The People's Perspective on Medicine

Will Borax Kill Cats As Well As Fleas?

Allergies pet allergy fur cat scratch fever fleas flea

Q. I’d like to relate my experience with 20 Mule Team Borax, which my vet suggested after I had problems with pesticides. He said I’d drop dead if I kept using flea sprays, as I’m extra sensitive to such things.

My indoor kitten came from the pound absolutely loaded with fleas. I put Borax on the carpet and carefully vacuumed it up. It worked beautifully and I haven’t had to do the Borax treatment again. I very rarely find a flea on my cat even though outdoor cats come near her on the screen porch. The powder did not make her sick, nor did it make my bronchitis flare up, so I’m sold on 20 Mule Team Borax.

A. Thanks for your story. We have heard from many readers who wanted to know whether Borax was really toxic to cats, as they read in our column. To say we are confused would be putting it mildly. Borax is sodium borate, which is not the same as boric acid. Boric acid is used as a pesticide, while borax is not. (This is not meant to dispute your report that 20-Mule Team Borax got rid of your kitten’s fleas.)

Boric acid can be used for flea control but it should only be used in areas that cats or small children will not come into direct contact with it. Here is a story from another reader of our newspaper column:

“I just finished reading your column about using borax for flea control. Let me tell you what happened with our cat. Our 15-year-old Siamese started having seizures. Tests revealed a tumor in the brain. Surgery was successful and she is now doing well.

“When the tissue was sent for analysis at the pathology lab they had trouble figuring out the exact components of the specimen. Further study revealed it was a granulomatous tumor caused by inhaling boric acid.

“We had used a well-known commercial product on our carpet to control fleas. Needless to say, we will never use boric acid again.”

Another reader recommended spreading borax on the carpet and carefully vacuuming it up. The residue was supposed to solve a flea problem. Regular, even daily, vacuuming (with or without borax) can be an excellent way to get rid of fleas. The vacuum cleaner bag should be removed from the house immediately after each cleaning so that the fleas do not escape. Diatomaceaous earth can also be used for flea control, but it too should be applied where the cat cannot get to it and breathe it in. A veterinary pharmacist has told us that any powder can be a problem if a cat inhales it regularly. Some exterminators use sodium polyborate, which probably should not be applied where the cat can be in direct contact with it.

After all this, the bottom line seems to be that you should always check with your vet to determine the safest flea control method for your pet!

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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Tried borax, bombed twice, sprayed, vacuumed and washed all floors and counters, table tops in entire house, and washed all linens. Still have fleas. Now what? HELP! Had to put DEET on my ankles to prevent more bites. My ankles look like a pin cushion. Am miserable! What now?

I’m still confused myself abt the danger and/or effectiveness of Borax laundry soap on insects/or pets. BUT I DO know that bathing even your KiTTENS with Dawn is perfectly safe and a terrific flea-killer…the BEST.

Would the borax and vinegar ideas work to kill bedbugs as I do have a cat? I noticed one bedbug in my bed after being exposed to them at a client’s house. I would like to safely treat the hardwoods and carpets.

Diatomaceous earth is what you use for bedbugs. Put a cup or bowl under each of your bed posts and fill with DE. The buffers will crawl thru it in the efforts for a blood meal[you] and the DE will cut them and dry them out..

haven’t used BORAX for flea ctl…. need to know best procedures for carpeted house & CATS, Please…… Thanks! ‘Dave’

Lived in Alaska most of my life and was there during the Valdez oil spill in the 80s. Yes, Dawn was used on many species of wildlife, from birds to otters and other wildlife as well. It was the only thing that got the oil out without harming the natural oil within the animals that they need to survive in our harsh weathers & waters. I’ve been using dawn in water like a bath on my cats and kittens for years, and none have ever had bad reactions. Then follow thru with the front-line, and they have been good to go for the whole season of fleas tics etc.

Am in lower-48 now, battling the super-fleas in NC. Have done the outside with natural pest control, worked till it rained on the granuals a few times.. also turns out.. ants eat fleas, so kill the insects in the yard..poof, worse flea infestation. My dad’s in his 80s, and he’s been doing the water with dish soap on the counters and around the house for years, gets rid of the no-see-ums too, they seem either attracted to the water or the smell from the soap. At any rate, it works.

Heard about the borax years ago and was told it works. My questions are…will it work on hardwood, laminated wood, ceramic and stone tile floors, and what about having a 4 year old in the house? Do I need to send the grandchild and mom somewhere else till all cleaned up. And if on the floors do I send the cat somewhere else till sure its all up?

On hard floors, first vacuum. Then use white vinegar mixed with water (1:2 ratio) and damp mop the floor. Do this 2x per week for 1 month. Fleas are repelled by the scent. If you find the scent offensive as well, bring 6 cups of water to a boil, add in 3 sliced lemons. Cover and let sit overnight. The next day, strain the water. Throw away the lemons. Add 3 cups of white vinegar. Damp mop with the lemon/vinegar water.

I’ve learned from experience Borax is by far the most effect way to get rid of fleas. It’s safe and really works. Just spread it around your carpet, let it sit for a bit, about 5-10 minutes,(I like to leave it for hours to make sure I can get as many as possible, I really hate fleas), and vacuum it up. No bad smell or anything.

I have 1 cat that is allergic to fleas and 2 others. I had treated my carpet 5 years ago with 20 Mule Borax and a small quantity of baking soda (perhaps this was to prevent clumping) that I am trying to find the qty of now. I had a recipe for 5 yr of flea control and I swear it worked! 1st treat cats to flea bath, 2ND with Advantage flea treatment, then take cats out of carpeted room, mix 20 Mule Borax with ? small qty baking soda, put in lrg plastic coffee jug with holes poked in top, take cats out of rm, vacuum to lift the carpet fibers, sprinkle out of jug wearing mask, coat the carpet with fine snow, let sit on carpet and furniture for as long as possible (I did 5 hrs), then vacuum up thoroughly (this will beat it more into carpet nap). It should not be visible. Fleas like dark areas of carpets so they die when exposed to it in nap of carpet. My allergic cat never reacted and didn’t get fleas until 5yrs later!

