Cleaning the litter box is a stinky and messy affair. It is one of those jobs that pet parents tend to dislike – and understandably so! I mean, no one enjoys scooping poop, right?
But again, as parents of these cute little furry babies, keeping their litter box is one of the most important tasks that we need to alertly do multiple times every day.
Not only is a dirty litter box the root cause behind your house smelling like cat urine, but also using a dirty and unclean litter box can cause health problems in cats.
Having a clean litter box is essential to prevent your cat from developing two medical conditions: Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) and a more life-threatening disease called Feline Urethral Obstruction (FUO).
While scooping the droppings and clumped used sand is necessary multiple times a day, it is not enough. The litter box must also be washed at least once every week, or once every 10 days. And if you have more than one cat in your house, you may have to wash the litter box more frequently.
In this article, I’ll take you along the details of how to wash your cat’s litter box using one of the easiest and most accessible litter box cleaners there is – baking soda!
You heard me right. The very same baking soda that you already have stocked up in your kitchen cabinets can be used to clean your cat’s litter box.
So, read along to learn the tips and tricks to have a hassle-free cleaning process.
Can You Use Baking Soda To Clean A Cat’s Litter Box?
To put it in a word – yes. You can use baking soda as a cleaning agent to tidy up your cat’s litter box.
When we think of any cleaning related to our pets, our minds jump straight to the huge lists of expensive pet supplies available in the markets today.
We often tend to miss out on the handy items that are easily available in our homes that can do the same job at a cheaper rate and in a more effective, non-toxic, and eco-friendly manner.
The same goes for finding a good cleaning agent for our cat’s litter box. We often tend to stock up on very expensive products that rarely show a good or even satisfactory result!
But don’t worry. Guiding you with the best possible workarounds for all your needs as a pet parent is exactly why I’m here!
Did you know that you have many household items that act as really good cleaning agents for your cat’s litter box? In fact, even white distilled vinegar and apple cider vinegar are really great options for your cat’s litter box cleaners!
However, if for whatever reason you’re not comfortable with using vinegar as a cleaner – maybe your cat doesn’t like the smell of vinegar, or you don’t like the smell of vinegar, or maybe it’s simply not available right now – don’t worry.
There is another item in your kitchen cabinets that can substitute for a good cleaning agent.
Baking soda has been in use as a cleaning agent for most surfaces in many households. It is non-toxic, eco-friendly, and a natural cleaner.
In fact, many households with newborn babies tend to avoid chemical cleaners and use baking soda instead to prevent the baby’s skin from being affected by the strong chemicals present in the multipurpose cleaners.
How Good Of A Cleaner Is Baking Soda? How Does It Work?
It’s a fair question to ask – how good is baking soda, really? How effective is it in cleaning? And how does a powder used to make cakes exactly work as a cleaning agent?
Let’s take these questions one by one, shall we? So, answering the first question that may be making you curious – baking soda is a really good substitute for the chemical cleaners and multipurpose cleaning agents available on the market.
Baking soda is very effective in cleaning. In fact, it is such a good substitute that you can use it for most surfaces in your house – not just your cat’s litter box!
Now we come to the major question that may have you a little confused – how is an ingredient of cakes and bread useful in cleaning? To answer this, we will have to take a small dive into the chemistry underlying baking soda.
Baking soda’s real name is actually Sodium Bicarbonate and it is one of the many kinds of salts. I mean, you can even take a minuscule amount on your little finger’s tip and taste it. You’ll see that it tastes like the milder version of the salt in your shaker. Although, don’t have too much of it!
Now the thing with baking soda is that even though it is a salt, which is usually a neutral compound in terms of ions, it has a slightly higher pH value than common salt. What this means is that baking soda is slightly basic – and that is what makes baking soda such a good cleaner!
Why Should You Consider Switching To Baking Soda As Your Cat’s Litter Box Cleaner?
By now, I’m sure you must have been convinced about the amazing cleaning prowess of baking soda. But some of you may still be wondering –
“Why should I make the switch to baking soda as my cat’s litter box cleaner?”
Well, that’s also a fair question. So, here I give you 4 reasons why baking soda is actually an excellent candidate for being a cat’s litter box cleaner:
Reason 1 – Baking Soda is a really good deodorizer
Imagine getting a litter box cleaner that is also a litter box deodorizer – it’s like a dream come true for cat parents! It is not a hidden fact that the litter box does get very stinky over time with our cats using them frequently.
Baking soda can be your one-stop solution for your litter box cleaning and deodorizing needs. What makes it so effective in deodorizing the litter box is that it doesn’t just mask the smells as most fresheners do – baking soda completely absorbs and eliminates the smell!
Reason 2 – Baking Soda can combine with vinegar to create an even stronger cleaning agent
If you recall your high school chemistry classes, you will know that vinegar is an acid, baking soda is a base, and when an acid and a base are mixed, a chemical reaction called neutralization happens.
