? I was hoping to find a hint like maybe putting a mesh bag of rice in there for a few weeks or something. Any ideas? I will say that brown sugar keeps great in a tupperwaee type container with a piece of water soaked terra cotta or a piece of apple. But whereas epsom salts get moist and harden up; brown sugar gets dry and hardens up…..just the opposite.

    1. Jennifer – I think if you want to keep your epsom salts in some kind of decorative jar, it should have a very tight sealing lid. Like you said, the problem is moisture getting in and the type of sealed container it is in can go a long way in keeping the moisture out.

    2. Use it in the bath for a fantastic soak before it hardens. It’s a magnesium treat for heart and muscles and a great reward for a full day of washing and cleaning.

    3. I buy little muslin cloth bags (and have found them to be useful for many things, particularly sachets of dried herbs for keeping drawers of stored items bug free and sweet smelling, and to add herbs to soups to remove later). They are washable and re-usable. When I have dried my herbs (lavendar, mint, citrus peel, etc.), I put epsom salts in the bag with those, and then the bags in a jar. Then when I take a bath, pop one in under the water (make sure the draw string is tightly tied), dissolve the salts and the fragrance wafts up for top notch, fresh, home grown aromatherapy! Humidifies the house too when it is dry in the winter, and they look pretty and natural in the jar in the bathroom of my 100 year old house.

  42. I use the silicone packs that come in new items. I throw them into the container and although it doesn’t prevent all clumps, it does not become one big hard rock.

  43. Hi! I found this thread to be helpful when I was researching what to do with my hardened Super Washing Soda. There are a lot of good suggestions here about storage and such, but my question is if any of you have discovered that the washing soda loses it’s strength/effectiveness after taking on moisture and becoming hard or clumpy? I’d rather not go to the trouble of breaking it down if it won’t work very well. I’m thinking I might put the box inside a plastic bag and use a rubber mallet…at least to get it started.

    Thanks for any suggestions!

  44. I am new to DIY, and I have been experimenting with some recipes that include washing soda. A laundry booster “powder” recipe made from washing soda and,hydrogen peroxide turns hard as a rock no matter what it’s stored in. And when I put washing soda in a dish soap recipe, it turned all foamy and not liquid. I store the washing soda in a reused jar, and it’s fine. The laundry booster is also stored in a jar, and the dish soap is in a plastic squeeze bottle. Any suggestions?

    1. Any moisture in the washing soda is what makes it turn clumpy. For the most part, I only use washing soda in mixtures with other dry ingredients. If I ever use washing soda in a recipe with liquids, it is a very small amount intended to be dissolved (like 1 teaspoon in 2 cups of a liquid for instance), and the recipe is intended to be in liquid form. I would guess what might be going wrong in the other recipes you are trying, is that the ratio of dry to wet ingredients is off. Washing soda either has to be used in a dry/powder type mixture, or it has to be dissolved as completely as possible.

  45. I just broke up some the big clumps with a fork.
    I grated some of them with a cheese grater.
    Then I put a plastic spaghetti strainer over a mixing bowl and worked the little clumps thru with a large metal serving spoon. A ladle would work well too.
    Only took 15 minutes to do a box of Borax (while I was trying different ideas).
    Next time it will tale 5-10 minutes.

  46. I’ve been storing my Borax in the basement, too, and it has clumped despite the constantly running dehumidifier. You’ve confirmed my suspicions why. As I searched for a solution, I was thinking about the same idea you’ve suggested: storing the borax in another container. Living in the humid and often warm mid-Atlantic, I’ve started using plastic storage canisters with gasketed lids, like OXO Good Grips. They have saved my kitchen dry goods and epsom salts (kept in the bathroom). I think that may be my go-to. I tried smashing the clumps out with a spoon today, but that didn’t work well. I may run the Borax through my flour sifter before transferring it to the storage containers.

    Thanks for helping me refine my ideas!

      1. I am a little far beyond February, as it’s July, but I just went to 3 stores looking for 2 boxes of 20 MTB, and the were ALL hard as a brick! I finally bought them at WalMart, as they were the least hard, but had lots of hard lumps. As I use this for flea control, sprinkling lumps on the carpet just don’t cut it. And it was too late for transferring to a ‘sealed container’ since this was what the stores are selling. I live in central Florida, so humidity is a problem, but my house is A/C all the time, and the box I used yesterday, which I had in my cabinet above my washer in the laundry room, had been there for at least 3-4 years, and it had NO clumps…so this leads me to believe that the company is at fault in some way. I did have 2 boxes in the garage, which had ‘burst open on the sides and the powder was hard, understandable, with humidity. I threw it out, as I wasn’t sure if it loses it’s usability if it reacts to moisture in the box.

        I am going to register a complaint with the company, just for peace of mind to calm my frustration down. I’ve used this product for probably more than 25 years, and NEVER, repeat, NEVER had this to happen in all those years. Does that tell us anything??? All those years, except the past 15 were in South Florida. And the boxes lived in the utility room, outside the house. Again, doesn’t make sense…

        Wish there was something else I could/would use for fleas, but 20 MTB has always worked, after a commercial flea treatment company employee/friend told me this was basically what they used!

        1. That’s strange that you haven’t had that problem in 25 years, but now it is happening. That does make you wonder if something in their current product is different.