Hi, is 20 mule team borax safe to use on floors after treating my cat for ear mites? Will it kill any ear mites on floors etc.?

I would think that Dawn would be perfecty asfe to use on cats as it is widly used on many animals, ducks for instance t get oil off of them after oil spills. I don’t personally know about vinegar, but I’d be surprsed if it was harmful. I am in the same dilemma about how to treat the carpets. We were ready to use diatamaceous earth and upon very first trying to spread it, I had a horrible asthma attack, and hd to stop, so I figured my cats (a couple have some breathing issues) also couple be compromised, and I dn’t want t cause the death of them myself, obviously So I got borax which is what was handed to me when I asked for boric acid. Nos I read therer’s a difference. ID LIKE TO KNOW IF IT WILL STILL BE AFFECTIVE IF I MIX IT WITH WATER BUT WOULD TAKE AWAY THE DANGER TO MY CATS INGESTING IT FROM BREATING IT OR LICKING IT ON THEIR PAWS. We have been through natural baths with clove in them which helps knock down the fleas, frontline, which I hate using, flea collars, and flea bombs while taking the cats ut of the house. And we washed all blankets, etc. This year NOTHING has worked! I need a more natura solution. H E L P!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just to clarify that, I used ear mite medicine for his ears.

The testimonial sighted in the initial response deserves skepticism:
“…When the tissue was sent for analysis at the pathology lab they had trouble figuring out the exact components of the specimen. Further study revealed it was a granulomatous tumor caused by inhaling boric acid…”
‘Further study’ is highly unlikely to be able to conclude definitively what caused a tumor.
Beyond that the entire premise is unlikely. Why are they sending a non-metastasized tumor that was totally resected to the pathology lab for investigation?
Even if it were sent, if the results were initially inconclusive, why would anyone be so driven to solve this mystery as to continue? Who is footing the exorbitant bill that doesn’t really help at all?
Borax and boric acid have very low toxicity with ld50 around a gram per kilogram or more. These are certainly far safer options for you and your pets than usual persistent toxic pesticides.

I got a chihuahua puppy that was severely infested with fleas even had two pockets of them that burst when I bathed him with dawn it was bad I still am bothered about it just talking about it. I will say that you need to put soap on head first(of course don’t get any in their eyes) but DO NOT start near the back because they will all run to animals face/head and my poor puppies face was almost completely black! I had nighabout it for awhile.

as seen on you tube, set a sheet pan of water on floor where investigation is at. add a couple drops of dish soap to break water tension and yer flea problem will be gone.

Hi Chris,
My 5 yro male cat had dragged a fat scrap through an area that had small amounts of boric acid powder. I treated a corner area and along a wall and while I cleaned the floor i noticed wjite residue on the base board but i did NOT fully clean it and later my cat dragged his food near that area and obviously in it! He’s lethargic, he went ” missing ” for a day and a half when i found him he lay in his own urine and runny stools. I bathed and blow dried him. He drank a bit of water he’s had 2 more runny bowel movements I think he’s peed as well. I tried 8 ml of activated charcoal water, dilution 1 tablet to 20 ml water. I realized through research later charcoal is NOT an effective treatment to remove that type of poison but I saw a human case where it was used in conjunction w dialysis. Ive seen conflicting reports as to the toxicity of boric acid my powder was boric acid 64% active ingredient 36% other inert. This happened 2 days ago i found my cat 6 hours ago. Just wondering if its even worth trying to get to emergency vet they wont even tell me over the phone if after 2 days its treatable or helpless but its around $400 and 70 miles away. I love my cat and want to help him if i can or at least make him as comfy as possible if i cannot.

I felt I had to address the owner of the 15 year old Siamese cat.
Firstly, how soon after and how much of the more toxic Boric acid, as opposed to the Borax, was used did these seizures begin? A brain tumor takes time, usually MONTHS to form, is I highly doubt that borax would have anything to do with the brain tumor if you took any kind of precautions, but it seems you are oblivious to the word “Precaution” since you mixed up boric acid and Borax.

It is much more likely that the tumor had been developing long before you tried to poison your 15 (fifteen) year old cat from other environmental conditions she had to endure living under your watchful eye.

I live in Florida & have & always had many animals. 9 indoor cats to date. At one point my home & animals were really flea infested. Heavy bombing & nothing else tried worked. I was recommended to use Borax in the carpet.

I sprinkled the borax in, but actually removed my anumals from the home, swept it into the carpet with a broom. I used a bandana, as not to breath in the dust, because it went everywhere. I made sure the dust settled realy good, then brought my animals back in.

This ine time treatment with Borax did the trick. I am getting ready to do the same thing & also wash my cats in vinager & dishsoap (dawn) as this works to attrack & kill nats etc. I will research the use of this prior though.

Nanette, I am so confused by what unread on here. Use dawn, don’ t use. Use vinegar, don’t use. Same with borax. I have been sick, and this whole mess started at the vet for 1 of my cats. He just needed check up…i feel stupid.

So I would like to ask you, that I have 4 cats, I’ve been vacuuming. Can’t do furniture and carpet and wipe down walls every thing that has been suggested. Not all in one day. So I vacuum and put borax down? Then how long to wait to vacuum? Can I do one or two rooms one dsy, then do rest on next day?

Like I said, apartment usually spotless. I get sick, can’t do All my work in one day….and this happens. And 1 cat is allergic. Been to vet. If they walk on it. Will it be alright? Sorry for all the questions….thank you

The story says the cat got a tumor from boric acid which is not the same as borax!!! They’re two totally different things.