So, if your cat or your cat’s litter sand has left the litter box filled with stains that just won’t go even with the strongest of detergents – don’t worry. Just pour some vinegar, add a little baking soda, and voila!
The same reaction that may have won you the first prize in the school science fair with a classic volcano will now clean and remove even the toughest stains from your cat’s litter box.
Reason 3 – Baking soda may even work better than typical soaps and detergents
While all of these items – soap, detergent, and baking soda – are basic in nature, the only major difference is that baking soda is slightly abrasive. Soap and detergent have fat molecules in them which make them less harsh.
Baking soda, on the other hand, does not have fat molecules. It is abrasive in nature, and that abrasiveness gives it the grit required to clean the litter box thoroughly.
Reason 4 – Baking soda will keep pests away from the litter box
Now, if you haven’t experienced ants around the litter box, consider yourself lucky. But if you have, then you still don’t have a reason to worry.
Baking soda, when it reacts with vinegar, passes the gas carbon dioxide. This gas, when inhaled by pests, kills them. So there you have it – the same reaction that removes tough stains also controls pests!
How Do You Clean A Cat Litter Box With Baking Soda?
Now that I have given you many convincing arguments for considering baking soda as a potential candidate for your cat’s litter box cleaning, it feels like the right time to explain to you what are the steps involved in cleaning the litter box with baking soda.
Step 1 – Gather all your tools and gears that you’ll be needing
It may seem like too much to gear up for cleaning a cat litter box – but trust me, we need it when doing the cleaning.
Cat litter sand, especially the traditional kind, can create a lot of dust. Inhaling large amounts of dust can cause respiratory problems in you and your cat.
Moreover, if you are pregnant or if you have an auto-immune disease, your immune system, and consequently your health, can be compromised because of the dust.
And, it goes without saying, that the unclean litter box will be a haven for all sorts of parasitic and bacterial germs.
So, put in that little extra time, and gear up – we’ve got some serious cleaning to do!
Step 2 – Empty the litter box and dispose of the dirty litter sand
This is the next obvious step. Dispose of the used dirty sand into a garbage bag and empty out the litter box completely. Scrape off any clumps that may be sticking to the surface of the litter box.
Limit the dust when you are emptying out the litter box.
You can do this in one of two ways:
1 – Find a spot outside your house to empty the litter box
If you have a big veranda or backyard, empty the litter box into a garbage bag there. Being outside of the house will prevent dust from accumulating inside and harming your cat’s health.
2 – Use an extra-large garbage bag
If you cannot go outside for whatever reason, don’t worry. Just get a really big garbage bag – big enough to fit the entire litter pan inside. Keep the litter box on a table. Cover it from the top with the garbage bag.
Now, tightly hold the bag around the corners of the litter box and invert the box inside the bag itself. Wait for a minute or two so as to let the dust settle, then remove the emptied litter box and dispose of the garbage bag.
Remember that whichever of the two methods you use, wear gloves and a protective mask. And keep your cat away from the spot where you will be doing the cleaning.
Step 3 – Bubble up the litter box with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar (Optional)
This is an optional step that you could use only if there is really strongly stuck sand to the base of the litter box.
If the sand that is stuck on the base of the litter box doesn’t go, no matter how hard you try to scrape it off – stop sweating it out. Simply pour vinegar, add a small amount of baking soda, and let the bubbles do the work.
Then simply pick up the scoop again and scrape the residual sand off easily. Repeat this step as many times as you need to. You may even clean the scoop with this mixture.
Step 4 – Create a cleaning solution
Now again there are 2 different ways to use baking soda as a cleaning agent.
- One is where you can take a damp cloth or sponge, sprinkle some baking soda on it, and wipe down all sides of the litter box thoroughly.
- Another way is that if you have already added the vinegar and baking soda mix, your litter box might still be damp and wet. If that is the case then you can directly sprinkle some baking soda in the litter box and wipe it thoroughly with a scrubber or sponge.
Step 5 – Rinse the litter box thoroughly and let it dry completely
After cleaning the litter box with the baking soda cleaning solution, the next step is to rinse the litter box thoroughly under running water. You can use either cold tap water or warm water for this step.
Whatever you do, make sure that you are completely rinsing off any residual matter of baking soda from the litter box thoroughly.
After the rinsing, wipe all sides of the litter box with a clean and dry cloth. Remove any excess water from the litter box. Then let it sit in the sun for a few hours. This will naturally kill off any germs and give you a cleaner, disinfected, and completely dry litter box to refill with new bags of fresh litter sand.
Step 6 – Deodorize, refill, and let your cats use it again!
