Ditch Litter Box Cleaning Blues With These Easy Hacks
When it comes to keeping your home smelling fresh your cat’s litter box could be sabotaging all your other cleaning efforts.
When cleaning your floors, getting the spaces in between and all the fancy candles in the world won’t matter much if you don’t address your kitty’s litter.
If you’re new to the litter box maintenance game or you’re not a novice but have come upon a bump in the road, here are some litter box cleaning hacks that can get you back on track and make having your cat’s litter box around not so big of a deal.
Begin As You Mean to Go
Keeping your cat’s litter box odor-free and making clean up as easy as possible begins with the type of litter box you choose for your cat, where you put it, and how frequently you clean it.
Begin as you mean to go. Start off with a good litter box maintenance routine to prevent headaches down the road once bad litter box maintenance catches up with you.
Two is the Magic Number
The number of litter boxes you have can make or break your odor-fighting efforts. It may seem like it’s not a big deal to have your cats share the same litter box but not having enough spaces for your furry friends to do their business could increase litter box odors and make cleaning up a pain.
Cats can be territorial and if you have multiple cats and not enough litter boxes some of your cats may even decide to forgo the litter box altogether.
According to a study funded by American Veterinarian, cats familiar with each other prefer a clean litter box over a dirty one and are quite happy to use a litter box their feline sibling uses.
Ideally, you’ll want to have two litter boxes per cat, but you may be able to get away with just one per cat.
However, if you have only one cat it’s still a good idea to have at least two litter boxes. Just make sure to place them in different locations throughout your home.
Hack 1: Two litter boxes per cat
The location of your cat’s litter box matters a lot. Place the litter box somewhere that not only provides convenient access for you when it’s cleaning time but also a place that is quiet and easily visible for your cat.
It the litter box is somewhere your cat can’t quickly access when it’s time to use it, you may end up with a mess on your floors or worse, on your furniture.
Your cat’s litter box is also a way that your cat marks what they consider to be their territory. If you find your cat peeing on random items in your home, it could mean that he’s not happy with the location of his litter box.
Try moving it to another spot or introducing an additional litter box in a new location to see if this resolves your issue.
Hack 2: Put the litter box somewhere easy to assess
Pick of the Litter
Picking the right litter goes a long way towards making clean-up simple and helping your litter box reduce odors.
With so many types of cat litters on the market, it may seem overwhelming as you shop for the right one for your cat’s litter box. Cat owners may have to try a few types of litter before they find the one that both they and their cat likes.
Regardless of the type of litter you ultimately decide works best for your cat’s litter box, keep in mind that the odor control properties have different lasting times depending on the type of litter you use.
This feature will be marked on the litter packaging, so take note. Some pet supply stores offer smaller bags of litter for the customer to try before deciding on larger bags.
Hack 3: Try a sample or small size bags of litter until you find the right one
Small Daily Improvements Gets Results
This tip may not seem like a hack but it truly is. Cleaning your cat’s litter box more frequently may be the only hack you need to keep odors permanently at bay.
Letting a litter box go un-scooped for days can result in offensive odors that permeate your home.
Cats tend to be fastidious by nature, so waiting to clean the litter box could drive your cat to soil areas in your home that they deem cleaner than their litter box.
According to National Center for Biotechnology Information, a 2006 study listed in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, there was a correlation between the cleanliness of a litter box and whether a cat decided to use it or not.
Develop a routine of cleaning the litter box at a set time everyday. The beginning of the day and the end of day are great times to do the deed. Even if you’re only scooping your cat’s litter box once a day, that is still preferable to waiting days before cleaning.
Hack 4: Clean litter box twice daily
A Weekly Overhaul
As a rule, every week you should be replacing your cat’s litter completely. Yes, that means dumping out all of the litter even if it looks free of urine or poop and depending on the type of litter you use you may want to replace it more frequently. If you use clay litter then you should replace it no less than twice a week.
Scooping your litter box daily will mean you’ll have to replace the litter less frequently. If you scoop your cat’s litter twice a day then you may be able to get away with changing the litter once every two weeks but only if you’re not using clay litter.
Hack 5: Completely replace litter weekly
A Weekly Washing
This step should precede your weekly litter replacing. Giving your cat’s litter box a good cleaning once a week is a must for those wanting to maintain their cat’s health and keep odors at bay.
Even the best litter can’t keep urine and poop residue from getting on the surface of the litter box.
If you ignore this step or do it infrequently, all the litter changing in the world is not going to prevent the awful smells you’re in store for.
Using simple cleaning agents such as vinegar, dish soap, and warm water is more than enough to get a litter box clean.
