When moving into an apartment for the first time, you may be hit with a barrage of obstacles and questions that you had never thought about before. One of the more urgent ones, if you’re a cat-owner, will be: How do I clean my cat’s litter box in an apartment?

In an apartment building, you don’t have access to a backyard or outdoor area with a hose. It’s not safe to rinse out a litter box in a sink or bathtub where you’ll later be washing dishes or bathing yourself. So how do you sanitize a litter box in an apartment without a hose? After some trial and error, we have found some of the easiest and safest ways to sanitize a litter box inside.

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Use natural pet-specific wipes from the pet storeClean with a wet, soapy disposable spongeUse chemical disinfectant wipes (rinse with water after)Use disposable litter box linersUse disposable litter boxesPurchase a self-sanitizing litter box

Litter box maintenance is one of the more tedious aspects of cat ownership, but it doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal if you know how to do it correctly. Even if you scoop your cat’s litter box every day, unpleasant odors and hazardous bacteria will still accumulate if you don’t sanitize it regularly. Use these tips and tricks weekly or monthly along with daily scooping to keep your cat happy and your home smelling fresh.

1. Use Natural Pet-Specific Wipes


Wipes intended specifically for use with pets are another great option for sanitizing a litter box in an apartment. Products like Nature’s Miracle Litter Box Scrubbing Wipes are safe to use in a litter box with the added benefit that they don’t contain harsh chemicals that need to be wiped away with water afterward. Instead, they use plant-based enzymes that naturally deodorize your litter box without aggravating your cat’s delicate nose with artificial scents.

The only drawback to using this one-and-done trick is that they’re not commonly found in stores and they’re just a bit more expensive. However, the added convenience and safety are definitely worth venturing out to the pet store and shelling out a couple of extra dollars. These wipes can also be purchased online from a variety of retailers, eliminating the need to go to the store.

2. Clean With A Wet Soapy Sponge

In an apartment, any litter box cleaning should be done with as little water as possible because there’s not really a safe place to dump the contaminated water indoors. If you don’t have sanitizing wipes on hand and you’d prefer to use a common household item from your kitchen, then soap and a sponge might be a good option.

Use a mild non-scented detergent and wet the sponge just enough to create suds. Scrub the empty litter box with the soapy sponge and then wipe down with wet paper towels to remove any soap residue. Dry the litter box thoroughly before refilling with clean litter. Don’t attempt to wring out the contaminated sponge for future use – just throw it away and use a clean one next time!

3. Use Disinfectant Wipes (Rinse With Water After)

This method is an easy way to keep your litter box sanitized and smelling fresh, especially since most people already have them on hand at any given time anyway. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind with this option.

Chemical disinfectant wipes are safe to use in areas that your pet comes into contact with, as long as they are rinsed with water afterward. This is an important step because the residue left behind by these wipes can potentially be hazardous to pets if left to linger. After emptying out your litter box and scrubbing it with disinfectant wipes, you can either splash a small amount of water or wipe it down thoroughly with wet paper towels to eliminate the residue left behind. Dry the box completely before refilling with fresh litter.Cats typically don’t like scents like citrus or lavender, which are commonly found in commercial cleaning wipes. Avoid using scented wipes, as they may cause your cats discomfort or deter them from entering the litter box.

4. Use Disposable Litter Box Liners


Ok, so this isn’t really a method for sanitizing a litter box – rather it is a way to get around needing to sanitize the box. Litter box liners are a simple way to keep the dirty litter from ever even coming into contact with the box. Simply fit the liner over the inside of the box and use the drawstring to fasten it around the rim and keep it from slipping off.

If you have a litter box with a lid, this will also help to keep the liner in place. Fill with litter as usual and let your cat do its thing. Continue to scoop daily and when it’s time to replace the litter, just lift the entire liner out of the box and discard it. There is no need to sanitize the box before replacing it with another liner, as long as none of the dirty litter leaked out.

5. Use Disposable Litter Boxes

Again, this is a simple way to get around needing to sanitize a litter box. Disposable plastic litter trays come pre-packed with litter and they’re very simple to use. Just remove the paper cover over the surface of the tray and place it on the ground for your cat to use. When it becomes too dirty, throw away the whole litter tray and open up a new one.

We personally love using these trays when we go on vacation and have to have someone come to take care of our cats. That way, the cat-sitter doesn’t have to worry about scooping dirty litter and they can just throw out the tray and open a fresh one every couple of days.

You can find these at most grocery stores in the pet aisle, but they’re a bit expensive for everyday use if you buy them individually. Since they’re pretty shallow and they only come with a small amount of litter, they need to be disposed of and replaced often. If you want to try using disposable litter trays as a long-term solution, we would recommend buying them in bulk online where they can be purchased much cheaper per unit.

6. Buy A Self-Sanitizing/Flushing Litter Box


This option falls at the bottom of the list only because it is expensive and somewhat challenging to install. While the convenience of a self-sanitizing litter box is unbeatable, you can expect to shell out at least a couple hundred dollars between the box itself and the special litter that you need to buy for it.

Additionally, you’ll need to be able to place the litter box in an area where you can hook it up to an electrical outlet, a cold-water line, and a toilet or washing machine drain. This enables the box to wash itself and dispose of the waste automatically.

With that said, self-washing litter boxes like the CatGenie are truly technological marvels. Not only does this self-washing cat box automatically scoop and dispose of solids, but the CatGenie also uses washable, dust-free litter. When hooked up correctly, the machine is able to wash the entire interior of the box (including the dirty litter) automatically, using water and a veterinarian-approved cleaning solution. The CatGenie then flushes itself and disposes of the waste through the toilet or washing machine drain, before using hot air to dry the litter before the next use.

This completely erases the need to manually scoop and replace litter or to clean the inside of the box. If you happen to be sitting on some extra money from a work bonus or a winning scratch-off, then a self-washing litter box might be the right option for you.

Related Questions

How often should I clean out the litter box?

This depends on how many cats you have and how many litter boxes you have. Ideally, you should have one litter box for each cat. Those boxes should typically be scooped every day and emptied out at least once a week. However, if you have multiple cats and can only have one litter box, you’ll probably need to clean it out more often. For two cats sharing a box, you’ll need to scoop once or twice a day and empty it out at least twice a week in order to keep it as fresh as possible.

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What precautions should I take when cleaning the litter box?

When handling a substance that is contaminated with fecal matter, it’s important to protect yourself from harmful bacteria. The easiest way to do this is by wearing disposable gloves and/or washing your hands thoroughly afterward. If you have asthma or are worried about inhaling dust particles from the litter, you can wear a disposable face mask. It’s also a good idea to clean off the litter scoop itself before storing it away for next time.