Can You Clean Kitty Litter with a Vacuum?

Want to know how to mess up a perfectly good vacuum cleaner? Use it to clean up cat litter on a regular basis. This is one of those vacuum cleaner tips that aren’t immediately obvious, but if you think about it makes sense.

Ask yourself one question, would you vacuum up cement powder and then water with the sweeper? No, of course not. But that could be exactly the effect that occurs should you use this method to clean up your cat’s mess.

This is a product that is designed to clump when it becomes wet, and that is the first reason that it shouldn’t be put anywhere near your cleaner.

The second reason and perhaps the most obvious one is that unless you have a model that uses a MicroFresh filter, all you are doing is to distribute those germs from kitty’s urine and feces all over your house. Pretty disgusting, isn’t it? Below, are specific steps on cleaning up cat litter.

How To Properly Clean Up Cat Litter

So, what to do instead? Do you just leave it there to accumulate under the box? Naturally, that isn’t the solution either, but you do have to start off with manual clean up solutions first. Vacuuming should never be your first port of call when it comes to this kind of clean up.

A good old dustpan and brush will be able to lift most of the mess anyway and can easily be cleaned. If that does not work, you might want to try a carpet rake. Still not happy with the results? Then see if you can use a vacuum for cat litter instead.

Clean Cat Litter

Sweep First Option

Your first option is to go old-school. Clean up as much as possible with a dustpan and broom or brush. You should be able to get most of it up this way. It can also a good idea to have a carpet under the litter box. Get a firm one that you can easily shake out over the trash can.

Carpet Rake Second Option

A carpet rake is option number two, but it really is not likely to be as effective as your dustpan and broom. However, it can be useful to dislodge smaller bits of the litter that has gotten caught in the fibers of your carpet.

Rake the carpet a few times to make sure that you get it all.

Shop Vacuum Last Option

Sometimes, the only other option is to use a vacuum. In this case, you want to use a shop vacuum such as the Dyson V6, because it is a lot more durable than your standard options.

It is made to stand up to a fair amount of abuse and could prove useful in this instance as well.

Why You Shouldn’t Really Use a Vacuum

But please, take our advice and start with the other options first. Our best advice is to put something down under the box to catch any litter that might be kicked out. You could even put the whole box into a larger container for this purpose.

Otherwise, put down an old rug, or newspaper or something like that.

Makes the Vacuum Smell

Aside from the germ aspect of things, think about how it will make your sweeper smell. Cat urine, in particular, is very acrid and disturbing it is the fastest way to test this for yourself.

Now imagine that smell accumulating in your cleaner, and getting into the all the dust and dirt in there. And last thing, imagine how hard it is to clean your vacuum afterwards!

Cleaning Cat Urine

The Filter Will Get Clogged Quickly

Even if you are using a very fine product, you are going to need to change out your filters more often than normal. The problem here is that it gets stuck and dries into a harder texture on the filter itself.

That means more clogging and less efficiency for your machine overall.

Future Preventions

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in this case especially, so get creative about dealing with the mess before it ends up stuck in your carpet.

Litter Mat

A litter mat is similar in principle to putting down a carpet, but it is a better option. It has raised little knobs on it that make it possible for the dirt to drop through and comfortable for your fur baby to walk on. This also stops them tracking the dirt through your home.

Underneath this layer is a layer that catches all the dirt, so all you have to do is to pick up the mat and empty it out later.

Automatic Litter Box

An automatic litter box can help to keep everything fresh and clean for kitty without extra work for you. You use a crystalline product in it that absorbs odors. It has an arm that sweeps through regularly to clean out the solid matter and deposit it into the assigned receptacle.

LitterMaid Automatic Litter Box

Frequently Asked Questions


Can cat litter ruin vacuums?

A: The short answer to that question is that it really depends on the sweeper that you have. The main thing to check first is that the filter can handle the mess that you are throwing at it. These particles are usually large and hard, and that can damage the filter.

If it gets into the mechanism at all, your machine could be toast.


Will a Roomba vacuum suck up cat litter from hardwood floors?

A: Yes, the Roomba sees it purely as dirt and will suck it up pretty effectively. The Roomba is not discriminant in the type of dirt it clears up at all. It works hard. Whether it is good for your Roomba is another matter entirely, but I think that you know where we stand on that subject.


All in all, use your cleaner if and only if there is no other way to clean the mess up. Your best options here are preventative measures such as mats or newspaper. If you must have it sucked up, it is best to use a shop vacuum that is powerful and built to withstand a lot of abuse.

If you do, however, you will need to check the filters more regularly and replace or clean them as needed. But use this as more of a last resort – get out your dustpan first.

If the idea of dealing with all of this is distasteful to you, an automatic box that cleans itself is a good alternative. It will minimize the chances of the cat flinging the litter out because of the smell.

Managing this issue is quick and easy once you get into the right routine. It is not ideal to suck all the germs and smells into your cleaner.

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I’ve been a dedicated writer for Clean That Floor for approximately 3 years. I’ve written about various topics, mostly focusing on cleaning products, vacuum cleaners, mops, and simple cleaning solutions for homeowners. I enjoy testing tips and tricks on house maintenance, reviewing both the process and results.

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