silica gel cat litter to absorb moisture

Quite a few of our website readers ask me this question:

“Will Cat Litter Absorb Water and Moisture?”

The short answer is yes, cat litter will quickly absorb moisture, water and even oil, gasoline and paint. Generally speaking cat litter does a good job at soaking up any type of liquid and moisture.

You probably know that the prime purpose of any cat litter is to quickly absorb cat urine and also help control the smells that come with that. So if water gets spilled or even substances like oil, cat litter is a good way of getting that quickly absorbed.

Now of course there are some caveats about the use of cat litter. That is because there are a few different types. These are:

  • Clumping cat litter
  • Non-clumping cat litter
  • Silica gel crystals
  • Natural or biodegradable cat litter

So it does depend on the type of cat litter you may be considering using, if you have a spill of water or something worse such as oil. I will explain which litters work and which will not.

Best Cat Litter for Humidity

Cat litter can be used for dealing with areas where there is a high humidity. That is an area like a damp basement, a closet or a garage where there may be some moisture, damp or even mildew and mold.

Many home owners turn to buying something like a dehumidifier. Those do work but they are expensive to buy, and there are also the energy running costs. There are also other considerations which I will explain later.

As I have mentioned above, most types of cat litter have been designed to absorb cat urine, and they do a very good job of this. With the exception of the natural or biodegradable litters, all of the other types will certainly absorb moisture.

Clay or silica gel litters will do an excellent job of doing this as they are the most absorbent. Clay litters are the cheapest so that is worth bearing in mind if you are thinking of using a litter to help with a humidity problem.

The one that I would recommend is the Dr Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter. This is a cheap clay based cat litter that gets great buyer ratings and does a great job of absorbing moisture.

If you want or prefer to use a silica gel litter, then I would recommend using the Fresh Step Crystals, Premium, Clumping Cat Litter. These look like small crystals and the handy thing about these is that they change color when they have absorbed all the moisture that they can.

That does make it easy to know when they need to be changed. It also proves very quickly just how good this type of cat litter is for dealing with moisture or condensation problems.

Typically when the crystals get poured out of the bag, they are a blue color. Once filled with moisture they turn a pale yellow color. Once they do that, then they have absorbed all the moisture that they can.

You then simply get rid of the yellow crystals and top the container up with new crystals. This is a cheap and effective method. The crystals used in cat litter are similar to those small packs you find inside packaging. The purpose of those is exactly the same and that is to help prevent moisture build up.silica gel cat litter to absorb moisture

How to use cat litter to absorb moisture?

There are a few ways you can do this, and the good news is that it doesn’t take that long to do. For me the easiest way is to put some clumping clay cat litter into a sock and hang it up. That means you can then place the sock wherever the problem is.

If there are a few areas of moisture or humidity, then a few socks filled with litter will take care of the problem.

If you don’t want to use a sock, then use a plastic container and just leave the lid off it. If there are kids in the area, then use a container, but just punch some holes to allow the moisture in.

Depending on how bad the humidity is, or how much moisture there is, you may need to change the litter on a regular basis. Cat litter will absorb moisture, but there will come a time when it is saturated. At this point it won’t absorb any longer, and will need to be thrown out and replaced.

As I mentioned earlier, using cat litter is always going to be a much cheaper option than buying a dehumidifier and then the running costs of that. Dehumidifiers are also prone to breaking down a lot, and most of them need to be regularly emptied, if not connected to a waste pipe.

A few well placed containers of cat litter will cost less than a dollar, and do a very good job.

Cat Litter for Moisture Control in Cars, RVs and Boats

Moisture really only happens where there is not a free flow of air. The build up of the heat and the damp air cause condensation, and that in turn can create dampness, mildew and even the dreaded mold.

If you have a car, RV, caravan or boat that is not regularly used, and is sealed up for security purposes then it is a really good idea to place a few open containers of cat litter inside the vehicle.