They are not totally different things, quite similar, actually. Boric acid is released in small quantities by borax.

I just have to share my story. I had moved in a house and not knowing that I was about to fight a battle of fleas in this house.. I was fighting and cleaning and tried everything I possibly could think of to kill the infestation of fleas..they took over the poor cats..indoor cats that have never been outside…well came across a website to try to find something that will actually work. ..well the borax I went and bought and used it in the house…I was amazed how well it worked!!!! I seen so much fleas die as I swept…I am ecstatic. .I will never use anything but the borax.

I know that everyone uses Borax for different purposes around the house, I also use it mainly for cleaning but also against pests like mice and cockroaches. I am sure that it helps with the fleas problem but in my opinion the best is to keep it away of pets. Cleaning your cat with Borax can’t be good! I don’t know any natural way to get rid of fleas and honestly as I know how tough these animals are I recommend using Frontline or something else that works on the same principle.

We have 7 cats. Fleas, as everyone knows, have been particularly bad this summer. If Borax isn’t a good idea, what other natural flea remedies are available? The internal flea treatments don’t seem to do the job, and I am loathed to fill my friends with chemicals.

Hi. Just my 2cents… ;-)
Currently we have one dog and three cats, and zero fleas. All I do is rub raw organic virgin coconut oil into their coats and have begun putting it into their food daily. One of MANY benefits is flea control. Thanks

I’ve been using borax soap powder for many years.I sprinkle it everywhere the cats are.It does work on fleas. I’ve never seen any problems with the cats after lying or rolling where borax is, but flea infestations are very common in Florida, hot, humid weather, and my cats are indoor cats, but fleas can be brought in on our shoes, sneakers, because we walk through the grass in our complex, and there are also many ferals in the area that we feed. I also use AdvantageII on them once a month. But the flea problem never ends, sadly!

I use Borax, maple syrup and water to kill ants. They love it. The box says Sodium Tetraborate. It is mined as a salt from Death Valley. In the sixties, the TV commercials for it had a real 20 mule team pulling a wagon. I have 2 little dogs and 2 cats. I was worried if they ate the ant poison it may harm them. I use about a teaspoon in a couple ounces of water and syrup. I put it in small pill bottle lids. I hope that small amount won’t hurt the pets.

I used Frontline Plus (because Advantage has reviews of death) on 3 dogs and 1 cat and they still have fleas. Since I started fostering dogs for the local humane society, I’ve developed the problem with fleas. A friend told me about the 20 Mule Borax. I put it throughout my house rubbing it into the carpet with a broom. I put some in a sock and rubbed it on the animals. NONE of them have gotten sick. The flea issue is getting better. I will continue to use this product.

I think a couple hours would be sufficient. If you don’t have a problem w/ your furniture, I would think just treating the rug would do it.

I literally just bought a box of 20 mule borax cause a friend told me about it.. I have a 10 week old toy poodle and an 11 year old chihuahua. I have hard wood floors and one rug.. If I just took the rug out and beat it and swept the floors really good and Swiffer mopped would that be good enough to not harm them and also what is the shortest amount of time I should leave it on? I have nowhere to take them and the room I would have to lock them in gets pretty hot (I live in an old house with no central heat and air).

I had a bad infestation in my back bedroom where I kept a feral cat. Never noticed fleas until cat passed. I am using 20 Mule Team Borax but I have left down for one month on hard wood floors. I also have a light with sticky pad, they are great. There are less and less fleas and they are getting smaller and smaller.
I am just about ready to clean up Borax. I did not want to reapply again if I could avoid that. I understand it takes a long time to get rid of fleas because of the life cycle of the flea. The eggs and larva can live up to a year before hatching. I do not think the borax works quickly, but I do think it works. I have been fortunate that I could keep the room closed off and not use during treatment.

I can’t believe ANYONE in their right mind would use Sevin Dust on ANY living thing!! WOW!! It says right on DO NOT APPLY DIRECTLY TO ANIMALS!! Sevin Dust is a very powerful chemical PESTICIDE!! Is your cat still alive??? SO glad to hear you have switched even if only due to cost!
Please people DO NOT EVER USE SEVIN DUST ON YOUR PETS! IF POSSIBLE DON’T USE IT AT ALL!! FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous Earth is absolutely 100% chemical free, can be sprinkled lightly on your pet (avoiding nose and eyes), your carpet, baseboards and pet bedding. DE is nothing more than fossilized diatomes.. 100% natural. NOT a chemical made in a factory meant to KILL living beings!!

I just left my vet’s office. She said Frontline does not work any more. When it first came on the market, it worked okay, but it never did kill all the fleas and they became resistant to it. On the other hand, she said Advantage still works as good now as it did when it first came out because it kills all the fleas. This makes sense to me as a few days prior to speaking with my vet, I had put Frontline Plus on my dog. The fleas were just as thick and horrible a few days later as they had been before treatment. I was wondering what the heck was going on, now I know.

I have a very tight weave berber carpet in my home. I applied the borax powder to kill fleas. I am vacuuming daily but find that because of the type of carpet I have I was not able to vacuum up all the borax and now each time I vacuum I experience burning eyes and can taste the borax in my mouth from the borax Dust. Has anyone else experienced this?

I would like to mention that boric acid is very different than borax. Yes borax contains a very small amount of boric acid but is definitely not the same as boric acid that is used as an insecticide.

Oh my gosh! Please do not use pool quality diatomaceous earth around animals! Get food quality diatomaceous earth.

The only thing that worked for us was Terminix…call in the professionals. The cost was covered because we’d used FrontLine Plus through our vet and still had fleas within 3 months of use. They had to come twice, but that did it. Best wishes to you. I know how awful it is when your home is not a haven.