Hack 6: Wash litter box weekly
New Year, New Box
Unless your cat’s litter box is made of Pyrex, the same material glass cookware is made of, then you will need to replace it every year or so.
Most litter boxes are made of plastic and no matter how well you clean them after a while odor-causing bacteria begins to seep deep down.
Scratches to the litter box from your cat or from thorough scrubbing while cleaning can speed up this problem.
Replace your cat’s litter box every year to ensure you don’t waste time soaking and scrubbing an old litter box that is better suited for the recycling bin.
If you’ve opted for a fancier robotic litter box, you may want to consider litter box liner to prolong the life of your unit.
Hack 7: Replace the litter box every year
Litter Highs and Lows
Another preventative cleaning hack to limit or eliminate the litter that ends up on the floor around your cat’s litter box is by not filling the litter too high.
Cats like to bury what they leave in the litter so if you’ve filled the litter box too high this could be the reason you’re seeing it scattered around your cat’s litter box.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, in a 2012 study, cats who participated in the study showed a preference for uncovered boxes so this preference can be a problem when litter box walls aren’t high enough.
If your cat’s litter box is too shallow and the amount of litter you’re putting in it is really what your cat needs then you’ll have to upgrade to a larger litter box.
Hack 8: Don’t fill the litter too high
Making Cleaning Up Easy
You’ve got the right litter box and litter, your cat’s loving the litter box’s location, and you’re sticking to a cleaning routine that doesn’t let stench build. Now let’s take a look at some hacks that can make cleaning up safer and easier.
Don’t Shake the Scoop, Baby
It’s something many of us do without even thinking about it. It may feel like the proper way to remove clumps while retaining unsoiled litter but shaking your litter scoop could be causing more problems than it’s solving.
When you shake your scoop you’re unintentionally causing pieces to break away from clumping litter and fall through the slats of the scoop right back into the liter.
These pieces are now too tiny to be caught by the scoop and end up fouling clean litter making it necessary to change the litter more frequently.
With non-clumping litter, it can cause pieces of hardened feces to break away from larger pieces ending in the same results. Whether you use clumping litter or something else, shaking your scoop isn’t a good idea.
Hack 9: Don’t shake the scoop
Suit Up When Throwing Stench Out
Wearing a mask can protect your lungs from litter dust that can irritate the lungs and contain harmful bacteria.
Masks also protect your nose from odors that are associated with litter box cleaning. The reusable face mask is an eco-friendly alternative to a disposable mask, however, disposable masks are pretty affordable and easy to find.
Using gloves can also reduce the risks of germs and the ick factor for those with more sensitive stomachs. With concerns of catching toxoplasmosis from contaminated litter, pregnant women should wear mask and gloves if they must change the litter.
Hack 10: Wear a face mask and gloves when cleaning litter box
Up the Walls
This hack may not apply to all cat owners but if your cat sometimes misses when peeing in the litter box and urine ends up outside on walls or other things then you may want to modify the litter box or throw it out and buy something more suitable for your cat.
If you can’t see the urine stains outside the box it may be hard to determine that your cat’s litter box isn’t tall enough and you may attribute the bad odor to the litter. A UV light will allow you to see areas outside of the litter box that your cat may have soiled.
Hack 11: Modify litter box lid to prevent urine from getting outside the litter box
Screen Your Cat’s Poop
A quick cleaning hack that you can find at your local hardware store is using a piece of window screen to shift instead of shelling out bucks on a sifting litter box. You will need something to catch the sifted litter for this hack, preferable to a bucket.
Place the screen over the bucket and empty the litter box over it. The screen will catch clumps and poop, leaving the clean litter in the bucket. Now is a good time to clean the empty litter box before putting the sifted litter back in.
Hack 12: Use a sifting screen to make cleaning easy.
Sifting Litter Boxes
If you don’t want to spend time scooping litter when you could easily sift it but do-it-yourself projects aren’t your thing, don’t worry there are a ton of pre-made sifting litter boxes available.
Sifting litter boxes will contain two to three trays, one with a built-in screen that allows you to lift your cat’s waste up and out of the litter box in one go.
Hack 13: Purchase a sifting litter box
Litter Box One-Liners
A good quality litter will help keep your cat’s waste contained but even with the best litters, you will eventually find the bottom of your cat’s litter box caked with urine and poop.
Litter box liners prevent waste caking at the bottom of litter boxes and can prolong the life of your cat’s litter box by keeping waste from ever touching the box surface.
During your weekly litter replacements, just pull out the soiled bag, tie it and toss in the trash.
Hack 14: Use litter box liners
Prevent Litter From Tracking
One of the more annoying aspects of litter box maintenance is the seemingly never-ending battle to keep litter your cat has tracked out of the litter box off of the floor.
