Cleaning a litter box is the most undesirable aspect of owning a cat. But often, cat’s mishaps are related to the cleanliness of the litter box.
If the litter box has too much waste in it or if it smells bad, the cat can choose to ignore the litter box completely, and they can eliminate at any corner of the house.
Cat has a better sense of smell than humans. So, they can smell any remaining stench even if the litter box seems clean to one.
Recently, automated litter boxes are getting popularity, but these automated ones are expensive. So, many cat owners prefer cleaning the litter box on their own.
Keeping the importance of a clean litter box in mind, we are going to discuss everything one needs to know about cleaning litter boxes.
Things you will need
One needs to scoop the litter box at least once every day and clean the litter box entirely once every week. Both of these tasks need the following materials –
- Cat litter
- Litter box liner (optional)
- Litter scoop
- Baking soda
- Unscented dish soap
- Paper towel
- Face mask
Step-by-step cleaning instruction
We have given a detailed explanation of the daily cleaning procedure. If one is using non-clumping litter, then it is necessary to drain out any urine present in the litter.
One needs to follow all the steps mentioned below after removing the urine. For non-clumping type, the litter needs to be changed more frequently than in the case of clumping litter. Follow the procedure step-by-step for maximum efficiency.
The first step in the cleaning process is scooping out any waste in the litter. Using clumping litter makes this step easier.
Urine clumps into solid chunks and excrement get coated with litter. This makes it easier to scoop out any solids from the litter. Non-clumping litter can make a mess of the litter box if not cleaned properly.
Reach to the bottom of the litter box to clean out any waste deep inside the litter. One needs to make sure that the wastebasket is near the litter box while cleaning.
Avoid carrying the uncovered waste to reach a wastebasket. It can make the whole household reek of cat waste. Collect any clump from the litter box and dump it into the wastebasket as soon as possible.
Pull one corner of the litter box up so that, majority of the litter comes to the opposite corner. Tap on the litter box a few times and scoop out anything that stays in the corner.
Repeat this procedure for the other three corners. This technique helps in cleaning any urine-clumps hiding deep in the corner of the litter box.
To remove any clumped litter stuck to the sides of the litter box, one needs to tap the litter away from the sides. Wipe the sides with a paper towel dipped in the unscented dish shop.
When the litter box is clean, start tidying the adjacent area. Keep a sanitary spot and put a mat below the litter box. When the cleaning process is complete, one needs to dump the contents on the mat into a garbage receptacle. If it has any waste stuck to it, wipe it and wash it with water.
The next step is to replenish the litter box with more litter so that it has enough litter for the cat. Scooping out and cleaning takes out a considerable amount of litter from the box.
Insufficient litter can cause various problems. Also, one needs to make sure that the litter surface is smooth and comfortable.
If one is using a litter, which lacks baking soda in it, sprinkle a little baking soda to remove any remaining smell.
One needs to perform the following procedure once or twice every day. But it is also necessary to change the litter and clean the box once every week. To clean the box weekly, the following ways can be –
Dump all the litter in a wastebasket and soak it into hot water. Hot water does the trick almost all the time. One does not need to use any detergent or cleaning soap to clean the litter box unless it is necessary.
Sometimes a little bit of unscented dish soap with the hot water can help in removing the clumps stuck to the sides or bottom of the litter box.
Dish soap does not leave any toxic residue, which could harm cats. One should always use gloves and face masks while performing these tasks as cat faeces contain toxoplasmosis parasite, and it can infect humans. Also, pregnant women should not clean the litter box due to this parasite.
If the box needs a thorough cleaning one needs to use a scrubber and non-ammonia cleaning products. This will remove any remaining clumps and smell from the litter box.
At last, dry the litter box properly with a paper towel and pour new litter into it. Put some baking soda so that the litter does not smell if you forget to clean it once or twice.
How often should you clean litter box?
The rule of thumb for cleaning litter boxes is one should scoop the litter box for waste at least once every day and clean with water at least twice every week.
But like most general rules, there is always room for modification. The actual number should depend on the type of cat litter, the number of cats in the household, and the number of litter boxes available for the cats.
One of the hardest parts of the cleaning job is scooping the litter box every day. But it is advised that one should remove the clumps in the morning and once at night.
Cats do not like a smelly toilet, and they can choose to avoid the litter box entirely. So, one needs to keep the litter box odorless and clean to avoid such circumstances. Always replenish the litter box once a week to compensate for the removed litter.
To begin a weekly cleaning regime, one can always start with a bi-weekly schedule. Start cleaning the entire litter box twice every week but observe the cat for any behavioral changes.
If the cat is scratching the sides of the litter box excessively or choosing any other place to eliminate, then it is a sign of unhappiness with the litter box.
No matter how frequently you clean the litter box, a smelly litter box will need cleaning again. If the litter looks wet or more clumpy than usual, it needs to be cleaned.
For multi-cat households, the litter boxes need cleaning more frequently, as more cats are using the litter box. So, remove all the content from the litter box and rinse thoroughly with warm water.
While refilling the box, one should put some baking soda below the layer of litter. It should remove any remaining odor and help in keeping it fresh.
The monthly cleaning routine involves dumping the content of the litter box into a wastebasket and washing the litter box using a sponge and unscented dish detergent. Be sure to use mild dish detergent. Otherwise, the litter box can be damaged.
One should avoid bleach products as cats find the smell very strong. Some cats even have problems with citrus-based cleaning products.
Cat owners also avoid ammonia-based products because it amplifies urine smell rather than mitigating the situation. So, it is better to use unscented cleaning products so that cat does not ignore the litter box because of cleaning odors.
