Cats are wonderful pets but if there is one area that cat parents would agree as a downside to having a cat it is having to deal with their smelly and dirty litter box that requires regular cleaning.
Cleaning the litter box can be a dreaded chore but once you get the hang of it, it can actually be done quickly and efficiently. You can also use more sophisticated litter box such as the Litter Genie or Litter Champ to make the task easier.
How to clean a litter box with bleach
Before cleaning the litter box, don’t forget to wear a pair of rubber gloves to avoid viruses from your cat’s feces and urine. It’s also recommended to do the cleaning outside the house to avoid any spillage from spreading inside the house. Here are the steps to clean a litter box with bleach:
- Empty the used litter into a disposable bag. Use a dustpan and brush to clean up any spillages.
- Use your scooper to scrape any dried litter off the box.
- Sweep any spillage into the bag. Tie the bag securely before throwing it in the trash bin outside.
- Rinse the box with warm water and mild, unscented soap. Be sure to scrub the inside and outside of the box. Using the bleach right away to the litter box is not advisable as there could be some urine residue that contains ammonia.
- Disinfect the litter box with bleach using a clean sponge or cloth.
- Rinse the box well to make sure all soap and bleach has been washed away.
- Leave the box to dry. You can air-dry it or use paper towels to wipe it dry. The litter box should be completely dry before putting fresh litter, as the litter will stick to the box if it’s wet.
- This step is optional. After washing and drying the litter box, the next thing to do is to deodorize it. You can sprinkle a teaspoon or two of baking soda on the box before adding litter. Other choices for deodorizers are charcoal briquettes and filters.
- Refill the box with litter and place it back to its normal spot.
Why do you have to clean your cat’s litter box?
You probably hate the stink from your cat’s litter box and your cat may hate the smell it even more as its sense of smell is a lot keener than yours. This may lead to your cat to finding an alternative and end up peeing on your carpet, furniture or other non wanted areas.
Aside from the obvious reasons, many medical problems can also result from having a dirty litter box. These include Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) or the more life-threatening urinary blockage called Feline Urethral Obstruction (FUO).
The dangers of using bleach in cleaning a litter box
Bleach is a strong and effective disinfectant. Its active ingredient, sodium hypochlorite, denatures protein in micro-organisms and is therefore effective in killing bacteria, fungus and viruses. Household bleach works quickly and is widely available at a low cost which makes it the usual go-to cleaning solution.
What makes using bleach for cleaning a litter box dangerous is that could end up mixing with ammonia. If you wonder where the ammonia would come come from, surprisingly it’s from your feline. Cat urine is composed of a number of different substances. One of these substances is urea, a nitrogenous waste that is highly concentrated in cat urine. When urea is broken down, it will produce amines, compounds derived from ammonia. This is why cat urine always has at least some smell of ammonia.
When bleach is mixed with ammonia, chloramine gas is released. It’s a gas that has a very pungent odor that can cause watering of the eyes, runny nose, coughing and chest congestion.
Caution should also be exercised in using bleach. Bleach can irritate mucous membranes, the skin and the airway, decompose under heat or light and react easily with other chemicals. Improper use of bleach may also lead to accidents which can be harmful to health.
How often should the litter box be cleaned?
Scooping solids and clumps of urine from the litter box should be done daily to keep it from being smelly. It’s suggested that you do a deep clean of the litter box at least once per week.