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How to Clean a Litter Box: Get Rid of the Cat Smell- And Keep it Away!

Updated on September 18, 2016
Little Lilly
Little Lilly | Source

How does your house smell?

Cat owners often complain about their furry friends odor. Some times it seems impossible to eliminate that cat smell- kitty urine lingers! Their guests can easily sniff out kitty cats in households even when the cats are nowhere to be found. Little Lilly is hiding- but our sense of smell knows she has been here!

We love our four-legged friends, but they sure can leave an odor behind after doing their business. Wether you have just brought your new kitten home, or your cat has been avoiding the litter box for weeks, these tips can help you!

Follow the steps below to eliminate these odors in ways that will not harm your cat, and will leave your house smelling fresh.

Why is my Cat Avoiding the Litter Box?

The number one reason cats stop using their litter box is because s/he associates it with something unpleasant. This could be anything from a urinary tract infection, to other animals bullying the cat in that general area, or it does not get cleaned as it should; creating an unpleasant smell.

Taking this into consideration; be sure to watch for any of these signs. If your cat is avoiding the litter box; fix any problems s/he may have with the area. When you have counted out any other issues ( medical, bullying, etc) then it is time to take a deeper look into wether or not it is a cleanliness issue.

With all of the above issues fixed; let's clean that darn litter box.

Be sure to clean out the litter box ( or boxes)daily- multiple times a day if possible. Leaving the litter box soiled for long periods of time will often cause your cat to shy away, and find other spaces in your home that smell nicer in order to do their business. Once your cat finds another , more welcoming place to use the restroom, it is often very hard to stop the habits and get them to come back to the litter box.


Cleaning Products That Will Not Harm Your Cat

Many cat owners are worried about using products that will harm their cats, or products that will overpower their sense of smell to the point that they do not want to use their space. A very reasonable concern! Using a cleaning product that is too strong ( like bleach) can be toxic to your cat and prevent them from using the litter box due to the overwhelming smell. Keep in mind, your cat's sense of smell is fourteen times stronger than yours!

Let's Clean!

I use a toilet brush-which can be bought at the dollar store-to scrub the inside of the litter box.

So now you have your cleaning product in one hand, and the dollar store toilet brush in the other- Let's get to work!

Dump the old litter, if it doesn't all come out, try tapping the outside of the box to remove clumps that are stuck. When you have the empty box, either use the outside hose, or the tub as your cleaning area.

Rinse the litter box with hot water, and pour the product into the box (all products will have a different amount to use- check the side of the container and follow the guidelines). I usually let it soak, but depending on the product instructions, you may not have to.

Scrub the litter box with the toilet brush to remove any left over litter. Rinse and repeat to sanitize the box- as you see necessary.

You can then either let the box air dry or wipe it down with a dry and clean hand towel.
After the box is dry, I sprinkle a bit of bakiInsides inside of the box.This prevents odors from absorbing into the material of the litter box. Many are made of plastic which will holds odors, especially after scrubbing.

Tips: change the litter of your choosing at least once a week; no matter how much a certain product says it will lock-in and absorb odors, it only lasts for so long.

Happy Humans, Happy Kitties!

And we are done! My cats always run to the box right after it's filled with fresh litter- they love a clean box.



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    • Purrsngrrs profile image

      Uzair Mehmood 

      4 years ago from USA, TX

      Lol. Cats are clean but their litter box is something extremely awful. My cats refuse to re-use their litter box if it is not clean and stink free which means I have to clean the litter box or keep spare boxes all the time.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hot damn, loionkg pretty useful buddy.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      The cat food should be a brand that has a good repatution and been around awhile.. also do the research on what should be in the food and what should not be. As a cat gets older the food needs to change to a better food. Some cats can handle dry and wet other cats only dry. The best combination is a tsp or two with a quality of dry food twice a day depending on your pets size. There are cats that will eat just dry food, but those sometimes end up with more hairballs which is not a problem for the cat, they throw them up easily enough but then you have to clean them up.. so that is a factor for you to consider.As for cat litter.. again make sure it is a good brand. There are ones out there that are just down right weird. But the clumping litter is good but again you want a good brand that has been around awhile and doesn't have a lot of dust when you use it. I have several brands that I like and let price make the final decision. Unlike food you can change the litter without problems. With food it isn't a good idea to change the food a lot.Hope this helps.

    • Woodmckinney profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Maryland

      You must feel so honored that she lets you use the Arm and Hammer brand. I switched it to off brand litter once. My cat swatted it in my face. She then proceeded to make her annoyance known by using the bathtub as her dumping ground... I thanked her for giving me a second chance..

    • Dale Hyde profile image

      Dale Hyde 

      5 years ago from Tropical Paradise on Planet X

      Our current kitty that allows my wife and myself to live in "her" apartment and serve her has been using a particular cat litter that totally eliminates all odors as long as scooped once a day. The box itself only requires a scrubbing about once a month. What "she" allows us to fill her litter box with is Arm and Hammer Double Duty "clumping" litter. :)


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