Borax is used in flux for soldering hard metals, also used in washing detergent, also used in certain insecticides, but rarely sold in stores as an off the shelf product.

I just purchased Borax from Acme grocery store. It was not expensive. I saw online that it was sold for 4 times the price I paid.

20 Mule Team BORAX has been sold in stores since the late 1800’s. Amazon, Wal-Mart, pretty much every store I visit, has 20 Mule Team Borax. Still an off the shelf product. :)

I buy mine at Safeway and other stores big boxes of it and most stores sell it, I use it for fleas and for washing clothing too. Used it for 30 years for fleas and litter box (just a little in the litter).

I used a flea dip on my cat and it caused irreparable kidney damage. It caused him to die prematurely; would not recommend any strong chemicals on an animals body; just like humans, everything we put on our bodies.

Where I live borax is always available at the grocery store in the laundry detergent aisle. It used to be called 20 Mule Team Borax & had the picture of the wagon being pulled by 20 mules, as it was mined in the desert. The label has changed, but not the product.

we have a flea problem this year more then we ever have. I live on the east coast and in the northern section so it’s been a bit hot but not too bad. We’ve had 3 or 4 “heat waves ( over 90 degrees 3days in a row) “so whoopie.
Anyhow I have flea bathed, powered, collared, used drops and combed out my cat and dog so far. They are much better however my issue our basement.We found out we have the problem because (My son is newly diabetic) he is the one they are attracted to the most. NOW i say that because he goes down to do the laundry or to get something and they jump on him. The rest of us go down and maybe only get 1 or none.
We have a 1300 sq.ft home and we have put 3 can bombs in the main part of the house and 3 in our basement ( major overkill) and they lil buggers lived through it. We just emptied 3 boxes of BORAX on the floors and rugs in the basement and all over upstairs and on the furniture too. The BORAX upstairs was down for 3 days before vacuuming as we did it before we left for camping. When we came home we vacuumed it up ( just the upstairs) . NEver found a dead flea but never really inspected it that closely either. To this day ( now 10 days later) we still have fleas in the basement and we have NOT even vacuumed up the BORAX YET.
We figured we just won;t go down there unless we have to and we will leave it longer to work better. Well its not. SO NOW WHAT SHOULD WE DO????? Those lil BLEEPS are still alive. My husband figured if they have a life cycle of 3 days or even 7 days they would hatch and then die. NOPE. Oh the other thing down stairs is a flea trap ( light with a stick pad) yup they go to that but really i don;t like leaving a light on all day & night but we have to. NOTHING IS WORKING . They aren’t really bad but they are really annoying because everytime we go down there we have to “CHECK OURSELVES” to make sure we didn;t bring any hitchhikers up with us. SUGGESTIONS PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Borax and Boric acid ARE NOT THE SAME THING!

Try putting down shallow bowls of water with a few drops of dish washing liquid in it. Sit them in different areas around the room. They work best if a light is shining near them. The fleas go for the water and then they can’t get out because of the soap.

Try putting small containers of water around on the basement floor. Fleas need moisture to live, so they are staying in your laundry area for this reason. They will jump in the water, but have no solid surface from which to jump out. You could even put a little sugar in to attract other bugs, and a couple drops of white vinegar to kill them. To dispose, pour down the drain followed by HOT water, or pour outdoors, away from the house. Make sure to keep at least a couple inches deep of water.

Do not use any so called safe Pyrethrin or even worse the synthetic Permethrin both can seriously harm a CAT. From drooling, vomiting, tremors, to full blown seizures and death. Do not ever use ”extra” for realy bad infestations- it may kill your pet. Dogs can be harmed too but they fare better. Also be cautious if your cat loves your dog and licks them or rubs on it; the toxic product can be spred that way.

Our cat developed neurological symptoms–a scary head tic–after using Revolution and Frontline. The vet determined that (as a representative from Frontline confirmed) the cat is “allergic” to one of the chemicals in the product, possibly one of the inert ingredients since she reacted to both products. My vet also doesn’t like the flea-dips for animals, says they’re very toxic, so…Dawn Kitteh-Washing Liquid and 20 Mule Team it is.

After our Terminix’ second visit, the fleas were gone.
If you are only reading recent posts on this thread, you are missing important info on the difference between Borax and Boric Acid…read the entire thread…it’s not that long.
FYI…after spreading DE outside my house, one of my cats developed a horrendous sounding cough…deep, low and throaty. The vet says she’s fine which surprised me considering how high her voice actually is.

do I need to add salt? don’t want to kill grass.

will borax harm my cats? I have a dog door so my 3 cats and small dog can go into fenced yard when needed,how soon can I let them out after using borax on yard?

Thank you. The borax vs boric acid comment makes more sense than the first article. Different ingredients.

I had a completely screened-in porch built for my indoor cats (about 4 feet above ground) and there are free-roaming neighbors cats coming around and dropping off fleas. Will the borax work on the grass and ground?

You do need to vacuum the borax up from the furniture. Remember to keep pets and humans out of areas you are treating. Leave it down for a couple hours, then vacuum it up. It has been effective for us, even though we have 9 cats (!)

Thanks so much for your reply, Brandy! So any type of furniture that isn’t leather… ok to leave it in the cushions and not vacuum it up, cats love the sofa and I guess the seat pads/cushions (they are removable) on the chairs too? Unfortunately my cats love to go out, and it is very hard to keep them flea free, but they usually die since I do use the once a month topical…. even though I am not happy with it, really, nothing else but Revolution/Advantage/Frontline….

No, I don’t think you need to put it down on tile/flooring- those type of surfaces can usually be vacuumed and don’t harbor flea eggs. Don’t forget to treat furniture w/ fabric coverings, though.
(PBA- yes, I had a cat that got very ill after being dipped at the vet’s, and another one that was obviously sick after I used a home remedy- Avon’ Skin-so-soft diluted w/ water. I never had the first cat dipped again, and the 2nd one I gave another bath to, and he was okay after that. Cats are much more susceptible to chemicals than dogs, I have read.)

