Best Way To Clean A Litter Box

July 13, 2018

Cleaning your cat’s litter box frequently may not be fun, but it is necessary if you want to keep your cat and your family healthy, prevent house soiling, and keep your home odor-free. The amount of effort you need to invest in litter box cleaning primarily depends on the type of litter box you choose, with the best litter boxes on the market making the process a lot easier than the old-fashioned litter boxes.

Based on the cleaning process, the litter boxes currently available can be divided into 3 categories, including classic litter boxes that require scooping, sifting litter boxes, and self-cleaning litter boxes. Here are the best ways to clean each of these 3 litter box models.

Best Way To Clean A Litter Box

Classic Litter Box (w/ Scooper)

With classic litter boxes that require scooping, the cleaning process is lengthier and requires more effort than with other models. It is recommended to scoop waste once or twice a day and wipe the litter box clean about once a week. You should thoroughly scrub the litter box whenever you are fully replacing the litter. Keep in mind that these are general recommendations; the frequency of scooping, wiping, and scrubbing heavily depends on your cat’s toilet habits.

Cleaning Essentials

It is wise to purchase the necessary cleaning accessories immediately after you get a litter box. These include one or more non-stick scoopers, waste baggies, trash bags, pet-safe disinfectant wipes, pet-safe soap or detergent, baking soda, a litter rake, disposable sponges, disposable cloths, disposable gloves, and preferably face masks. It is also a good idea to get a litter mat that collects litter that gets kicked out, as well as a cat litter disposal pail system like Litter Genie or a special trash can that can lock in the odors.

Keep waste baggies and trash bags handy throughout the process to easily dispose of waste, gloves, wipes, and other disposable items.


When you are scooping the waste, be sure to wear disposable gloves and a face mask because inhaling dirty litter dust and touching the waste can result in health problems. Use a non-stick scooper to remove large clumps and then tip the litter box to each side, tapping it gently to identify and remove any remaining clumps. Be sure to go all the way to the bottom of the box because liquids can cause the clumps to stick to the bottom.

We recommend using a non-stick scooper because other kinds of scoopers get messy rather easily and they are more difficult to clean.

Wiping & Dusting

When you are done scooping, clean the sides of the box with disinfectant wipes to remove potential dirt. This is particularly important if your cat is a side pee-er and if there are any scratches on the litter box that may collect waste and dust. Once the litter box is clean, replenish the litter as needed.

Check the litter mat for waste and litter. Open a trash bag and drop any waste from the mat into the bag, dusting off the mat along the way to remove fine particles. Wipe the mat clean with disinfectant wipes.

Scrubbing & Replacing Litter

How often you need to replace litter depends on the kind of litter you use. Some experts recommend replacing clay litter as often as twice a week while clumping litter should be replaced every several weeks. However, you can replace litter less frequently to reduce your carbon footprint, depending on how often your cat uses the toilet.

When replacing litter, you need a clean trash bag to remove the litter so you can scrub the litter box. Empty the box carefully and slowly to minimize dust. Use a disposable sponge, water, and pet-safe soap or detergent to scrub the litter box. Then rinse thoroughly, leave the litter box to dry for a bit, and then dry it completely using a disposable cloth.

Pour new litter into the clean litter box and add some baking soda to minimize odors. Stir in the baking soda and use a rake to make the litter bed nice and level. Your cat’s litter box is now completely clean and ready to use.

Sifting Litter Box

Cleaning a sifting litter box is easier than cleaning a classic litter box because there is no scooping. However, you still need all the cleaning accessories listed above, apart from the scooper. The wiping, dusting, and scrubbing processes are the same and the only difference is in waste removal and litter replacement.

Sifting Litter Box

Waste Removal

Sifting litter boxes normally consist of 2 trays stacked together, with the top tray used for sifting. Some of the more popular sifting litter boxes like Luuup may consist of 3 or more trays. Sifting litter boxes usually use clumping litter to facilitate the cleaning process.

To remove waste clumps, just lift the top tray to let the clean litter fall through the slits into the bottom tray. Depending on the size of the slits in the bottom of the tray, you may need to shake the tray a bit, but be gentle to prevent dust from rising and litter from falling outside the tray. Dump the waste clumps into a baggie or a trash bag and wipe and scrub the box as described previously.

Replacing Litter

With sifting litter boxes, there is no need to replace litter as often as with a classic litter box because the litter is thoroughly sifted. Furthermore, you get to save in litter because these litter boxes make maximum use of clean litter. You just need to replenish regularly and you can fully replace the litter every couple of months or even once a year, as needed.

Self-Cleaning Litter Box

Self-cleaning litter boxes are advanced cat hygiene solutions that usually just require you to throw out waste every once in a while. If you opt for Litter Robot or some other top-rated self-cleaning litter box, you just need to get liners for the drawer where the waste is deposited and empty the drawer once a week or more frequently, depending on how many cats there are in your household.

As far as scrubbing is concerned, you can wash the cat area with water, a disposable sponge, and mild, pet-safe soap once a month or less frequently, depending on the amount of residue. Just be sure to dry it properly with a clean cloth. With cats that spray high when they go, occasional wiping with disinfectant wipes is recommended.

As you can see, with self-cleaning litter boxes, you do not need any special cleaning accessories, apart from liners, pet-safe soap or detergent, disposable sponges, disposable cloths, and disinfectant wipes.


To keep your cat’s litter box as clean as possible and prevent any potential hygiene and health issues, you need to have proper cleaning accessories, clean the box frequently enough, and protect your health by using gloves and face masks. If you find cleaning a classic litter box too demanding, we recommend switching to a sifting or self-cleaning litter box, so you can invest less effort in keeping your cat’s litter box safe, clean, and odor-free.

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