Placing an anti-tracking litter mat near the exit of your cat’s litter box can greatly reduce litter from spreading to other areas.
Another cool hack to attack tracking is to purchase or make a top entry litter box. These litter boxes are designed so that when done using the litter box your cat must leap or climb up to exit keeping litter contained within.
Hack 15: Get a good quality litter mat or top entry litter box
Keep It Smelling Fresh
In addition to maintaining a cleaning schedule, there are some useful products that can give you a freshening boost.
Any product you introduce to the litter box or use to clean it has to be something that is non-toxic for your pet. Cleaning products that may be perfectly safe for humans could be harmful to your cat.
Ventilation is Important
The odor is basically the result of bacteria feeding on decaying matter and oxygen combats this. Making sure your cat’s litter box is in an area that is properly ventilated can slow the growth of bacteria.
A lot of cat owners would rather put their cat’s litter box somewhere out of site because, honestly, who wants to look at poop?
If your cat’s litter box is someplace where not much air circulates, consider relocating it. When putting the litter box in discrete hideaways make sure these hutches have holes for air flow.
The hideaway cabinet in this YouTube video is a perfect example of how you can maintain proper ventilation and still achieve that discrete litter box looks you’re going for.
Hack 16: Keep litter box well ventilated
For pennies, you could purchase a deodorizer that is safe for your pets and great at fighting litter box odors.
Baking soda is a nontoxic scentless alternative to more expensive specialty litter box deodorizers. You may already have a box of baking soda in your kitchen cupboard.
According to The Humane Society of the United States, scented litter and deodorizing can be off-putting to cats and they advise using something unscented such as baking soda to keep litter boxes smelling fresh.
The next time you clean your cat’s litter box sprinkles some baking soda at the bottom of the tray before adding fresh litter.
You can also sprinkle baking soda in the litter box each time you scoop or for a quick freshener if you’re expecting a guest.
Hack 17: Use baking soda as a natural deodorizer
Litter sprinkles are powder, granules, or gel balls that are sprinkled over litter to kill the odor. Some cat owners swear by these sprinkles that have been specially formulated to be safe for their pets.
When choosing a litter sprinkle keep in mind that cats typically don’t like strong fragrances.
Plus, highly scented deodorizes usually don’t combat bad odors they just make your house smell like flowery cat poop.
Hack 18: Choose litter sprinkles that are unscented or lightly scented
Green Tea Bags
After you’ve enjoyed a cup of tea don’t throw out your used tea bags because this next hack could help you deodorize your cat’s litter box naturally.
Place dried loose leaf green tea into your cat’s litter box for an anti-bacterial odor fighting punch.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a 2014 study, green tea leaves were shown to have a powerful antimicrobial effect.
Green tea leaves are known to kill litter box stench and if you’re concerned about your cat consuming the leaves and getting a jolt of caffeine, use decaf leaves or dry out used green tea leaves as brewing the tea leeches all of the caffeine out.
Hack 19: Sprinkle dried green tea leaves in the litter box to deodorize
Charcoal Filters Absorb Odor
Lining the vents of your cat’s litter box with charcoal filters can significantly reduce litter box funk. Charcoal does an excellent job of absorbing unpleasant smells and bacteria and it’s non-toxic for your cat.
There are charcoal filters that are made specifically for litter box trays or you can go to your local hardware store and buy a piece of charcoal filter to cut to the size that suits you.
Some higher-end robotic litter boxes will have charcoal filters built into the units, however, you can easily add a few pieces of charcoal filter around your cat’s litter box to receive the same benefits of pricier litter box models.
Hack 20: Use charcoal filters around litter box vents and trays
Diluting some hydrogen peroxide with a little water is another natural litter box cleaning hack for those deep cleaning days.
Put the solution in a spray bottle to administer evening and allow it to sit for a couple of minutes for stubborn odors and stains.
Hack 21: Use hydrogen peroxide diluted with water to clean the litter box
Want a natural cleaning agent that kills bacteria and bleaches stains? Look no further than your pantry. Lemon juice is a wonderful non-toxic alternative to harsh chemical cleaners that may not be safe for your furry friend.
After wiping down the surface of the litter box apply lemon juice using a spray bottle and allow it to sit for fifteen minutes.
Blot up any remaining lemon juice and allow the solution to work its antibacterial magic by eliminating cat urine odor.
Hack 22: Clean litter box with lemon juice
Enzyme cleaners work by breaking down cat urine acid fighting tough odors and working to dissolve sticky clumps of urine that may be at the bottom of your cat’s litter box.
These cleaners are readily available at most places that sell pet supplies and they can be used on areas outside of the litter box that your cat may have marked accidentally or intentionally.