Wow, I am so glad I came across this site, all of the stories, tips and advice are so invaluable.
Brandy, I much appreciate everything you said and suggested. I do have a question, I live in Florida where there is an open floor plan, and the flooring is tile in the kitchen/dining/living room areas…two bedrooms do have cheap builder grade carpet which I did put Borax down this morning….my question is do I have to put it down on the tile also?

PBA…so sorry for your loss.

Be VERY careful if using any type of flea dip on your pets. I had a long haired cat whose fur was very dense. After bathing her in the dip, I noticed the water/dip didn’t penetrate to her skin and the fleas just fled there. I dipped her again. It was toxic and killed her.
Read the instructions carefully.

I have had flea problems like I’ve see with all of you on the site. I know that fleas generally have a 14 day cycle from egg to flea to eggs again. I have used 20 mule team borax for years when a friend told me about it. It is worth it if you can keep your pets out of the house or confined to one area. Use breathing masks and goggles if you have them. Apply liberally to the carpet and furniture. Two hours or Two days, I’ve not seen it be any more or less effective in getting rid of fleas. But it DOES get rid of fleas – so after your initial application, wait about 13 to 14 days and re-apply and re-vacuum and wash fabrics – like with any other bug spray.
I’ve only ever had to apply it once with no second treatment 14 days later. It’s up to you and of course ask your vet. Knock on wood, we’ve been flea free for 12 years.

Okay to clear up the mystery here is the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for Borax. Borax is NOT boric acid and the Amish have been using it for decades to make their own laundry detergent and of course everything is to be used in moderation. It is very clear it is not toxic any more than ingesting too much of anything although I don’t know anyone brain dead enough to actually EAT it but I suppose someone out there tried to at some point hence the MSDS sheet.
Because it is indeed a powder I would certainly wear a mask while applying to carpets and making your own laundry soap just because it is very irritating to your lungs when inhaled. Make a cardboard blockade to keep your pets out of the area being treated simply because they get things on their paws and will lick it off no matter how bad it tastes so just for your own peace of mind guaranteeing the area is just common sense.

DE worked very well for me! I bought it from a pet supply place. My first place in college had wall to wall carpets and fleas. I had just adopted a new kitten, but these fleas were a major long term infestation.
I spent a full day on my hands and knees with a mask and gloves scrubbing DE into the carpet with a scrub brush. Like crazy scrubbing, super thoroughly. Also got the sofa. (Luckily I encase my mattresses so it wasn’t an issue) I’m a little OCD.
I left the DE for 2 days while kitty was boarded and I stayed with a friend. I let off a flea bomb at the time too. Since then Kitty gets Advantage every four weeks and we never saw a single flea after that! We live in Northern California: it rarely gets below freezing, but it’s not tropical either.

Borax and boric acid are 2 different things… the boric acid for rats says harmful to pets.

You can get flea traps that have a light and a STICKY PAD. Plug it in and leave it. You’ll know if you have fleas. By the way, the sticky pad is REALLY sticky, so don’t think you’ll be able to have it touch anything else. I think I got mine at Agway, but I’m not positive. In any case, no liquid is needed.

I was told 2 hrs was sufficient.
If there are any other fabric areas, don’t forget to treat them, such as curtains.
I would keep the toddler from crawling on the carpeted areas for a few days, if possible.
I would be careful about moving furniture in- it would be very bad if your furniture got infested. So, after you vacuum the Borax up inspect the rooms carefully. You can buy flea traps that have a light and liquid in them- the light attracts the fleas then they fall into the liquid and can’t get out (no, I don’t know what chemical is used)- my point is to be sure there are no fleas before you move your furniture in. Good luck.

I just moved into a house and it is covered with fleas… I just went in a put borax all over all of the carpets and worked it in with a broom.. how long do I need to leave it on for.. and will this take care of my problem.. I have a 2 yr old and I have to get rid of the fleas within the next 2 days so we can move in..

My roommate came back to the apt we share after visiting her home for the weekend and brought back flees with her. We will try this borax method to see if it gets rid of them! We don’t have a pet, but just to be through we are going to do anything we can to get rid of them!

I have been using Borax for years- w/ cats and children in the house. Remember to get all living creatures out of the area before applying it (a fish tank that is covered might be okay). Leave it down for a couple hours then vacuum it up, and you can let everybody back in.

Can I use borax for fleas on carpet near fish and turtle tanks, kids and 2 cats?

Hmmm…well you can give them a flea bath yourself. There are products in stores, or at your vets to bathe them w/ at home. One caution, these are shampoos so you have to leave it on for a period of time then rinse it all off. It takes a lot of determination to shampoo cats because they cry and wail and sometimes scratch and claw, and you have to leave the shampoo on until the time is up.
Try to figure out where the fleas are coming from (cats are not dumb, so it may be a place they are avoiding), then find an appropriate treatment. (I chose to avoid cloth-covered furniture, and the one piece I have that is cloth I keep covered w/ a throw so it can be easily washed, I also got rid of most of the carpet- really, really wish I had gotten rid of all of it.) When it comes to bugs like fleas an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. If you want to get rid of them you will have to be persistent and consistent. Meanwhile, try using a product to protect your skin from bites, (don’t use on the cats however- cats are very sensitive to chemicals). Good luck.

I know how you feel. You don’t need to take the kittens to be dipped…you can dip them at home. I got a good dip, and you have to follow the directions carefully. It really helps if there are 2 people in case the cat freaks. One of our 3 actually loved it. I think it felt soothing in the warm water after doing nothing but scratching for months!
If you buy Frontline Plus from your vet and still have fleas after 3 successive months, they pay for the exterminator to come out. They came, and a couple of weeks later it was just as bad. They returned (Terminix guarantees their work for 30 days), and things are pretty good now. I only wish I hadn’t let the cats back outside before the weather turned colder.