For example an RV that has its doors and windows locked and sealed is a good example of this. Likewise a boat that is left with a cover on it to protect it is another example. Placing a few containers of litter inside a vehicle or boat will go a long way to controlling the moisture that could otherwise build up inside.

Again this is a very inexpensive method of controlling moisture. As long as the cat litter is kept inside a container, it is also a clean and efficient method.

Which Type of Cat Litter Should You Use for Spills?

It is easier to state which types not to use.

Silica Gel Crystals

The silica gel crystals don’t work that well and in truth they roll about all over the place, and can make as much mess as the initial spillage. My advice is to avoid using that type of gel based litter to soak up spills. Aside from anything else it is pretty expensive stuff.

Natural Litters

Biodegradable cat litter includes cat litters that contain pine, sawdust, corn husks, recycled paper etc. These are environmentally friendly options, but like the gel crystals, not really that good a choice for soaking up water, moisture or oil.

They would create a lot of mess and are not that good at soaking up any type of spills.

Clay Based Litters

Clay based litters are the most popular choice for cat owners. They use a special type of clay and it is this clay that is good at absorbing all types of moisture. If they can soak up cat urine, then they can certainly soak up water and oil.

There are however two types of clay based litter known as clumping and non-clumping. Please note that both of these will work well at soaking up any types of moisture or spills. So what’s the difference between the two?

Clumping vs Non-Clumping Litters for Spills


With a non-clumping litter any spills will be soaked up by placing the litter on top of the spill. The moisture will soak into the litter, and it can then be removed by using a shovel or spade. The clay in this litter soaks up the moisture pretty well, and it can then be disposed of. It works but it does not work as well as the clumping litter explained below.


With a clumping litter, again you spread it on top of the spill and it will absorb the spill. The difference is that this clumping litter forms into small hard clumps which then dry out. That makes the mess a lot easier to clean up.

There are other ingredients in this type of litter that make the clay harden into lumps when it comes into contact with any form of moisture. Usually that is of course cat urine, but the clay behaves exactly the same way with water, oil or any other liquid.

Again I would recommend using the Dr Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter. It is a great price and will do the job really well.

Cleaning up Oil, Gasoline or Paint Spills with Cat Litter

using cat litter to clean up spills

There are a few methods that you can use to clean up an oil or gasoline spill. These can easily happen in your garage or driveway and let’s face it, they are not a pretty sight. The first thing you should do is to absorb the oil, gas or paint as much as you can.

This is where you can use cat litter to do that. Some people use coconut husks to do this as they believe those to be a safer option. Personally I have found that a clumping cat litter does a much better job.

Whichever you use just allow the litter or husks to absorb as much of the spill as you can. Never ever try to wash away the oil, gas or paint as it will just spread it and make matters a great deal worse.

Give the litter or husks some time to do their work before removing as much of the oil, gas or paint as you can. When finished you should just be left with a stain. This can be removed with some ordinary liquid dish soap and some hot water and a scrubbing brush.

Leave that to work for about an hour. You can then absorb this with some cat litter to remove as much of this as you can. Then it needs to be soaked up using paper towels or some old cloths. It is a slow and messy task.

Once you have got rid of the main spill, then an engine degreaser may also help to break down the oil, and make it easier to clean up with some old cloths.

Key Benefits of Using Cat Litter for Moisture and Spills

The obvious benefit is that it does work, and it works really quickly. The other main benefit is that cat litter is cheap when compared to other options.

For moisture I would recommend using the gel crystals as these are easy to see. Simply by looking at the color change you can see that they work, and it also makes them easy to change.

For larger spills use a clumping cat litter, as those are excellent at absorbing water, oil, gasoline and even paint. Cat litter works quickly, helps harden the liquid and makes it easier to brush and tidy up.

Resources Used

Humidity in the home – Envirovent

Dehumidifiers – Wikipedia


Steve is a content creator with an unhealthy cat obsession. He enjoys reading non-fiction books, entreprenuership and cuddles with his cat Fij.

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