How To Clean A Cat Litter Box

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Here are a list of steps to thoroughly clean the kitty litter box and keep things sanitized. I’ve also included several links at the bottom pointing to some neat ideas to hide the box in some manner.

Keep The Litterbox Clean For Kitty

Keep The Litterbox Clean For Kitty

  • Wear rubber gloves used just for this job.
  • Dump all the used litter into a garbage bag, tie off and toss immediately.
  • Using very hot, soapy water scrub the box with old clean cloths (rags) saved just for this purpose. When done with the cloths, wash separately from the rest of your laundry. Use bleach in the wash.
  • After scrubbing, rinse well to remove all traces of soap. Fill with hot water and 1/4 cup of bleach. Let soak for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Rinse thoroughly with hot water to remove all traces of bleach.
  • You can either air dry the box or wipe it dry with a clean rag used just for this purpose (you can launder with the above scrub cloths).
  • Fill with fresh kitty litter and it’s ready to serve its purpose again. You can also line the box with newspaper or a plastic bag first before filling with fresh cat litter, it makes the next cleanup job a little easier.

Clean as frequently as needed. Before washings, you can use a scooper to scoop out waste daily, that will keep things fresher longer.

You can keep a “Maintenance Kit” so you have everything ready and in one place. Have a pail or box to hold your rubber gloves and a fresh, clean stack of rags used for cleaning.

Here are a few ideas and products posted on flickr for hiding litter boxes or at least making them fit into your decor nicely:

DIY Project: Here’s a mess free project made with an 18 gallon bin, scissors and a circular template (to cut the hole).

More ideas:

New Cover; Jen’s Amazing Contraption; Custom Project; Custom How To.

A few tips:

  • Cat Spraying No MoreIf possible, keep it out of the kitchen. Good choices are the laundry room, attached garage (if the cat has easy access), mud room, porch or any area of your house that isn’t typically used as a family seating area or gathering place.
  • If you have a dog in the family that likes to raid it and munch away (gross!), keep it in a spot that the dog can’t get at. Using a covered contraption is ideal for this, just point the entrance into a corner close enough that the dog can’t get into it. The cat will find her way in no problem.
  • If you have problems with your cat “missing” the box, check out these cleaning tips.
  • Did you know: Because an unborn child can be infected with the toxoplasmosis parasite, it is recommended that pregnant women wear gloves, pants and shoes when gardening (or avoid gardening altogether) and never clean a litter box in case the feces carry the parasite. See this page for more information: BC Health Files.

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17 Comments to “How To Clean A Cat Litter Box”
  1. Rae Baz says:

    We had my daughters cats stay with us for a whlie. I found aluminum pans at the dollar store that fit into their kitty litter boxes. The pans don’t rip tlike the liners do. To change you just place the pan and kitty litter into a plastic garbage bag. Replace with a new pan and fresh kitty litter.

    • Matt says:

      We dont use kitty litter anymore, we buy a huge bag of compressed cedar chips from the farm store, cats dont seem to mind and the cedar soaks up the smell, you can buy a huge bag that fills the shopping cart for around $5….

      • Jen says:

        Wondering if there isn’t any reason that a person couldn’t use the cedar shavings with the litter? Or at least until they decide that the shavings are okay so there isn’t a revolt….

  2. TipNut says:

    Rae that’s a great idea, never thought of using the aluminum pans. Thanks for sharing that tip! 🙂

  3. David says:

    Aluminum pans?! they’re expensive.. you may as well buy a new litter box every time you want to empty it.

  4. Emma says:

    David I think you missed the point. Rae said she found them at the dollar store. I can find 100 in one packet for a ridiculously low price of 5 bucks – not too expensive now is it 😉
    If that plus isn’t enough for you, they can also be re-used if you have a poop scoop on hand, which is another $1.50 at local dollar stores. Too easy thanks for that tip 🙂

    • DONNA says:

      The large lasagna pans that I buy at The Dollar Store are about a buck a piece, so I don’t how you can get 100 pans for $5 that would be suitable for this particular purpose. I would probably need a roasting pan for the size box I have.

  5. Hanna says:

    I keep an extra kitty litter bin and dump clumps in it – it’s air-tight and something I already have. The bins are also great for kitchen scraps on their way to the compost pile, and you can use Goo Gone to remove painted labels. The Fresh Step bins probably work the best because the top completely comes off, they’re all white, there’s no embossing, and after Goo-Goning the bin, it looks like a plain old white bin with a lid. You wouldn’t know it was a kitty litter bin unless you really know your kitty litter.