I have two kittens 4 and 5 months my 5 month old was infested with fleas when we bought him and we assumed the fleas were gone after his first dawn bath and immediate flea treatment with advantage II. We continued the monthly treatments and grooming after that but it seemed like there were always fleas… when we bought our second kitten from the same place we took him home and immediately gave him a flea treatment… we bought both kittens a month apart… well the 4 month came home and within a week started going bald… he had ringworm… it took two months to get the ringworm to go away on both cats… of course I was unlucky enough to get a patch on my leg :/.
Well we kept up with the flea treatments and I left for my military training for about three weeks. I came home and both cats just looked terrible and I began getting bit. I have so many bites it’s terrible I am allergic to fleas and mosquitos and I am literally on my last nerve I have tried everything. I love my kittens though. I used the 20 Mule Borax and it definitely worked but I know the fleas aren’t gone because they are still jumping on me. I gave my kittens a capstar and it killed all their fleas but being flea free didn’t last long I just don’t know what to do. Any suggestions? I lived an apartment complex so I can’t do the flea bomb and I can’t afford to take them to get a flea bath…

Is it safe to leave 20 Mule Team Borax on the carpet under my sofa? The sofa is too low for my cats to get under. I ask because I don’t want to have to move big, heavy pieces of furniture every time I vacuum. We only have a small flea scare, and I’m trying to keep it from getting worse. We’ve had (indoor only)cats for 11 years and this summer is our first encounter with fleas.

If you used Borax, yes- it just needs to be down for a couple hours before being vacuumed up. (I don’t know about the DE- have never used it in the house).

Do I need to vacuum before sleeping in my house again?

Found we had fleas In our house almost two months ago, as also our two dogs. We did have a cat that we had to put down due to illness, as she was allowed to go upstairs and throughout the house as our two dogs were not due to their shedding. After noticing a flea on a chair in a bedroom, realized our cat left us with more grievance! Never having this problem before got on the computer to see what’s the cheapest effective products to use.
I went to store got cans of carpet flea powder which had to get so many cans due to the many rooms carpeted (as that product was only intended for carpets not upholstery or bedding). Bought the Borax also as a back up because was not sure if it would work.
Well I ran out of the brand carpet flea powder in one room so I just went with using the Borax 20 mule on carpet and tried it on furniture and bed, mattresses too, left that on overnight with door closed. Well what a shock to see the next day that Borax indeed worked, there were dead fleas! The other brand product worked too but like I mentioned it’s for carpets only. Dogs were treated with the baths and frontline plus and they are flealess.
Tip: make sure you cover the entire footage of carpet, especially near the walls and baseboards and everything where the fleas can go which is everywhere high and low. You will see fleas magically appear dead within hours before your eyes….. Borax and much vacuuming over and over is what’s worked for us, no fumes, less expensive and, safer as I have two grandchildren under two crawling and playing on our carpets and furniture.

A difference in strength? Like what, more mules?

Wow!!! I do not have any carpet in the main living area and I got rid of fabric-type furniture (used vinyl/leather). We do have 10 cats and live in the South. I put Borax down on the carpeted areas 2x/yr. Prevention is a lot easier than cure- as you have found out. But, Terminix, no doubt, guarantees their work, they should come out and spray again.
Also, fleas build up resistance to whatever product you use on the cats, try switching to one w/ a different active ingredient, (you might even give them a flea bath before putting the flea med on- but be sure to check w/ the vet because cats are a lot more sensitive to chemicals than dogs). [I guess, ultimately, we will not be able to get rid of fleas because they will be resistant to all the different treatments…] Good luck. Brandy

The fleas have become immune to Frontline, pretty much. I’d sooner use DE in the house than Borax. I just feel more comfortable with it.
Try a product, Evolv, made by Wondercide, on your pet. They also make a product to spray inside/outside. And it’s non-toxic to pets and people.

I used DE in the yard.
Terminix sprayed in the house.
Have dipped the cats AND have been using Frontline Plus.
No go. As many fleas as before.
I’m so sick of this.

I am not sure about using Borax in the yard, but that is a use for DE- just remember that it is not safe to breathe DE, so be careful when applying it. I would keep the cats out of the area for a brief period.

What about outside areas? Can 20 mule Borax, the laundry detergent, be spread around areas the cats lay/hide in? or DE? Maybe turned in the dirt so it is not airborne. Someone said 20 mule Borax is toxic when wet.
We have a lawn that has clusters of shade trees and plants. Fleas have been bad these past 2 years.

you have to give a bit of time like 10 days or so to get worked in and efficiently start working and left on indefinitely if an ideal spot for that. You don’t have to put it on that thick either, ideally you want a fine dusting. And to achieve that it should be spread while wearing a little mask to cover nose/mouth and using a fine salt shaker or old fashioned type squeeze mustard/ketchup container/squirter.

why would you not use DE in your house?

I used food-grade diatomaceous earth and much to my chagrin, it did not solve our flea problem. My housemate and I put it everywhere on hardwood floors with a colander and removed all throw rugs and carpets to the back yard. We sat in diatomaceous earth on the couch and chairs, slept in sheets with DE on them, got DE all over our clothes and feet and shoes.
It was super depressing, which frankly surprised me–I had not expected that living with a paper thin layer of DE all over all accessible surfaces would depress me, but it did. I put it on the cats as well. They got depressed, too–it dries everything out–your hands, the cats’ skin. I got it in my own hair–I guess from leaning back on the chairs in the living room–and it felt weird.
We only lasted two days that way then started the slow long process of vacuuming it up. Cleaned out the bagless vacuums.
I now think it might work for folks who have pale carpet and can leave it down, but not folks with hardwoods. I really hate neurotoxins and do not want to use them on my cats–or myself. (It is illegal to put Frontline or Advantage on yourself for a reason–they really are not so perfectly insect-specific.) But for me, the DE did not work, although it does make one vacuum a lot more closely. I’ll try borax, but I think only daily, meticulous vacuuming and flea combing will work, burdensome though it is.