After a year of using a litter box, it will have too many scratches from the cat’s claws or the cleaning products.
These scratches will hold a smell, and it can be irritating for the cat. So, one should change the litter box entirely once every year. If a cat owner is using an automated litter box, they need to replace the waste receptacle and rack at least once every year.
For pregnant women, the rules are quite different. There is a short window of time when someone can contract toxoplasmosis from cat litter.
When immunity is low, humans can easily contract this. So, pregnant women should not deal with litter or litter utensils. If one has to do it, then always use a pair of gloves and face mask to keep away any wayward particle.
Litter Box Cleaning Hacks
Accept the fact that a litter box is never going to smell nice, no matter how much frequently one cleans it. A litter box can make the household reek if a cat owner forgets to scoop it even for a day.
If one is new to the litter box maintenance responsibility and hit a few bumps in the road, we have given a few tips and tricks on how to deal with the smelliest of litter boxes.
- Add dried green tea leaves
- Don’t fill the litter box too high
- Sprinkle baking soda
- Clean the box daily
- Use litter box liner
- Modify litter box lid
- Use an anti-tracking litter mat
- Use vinegar to wipe the box
- Use clumping litter
- Use unscented litter
- Keep the litter box ventilated
- Replace the litter completely twice a week.
Green tea is a natural air freshener for the litter box. One can buy green tea from stores and dry them before mixing it with litter.
Green tea has natural anti-bacterial properties, and it can absorb odours. Caffeine can be harmful to cats. But green tea, used in this way, does not possess a threat to your cat. One can always use brewed leaves to make it safer.
Cats make a mess around the litter box. To reduce the chance of litter leaving the litter box, one shouldn’t fill it too high. Generally, cats bury their waste very deep.
So, if the litter box fills up to a high level, excessive digging can cause the scattering of litter around the box. One can face the same problem if the litter box is too shallow.
Baking soda is an effective deodorizer if one is not willing to spend on expensive odour-control products. Cats can find the scented products a little off-putting sometimes.
So, it is better to sprinkle non-toxic baking soda to control smell. But baking powder can be dangerous in large quantities. So, a little baking soda should be sufficient for the cat litter.
If one doesn’t want odour filling the household, they need to follow the daily routine. One must scoop the litter box at least once a day. Cleaning the litter box every night can reduce the chance of waste filling up and developing a horrible smell.
Box liner is also a very effective way of keeping the surrounding of the litter box clean. It keeps the waste from touching the litter box at all, and it prolongs the duration of litter boxes.
During the biweekly litter replacement, one needs to pull out the liner completely, tie it, and dump it in the trash can. The main drawback is the price of the liner can add up as it is a waste of material.
Another uncomplicated method of keeping the litter in the box is modifying the cat litter to have high walls or buying a top open litter box.
If one notices cat urine outside the litter box, then this method will be an easy fix to the problem. One can use UV light to detect any urine outside the litter box.
One of the best ways of preventing litter tracking is by using an anti-tracking mat and putting the litter box on the mat. This will reduce the tracking of litter to other places in the house. Another way of attacking this problem is to buy a top-entry litter box.
The cat must leap or climb up to exit this type of litter box, and it reduces the chance of cat paws tracking the litter out of the box.
Using vinegar while cleaning the litter box biweekly is another hack that cat owners are unaware of. Vinegar can make the litter box super clean because of its acidic nature and absorbs any odor present in the litter box. But one needs to make sure that the litter box doesn’t smell like vinegar after cleaning as cats can get irritated by any pungent smell.
Clumping litter makes the cleaning job a lot easier. This type of litter makes clumps of urine, and removing these clumps becomes easier. One can easily scoop out these clumps and keep the litter box clean. Easy the job is, the more one cleans it.
Although it might seem that scented litter can keep the stench away from the litter box, one should use unscented litter for the litter box.
Any unwanted scent can make the cat ignore the litter box entirely, and it can choose any other part of the house for elimination. Scented litter can also add a smell to the already pungent smell of the cat waste, making the scent even worse.
Never put a lid over a litter box to contain the smell from getting out. It will trap the smell inside the box, and it will be awful to clean it daily. So, keep the cat litter box in a well-ventilated area so that the odour doesn’t get trapped.
Scoop daily to partially keep the odor away. One should clean the litter box at least twice a week. Otherwise, the smell can build up.
One must avoid this scenario at all costs. Change the litter entirely so that any odor associated with it goes away too.
Now use these tricks to keep your litter box clean and odorless easily. Some of the other hacks include
- cleaning the litter box using lemon juice,
- using enzyme cleaners to remove sticky clumps from the bottom of the litter box,
- mixing a little bit of hydrogen peroxide with water while cleaning the litter box,
- fitting charcoal filters inside the litter box to clean air, purchasing a sifting litter box, and
- screening the waste with sifting screen.
- In the end, it is always your experience that will make this job easy.
Cats are beautiful creatures, and owning a cat can be therapeutic. They are best at cuddling, help one when feeling lonely, they are adorable, and always photogenic.
But cleaning the litter box is probably the worst downside of having a cat in the household. We have curated a list of all the required equipment/tools one might need to perform the cleaning regime.
For a new cat owner, we have also given a step-by-step guide that one can follow to clean the litter box daily and biweekly.
Maintain a clean and odorless household by following the cleaning routine, we have mentioned. Finally, one can find all the tricks for cleaning a litter box.
Sources & Citations:
Hi There, AK Oren here. I am the founder of this amazing pet blog & a passionate writer who love helping pet owners to learn more about their pets through my articles. I am also content manager of this blog. I have experience in pet training and behavior, sheltering, and currently working for a veterinary clinic.