There are many ways to clean a litter box, and using baking soda is one of them. However, baking soda won’t disinfect, so it’s important to give your litter pans a deep clean once a month.
Although baking soda doesn’t kill bacteria, it is effective at removing odors and surface grime (i.e. litter dust and particles), so it’s still a good non-toxic cleaning agent that’s safe for you and your cat.
It is a mild abrasive cleaner, so you don’t want to scrub too hard or leave it sitting in the litter box for too long, especially if your litter box has a non-stick coating (like this one).
Step 1 – Wear Protective Gear
Although it may seem like overkill to gear up to clean the litter box (here’s how to clean one without bending over), it is an important step, especially if you’re using traditional clay litters. They create a lot of dust that’s not healthy for you or your cat to inhale. There can also be harmful bacteria and/or parasites in the litter box.
Wear gloves, a mask, and even eye protection to ensure you don’t come in direct contact with anything that can be harmful to your health.
Also, be sure to find the right spot to clean the litter box.
Step 2 – Empty Litter Box & Limit Dust
Dump all the contents of the litter box into a large garbage bag. If you’re able to complete this step outside, even better. That will ensure litter dust isn’t floating around your home.
Alternatively, use a large enough garbage bag that you can place the entire pan within it. With one hand, gather the top of the bag around the wrist of the (gloved) hand that’s holding the litter box. Pour the litter out and wait several seconds for the dust to settle, then gently open the bag and pull the emptied box out.
Step 3 – Scrape Off Stuck-On Litter
If you’re using a clumping litter, you’ll likely have litter stuck to the sides and the bottom of the pan. You may want to consider a different type of litter if you’re using traditional clumping clay litter. Here’s how to choose the right one.
Before tying up the garbage bag, use the litter scoop or a dry, soft-bristled cleaning brush (like this one) to loosen the stuck-on litter and dump any that comes off into the bag.
It’s important to get as much litter off as you can before taking the box to the bathtub or laundry sink. If too much litter goes down the drain, it can cause a clog; especially if you’re using a clumping litter.
Step 4 – Let the Bubbles Do the Work
If there’s still litter stuck on, you can create bubbles with a baking soda and vinegar mixture. The fizzing action can help loosen litter you couldn’t scrape off.
Do one side at a time. Start with the bottom of the pan and sprinkle baking soda over any areas that are still covered in litter. Then pour a small amount of vinegar over the baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz, go back in with the litter scoop or soft-bristled scrub brush, and scrape more off.
Repeat this process on any sides that have stuck-on litter. Flip the litter box so the dirty side is sitting flat and the vinegar/baking soda mixture will sit on top and won’t wash away.
You may also want to try this with the litter scoop if it has stuck on litter.
Step 5 – Create a Cleaning Solution
Now you can clean the entire litter box with baking soda. You may choose to sprinkle baking soda on a damp cloth or sponge and then wipe down all sides of the box; including the outside and bottom.
Alternatively, while the litter box is still damp, sprinkle baking soda over all surfaces and use a cloth, sponge, or soft-bristled brush to move the mixture around and loosen dirt.
Don’t forget to clean any litter box tools/accessories, such as the litter scoop or Litter Genie (learn about the benefits of a Litter Genie & which version is best).
If you want to disinfect the litter box as well, try a deep clean:
Step 6 – Rinse & Dry
Once the litter box has been cleaned, you can rinse all baking soda residue away and then thoroughly dry all surfaces with a cloth. You don’t want any moisture in the litter box when you refill it or clumping litter will stick.
Step 7 – Sprinkle Baking Soda in Box
Before refilling the litter box with fresh litter, sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda in the bottom of the pan. This can help create a “non-stick” barrier to prevent litter from sticking, and it will help absorb odors.
Fill the litter box with 2 – 4 inches of litter (here’s how to determine the right depth for your cat).
Step 8 – Clean Surfaces
Once you’re done cleaning the litter box, be sure to disinfect any surfaces it touched, as well as any tools you used. Wipe down the bathtub or laundry sink with your regular disinfecting cleaner, clean your gloves, and toss rags in the wash on a sanitizing cycle (or the hottest setting your machine has). Wash your hands and you’re all done!
Is it safe to put baking soda in a litter box?
Baking soda is safe to put in the litter box but should be done so in small amounts and only used at the bottom of the litter box. You don’t want your cat’s paws don’t come in contact with baking soda. If enough gets on their paws and they lick it off or run their paw over their eyes it can irritate their eyes and/or digestive system.
World’s Best Cat Litter also suggests that baking soda can actually raise the pH levels of the litter to a point that encourages the release of ammonia.
However, when adding baking soda to a litter box, you should be doing so in small amounts (e.g. a thin layer sprinkled on the bottom) that won’t raise the pH level of 3 pounds of litter.
It’s also important that baking soda isn’t used to prolong the time between scooping and changing the litter. When the litter box is scooped once or twice a day and changed following the guidelines, adding a small amount of baking soda to the bottom of the litter is safe.
Can I use baking soda and vinegar to clean the litter box?
Baking soda and vinegar are safe to use to clean the litter box. They will help remove odors and dirt, but they won’t disinfect. Follow the steps to do a deep clean, at least once a month, to remove harmful bacteria, or use vinegar and another disinfecting method outlined here.
A baking soda and vinegar mixture is mainly effective to clean the litter box within the first few seconds of combining the two ingredients. The fizzing action is what helps to loosen grime. Once the bubbles are done, you’re basically left with saltwater.
It’s also important not to mix the two ingredients in a container and seal it. The bubbling action can cause the sealed container to burst.
How much baking soda should I put in the litter box?
Sprinkle 2 – 4 tablespoons of baking soda in the bottom of the litter box. You only need a thin layer to help absorb odors, excess moisture and prevent litter from sticking to the pan.
Remember, this cleaning method doesn’t disinfect. Be sure to do a deep clean once a month or use another method in combination with baking soda or vinegar to kill bacteria and parasites. There are a few suggestions in this article: How to Clean a Litter Box with Vinegar (to Properly Disinfect).
I hope you found this article helpful 🙂
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