Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How to Clean a Cat Litter Mat in 7 Simple Steps

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

sphynx cat on cat litter mat

Cats are adorable, but that doesn’t make cleaning up after them any less pleasurable! One of the things that make it challenging to take care of these furry little creatures is their litter box. Although cats are scrupulously clean creatures, they can often track their litter out onto their cat litter mat.

When litter spreads, it can be both smelly and potentially dangerous. This is because bacteria will grow on the mat if not cleaned up promptly, which can have an adverse effect on your health and the health of your cat. Also, a dirty litter mat may repulse your cat, and they may decide to do their business on other surfaces around your home instead. It can be a really unpleasant job to clean a cat litter mat, but with these easy steps, you’ll be done in no time!



It’s possible that a litter area that smells relatively clean to you may smell foul to your cat. The reason for this is that your cat’s sense of smell is 14 times stronger than yours, so we recommend running through this cleaning routine every week.

Give yourself time and space to do this job properly. This is not a task you should rush through, as any spills will scatter litter and bacteria around your home.

What You’ll Need

  • Rubber gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Handheld vacuum
  • Wastebasket, garbage bag, or disposal pail
  • Garden hose or bathtub
  • Unscented dish soap
  • A rag, scrubber, brush, or sponge
  • Paper towels or dedicated cleaning towel
  • Baking soda
  • Hand soap


The 7 Steps to Properly Clean a Cat Litter Mat

1. Put On Protective Gear

Before you begin, put on the gloves and dust mask. It’s especially important to take these protective measures if you are pregnant or have lowered immunity. Wearing gloves and a dust mask while cleaning the litter box is essential for good hygiene.

Rubber gloves
Image Credit: pagefact, Pixabay

2. Vacuum the Litter Mat

To remove loose litter from a dirty litter mat, you should use a handheld vacuum. We recommend a dedicated handheld vacuum so litter won’t contaminate your larger household vacuum, potentially making it smell bad. The handheld vacuum may be kept near the litter box for easy access, and try and pick one with powerful suction to efficiently collect scattered cat litter. Having a pivoting nozzle is also an excellent feature, as it will reach easily into tight spaces behind litter boxes and between indentations in litter mats.

3. Shake The Litter Off the Litter Mat

Alternatively, you can shake the litter mat, either outside your home or into a trash can. If you go this route, pick the mat up and carefully bring the corners together. You will need to clear a path between the mat and the trash can or outdoor area as if you bump into anything or anyone on your way, you may drop litter around your home. To prevent fecal matter from contaminating water sources, be sure to shake the litter mat into garbage bags before disposing of them.

cat litter mat_ArtCranberry, Shutterstock
Image Credit: ArtCranberry, Shutterstock

4. Choose Your Cleaning Products Carefully

Although the choice of cleaning products is a personal choice, keep in mind that heavily scented products may not be the best choice because of your cat’s keen sense of smell. Your furry friend will guide you in your selection. If they aren’t happy with the cleaning solution you’ve chosen, they’ll quickly let you know by refusing to use the litter box.

5. Wash the Litter Mat

Now that you have removed the biggest lumps from your litter mat, you can rinse and wash it. You can remove gunky messes most easily by running each dirty mat under a hose or bathtub faucet. The ASPCA recommends cleaning litter boxes and litter mats every week with warm water and unscented soap. It’s best to clean with an unscented soap to make sure your cat won’t develop an aversion to the scent—if they dislike their litter mat, they will pee elsewhere.

For cats who like to hover on the edge of their litter boxes when they do their business, enzymatic cleaners are your best friends in neutralizing pet odors. Litter should never be cleaned up with ammonia-based products because feline urine contains ammonia and cleaning with ammonia confuses cats and may encourage them to urinate in that same spot again.

Our favorite enzyme cleaner is the Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray. It's our product, and we love it so much, we just have to share. It permanently removes the very worst smells and stains (yes, everything you can imagine!), and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee! 

Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray
  • ADVANCED ENZYMATIC CLEANER - Penetrates the most stubborn smells and stains at the deepest molecular...
  • FOR ANY MESS, ON ANY SURFACE - This pet odor eliminator cleans your carpets, floors, furniture,...

6. Dry the Litter Mat

Wiping with a dedicated hand towel or a paper towel after the mat has been cleaned will help it to dry quickly. If you have the time, you can also let the mat air dry. You can then sprinkle baking soda on the mat if you feel it has retained any stubborn odors.

7. Wash Your Hands

Always wash your hands and arms thoroughly after you have finished. Cats can transmit Toxoplasma to people through their feces. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out, parasites cause acute health problems in newborns and people with weak immune systems. Researchers have also examined a possible link to schizophrenia and other mental health problems and there is a correlation for children in testing positive for Toxoplasma and having difficulty in school.

woman washing hands
Image Credit: ivabalk, Pixabay


Can Litter Mats Be Washed?

Yes; in fact, washing is a key step in the cleaning process outlined above. Some litter mats are machine-washable, making them particularly easy to clean. You will still need to shake off the litter before tossing them in the washing machine. You don’t want to clog up your washing machine with used kitty litter! Be aware that most mats are not designed to be put in the machine.

How Do You Dry a Litter Mat?

After cleaning, you can either hang your litter mat to dry in the air or wipe it dry using a dedicated towel or paper towel. We prefer air drying or using a dedicated towel, as it is better for the environment. The only drawback to air drying is that it may take a while, and your cat’s litter area won’t be set up properly during this time.

Why Does My Cat Poop and Pee Off the Edge of the Litter Box?

Some people find that their cat balances on the edge of the litter box when doing their business. In this case, the cat’s urine and stool may end up on the litter mat rather than in the box. This often happens if there is something about the litter box that is threatening or uncomfortable for your cat. For instance, if the box is too large or in a space that’s not private and too open. It can also be a sign that the cat does not like the brand of litter you are using.

There are many other possibilities for the cause of your cat’s discomfort, including urinary tract infections, kidney disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Your veterinarian may need to be consulted if your cat no longer uses their litter box and prefers to use the mat on a consistent basis.

vet checking bengal cat
Image By: Pressmaster, Shutterstock



Keeping your cat litter mat clean is vitally important to avoid any potentially hazardous bacteria from being tracked inside the home. Cats will avoid a dirty litter mat and might just find another area to use! That’s not good for you or your cat, as it can lead to some potential health issues. That’s why we recommend cleaning your cat litter mat using the steps above at least once per week.

Related Reads:

Featured Image Credit: Kokorina Mariia, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database