A litter box can be safely cleaned in a bathtub if the right precautions are taken. You want to limit your exposure to harmful bacteria and parasites commonly found in dirty cat litter by wearing protective gear, keeping the dirty litter contained, and thoroughly cleaning the bathtub after.
This article will outline why you need to be careful when cleaning the litter box, no matter where you clean it, and how to safely clean it in your bathtub.
HOW TO SAFELY CLEAN THE LITTER BOX IN THE BATHTUB
To begin, it’s important to stay on top of litter box scooping and changing. Litter boxes are a breeding ground for bacteria and there are some diseases humans can contract from the litter box.
The litter box should be scooped at least once a day. This not only helps keep your cat happy, because they want a clean litter box to use, but it can also help limit your exposure to toxoplasma gondii, which is a parasite often found in cat stool that becomes infectious after a day or two.
On top of regular scooping, you must also regularly change the litter. How often you need to change the litter depends on the type of litter you use. Typically, it will range between 1 – 4 weeks.
Each time you change the litter, you should take advantage of the litter box being empty and wash the litter box. This helps cut down on litter box odors and creates a safer environment for you and your cat.
The best place to clean the litter box is outside with a hose, but if you live in an apartment, or it’s the middle of winter, that may not be possible. In which case, follow these steps when cleaning the litter box in the bathtub.
STEP 1: PUT ON PROTECTIVE GEAR
Although it may seem like overkill, it is important to wear rubber gloves, a mask, and perhaps even protective glasses when cleaning the litter box. The more compromised your immune system is, or if you’re pregnant, the more safety gear you’ll want to wear. You don’t want to risk the transfer of any bacteria or inhale harmful litter dust.
STEP 2: GET ALL PARTICLES OF LITTER OUT FIRST
Cat litter can clog your drains, especially if you use a clumping cat litter. Clumping cat litters create hard clumps when wet, so if you don’t scrape all the cat litter out of the litter box before cleaning it in your bathtub, it can easily cause a clog if it goes down your drain.
Start by pouring the dirty litter into a big garbage bag. It’s best if you can place the entire litter box inside a plastic bag, close the top of the bag as much as possible, then dump the litter out. This will help keep more dust inside the bag. Wait a minute or two until the dust has settled to open the bag and pull the litter box out for cleaning. If you have a balcony, consider completing this step outside.
Once the litter box is empty, you may still have litter stuck to the sides. It’s best to scrape that off while the litter is dry so you can simply pour it into the garbage bag after. If you try to clean it off in the bathtub using water, you’ll get more litter down your drain and are more likely to splash dirty water around.
Using a dry bathroom scrub brush (this one will help you get in the corners of the litter box) or a kitchen scrub brush with harder bristles, like this one, can be helpful to get the stuck-on litter off. It’s obviously important that you only use those scrub brushes to clean the litter box, so be sure to mark them as such and keep them in a place they won’t accidentally get used on dishes.
Complete this step with the litter box in the bathtub and with the bathroom fan on. The litter you loosen will simply fall to the bottom of the litter box; dump that loose litter into the garbage bag before moving on to the next step.
STEP 3: KEEP IT CONTAINED
If you’ve ever cleaned a litter box, you know the dust and any stuck-on particles can make a muddy mess once wet. When you turn the water on full-blast, or use a shower head sprayer, it’s more likely you’ll spray that muddy mess up the sides of the bathtub or even outside of it.
On the other hand, if you scrape all the particles out of the litter box first, and even use a damp cloth or paper towel to wipe the dust off the litter box, you’ll have an easier time keeping the mess contained.
Add your cleaning solution to the bottom of the litter box and then add some hot water.
If your taps don’t allow you to lessen the water pressure while getting hot water, consider filling a container with hot water and gently pouring it into the litter box so you don’t get a bunch of dirty water splashing out of the litter box.
Don’t use harsh cleaning detergents such as bleach, ammonia, or ones that will leave a strong scent behind. A mild dish detergent will do the job, or vinegar, or baking soda if you want to stick to natural cleaners. (Here’s how to clean the litter box with vinegar, and how to do so with baking soda).
