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  • Writer's pictureamyk73

My Great Grandmother and Borax

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

My great grandmother immigrated to the US from Poland with my then very young toddler grandfather and his younger brother. Her husband was placed in the army to fight the Nazis and was one of the early casualties of that war. Left with 2 small children she came to the US to escape the rising concerns over the Nazis in the area where they lived. Others from our family had also come previously and more would follow with everyone eventually settling in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. They were mostly farmers and tradesmen bringing their knowledge and skills to start over in the US.

My great grandmother was extremely tough, spoke very little English and even though she was only 5 foot something, you knew not to cross her. She was not tough in terms of muscles though she was strong that way too but rather in how she thought, navigated things, was very frugal and would eventually become a dominant force in our family. If she were alive today and have a career she would have been a great lawyer, judge even a police commander but she was none of those career things. She was however the leader of our family and no one was going to challenge that. I wouldn’t realize it for a long time but I learned a great deal from her that has come in handy with the tough challenges I’ve encountered in my own adult life.

She lived on her own small farm that she purchased and her sons would eventually purchase property next to hers for their own farms. As she began to age she eventually turned to “gentleman’s farming” where she would rent out her fields to other nearby farmers. She always kept a large vegetable garden as well as fruit bushes and trees, that she would use to harvest and preserve food. She lived off her land and purchased meats, grains and corn from her neighbors. When she went shopping it was for basic staples only. I don’t ever recall seeing a labeled can of peas, Wonder Bread or store bought soap in her house. She even made her own whisky and wine that she would bring out for special occasions or enjoy privately in her evenings. She always did things the “old way” up until she passed at 99 years old.


Among the staples she would purchase would be a box of Borax. I remember my great grandmother used to always keep a box of Borax near the washing machine, adding a little in with the detergent she had made. Her washing machine was “semi-automatic” and would be a classic antique these days. She always refused when anyone would offer to get her a new washing machine or even a dryer. No, she preferred her old one that required cranking the clothes through a ringer in the top after they were done washing to get the excess water out before hanging them up to dry. This machine sat in her basement next to a utility sink and bunch of yellow lines hung up in the ceiling.

Borax was also found in her kitchen. She would mix Borax with garden herbs to make her own scrubs and cleaners around the house and farm. I remember crushing and cooking rosemary, lavender and even sage to make a paste or soap that she would use to clean or wash dishes.

I never understood why she insisted working so hard to make these things when everyone I knew just bought regular bread from the store and cleaners that you sprayed or squirted. I didn’t understand as a child why when we went to her house we were going to work and do these chores to make these things. As an adult with a family of my own I definitely understand why now.

See not only was my great grandmother sending any extra money she had hidden in salt pork, home goods and hand me down clothing to the family remaining in Poland but she understood that we have the ability to take care ourselves. We can live well and have everything we need made with our own hand while saving our money for more important needs. We can also live quite healthy from these practices.

Borax can still be purchased today at major grocery stores and online. It can actually be used to make many home cleaning products, support laundry needs and even scrub pots and pans. It’s soft on the hands and a natural product containing no chemicals.

When you mix Borax with essential oils, or as my great grandmother did with mixing her garden herbs in it, you are increasing the natural cleaning properties of the Borax that also help your health.

Laundry Booster

Adding 1/2 cup of Borax with 4 drops of doTERRA Purify essential oil to your wash is a master way to eliminate stains and odors from your laundry. Towel mildew is also eliminated with this method.

Replacing your color safe bleach and even regular bleach with Borax is also possible because it too brightens clothes, whitens whites and gives the same benefits of bleach without the risk of ruining your clothes.

Dishwashing Soap

I use 1/4 cup Borax when I make my dishwasher tablets. It gives the same benefit of the rinse agents you can add to your machine without the chemical effects. I posted my recipe for dishwasher detergent earlier this month and you can pick it up here:

Tile and Grout

Mixing 1 cup Borax with 4 drops Lemon and 1/4 cup water to form a paste makes an excellent tile and grout paste to clean those tough crannies.

Shower and Sinks

Similarly, taking 1 cup Borax with 6 drops Melaleuca and 1/4 cup water creates a scrub to use on your bathroom tubs, showers and sinks. This will make your shower doors crystal clear too!

Interested in more?

Borax has become a staple I purchase in my home and I find I use it in many of the ways I recall my great grandmother using it in her home. Adding in the doTERRA essential oils replaces the herbs she would stew and add but the results are every bit as good. Additionally, with the doTERRA essential oils I have the added benefit of providing emotional and physical health support from those oils to the results I’m seeing on my physical surfaces around my home.

If you have questions about the oils I mention in this article, please reach out.

doTERRA essential oils and natural products are 100% pure with no synthetics, chemicals or fillers. These products are so supportive to helping you and your family achieve and maintain health while reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals and manufactured scents. To learn more, check out our website:

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