Why is Borax Banned in the UK & the EU? 

is borax safe borax banned in the UK and and EU

If you enjoy watching cleaning TikToks and Youtube videos, you’ve probably seen a lot of Americans using borax around their homes. This might have inspired you to purchase some for your home cleaning, only to discover that you can’t buy borax in the UK. 

The UK and Europe tend to have stricter rules around what’s allowed in our food and cleaning products than America. And there’s usually a pretty logical reason behind something being made illegal. So what is it about borax that’s made it impossible to buy?

Let’s look into why borax is banned in the UK and the EU, and some possible substitutes for this popular product. 

Why is borax banned in Europe? 

The European Chemicals Agency, or ECHA, is the part of the European Union responsible for the evaluation and regulation of chemicals. In 2010, the ECHA declared the ‘Borate’ group of chemicals, such as boron, as potentially hazardous to health when consumed in water or food. 

“Boric acid and borates are reprotoxic substances that can produce effects on both development and fertility.”  – ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment

Although that statement was in regard to borax being used in film photography, the risk is still the same. 

Is borax powder banned in the UK? 

The UK is no longer part of the EU, so why is borax illegal in the UK as well as in the EU? 

The ban on borax remaining in place is likely because of the risk to health, and life. The safe limit for boron exposure is considerably low, and having a box of the substance for general use is not worth the potential health risks. 

Really, there is no safe limit for boron exposure. Even the “safe” quantity of 10mg per day is enough to harm unborn children. So in the UK, it’s remained illegal since the ECHAs unsafe substance declaration in 2010. 

Borax Substitute 

So since you can’t get your hands on borax, what’s the next best thing? Sodium sesquicarbonate is considered a safe substitute for borax and is what the official ‘Borax substitute’ is made of. This chemical is a combination of sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate or washing soda.

Sodium sesquicarbonate is a mineral compound with similar pH to borax, making it ideal for cleaning and laundry. It is gentler than soda crystals yet stronger than bicarbonate of soda – another common cleaning ingredient. Sodium sesquicarbonate is a detergent and soap builder, and mild alkaline agent for general cleaning and water softening.

Where to buy borax substitute in the UK

You can get borax substitutes from some supermarkets, or online on Amazon in various quantities. Buying in bulk tends to get you a better deal – but not always, so be sure to compare prices! 

We’ve got some more info on where you can buy borax in the UK.


Yes, there have been no changes to regulations since borax was made illegal in the UK in 2010. You can buy a borax substitute, which is chemically similar and can be used in cleaning and laundry. 

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