How to Clean a Cat Litter Box in 5 Steps

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by Steven Thomas

how to clean a cat litter box

Looking for a stress-free way of cleaning out the cat litter box?

Keeping your house smelling fresh and your cat happy doesn’t have to be hard.

In fact, it can be an enjoyable process when you know the right steps involved.

This post will show you how to clean a cat litter box so well, it becomes second nature.

Let’s get started.

Things You’ll Need to Clean a Cat Litter Box

Before I reveal the exact steps on how to clean a cat litter box, here are some important items you’ll need to make the process a breeze.

A Decent Litter Box

IRIS USA Jumbo Enclosed Cat Litter Box with Front Door Flap and Scoop, Hooded Kitty Litter Tray with Handle and Buckles for Portability and Privacy, Gray

You guessed it, a litter box is a requirement. But not just any litter box.

You’ll need to make sure it’s the right one for your cat. Some cats prefer a tray, whereas others will prefer an enclosed top entry box.

Which one you choose might depend on the type of cat you have, whether he or she is a tiny kitten or large birman breed.

For an all round litter box, this one is one of the best for most people.

It’s also important to have the correct number of litter boxes, because cats can get a little fussy sometimes.

If you’ve already got your litter box, great. Let’s move on to the next item.


Med PRIDE Medical Vinyl Examination Gloves (Large, 100-Count) Latex Free Rubber | Disposable, Ultra-Strong, Clear | Fluid, Blood, Exam, Healthcare, Food Handling Use | No Powder

Not everyone will need gloves when cleaning out a cat litter box. If you’re careful, you can avoid getting any urine or cat feces on your hands.

However, if you’re pregnant or have sensitive skin, it’s highly recommended by the experts to wear gloves.

These gloves will do the trick.

A Litter Scoop

Petmate Scoop and Hide Litter Scoop with Storage Compartment and Built-in Rake. Available in 3 Colors

A litter scoop might be the key to easy cat litter cleanup, especially if you use clumping cat litter.

I’ll explain exactly how to use one later in this post.

If you need one, this one is very popular and hides inside a little caddy.

Waste Bags

Ubbi Pet Waste Sacks, Lavender Scented Cat Litter Disposal Bags, Leak Proof and Easy Tie, 200 Count

Waste bags are likely the second best item you could invest in for cleaning out a cat’s litter box.


Because all it takes is to scoop any poop or clumps of urine and place them into a bag to be disposed of.

Check out these litter bags to turn a burden into a blessing.

Non-toxic Detergent and Water

Nature's Miracle Just for Cats Litter Box Odor Destroyer, Unscented, 24-Ounce Spray (P-5552)

At some point, you’ll need to give the litter box a thorough clean.

And water alone won’t cut it. Get yourself some detergent to make your cat’s litter box sparkling fresh.

This non-toxic cleaner is especially made for cats so that they aren’t tempted to poop outside the litter box.

Fresh Cat Litter

Dr. Elsey's Premium Clumping Cat Litter - Clean Tracks - Low Dust, Low Tracking, Hard Clumping, Superior Odor Control, Unscented & Natural Ingredients

Once your litter box is clean and fresh, it’s time to add new litter.

Choosing the best cat litter your cat is happy with can take some trial and error.

With that in mind, most people find this cat litter to be an excellent choice.

Optional: Baking Soda

Cat's Pride Lightweight Clumping Cat Litter, Baking Soda

Did you know you can buy cat litter with baking soda?

It’s true:

Baking soda in cat litter can help eliminate bad odors around the home for longer.

If you don’t have one of these litters or you prefer using a different one, you can always add your own baking soda.

This baking soda is specifically designed for cat litter. Try it out!

Optional: Cat Litter Mat

Gorilla Grip Thick Cat Litter Trapping Mat, 35x23, Less Waste, Traps Mess from Box for Cleaner Floors, Stays in Place for Cats, Soft on Kitty Paws, Easy Clean, Large Size, Durable Backing, Gray

A cat litter mat will protect the floor under the litter box and help catch any tracked litter that flys out with your cat.