Use your scrubbie to move the cleaning solution up the sides of the litter box, scrub the bottom, and also clean the outside of the box where your hands will touch when moving it.
You can reduce how much dirty water touches your bathtub by lifting the seat of your toilet and slowly pouring the dirty water down the toilet. Just be careful that it doesn’t splash anywhere.
Repeat this step with clean hot water and your cleaning detergent if the litter box is still dirty. Once it’s clean, give it a good rinse with clean water and dump that water down the drain or toilet.
Finally, thoroughly dry the litter box and fill it with clean litter (be sure you get the depth right so you keep your cat happy and don’t waste money by over-filling).
STEP 4: CLEAN THE SPACE AFTER
Once you’ve finished cleaning the litter box and drying it, keep your protective gear on and use a bathroom cleaner to thoroughly clean your bathtub, and any areas the litter box, litter, or dirty litter water may have touched.
A bathroom cleaner can be a stronger cleaner than you use on the litter box because you want to kill all bacteria and you don’t have to worry about harsh smells in the litter box.
Your cat will not appreciate the smell of their litter box if you use bleach, ammonia, Clorox wipes, etc. to clean it. If the smell of their litter box bothers them, they won’t continue using it and then you’ll have a bigger problem on your hands.
STEP 5: WASH YOUR HANDS & TOOLS
Even if you wore gloves while cleaning the litter box, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands. Also disinfect any tools you used for cleaning the litter box, such as the rubber gloves, scrubbies, rags, etc. You don’t want to risk any bacteria being spread.
Be sure to check out HOW TO CLEAN A LITTER BOX IN AN APARTMENT for more tips on making litter box cleaning easier.
KEEPING A LITTER BOX IN A BATHTUB
Keeping your cat’s litter box in the bathtub is not an ideal spot for it. Bathrooms tend to get warm and humid, an environment that helps litter box bacteria thrive. Not to mention, you’ll have to constantly move the litter box in and out of the bathtub each time you need to shower or take a bath. It’s not only a pain for you, but your cat also won’t like the constant changes to their litter box location.
Cats also kick and track a lot of litter outside their litter box. If you use a clumping litter and simply sweep it down the drain, or rinse the tub and let the loose litter go down the drain, it can cause a clog.
If your cat has any mobility issues, jumping up on the ledge of the bathtub to enter and exit their bathtub may be hard for them. It’s also a slippery surface for them to land on.
Bathrooms aren’t ideal spots for litter boxes in general because they create opportunities for your cat to be locked out of their litter box area whenever a person is using the bathroom and closes the door.
If your cat can’t access their litter box when they have to eliminate, they may find another spot to go. Once a cat starts peeing or pooping outside the litter box, it can be a habit that’s hard to correct.
However, if your cat holds their pee, it can become an unhealthy habit. When a cat holds their pee longer than 48 – 72 hours, they run the risk of toxins building up, which can cause health issues and even lead to death.
CLEANING A LITTER BOX IN A KITCHEN SINK
It’s best not to clean the litter box in the kitchen sink as there’s a greater risk that the harmful bacteria and parasites found in a cat’s litter will be spread to the surfaces you prepare food on.
The best place to clean a litter box is outside with a hose, however, the next best place would be the bathtub or a laundry room sink.
If you can’t use a bathtub or laundry room sink, then it’s better to place the litter box on the bathroom floor, and clean the litter box by:
- Wearing protective gloves, glasses, and a mask
- thoroughly scraping the sides and bottom of the box and dumping all the litter out
- spraying the box with a cleaning solution and wiping it down with a rag or paper towel
- Once the litter box is clean, rinse it with clean water and pour that water down the toilet
Whichever area of the home you clean the litter box in, it’s important to thoroughly clean the area with a disinfectant after you’ve finished cleaning the litter box.
I hope this article has been helpful in determining if you can clean a litter box in the bathtub and the best way to do it 🙂