The term borax is used for several different and closely related minerals. The cleaning product 20 mule team borax is an extremely well documented method of do it yourself insect control. It is harmful to be inhaled. DUH. Anything but air is harmful to be inhaled. The finely ground particles of cat food in the bottom of a dry cat food bag are harmful to be inhaled too. Something else that is fairly harmful to inhale? Dust. Solution? If you put borax down keep your pets out of it until you vacuum it up.
The best solution for dealing with a flea problem is to have your pet treated with monthly flea drops as prescribed by a vet, keep it out of contact with other animals that may have fleas, and have your home and surrounding area treated by a reputable licensed professional. If you are worried about the substance being toxic to your pets discuss your concerns and possible control methods with your pest control company BEFORE they come out, and request a restaurant rated product be used whenever possible. If you do it right the first time, continual exposure to borax may not be necessary.

I remember the vet’s office telling me to put my cats outside for a couple hours after treating them (my cats have a kitty flap and come & go), so I do that. I treat the carpeted areas 2x/yr w/ Borax- just shut the cats out of the area, sprinkle it over the carpet, leave for a couple hours, then come back and vacuum it up. After that, I will let the cats back in. This has worked very efficiently and cheaply for me (and I have 10 cats!). I also chose to buy non-fabric covered sofas so I would not have to worry about fleas getting in the fabric. So, no flea problem, and I live in the South where the fleas are bad (and the mosquitoes, etc.). Good luck.

I have a very bad flea problem, my 4 cats were frontlined 2 weeks ago after one of them had little scabs on the back of his head and someone said they could be flea bites so I decided to be cautious and did the frontline to all 4 cats. I woke up last night and had an itchy leg, pulled back the sheets to see three fleas in my bed!!!!!!!! I was so shocked. I stripped the bed and washed all the bedding at 90c. I then noticed a flea on one of my cream cats. I feel sick, I don’t want to go to bed tonight now.
So what is the safest and best way to be rid of them? I won’t sleep until I know they are gone!

Just found out Frontline Plus has a guarantee IF you buy it from a vet AND you’ve used it for 3 straight months or more AND you have fleas, they will pay for an exterminator. We called, and we do qualify. Fingers crossed this nightmare will be over soon.

The recommendation was for Borax on carpet-NOT boric acid. If you had read this whole thread you would know not to use boric acid.

I bombed the house 3 times, sprayed 5 times and then I put down the boric acid on hardwood floors. Left on there for a week. Came back and still had fleas. I’m going to try the 20 Mule Team Borax tomorrow. I’ll let you know how this works.

I’ve done the diatomaceous earth on the carpet, vacuumed it, need to reapply (not sure how long to leave it on for) If done right, it can last for a year. D Earth isn’t dangerous for dogs as long as it’s food grade- and the stuff is worked into the carpet well. It also works against internal parasites.

Why salt? Where did that come from? Just Borax. Sprinkle it down, make sure all pets are out of the house, and take yourself out as well. Come back in 2 or more hours and vacuum it all up.
As for your bed, I would just wash the sheets in laundry detergent. You could add some Borax but will need to use water warm enough to dissolve it. [Another possibility might be running your sheets through the dryer. I lived in a place where ants kept getting into the house and on the beds (no food there, so I don’t know why). I got tired of washing sheets that had already been washed that week and started tossing them in the dryer- killed the ants and the sheets could be shaken out, then put back on the bed. Don’t know it that would work w/ fleas/flea eggs.]
Once you get rid of the fleas, remember to treat your carpet, etc, a couple times a year- as they say, Prevention is worth a pound of cure. Good luck.

Ok, I’m about to put this borax/salt mixture all over my house (it’s infested!).
the fleas are also on my bed-can I put this stuff on my mattress? or will I get sick from breathing it while I sleep??????

OK! JUST SO WE ARE ALL CLEAR. Borax is NOT BORIC ACID. Boric acid is the result of combining borax and a very strong acid, such as sulfuric or hydrochloric acid. So, to the woman that had a “Boric Acid tumor” removed from her cat… it did not come from the “BORAX”… unless she cleans with sulfuric or hydrochloric acids as well. Which is an entirely alternate topic of why you do not mix household cleaners…. EVER! But at any rate… Borax must first be heated to above 170F first before mixing with the acids, so I do not think the cat ingested borax and the stomach acid created the new “Boric Acid Tumor”. I am fairly sure the cat would not have survived the 170F heating process.
Borax (20 Mule Team) has the same health rating as baking soda… which is (1). While it is not recommended to be ingested, it is no more dangerous than baking soda.
But please… PLEASE, stop saying that Borax is the same thing as Boric Acid. They are two totally different chemicals.

I have a septic tank also and use Borax on my laundry at times, and I have never been told there is any problem.

Will borax, the laundry detergent, hurt my septic system? Thanks.

Borax, as in the laundry product, is made of Sodium Tetraborate. It is not Boric acid! Borax is GRAS for people and pets. Boric acid is not! Boric acid is highly toxic and will definitely harm or kill pets (and people!) Sodium Tetraborate is used in a lot of products including toothpaste.
However, it would not be wise to sprinkle borax on carpets because pets love to sniff at strange odors and will be inhaling the dust. Do you want to inhale laundry powder? I doubt it! Use household products only for the purposes they are labeled for.

Well? Did your treatment work?

