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How to Clean a Cat Bowl: 7 Expert Tips & FAQ

Patricia Dickson

By Patricia Dickson

man holding cat bowl

As a pet owner, the last thing you want is to refill your cat’s food and water bowl only to find pink slime in the bottom of the water bowl and unimaginable substances in the food bowl.

Cat bowls are breeding grounds for bacteria, bugs, and mold if they aren’t cleaned frequently and properly. Bacteria such as biofilm, the pinkish slime you see in the bottom of the cat’s water bowl, can be dangerous and make your feline sick. How do you clean a cat’s bowl so you don’t have to worry about the cat getting sick? We’ll give you our favorite tips and tricks in the guide below.

The 7 Tips On How To Clean a Cat Bowl

These tips and tricks will keep your pet’s food and water bowl clean, so they are happy and healthy for many years to come.

1. Use the Dishwasher

There’s nothing easier than putting your cat’s food and water bowl in the dishwasher to get them sparkly clean. However, washing them by hand before putting them in the dishwasher is better.

Wash by hand to remove stuck-on food, put the dishwasher on the highest setting, and let it do its job. Your kitty’s dishes will be bacteria-free and ready to go when the cycle is over.

Of course, it’s not complicated if you don’t have a dishwasher or just prefer to wash the dishes by hand.

2. Wash Your Own Dishes First

It’s better to be safe and wash your dishes before you put your kitty’s food and water bowls in the soapy water.

3. Use Soapy, Hot Water

You’re probably already using soapy, hot water to wash your dishes, but make sure that it’s still hot and full of suds when you add your cat’s dishes to the sink. Hot water and dishwashing liquid will work to kill the bacteria in the bowls.

It’s wise to wear kitchen gloves, not only to protect your hands from the hot water but also from any bacteria and revolting slime in the bowls.

4. Let the Bowls Soak

If your cat’s bowls have been left out too long without being washed, you should soak them before washing. Soaking the bowls for about 30 minutes should loosen any dried-on food and make it easier to scrub it off when you’re ready.

washing pet feeding bowl
Image Credit; LeighT, Shutterstock

5. Use a Dishcloth or Sponge

Avoid using an abrasive scrub pad if you want to keep your cat’s bowls in decent shape. Instead, opt for a soft dishcloth or sponge. A rough scourer can cause deep scratches in the bowls, which can lead to the bowl becoming a breeding ground for germs.

Make sure that the dishcloth or sponge you use isn’t the same one you use on your own dishes.

6. Don’t Forget To Rinse

You mustn’t forget to rinse your kitty’s food and water bowls after washing them. If you forget to rinse, it’ll leave the soap residue on your cat’s bowls. Then, when it comes time to eat, your cat might refuse to because of the smell.

7. Let the Dishes Dry

After washing and rinsing, you can either lay the dishes out to air dry or dry them with a paper towel or dish towel.

washing dog food bowl
Image Credit: MargaPl, Shutterstock

Cat Bowl Cleaning FAQs

Now that we have given you a few tips and tricks on how to clean your cat’s bowl, we will answer a few questions.

How Often Should You Clean Your Cat’s Food and Water Bowls?

Many pet parents clean their cat’s food and water bowls every day. However, a couple of times a week should be sufficient if you rinse the food bowl after each meal. As for the water bowl, rinse and give it a quick swipe with a paper towel every time you fill it to prevent slime build-up.

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How Do You Keep Pests Out of the Cat’s Bowls?

If you clean the bowls the way you should, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem with bugs. It’s a good idea to sweep and mop up any spills or messes as soon as they occur to keep them from attracting bugs to the area.

It’s also a good idea to store your cat’s food in an airtight container to keep it fresh and safe from insects.



A clean bowl is safer and more appealing to a cat, and it will help them stay hydrated. When you get into the habit of rinsing and frequently cleaning the bowls, you won’t worry about biofilm or other bacteria forming on the surface. By using our tips, you can ensure your cat will not run the other way when it inspects its food and water bowls.

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Featured Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

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