Now that you have a thoroughly cleaned litter box, all you have to do is sprinkle small amounts of baking powder, add a new bag of fresh cat litter sand, and let your cats use it again!
Remember to be mindful of the quantity of baking soda you sprinkle on the litter box before refilling it with fresh sand. Make a very thin layer of baking soda at the bottom of the litter box.
And with that, you’re done! Your cat’s litter box has been washed, cleaned, dried in the sun, deodorized, and refilled with fresh litter.
What Are The Major Advantages Of Using Baking Soda For Cleaning A Cat Litter Box?
Baking soda is one of the most viable candidates for potential cleaning agents for your cat’s litter box. It has several major advantages over other chemical cleaners available on the market.
Baking soda is natural, non-toxic, and eco-friendly
Unlike the chemicals found in most commercially available litter box cleaning agents, baking soda is non-toxic and environment-friendly.
It will not harm your cat’s health and it will provide effective cleaning without causing any adverse effects.
Baking soda is easily available and more reasonable than other options
Baking soda is one of the most easily available products. Most of us have baking soda stocked up in our kitchen cabinets. It is also very inexpensive.
You can get as much as 2 whole pounds of baking soda at as less as $11 – and for every cleaning session, you’ll need only about 6 to 7 spoons of baking soda!
Baking soda is a versatile cleaning agent – a one-stop solution
Its ability to clean and deodorize while also providing pest control makes baking soda a versatile, multipurpose cleaning agent for your cat’s litter box.
Baking soda will give you a cleaning solution that removes tough stuck sand, cleans the surfaces of the litter box, and deodorizes the litter box!
Baking soda is completely safe for cats
Baking soda, as we discussed earlier, is basically just a salt-based compound. It is not toxic and it does not cause any harm to the health of the cats.
What Are Some Of The Disadvantages Of Using Baking Soda As A Cat Litter Box Cleaner?
Like any good thing out there, even baking soda has its own share of limitations and pitfalls that you need to be aware of before making a decision and completely switching.
Baking soda needs to be stored carefully in an airtight container
Baking soda is basic in nature. And it is that basicity of baking soda that gives it its cleaning and abrasive qualities. So, when stored in any container that doesn’t keep the air out, acidic particles in the air will react with baking soda powder particles and neutralize them.
Over a longer period of time, this reaction will reduce the basic strength of the baking soda, and thus reduce its cleaning and deodorizing capabilities.
You need to be very mindful of the quantity of baking soda that you use
Baking soda is a miracle powder, yes. But you need to be very mindful of the quantity of the powder that you use in cleaning and deodorizing. Do not bulk up the quantity of the powder as it can become counterproductive.
Too much baking soda can increase the amount of dust generated by the cat litter sand.
Baking soda is a powder with very fine particles. So, if you add too much of it to the litter box, it can actually exacerbate the problem of dust.
Too much baking soda can actually cause more odor
The thing with litter box odor is that it is primarily made up of a substance called ammonia. Ammonia is present in large amounts in cat urine, and it is also basic in nature just like baking soda.
So, if you add an excess of baking soda to the cat litter box, you will actually be creating an environment that promotes ammonia building up.
The key to reaping the benefits of this everyday miracle of baking soda is to be very mindful of the quantity of use. In the right quantities, baking soda is a wonderful product for litter box cleaning and deodorizing.
What Are The Substitutes For Baking Soda Available To Clean A Cat Litter Box?
If you absolutely do not want to go for baking soda, for whatever reason, then I have got some alternatives for you that are just as effective and easily available.
As mentioned earlier in the article, both white distilled vinegar, and apple cider vinegar can be used as effective cleaning agents for your cat’s litter box.
Hydrogen peroxide is another household item, which when mixed with equal parts of water, forms a strong cleaning agent. The added benefits of using hydrogen peroxide are that it also has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much baking soda should I put in the litter box?
Add only 2 to 4 teaspoons of baking soda to the litter box for cleaning and deodorizing. Do not add excess baking soda powder to the cat litter box because it can be counterproductive and increase the amount of dust and odor emanating from it.
Is it safe to put baking soda powder in the cat litter box?
Yes, it is completely safe to use baking soda powder for cleaning and deodorizing the cat litter box. Since it is basically a salt-based compound, it is not toxic and it does not cause any health problems for the cats.
Does baking soda deodorize cat litter?
Yes, when used in an adequate amount, baking soda is a natural, non-toxic, and eco-friendly deodorizer for your cat’s litter box.
Now you have seen the advantages, disadvantages, as well as the substitutes for using baking soda as a cleaning agent for your cat’s litter box. It is a great option because it is easily available, low in cost, and does not have any toxic properties which makes it completely safe for cats.
Moreover, with versatility, it acts as a cleaner and a deodorizer. So, baking soda can indeed become your one-stop solution for all your cat litter box cleaning and deodorizing needs!