Ok so I read to use borax diatomaceous earth and salt as a mixture but it has to be the food grade diatomaceous earth!!! I just put it all over my whole house carpet and floors! we have a bad flea problem!!!! I will leave the animals outside and wash them with original blue dawn dish soap. In a few days I will vacuum the house and the use lemon pine-sol on the floors. I also put mothballs under the house because I heard it’s good for fleas and mice problems!
I hope to report in a week that there will be no more fleas! Cross your fingers everyone!!!

Someone said:
“I have used Borax (AKA Boric Acid)”
This is NOT true. Borax is NOT Boric Acid. They are two separate compounds. The only similarity is that they both contain boron.
Borax (an 20 mule team borax is 100% Borax), is a salt. Boric acid, as the name implies, is an acid. Boric acid can be converted into borax via chemical process.
Saying borax and boric acid are the same thing is similar to saying sodium chloride (aka table salt) is the same as chlorine. Table salt is relatively harmless, where chlorine is quite deadly – yet both table salt and chlorine share the same chemical element.
I have used boric acid very effectively to control roaches and ants. I am now trying it for fleas. I’ve never had a problem with boric acid with my 4 dogs. I’ve tried borax to control roaches, but that was singularly unsuccessful. I don’t know if it is effective on fleas.

Boric acid and borax are 2 completely different things….and both should be researched and understood for use. Moderation for all things

Amazing how this information appears to be the same confusing conversations we have when the family gets together, once a year. Basically I believe it is saying use it or not, at your own risk. Excuse me while I go scratch…….

My experience w/ Borax
My college chemistry teacher suggested I sprinkle Borax on the carpet, wait a couple hours then vacuum it up. He specified to keep the cats out of that area until after it had been vacuumed up. I have been using this method twice/yr and have not had any fleas on the carpet or in the house. (Keeping the fleas off of my cats, however, is a different story…alas.) I would not even consider buying any expensive product to use, just Borax. (I would not use diatomaceous earth inside my house, either.) Remember to be sure you keep the cats out of the area until after you have vacuumed the Borax up. Brandy R.

how long does it have to stay on the carpet before I vacuum it?

Boric Acid and Laundry Borax are not the same thing!! It’s a common mistake to confuse the two. Boric acid is a dangerous poison. Poisoning from this chemical can be acute or chronic. Acute boric acid poisoning usually occurs when someone swallows powdered roach-killing products that contain the chemical.

borax is not the same as boric acid

Gabrielle recommends Diatomaceous Earth, but in Powdered form it can be a carcinogen when breathed into the lungs. It is used in Diatom Filters to clean Aquarium water and is very effective, but if you read the warnings on the Box, they advise strongly against inhalation. It is not a problem when wet, but in a dry powdered form, it should not be inhaled and as such I would not use it on animals.
Powders inhaled by animals even over a short period of time can be dangerous to the lungs of small animals. My cat Petey developed a malignant lung tumor from inhaling Gold Bond Medicated Powder. We used to use the medicated powder once a day when dressing in the bathroom and did not realize that the powder had accumulated on the bathroom rug. My cat use to sleep on that rug during the daytime when we were at work and over a few months he developed a cough which turned out to be caused by the tumor.
I would not recommend using anything other than a Flea Collar or a Veterinarian administered Flea Dip to control Fleas and to always read and follow the instructions very carefully.

20 mule team Borax kills the larvae as well as the fleas which makes it very effective. We use it in the chairs frequented by pets and spread it at doorways. We also some Borax in our vacuum cleaner bag when we vacuum so we will not be fostering fleas in there.

Borax and boric acid are two different compounds. Boric acid = very dangerous. Borax has less toxicity than table salt. Table salt can kill at about 3,000 mg per kg body weight. For Borax, it is 4,500 – 6,000 mg / kg. Then again, too much water is deadly as well.
This article says a 15 year old cat (pretty old) and it doesn’t say how long they had been using this well known commercial product. Who knows, but it had boric acid. The tumor was from inhaling boric acid… NOT BORAX. The second example says that she just finished reading the article… NOT that she used Borax.
Look up borax and arthritis. Most boron supplements have borax in them although it could be labeled by another name like sodium tetraborate or salt of borate, etc.

I have a little history about 20 Mule Team Borax. About 50 years ago, 20 Mule Team Borax was a sponsor for a TV show about the Old West. At the end of the program, a spokesman’s would give a comment about the times. I remember the spokesman was called “The Old Ranger,”and he was later replaced by a new spokesman named Ronald Regan, future president of the United States. The ending of the program would say,” It happened just that way, moving West.”
I have used 20 Mule Team Borax with detergent to wash my clothes for 40 years, and I never experienced any skin reaction to it in my washings.

Check out what wikipedia has to say. The subject of health issues is towards the end. But it does not cover inhaling. We know one can eat sand with little health problems, but long term inhaling of very fine particles of silicon (or even cotton lint) causes damage to the lungs.
If I was going to use it on carpets though, I think I would have a darn good vacuum cleaner and use a fresh filter for vacuuming the 20 Muleteam Borax.
One also has to consider that using no pesticides would leave the pet and the owner open to flea borne diseases.

Boric acid works wonders to kill ants and roaches. Mix one tea spoon of honey and one teas spoon of boric acid in a jar lid. Leave out where the ants can reach it in within hours all the ants will disappear.

I think there is a difference in strength between Borax and 20 Mule Team Borax. I know that Boric Acid is supposed to be good for getting rid of cockroaches, but shouldn’t be where animals can get to it. 20 Mule Team Borax is a laundry product & not as toxic – although I wouldn’t eat either one!

I understand the disclaimer “you should always check with your vet to determine the safest flea control method for your pet!” is to protect The People’s Pharmacy from lawsuits. I do not think our (or your) nearby vet has any time to research these off-the-wall cures or dangers.
I would just as soon make up my own mind based on common sense and surfing the internet for what appears to be valid advice from several different sources. (I would start with veterinary college research – boric acid).

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