13 Litter Box Hacks to Prevent Unwanted Odors

13 Litter Box Hacks
Image: istockphoto.com / EvgeniyaTiplyashina

Keeping our home odor-free is a priority but it seems impossible to do especially if you have cats around. The good news is, that you can control unpleasant odors effectively by following these litter box hacks. Say goodbye to the stinky litter box smell by scooping clumps at least twice daily, washing the litter box weekly, and replacing litter completely at least once a week. 

Here are 13 cat litter hacks to keep your home free from foul-smelling odors:

1. Clean the litter box every day. 

This one is hardly a hack but the best way to prevent unpleasant odors and to keep the box from smelling is to clean your cat’s litter box daily.  This way, cat waste clumps will not pile up.  It is more sanitary for your cat and most of all, it will not result in stinky odors. 

2. Scoop clumps at least twice a day. 

If you are at home most of the day you should scoop out urine clumps and poop at least twice each day.   Some pet owners may even try to scoop the waste as soon as their cats are finished doing their business.  However, it could be messy if you scoop too soon depending on the clumping litter that you use. This task will usually just take a few minutes of your time so make it a habit to do this to avoid foul odors. 

3. Be sure to wash the litter box once a week. 

While cleaning the litter box and scooping the waste clumps are a big help to control bad odors,  you must also make sure to clean and wash the box.  Wash it thoroughly at least once a week with mild dishwashing liquid and scrub it with a sponge.  You may also clean the box with a disinfectant like bleach, Be sure to wipe the box and dry it off thoroughly before adding new litter. 

4. Replace the litter completely once a week. 

Replace the litter completely once a week. 
Image: istockphoto.com / Iuliia Alekseeva

Having the same litter in the box for several days is a big no-no as it contributes to the build-up of foul odors. What to do? Be sure to replace the litter completely once each week. You should do this after you wash the entire litter box to ensure that everything is fresh and new. Be sure to add at least 3 to 4 inches of fresh cat litter after you have taken out the old litter. 

5. Use vinegar when wiping the litter box.

Sanitize your litter box by wiping it with white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar. It effectively absorbs odors and cleans the box well.  Vinegar is made of acetic acid and its acidic nature allows it to dissolve dirt, grease, and grime. It also kills bacteria effectively. Other types include balsamic vinegar and red or white wine vinegar. Use a scrubbing brush or sponge if necessary and be sure to use rubber gloves every time you clean and wash the litter box. 

6. Place the litter box in a well-ventilated area.

The location of your cat’s litter box is important as it may also contribute to the presence of a foul smell.  Be sure to place the box in an area that is well-ventilated and airy so that odors won’t get trapped. Some pet owners prefer to hide it under a side table or a space under the stairs. Aside from placing it in a well-ventilated area, an ideal place for your cat’s box is a quiet area with no loud noises and away from your cat’s eating area. Make sure to keep the doors open and see to it that it does not trap the cat. 

7. Opt for unscented litter 

Scented litter may seem enticing but it is not advisable to use for your cat’s litter box. Opt for the unscented kind such as sand as cat litter because cats are very particular with scents and using scented litter may deter them from using the box.

8. Go for clumping litter. 

Opt for clumping litter as it is easier to scoop the clumps and it is generally mess-free. One of the benefits of this type of litter is that clumps form out of wet litter where your cat pees.  Sodium bentonite makes this possible by binding moisture into the clump so you can easily scoop out not only your cat’s poop but the urine as well.  The downside for this type of litter is that it is quite costly, produces more dust, and heavier to lift.  

9. Utilize a box liner. 

A sanitary way to keep your litter box clean and odor-free are by using box liners. Cleaning is much easier because you only have to wrap the litter up and throw it in the garbage bin or a disposal system. Also, liners keep the actual box cleaner and prevent foul odors. It also lessens the task of scrubbing the litter box every time you clean it. The downside of box liners is their costly price and could lead to a waste of materials. 

10. Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of the litter box.

Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of the litter box.
Image: istockphoto.com / jordachelr

Baking soda is effective in absorbing odors including the foul smell emanating from the litter box.  Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of the box to make the box odor-free. Use only a moderate amount or at least a few tablespoonfuls because it can be toxic if used in large amounts. Cats kick up the litter when using the box and it helps mix the baking soda into the litter. The benefits of baking soda include the following: 

  • it is non-toxic 
  • it is fragrance-free
  • it is eco-friendly 
  • it is absorbent 
  • it is affordable 

11. Add dried green tea leaves.

Dried green tea leaves are commonly used as a deodorizer for litter boxes. It has anti-bacterial properties that absorb odors effectively.  You may buy loose-leaf green tea and dry out the leaves before mixing it with the litter to have an effective deodorizer.  You may be concerned with the caffeine content of green tea but it should not be a cause of worry since you can brew the leaves beforehand and then dry them out to ensure that it is safe to use for your cat’s litter box. 

12. Have more boxes that are of ideal sizes. 

It is ideal to have extra litter boxes for your cat and especially if you have multiple cats at home.  Ideally, the number of boxes should be one plus the number of cats in your household. Also,  the boxes should be of the right size for your cats. Boxes of the wrong sizes will restrict your cat’s movement and there may be a tendency that cats won’t use it at all and more likely will hit the sides to pee or poop. This will contribute to foul odors. Also, litter boxes should have sides that are low enough so your feline can step over easily.

13. Use a cat litter mat. 

Another helpful litter box hack is to use a cat litter mat to catch any stray litter outside of the box.  These mats work with almost any type of litter box.  It should be big enough compared to the box and should be placed close enough to it. Your cat should be able to step on the mat each time she goes out from the litter box. The litter mat captures stray litter each time your cat wipes her feet in it and it will prevent any traces of litter and odor in other places at home. 


You do not have to suffer from having a foul-smelling home due to a stinky litter box.  There are litter box hacks that you can follow and do such as using a deodorizer like baking soda and green tea leaves. Also, make sure that the litter box is regularly cleaned, washed, and refilled with fresh litter.  

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