          1. So glad this point as mentioned. It made me realize that I had not previously had this problem either (over about 20 years of using these products). Does make you wonder why.

            I find with the borax I can break it up by hand pretty easily, but not so with the washing soda–it’s hard as a rock! Have started doing as someone mentioned by immediately putting it in a #10 can that freeze dried food comes in. Seems to be keeping it lump free.

  47. I had the same problem with washing soda turning into one big rock hard clump. After tearing the box away to get it out, I tried all the methods above: potato masher, grater, pounding. After a few minutes of each, I thought about putting it in my Cuisinart food processor. Worked like a charm? Just a few pulses and “VOILA”…perfect powdery washing soda to store in an airtight container!

  48. I used to sell Tupperware, the ROUND lids are the only waterproof lids!! Not oval, square or rectangular. Use ONLY THE ROUND containers & seals!
    Also, you can usually find some used Tupperware at a thrift shop.
    Canning jars would also work great (and be adorable).

    1. Yes I’ve been using a round container for years but it’s not big enough for the whole box. Need a bigger one.

  49. Yes for the potato masher and I believe Tupperware is the only plastic container that truly keeps out moisture and pests in food. That said I have been moving to glass containers with screw on lids, these are earth friendly, never retain odors or residue. Anchor Hocking has great glass containers and often found at WalMart or can be ordered online.

  50. Has anyone ever used Borax to make cleaners and have it clog the sprayer? Now I have cement in my sprayer….help? :/

    1. Yes, I have had borax clog my sprayers too! I don’t use borax in homemade spray cleaners anymore and use washing soda instead.

  51. When I was growing up we had old summer home that had been a farm house. We had no running water or electric gas lights. We always had a box of borax that was hard as a rock, I remember my parents grating it. This article made me think back on those summer days doing everything the old fashion way. My friends we never believe me when I told them about washing clothes by hand,pumping water and having a out house. No tv only radio. ect. good times good times lol.

    1. Maybe you didn’t have all the modern conveniences but it sounds like you still had good times and made good memories. Loved your story 🙂

  52. This is a great idea. But what I started doing is using up then entire box and making a LOT of laundry detergent at once. This way, there is no chance of clumping in the first place. And it saves me from having to make detergent so often. It doesn’t work out evenly because I always have a bit of borax left over, but it’s not a big deal to break up a few clumps in such a small amount of powder.

  53. Hey Beverly, I have been putting Borax, A&H Washing Soda and other powder products, in those large plastic containers which the dishwasher gel packs come – I get the big Cascade brand from Sams Club. It works really well, and I’ve not had any issues since!

  54. When mine clumps, I get out my wooden meat tenderizer, lay the package flat on the floor, and start banging. Flip it over, bang some more, then open and pour! There will still be a few clumps, but it will be pourable 🙂

    1. Oh gosh, I can just see you banging, and flipping, and banging! But I bet it’s pourable by the time you’re done with it !!

  55. Making your own cleaning products are great for frugal living. Thanks for the tips on Borax! Thank you for linking to the In and Out of the Kitchen Link Party. Hope to see you next week.

  56. Ah yes, the clumping. How well I know this problem, living in central Florida. I’ve given up the fight and have to break it up each and every time. Also, I noticed you jotted down the prices. I assume we’re buying same oz sizes. Here at Walmart I recently paid 3.38 for Borax and 3.24 for the washing soda.

  57. Oh my I read this at work and was laughing, because I’ve had to rip open the box to get to it. I’ve put it in my meat grinder and ground it up, it’s pretty good then. I’m betting that one of the plastic containers for keeping a 4-5 lb bag of flour in would fit a whole box, it would be slimmer as well for possibly easier storage. Plus I would hope that t hat would repel moisture as it’s for flour.

  58. I reuse large coffee cans for various things. They are perfect for holding a box of Borax or washing soda. I write name, etc. on lid. And they stack!

    1. Thanks for sharing that idea! Coffee containers sound like they would indeed be a good size for storage of borax and washing soda.

  59. I know all about this clumping situation too. I haven’t tried this but I wonder if putting in one of those discs like you put in with your brown sugar to keep it from clumping would work. You wouldn’t have to worry about food particles then. Maybe between that and the plastic containers the problem would be solved. Just a thought. Would like to know if anyone tries this.

  60. Yes I’ve had clumping; I think it’s to be expected with these products. I believe the only real containers to seal tight are Tupperware. You will have a good opportunity to test the Ziploc version but I think they probably won’t work as well as Tupperware. I also think the 20 Mule Team Borax just fell out of poplar demand for enough yrs that alot of retailers stopped providing shelf space which only goes to the top sellers. Washing soda is in the same boat. But as more customers specifically ask for those products they will appear on more shelves. Try a potato masher to break up hard clumps and consider it an upper arm workout 🙂

      1. After trying to bang and stab the hard washing soda, I finally thought of using a potato masher to handle the problem! But since I didn’t have a potato masher (I use a “ricer”), I substituted an avocado masher (smaller) and this worked perfectly! I then transferred the wash to a glass container with a tight lid and it has stayed soft.

      1. I use a blender too. Dump a clump in the blender and add hot water, then dump the blender contents into your wash load. Even the blender doesn’t break up washing soda completely so maybe strain the mix before adding to the wash. The entire box was hard as concrete so next time I”ll try the storage with silicon packets – save those packets! I use the packets for my gym clothes drawer at work.