Apart from removing feces and urine clumps from the litter box, you need to clean and sanitize the box at least once a week or more often than that if you have many cats in your household. One of the most effective, cheapest, and most eco-friendly cleaning agents that you can use is vinegar.
Cleaning a litter box with vinegar
Before you even begin cleaning the litter box, you need to prep the materials you will use for this essential task. Start by wearing protective gloves and a mask. The litter and the litter box can contain harmful bacteria, parasites, and other unseen organisms that can cause diseases.
Use the rubber gloves to protect your hands and skin and the mask to prevent inhalation of airborne particles and ammonia from the litter.
Empty the litter box
Start cleaning the litter box by removing its content. Gently pour all the content of the litter box’s pan into a garbage bag. Do not shake the pan vigorously to prevent particles from escaping into the air. Tie the garbage bag and then put it into a garbage bin.
Clean the litter box
It is inevitable for small clumps of litter to form on the litter box’s pan. You can pry these off loose by scraping these with the kitty litter scoop. Scrape as much as you can but do not worry if you leave a few stubborn clumps on. You can remove these later on.
Next, pour boiling water on the litter box to rinse it and kill some of the microorganisms present on it. After that, add a few drops of vinegar before scrubbing the whole litter box. Give the box a thorough rinse to remove the scent of the vinegar.
You can use a paper towel to dry off the litter box or you can just allow it to air-dry for a few minutes.
Deodorize the litter box
To help keep the litter box smelling fresh and prevent unwanted odors from wafting throughout your home, you should deodorize it.
For this task, you have a few options to choose from, including filters, green tea, and charcoal briquettes. But the simplest and most effective option for deodorizing a litter box is baking soda. It is relatively cheap and readily available in most homes.
To use baking soda as a litter box deodorizer, all you need to do is to scatter a few spoonfuls over the litter box pan before pouring a fresh batch of litter over it.
Vinegar alternatives and other tips
Instead of using boiling water to mix with vinegar, you can use carbonated water instead.
Carbonated water is renowned to be an effective cleaning agent on its own and it can be used to remove stubborn stains and mineral build-ups. Furthermore, it contains antibacterial properties, just like vinegar.
Mixing vinegar with carbonated water makes your cleaning solution more potent.
If you do not have vinegar in your home but you are in dire need of a cleaning solution for your pet’s litter box, one alternative you can use is lemon juice.
Just like vinegar, lemon juice contains a good amount of acid necessary to eliminate harmful microorganisms from the litter box. Additionally, lemon juice smells better than vinegar. You can also mix lemon juice with carbonated water to boost each other’s effectiveness.
But be forewarned, cats hate the smell of citrus. If you are using lemon juice as a cleaning agent, be sure to rinse the litter box thoroughly and allow it to dry in an area with plenty of airflow to remove the citrus scent.
What makes vinegar an effective cleaning agent?
Vinegar is a by-product of fermented alcohol, usually made out of grains or fruits. This is what makes this liquid one of the most eco-friendly cleaning agents around.
Generally, vinegar consists of 95 percent water with the remainder being acetic acid. However, in some types of vinegar, the acetic acid content can be higher or lower. Distilled white vinegar, which is often used as a cleaning agent, contains five percent acetic acid. This is the same amount of acetic acid that you can typically find in commercial cleaning solutions. Cats hate the smell of vinegar as its strong odor is too much for their sensitive sense of smell.
But what makes vinegar a good alternative to bleach as a litter box disinfectant?
1. Antibacterial and disinfectant properties
No matter how often you clean your home, microorganisms can still wind their way inside it. This is why it is crucial to disinfect your home, including your pet’s litter box, regularly.
Vinegar is one of the most effective disinfectants that you can find. Aside from the acetic acid that vinegar contains, it also has a pH level of two. This means that vinegar does not only kill bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. It can also inhibit the growth of these.
Scientific studies indicate that vinegar is effective in killing the influenza virus, E. coli, and other bacteria and viruses.
With the exception of marble surfaces, you can use vinegar to clean and disinfect practically all surfaces in and around your home.
The acidity of vinegar allows it to loosen mineral deposits and remove grease and wax build-ups. Furthermore, vinegar is an effective deodorizer.
You can vary the composition of your vinegar solution or even add other ingredients like lime, lemon, or carbonated water to boost the liquid’s effectiveness.
3. Low cost
Vinegar is one of the cheapest cleaning agents that you can find, considerably cheaper than commercial cleaning agents. More than that, you do not need much to clean various surfaces.
4. Long shelf life
On average, a bottle of vinegar can last over three years. However, you can still use expired vinegar well past its expiration date, especially for cleaning in and around your home.
According to vinegar makers, you can keep vinegar for an indefinite amount of time. However, the appearance of the liquid may change as time goes by.
In terms of safety and eco-friendliness, vinegar is miles ahead over commercial cleaning agents.
Should your eyes come into contact with the liquid, you can wash it out with water.
Do not mix vinegar with bleach or other inorganic cleaning solutions as this can create chlorine gas which is toxic to humans and pets.
Use vinegar to disinfect your cat’s litter box
Removing clumps of urine and feces from the litter box and disposing of these are not enough to prevent harmful organisms from infecting the box and even your home. You need to disinfect your cat’s litter box at least once a week and one of the most effective disinfectants that you can use, one that is safe and readily available, is vinegar.
Image: istockphoto.com / Helin Loik-Tomson