Can You Vacuum Cat Litter

Can You Vacuum Cat Litter? [Explained]

Cat lovers know that one of the most frustrating things about owning a cat is cleaning their litter box. This annoyance doesn't stop once we've finished scooping out the litter box either, then we have to deal with all the pieces of litter that fall on the floor or get tracked around our house.

You shouldn't use a regular vacuum to clean cat litter because it has the potential to cause damage to your vacuum cleaner and track unsanitary particles and smells to other areas of your house. 

Instead, you should use other methods of cleaning up cat litter to keep your house and your vacuum cleaner clean. 

This article will explain why you should avoid vacuuming cat litter using your regular vacuum cleaner, alternative methods of cleaning cat litter, and what kind of vacuum cleaner you should use if you don't want to use any of the alternative methods of cleaning cat litter.

Can I Use a Vacuum to Clean Cat Litter?

woman vacuuming the dust of the floor

While you can technically use a vacuum cleaner to clean up cat litter, it would be best that you avoided doing so for the following reasons: 

  • Cat litter is designed to clump when cats urinate, which means that if there is any moisture in your vacuum cleaner or you vacuum a wet area after vacuuming cat litter, the litter will clump and potentially clog your vacuum cleaner. This can be especially true if you use clay litter, which can not only clump but get stuck to the walls of the vacuum cleaner, significantly reducing its efficacy. 

  • Many types of litter, particularly crystal litter, have sharp edges that can potentially damage your vacuum cleaner or cut holes in the softer hose attachments.

  • Cat litter is teeming with dust that can damage the delicate mechanisms in your vacuum cleaner over time. While you may not notice it right away, the damage to your vacuum cleaner can get slowly worse as more and more dust enters your machine.

  • Cat litter has bacteria and odors that you should keep as close to the litter box as possible. If you vacuum stray litter, you'll end up tracking the odorous debris all over the house.

For all of the above reasons, it would be best for your vacuum cleaner's longevity and the overall cleanliness of your home if you chose alternative cleaning methods to deal with stray cat litter. 

How Will Vacuuming Cat Litter Damage My Vacuum?

technician repairs vacuum cleaner

As previously mentioned, vacuuming cat litter can damage a standard vacuum cleaner over time.

You should avoid using your vacuum cleaner to clean cat litter for several reasons. Firstly, the dust in the litter can cause irreparable damage to your vacuum cleaner; it can both grind into the mechanisms of your vacuum cleaner and cause damage to or clog the filters. 

The clumping litter inside the vacuum can also cause potential clogs within the vacuum cleaner or even effectively glue certain pieces in place, rendering them useless.

Lastly, vacuuming litter exposes your vacuum cleaner to malodorous, bacteria-laden litter that can be both unhygienic and unfortunate smelling when tracked in other areas of your house. 

The reason you vacuum is to clean your house, not make it dirtier, so it's best to avoid using your vacuum cleaner to clean up cat litter.

What Should I Use Instead of a Vacuum Cleaner to Clean Up Litter?

cat going out of a closed Litter box

There are several cleaning methods you can opt for besides vacuuming to deal with your cat's scattered litter.

The easiest thing you can do is try to prevent them from getting litter everywhere in the first place. 

By doing so, you not only eliminate the need to use your vacuum or another method of cleaning to get rid of the litter, but you save yourself time and energy.

Consider purchasing a litter box with a ledge or tray your cat has to first step on before leaving the litter box that will catch the excess litter as they exit; top-loading litter boxes are especially convenient for this. 

You can also utilize a litter mat around their litter box that collects the litter stuck to their feet when they come out of their box and keeps the litter concentrated in this area. 

You can simply shake the litter mat over a garbage can when you clean the litter box and rinse it if it's particularly dirty. 

Using a Broom and Dustpan to Clean Litter

For uncarpeted areas of your house, simply use a broom and dustpan to clean up stray litter. 

This method is not only easy, but you have multiple options for keeping your broom (and thus the rest of your house) clean.

If you wish to avoid tracking litter particles around the rest of the house, you can designate one broom and dustpan to the litter box specifically. 

If you only want one broom for the entire house, you can use a broom with plastic bristles to sanitize it after each use.

However you choose to go about using a broom and dustpan to clean your littler, you have a lot more control over keeping your house clean, and brooms are significantly cheaper to replace than vacuum cleaners if something happens to them. 

Using a Carpet Rake to Clean Litter

A broom and dustpan won't help you in areas of the house that are carpeted, and this can be incredibly annoying if you keep your litter box in a carpeted area of your house. 

If this is the case for you, consider investing in a carpet rake to clean up your cat's litter box. 

Carpet rakes can not only assist you in clearing out the majority of your litter from your carpeting, but as a bonus, it grooms your carpet and makes it look nice!

Carpet rakes are less efficient than brooms and dustpans, and it may take you a couple of run-throughs to get all of the litter out of your carpet, but in the long run, they're sure to extend the lifetime of your vacuum cleaner. 

What Kind of Vacuum Can I Use to Clean Cat Litter?

professional carpet cleaner

If you've tried the alternatives, and you feel that using a vacuum cleaner is by far the easiest way of cleaning up your cat's litter, you should at least avoid using your regular vacuum cleaner for the job.

If you plan on consistently cleaning up litter with a vacuum cleaner, opt for a shop vac, which will be much better suited for the task at hand.

Shop vacs are designed to handle more heavy-duty jobs than traditional vacuum cleaners. 

They have powerful suction and filtration systems that make them more equipped to handle cat litter's sharp edges, stickiness, and dust. 

Final Thoughts

Using your vacuum cleaner to clean up litter can seriously damage the vacuum over time.

The litter can clump inside the vacuum cleaner, and the dust from the litter can damage the vacuum.

Instead of vacuuming litter, try using preventative measures to limit the amount of litter that makes it out of the litter box and carpet rakes or brooms and dustpans to clean litter that does escape. 

If you have to use a vacuum to clean litter, consider using a shop vac instead of a traditional vacuum that can better handle the litter.