Also Read: How to Stop Cat Litter Getting Everywhere

How to Clean a Cat Litter Box in 5 Simple Steps

Cleaning out the litter box on a regular basis, including daily scoops, will cut down how much cat litter costs per month.

Here are the steps involved in cleaning out a litter box. Follow them every time and you’ll soon develop a daily and weekly habit to make this painful chore a breeze.

1. Scoop and Dispose of Waste

A cat will use a litter box around 3-5 times per day so it’s important to keep things under control daily.

The easiest way to do this is to scoop out any poop or hardened cat urine and place it into a litter bag. When you do it consistently, it should only take a minute or so.

Consistency could be every morning, evening, or both. It’s entirely up to you and how often your cat goes.

Each time you bag the waste, simply place it in your normal trash.

Using these litter bags that you can tie in a knot will prevent your trash from stinking out the house.

And scooping daily will prevent all the litter from getting contaminated, making the litter last as long as possible.

2. Empty Remaining Litter into a Waste Bag

If you follow the system above and maintain daily scooping, you won’t have to clean the litter box thoroughly half as much.

That’s because scooping takes out the contaminated litter and leaves the fresh litter in the box.

After a while, though, you will need to replace the litter box with fresh litter and give the box a thorough clean.

How often you’ll need to change the litter will depend on a few things, but 2 – 4 weeks is an average estimate.

When it’s time, empty any remaining and contaminated litter into a waste bag and dispose of it in your main trash.

You can use gloves to protect your hands and paper towels to remove litter stuck to the sides and bottom.

3. Clean the Litter Box

You’ve emptied the old litter. Now it’s time to do a deep clean.

Using some non-toxic detergent or non-scented soap and water will suffice.

You can also use a spray if that helps, but make sure it doesn’t have a strong scent.

Use a rag or towel to scrub the soapy water around the inside of the litter box.

Then rinse with clean water and the hard part is over.

4. Dry the Litter Box

This part is fairly simple. You need to dry the inside of the litter box before putting new litter in.

You can use paper towels or a clean rag. Just make sure it is thoroughly dry, or the new litter will get wet.

5. Refill with Fresh Litter

The final step is to fill your litter box with new and fresh cat litter.

But how much cat litter should you use?

Well, according to a top manufacturer of cat litter, the typical amount is around 2 – 3 inches.

They also share some tips to help you determine if you’re using too much.

Open the bag or box of chosen cat litter and slowly pour the litter in one area of the litter box. Then spread it out evenly around the bottom with your litter scoop.

Try to find a pouring technique to avoid dusty litter. Close to the bottom and pouring slowly should do the trick.

How Often Should You Clean Out the Cat Litter?

I have an in-depth article on how often you should clean the litter box, but I’ve outlined the basics below.

  • Different types of litter will require different cleaning frequencies.
  • The average range is between 2 – 4 weeks for a full clean
  • Other factors depend on when to do a full clean, such as scoop frequency, and number of cats you have

To get all the details, including the difference between scooping and cleaning, read the article here.

Should You Use Cat Litter Liners?

Another question cat parents have is whether or they should use cat litter liners.

The simple answer is to try them out for yourself. Some people love them and some people hate them.

I have also written another post on this topic. Check out this article, Should You Use Litter Box Liners for Your Cat?

Conclusion: How to Clean a Cat Litter Box

That concludes this post on how to clean a cat litter box. I hope you found it useful.

In summary, you’ll need a few items such as non-toxic cleaning spray, paper towels, a scoop, and new litter.

Then it’s a case of maintaining a consistent scoop schedule, and cleaning the litter box fully when most of the litter is too contaminated.

Photo by Litter Robot on Unsplash

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Steven Thomas
Steven has been studying cat behavior ever since adopting two stray kittens in 1996. After rescuing many homeless cats over the years, he developed the skill of finding new homes for cat lovers seeking to adopt. About Steven

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