    I made my own covered litter box with a plastic storage bin, some indoor/outdoor carpeting (for the top), hot glue, staples, and box cutter. Apply carpeting to the lid of the bin with glue and staples – careful to make sure no staples are poking out into the underside of the lid, bend them over. Cut a hole into the lid and carpeting large enough for your cat (or your largest cat as the case may be) to fit through. And you can trim with rope or whatever you have. $10 or less for something that would cost you $30+ at the pet store. And you can make it to fit your cat and the intended space.

    When cleaning, I dump everything inside. Smacking the bottom will loosen any extra clumps, but don’t smack too hard! Then I put it in the bathtub and spray a vinegar solution all over. After 10 minutes, I rinse it out with the shower head and dump the water in the toilet or outside. For anything left, I scrub it down with the toilet brush and reapply the vinegar solution, rinsing a second time. Shove it outside, let it air-dry, and the box is ready for fresh litter. No need for rags, sponges, or towels.

    Personally, I haven’t found liners to be all that useful because they inevitably get litter into the box and make cleaning clumps difficult, especially the bag liners. My cats also have uncanny aim…

  6. Mary Dee says:

    I do cat rescue, and generally have between 20 and 30 cats at one time. I feel like the Queen of litter and boxes, so wanted to share what I have discovered.

    First, the litter box. I use one of two types, and find them easy to clean and the cats like them and will uses them. One type is the under-the-bed storage box. It has slightly higher sides than the normal litter box, so there is less kicked out litter.

    The other type is something I found at the local home repair warehouse, and that is the small or medium size concrete mixing pans. They are made of a very durable platic that does not scratch and which is impermeable (sometimes, if a cat scratches the other plastics too hard, they break the surface coating, and then you can never get the smell out of the box, no matter how hard you try.) They are also a little deeper, even compared to the under the bed box, so way less litter kicked out.

    The second tip that I SWEAR by is using baby chick food for litter. Its simply ground up corn, in the same consistency as many clay litters, and it is not only inexcpensive, but it works far better than any of the other litters I have tried. (Plus its completely biodegradeable.)

    The corn coats the solid pieces and completely absorbes the urine, and it clumps, like many of the commercial litters. Even when its time to toss it, it never smells as bad as a lot of the clay litters.

    Its safe for kittens, who might accidentally ingest litter. Plus, if you want, if you need to toss it, after removing the clumps and solids, you can put it out in the garden for mulch (well, not on your edible plants, but everything else.) Its disappears into the soil in just a few days.

    I buy it by the 50 pound sack (but it also comes much smaller) for about $14-$17. That makes it a huge deal, at least in my neck of the woods.

    One last thing; I have adopted out a few cats who insist that their new owners use it, too. Once they use baby chick food, they just won’t go back to the nasty clay litters.

    It is usually called “Chick Start”, and is simply baby chick food. You must purchase it at a feed store for livestock.

    • EDITH says:

      WOW! Mary Dee, thanks for the suggestion on the baby chick food for litter pans! I have been using “The World’s Best Cat Litter” and that stuff is expensive!
      And THANK YOU so much for doing cat rescue!

    • sarah says:

      Hi Mary Dee,
      I am having trouble finding a place to buy this “chick start.” I am located in Philadelphia. Can you give me some tips? Thanks.

    • MC says:

      Just be careful with using corn. I can only find one article about it, but it’s still worth asking a vet. If you can find evidence that the claim about using corn-based litter is not valid, please let me know, as I’d like to use brands like it.

  7. Debbie says:

    Sprinkle some Baking Soda in the litter box after cleaning. Both on bottom, and on top. This will increase the life of your litter.

  8. Margaret Bowen says:

    After cleaning and drying litterbox. Spray the insides with baking spray from the dollar store. Anything on the sides or bottom of pan will turn loose easier at scoop time.

  9. Siamese_Rock says:

    does anyone know if it’s healthy to clean the soil itself, and if so, how to do it?

  10. Trish says:

    We made a litter box for our female cat who is very shy. We took a big (I think 40gal) plastic storage tub with a snap on lid, left the lid on and using an craft knife, carefully cut a rectangle out of one of the shorter sides of the tub. We left 3″ of rim at the bottom of the hole to keep in the litter, and made the hole about 8″ high and 6″ wide. To clean the box, we just snap off the lid, scoop, and replace the lid. Keeps the small down a lot, and we also keep the litter box in the guest bathroom in the tub. Our cat is 11 and has no trouble hopping into the tub to use her box. We keep the shower curtain 3/4 closed to hide it, and we clean regularly. Seems to work!

  11. Sheila says:

    How do you remove cat urine from suede my cat had and accident on our sofa

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