How to Clean a Litter Box with Vinegar for Best Results

kittens using the litter box

Need to know how to clean the litter box with vinegar or detergent? Cleaning the litter box is something that we don’t like talking about.  How to clean a litter box with cleaning products is not considered a suitable topic of conversation, after all. It’s an important issue, though.

Your cat sees their litter box as a safe place, somewhere that they can get their business done.

Sure, they’re not settling in to read a book, but they still want their bathroom to be clean and hygienic. A dirty litter box is very off-putting for your cat. They might decide that your bed or couch is a much nicer place for them.

Step one for keeping your cat from peeing outside of their litter box is to keep it clean. In this post, therefore, we’re going to go through some clever litter box cleaning hacks.

If you’re like many cat owners, you may just opt to have the litter box clean itself! If so, check out the best self cleaning litter box models available today; this well-researched review lays out everything you’d need to know.

If you're looking for reviews on individuals units, you can check out these Litter Robot reviews or these Cat Genie reviews.


How to Clean The Litter Box Step by Step

Are you ready to sanitize your kitty’s litter? The first step in learning how to clean a litter box is getting the position right in your house or apartment, especially during cat litter box training.

From there, it’s just a matter of preventing the litter from sticking to the box where possible. If you're lucky enough to have a disposable litter box from Kitty Poo Club, you don't even have to worry about how to clean a litter box. 

Set things up in a quiet corner of the house for your cats, where your cat feels secure. To prevent the cats litter sticking, you’ll need to regularly scoop it and make sure that you clean the tray correctly.

Step 1: Get the Right Equipment

gloves for cleaning cat litter

Would you scrub your toilet without wearing gloves? Then why would you do that with the cats litter box? Get yourself a set of gloves to use while cleaning and get a mask while you’re at it. The gloves will help to protect you from the bacteria that might be present.

The mask is not essential, but it’s useful. It prevents you from breathing in dust and ammonia.

You’ll also need a scoop to help you with daily maintenance. A scoop with large holes in it is most useful as it catches the larger particles and lets the cats litter drop through.

You’re going to need a scrubbing brush and detergent, vinegar, or baking soda as well.

To sum up the necessary equipment:

  • durable gloves
  • medical mask
  • litter scooper
  • scrubbing brush & detergent
  • vinegar & baking soda
women wearing gloves and a mask


Step 2: Top Off the Litter

full litter box

Depending on the type of cat litter being used, along with how often your cat urinates, you’ll need to do this on a regular basis. If you use a clumping litter, you’ll want to remove the clumps on a daily basis. In a one cat household, you’ll probably need to top up the litter every second or third day.

Your cat will need enough sand to be able to dig in and bury their waste, so make sure that the levels are correct here.

How often should you change litter? That’s going to depend on what type you’re using. 

If you’re using antibacterial litter crystals for your cats litter, you’ll need to gauge when they need changing. You should be scooping out the solids daily. If you see that the crystals are starting to look saturated, you should change them.

If you’re using a clay-based litter, you’ll need to swap out the particles once a week.


Step 3: Empty the Box and Sanitize It with detergent or vinegar

cleaned and sanitized litter box

Empty the box into a garbage bag or plastic shopping bag. Remove the lid of the box, if applicable, and lift the box. Push it as far into the bag as possible. This will help to reduce the number of dust particles that are kicked up by the process.

Make sure that you remove all the dirt. There may be particles that are stuck to the bottom because of the urine. Use the scoop to help dislodge the particles. Once everything has been cleared out, pour boiling water into the base of the container.

Swirl it carefully so that it covers the base, and empty it again. Now put a few drops of detergent in and some warm water and scrub out the sides. If you don’t want to use detergent, put in a capful or two of vinegar and use that instead; that's how you clean a litter box with vinegar.

Cleaning a litter box with vinegar also does an excellent job of killing bacteria for your pets and hide the odor of the litter box.

Let the box drip dry if you have the time. Otherwise, dry it using a paper towel or cloth that you keep for that purpose. Just remember the golden rule – anything that you’ve used to clean up here should not be used for anything else.


Step 4: Put in a Deodorizing Agent

There are a couple of options here. The cheapest is to put some baking soda in your litter box.

 Alternatively, you can add a couple of charcoal briquettes, or even green tea if you have nothing else. (Open an unused tea bag or two and add it.)

Whatever you’re using, scatter a good few tablespoons in. Some people use filters or even scented tray liners. A tray liner can make it easier to dispose of the sand later.

We don’t recommend using any scented products, though. Your cat may not like them.

For deodorizing your cat litter box, you can choose between filters, charcoal briquettes, or baking soda. If you are going the baking soda route, all you have to do is gently put a little bit in before you pour the litter in. 

Step 5: Add the Litter

Now you can put in the sand or silicone. How deep should cat litter be?  It should be around two inches deep to keep kitty happy.

 If Mittens is on the smellier side, you can add more as needed. Spread it out evenly and replace the box. 


Tips on How to Maintain A Clean Litter Box

kitten sitting in her litter box

Placing a mat under the box will make your life a lot easier. You can use a specially-made litter mat or just a plain old rug. Either way, the mat will make it easy to pick up particles that your cat has flung out. Shake this out every few days to get rid of the bits.

Daily maintenance is simple enough. All you need to do is to scoop out any solid waste and discard it. This helps keep the litter more sanitary and reduces odors that might be present.

Don’t skip this step as the fecal matter is likely to smell and can harbor bacteria.

You can sprinkle some baking soda over the top every couple of days. This will help to absorb odors. Just keep in mind that it isn’t a substitute for scooping or a proper cleaning.

Silicone crystals are also a handy deodorizing agent. You can use them in conjunction with sand, at a ratio of about one part crystals to two parts sand.

Alternatively, use them as the primary medium. They are very good at absorbing smells inside and outside the box.

Speaking of outside the box if you have spill-overs or accidents and need to clean cat urine from the floor there are excellent methods to do this. Enzymes are the long-time favorite here, but you have to make sure you prep the area carefully and apply the cleaning and deodorizing products more than once in cases where urine has dried and set for some time. 

Finally, a good rule of thumb is to have one box per cat in the household. This may seem like more work, but it will help you to keep a harmonious and hygienic home and a clean litter box for your cat.