Skip to main content

Is your home stinky? Try these litter box smell hacks

Litter boxes come with having a cat, but stinky litter boxes can be hard to cope with. Sometimes no matter how thoroughly or how often you clean the box, the smell seems to linger in your home. The good news is that you don’t have to live with an overpowering litter box smell, and there are plenty of steps you can take to make it much more tolerable for you, your family, and your cat. If you’re wondering how to keep the litter box from smelling, then you’ll want to consider these handy and easily implemented litter box smell hacks.

Clean and wash regularly

If your cat’s litter box is unusually stinky, then you might be able to immediately improve the situation with frequent cleaning. Doing a daily spot cleaning can reduce odors, making the box more pleasant for both you and your cat.

It’s also essential to thoroughly wash out the box during your weekly deep clean. Washing the box with soap and water and giving it a good scrub can help remove bacteria that can cause those smelly odors. Be sure to also dry the box thoroughly after cleaning it to prevent litter from quickly getting stuck to the sides. Even with regular, thorough cleaning, plastic boxes can hold odors over time. So, replace the box once a year to keep it fresh.

Self-cleaning litter boxes can help reduce some of your work, and they can cut down on odors for some cats. If you’re considering one, be sure to keep a traditional litter box around, too. Some cats are especially picky and won’t immediately take to a self-cleaning box — while other cats will never be comfortable using them.

Cat climbing out of a Litter Robot litter box
Litter Robot / Unsplash

Add a deodorizer

When you clean your cat’s litter box, consider adding in a deodorizer. A sprinkle of baking soda before you add in the cat litter can help cut down odors. You can also buy commercially available litter box deodorizers, but these often have stronger scents. Some cats won’t appreciate the scents and might not want to use their box. If you can find an unscented product, that may be preferable over a scented option.

You might also experiment with different types of cat litters. Some litters can naturally smell better, and clumping litters let you easily scoop out urine daily for less odor. If you do change litters, do it gradually and make sure to choose a new litter that your cat will accept and use. Cats can be choosy, so introducing a litter that your cat doesn’t like could result in his doing his business outside the box.

Whether you’re adding in a deodorizer or trying out a new litter, make the change in only one of your home’s litter boxes at a time. If your cat doesn’t appreciate the change, he’ll still be able to use the other litter box, which can help prevent accidents.

Cat sitting in front of a Litter Robot litter box
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Create ventilation

You might be tempted to park your cat’s litter box away in a closet or other enclosed space, but that can actually make odors worse. Instead, maximize ventilation by locating the box somewhere that sees plenty of air circulation without being drafty. A larger bathroom or basement can be ideal. Remember, these areas still need to be quiet, out-of-the-way spaces where your cat will feel comfortable.

While you’re reassessing where you keep litter boxes, make sure you have enough boxes for your home. It’s best to have one more litter box than you have cats. If you have one cat, plan on two litter boxes. If you have three cats, get four boxes. Having more boxes will give your cats additional choices of which one they want to use, so no one box sees excessive use and excessive smell buildup.

Litter boxes don’t have to be super stinky, especially when you take steps to thoroughly clean them regularly. Finding the right combination of litter box numbers and locations, cat litter, and deodorizing products can take a little time and experimentation. You might find that a combination of these hacks works best for your home and cats. Whenever you make changes to your cat’s boxes, make them gradually and keep an eye on your cat to make sure he accepts them. With some trial and error, you can eventually minimize litter box odor and create a healthier environment for both you and your cat.

Editors' Recommendations

Paige Cerulli
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Paige's work has appeared in American Veterinarian, Business Insider, Healthline, and more. When she's not writing, Paige…
Protect your kitty and home: Top tips for choosing the best cat gate for your feline friend
How to find the best cat gate for your kitty and why you need one
Cat leaning on a metal gate

If you share a household with a tiny human, odds are you've heard of a baby gate. But what about pet gates? Is it possible to corral our furry friends into (or out of) regions of the home? Doesn't a baby gate work just as well? After all, who's ever heard of cat gates?

It turns out they do exist — in a few forms. That's good news for pet parents, especially people in multi-animal homes. Sometimes, your kitty may just need some extra space or a safe spot to keep food away from a dog that eats anything, including cat food. Here's what to know about types of cat gates and how to choose one.

Read more
A dirty litter box is dangerous for you and your cat: Why want to keep it clean
Litter box safety tips and tricks for a clean, healthy home
Cat sitting in front of a Litter Robot litter box

A dirty litter box is unsightly and smelly, but it also carries serious health risks for you and your cat. It's all too easy to let your cat's litter box go uncleaned for too long, especially if you're busy and only remember about the box when it starts to smell. But just like you make a point of feeding your cat every morning, you also need to make scooping and deep cleaning his litter box part of your routine.

What are the risks associated with a dirty litter box?
A litter box that isn't cleaned regularly poses many dangers that can lead to serious diseases that are harmful to both you and your cat. The solution is easy, especially when you think about the products that can simplify cleaning the litter box. Read on to learn what the risks are so you and your furry friend will both be safer.

Read more
7 telltale signs your cat may be allergic to their litter (and what you can do to help)
Kitten sitting in a litter box looking up

If your cat is sneezing, coughing, or has a runny nose, you might think he's sick. But those can also be symptoms of an allergy. Cats can be allergic to all sorts of different things. For some cats, the cause of their allergies is a central part of their lives: their cat litter. Those allergies get aggravated multiple times a day for a cat that's allergic to litter. When you understand the signs of an allergy, you can recognize that your cat might have a problem and take the right steps to get to the bottom of it.
Why cat litter allergies occur
The ingredients in cat litter can cause allergies. Clumping litter generally contains silica, which produces silica dust, an irritant known to cause allergies in some humans and animals. Fragrances can also be potentially irritating. While clay litters tend to be the most bothersome, your cat can be allergic to any number of components in any litter.

How your cat uses the litter box contributes to these potential allergies. Cats dig in the box, bury their business, and scratch at the box sides and at the litter. All this activity can stir up dust and irritants, making the issue worse.

Read more