The Most Basic Litter Box Cleaning Routine (That Anyone Can Do!)

Gather your supplies, and get ready for the most basic litter box cleaning routine that anyone can do! It's so simple, you'll wonder why you haven't thought of it in the first place.

We’ve come up with the most basic litter box cleaning routine that you’ll love. It’s fast, effective, and practically no-mess!

A basic litter box cleaning routine needs both a warm weather and a cold weather version. We've got both in our latest blog post! We'll show you how to get your cat's litter box sparkling clean in just minutes without creating a huge mess.

Rather, we’ve come up with TWO versions: one for warm weather, and one for cold weather! A basic litter box cleaning routine needs to adapt to the seasons, and since it’s getting cold pretty fast, we’ll start with the cold weather version.


Basic Litter Box Cleaning Routine (For Cold Weather)

Alright. You guys ready? Here we go!

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

I make sure I have everything in order before I start. That way, I don’t have to constantly wash my hands in order to open supply cabinets, etc..

You will need:

The plastic litter liners are NOT for afterwards, but rather so you have something to dump the old litter into. I don’t recommend using plastic litter liners for anything other than cleanup, but if you do happen to use liners, make sure you have a fresh one on hand.

Step 2: Dispose Of The Old Litter

If you don’t use plastic litter liners, you can dump the old litter into a large garbage bag. Should some of the litter stick to the litter pan, you can use a spatula you hate or some other scraping tool to loosen the remaining litter so that it falls into the bag.

After all the litter is in the bag, seal it up and set it aside. Don’t toss it in your indoor trash – it will start to stink really bad!

Step 3: Wash The Litter Box With Warm Soapy Water

You can do this one of two ways:

  1. Fill up an empty sink with warm water and unscented dish soap (make sure to froth the soap with your hands so it gets bubbly). Wash out the litter box and place it on the drying towel (don’t dry it yet!).
  2. Get a bucket full of warm water and dish soap (once again, making sure to froth the soap) and use a rag to wipe out the litter box. Dump any excess water into the bucket and pour down a shower drain. Rinse out the litter box and shower afterwards with plain warm water.

Step 4: Sanitize The Litter Box

This is what the vinegar is for. Use a clean rag or paper towel and dampen it with vinegar. Wipe the entire litter box, both inside and outside. Do this however many times you feel comfortable with. Throw the paper towel away or rinse the rag out in the shower. Dry the litter box out, place it back in its usual spot, and pour fresh litter into the box.

(Optional: lightly sprinkle baking soda on the inside of the litter box before filling it with litter. This will help keep the stink away!)

Step 5: Throw The Old Litter Away

You can’t get out of going outside unless your garbage can is in your garage or something. However, you only need to go out once! If the weather is cold enough, and you just don’t feel like making the trip, simply place the garbage bag full of litter right outside your door (or as far as you can toss it). Pick it up and throw it away later when the temps are a bit higher.

Basic Litter Box Cleaning Routine (For Warm Weather)

It’s sunny and beautiful outside, but you have to clean the litter box. Bummer! On the other hand, the basic litter box cleaning routine for warm weather is MUCH faster, so rejoice!

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

The supplies are almost the same, with a couple differences that will make this go a lot quicker.

Step 2: Dispose Of The Old Litter

Since it’s nice weather out, you can just follow the instructions above exactly the same, but take the litter to the trash can right away. Warm weather will make it smell really bad if you just leave it outside your door. Yuck!

Step 3: Wash And Dry The Litter Box

Now that you’re already outside, the fun part begins. Pour a teaspoon of the unscented dish soap into the litter box and set it down flat on the ground. Use your garden hose and spray nozzle to pressure wash the litter box, first spraying a jet stream to froth up the soap.

Pressure wash all the little bits of litter and *ehem* leavings out and off of the box until it’s sparkly clean. Dump the soapy water out, rinse, and rinse again until the bubbles are gone. This is best done on cement so that you don’t get dirt, grass and mud sticking to the litter box. (Note: if you don’t have a spray nozzle, simply fill the box with soapy water, scrub, and then rinse)

You can use vinegar to sanitize the litter box, but the pressure wash should’ve blasted away any debris left over. Dry the litter box off, sprinkle the inside with baking soda (optional), and bring it back inside. Put it in its usual spot and fill with fresh litter. Voila!

Bonus Tips

If you don’t want your hands touching any contents of the litter box, even the soapy water, you can use disposable gloves. I use these latex-free gloves for handling Tippy and Misha’s Primal raw nuggets, but they work just as well for our litter box routine.

Vinegar has a rather strong smell. For those who prefer something with a lighter scent that will still safely sanitize the litter box without damaging it, I recommend Bean & Lily’s Bathroom Cleaner. It has a wonderful Eucalyptus and Grapefruit scent that isn’t too potent for the kitties (it won’t turn them off from using the litter box). There are no chemicals, parabens, etc. in it – and it’s cruelty-free!


What’s your litter box cleaning routine? Did any of these tips help you, or can you suggest steps to make the process even easier? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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