Can You Use a Vacuum Cleaner on Cat Litter? Pros, Cons & Safety Tips

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Vacuum cleaner used to clean spilled debris on carpet

Cleaning up messy cat litter can be a pain, so using a vacuum cleaner naturally feels like a faster and more efficient way to get the job done.nevertheless Technically you can vacuum cat litterthis cleaning method has some drawbacks that are worth considering.

If you’re thinking about vacuuming your cat’s litter box without using a dustpan, this article will explain if it’s safe or if you should avoid it.

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Is it worth vacuuming cat litter?

In general, it is not a good idea to use a regular household vacuum cleaner to clean dirty cat litter or large clumps of cat litter. However, even after scooping out large clumps, you can still vacuum up small pieces of cat litter and leftover dust particles. It is recommended that you use a separate vacuum cleaner that is only used for cleaning dirt, rather than a regular household vacuum cleaner. Specialized vacuum cleaners are available that can suck up cat litter with less risk.

There are several reasons why you don’t want to use a regular household vacuum cleaner on cat litter. Cat litter can damage the vacuum’s delicate mechanisms and leave scratches and holes in the filter bag. Fine cat litter can clog your vacuum filter, so you need to clean it more often.

Additionally, dirty cat litter can leave an unpleasant urine odor that can be difficult to remove. Urine left in the cat litter can leach into the porous filter bag, creating a foul odor every time you turn on the vacuum cleaner.

Cat lying on the wooden floor next to the toilet
Image credit: Tanya Plotnikova, Shutterstock

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Advantages and disadvantages of vacuuming cat litter

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of vacuuming cat litter.

  • Effectively removes small dirt particles from carpets and hardwood floors.
  • Faster than manual scooping
  • Less clutter
  • Delicate mechanisms may be damaged in vacuum
  • There is a risk of filter clogging and motor damage
  • The smell of dirty cat litter can remain inside the vacuum cleaner
  • Urine and feces can soak into the filter bag’s porous material and bristles.

What you need to know before vacuuming cat litter

If you choose to vacuum your cat’s litter box, but don’t want to risk damaging your main household vacuum cleaner, choose a pet-friendly vacuum cleaner instead. Most pet-friendly vacuum cleaners are durable and can handle leftover odors from tracked cat litter, fur, and debris.

Ideally, a pet-friendly vacuum cleaner should only be used to clean messes in your cat’s litter box, and not in other areas of your home. Alternatively, there are handheld pet vacuums that are safe to use in your cat’s litter box and are more budget-friendly.

If you plan on vacuuming wet or dirty cat litter, we recommend using a wet/dry shop vacuum instead. Regular household vacuum cleaners are not designed to pick up moisture, so don’t use them on wet items. Additionally, wet cat litter can create a musty odor inside the vacuum cleaner, which can lead to mold growth.

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How to safely vacuum cat litter

Learn how to safely vacuum cat litter from a variety of surfaces, including carpet, tile, and hardwood floors.

1. scoop out large chunks

First, scoop out large chunks of cat litter and dispose of them. For carpets and hard floors, we recommend using a soft, fine-bristled brush and scoop. If you only have a few small pieces of cat litter, move on to the next step.

2. Use a pet-friendly vacuum cleaner

Use a pet-friendly vacuum cleaner to suck up small pieces of cat litter and remove any remaining cat litter particles. You may need to check the area several times before it is completely clean. Some types of cat litter can be dusty and can get caught up in the fibers of your carpet.

A man using a cordless vacuum cleaner
Image credit: Olya Detry, Shutterstock

3. clean the vacuum filter

Empty the vacuum filter or vacuum bag into a biodegradable trash bag and sealed trash can.

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Alternative ways to clean cat litter

In addition to vacuuming, you can use the following proven methods to clean cat litter.

  • Scoop/Sweep: This is one of the most widely used methods for cleaning cat litter, and it doesn’t require the hassle of setting up a vacuum cleaner or using electricity. Use a dustpan and brush to scoop up cat litter that has been expelled from the litter box or tracked around the house. This is an affordable option and you don’t have to worry about damaging your vacuum cleaner. You can dispose of the cat litter if it’s dirty or put it back in the litter box if it’s clean.
  • Toilet mat: If your cat kicks or chases the litter box, placing a litter mat under the litter box may help. Once the mat catches cat litter, you can pick it up and put it back in the litter box or throw it in the trash. Toilet mats are easy to clean and are useful if you have a toilet in a carpeted area that is difficult to clean.
  • Closed trash can: If your cat has a habit of kicking debris out of the litter box, choosing one with a fully enclosed design is a good option. Not only will you waste less garbage, but there will also be less dirty debris around that needs to be vacuumed.

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Your cat’s litter box can be vacuumed with a pet vacuum or a dry/wet shop vacuum. Cat litter is usually too large or smelly to be vacuumed up by regular household vacuum cleaners. There’s also a risk that fine dust particles from certain cat litters can clog the filter bag or damage the delicate mechanisms inside the vacuum cleaner.

Either way, it’s a good idea to scoop out any excess cat litter before vacuuming.

Featured image credit: Maliflower73, Shutterstock

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