Vinegar for Cat Box Odor

White vinegar helps to neutralize odors.
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Persistent and lingering litter box odor not only offends your nose, it can also discourage Kitty from going into the box to relieve himself. Not a cool situation at all. Used properly, white vinegar may be a sensible solution to your litter box blues.

Tough Odors

Using vinegar to counteract litter box odors is easy. After removing all the current litter in the box, pour in roughly a half-inch of white vinegar. Leave it standing in the tray for approximately 15 minutes, then blend in some warm water and scour the surfaces. Pour out the vinegar-and-water concoction, rinse the tray, and pat it dry. Voila! Time to put in a fresh batch of new litter. The ASPCA says vinegar is an environmentally friendly odor destroyer. Because of its neutralization capabilities, vinegar may be more aggressive for odor elimination than some other options, such as mild dish detergent. Vinegar is also acidic, and offers antiseptic benefits.

Vinegar Drawbacks

Vinegar may emit a very strong smell. In some cases, the odor may be rather aggressive and bothersome to your kitty, especially if it's not scrubbed off properly. The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine also notes that vinegar may lead to irritation. If you're worried that some properties of vinegar may repel your kitty, opt for something a lot milder -- a gentle dish detergent, for example.

White Vinegar and Seltzer

Another tough vinegar-based solution for getting rid of cat box odor involves mixing white vinegar and carbonated water, instead of warm water. Blend equal amounts of vinegar and seltzer to scrub away and neutralize box odors that may be offending your cat's nose. The dissolved carbon dioxide in seltzer is an effective natural cleaner and anti-bacterial, and apart from pulling out persistent stains with its fizz, also is more helpful than plain water for minimizing odor.

A light coating of baking soda on top of vinegar also may accomplish the same goals.

Lemon Juice

If you don't have white vinegar on hand, lemon juice can also be useful for destroying strong litter odors, suggests the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA in San Mateo, California. White vinegar and lemon juice both are natural and safe, yet powerful and acidic -- a combination of properties that is handy for neutralizing unpleasant and long-lasting odors.


Cleaners containing ammonia can be problematic, but they are frequently used for washing out litter boxes. The ammonia odor in these cleaners may cause your cat to consider the box unclean -- the opposite of your intention. In fact, ammonia is a small component of cat urine. If the box doesn't smell immaculate to Kitty, she may feel the need to find some other place in your home to eliminate. If you used an ammonia cleaner in the litter box and the odor lingers, vinegar may be a good choice for neutralizing it afterward.

Ammonia and vinegar tend to neutralize each other. The mix is not an effective cleaner.

Never use ammonia and chlorine bleach together, and never allow them to accidentally come in contact. The gas that forms is an extreme hazard to your health; you, your kitty and anyone else must leave the area immediately if such an accident occurs. If you or anyone else inhales or otherwise contacts the fumes, get away to fresh air, and seek emergency medical care. It's best not to use chlorine bleach in the litter box. Kitty doesn't like the odor anyway.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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