Really Great Uses for Kitty Litter

By Linsey Knerl on 12 July 2007 (Updated 1 February 2013) 30 comments
Photo: eviltomthai

Just because you don't own a feline friend (maybe you decided to go with a leopard gecko instead), doesn't mean you should take kitty litter off your shopping list. Here are several really good reasons why you need to take a stroll down the pet care aisle. (See also: 5 Ways to Spend Less on Fido and Fluffly)

Deodorizer

  • Skip the baking soda and just use clean cat litter in a small container in your fridge to get rid of unwanted odors.
     
  • Selling used books on eBay? Get rid of smoke and must by sealing them overnight in a can with clean cat litter.
     
  • Stinky diaper pails and trash cans can be deodorized by sprinkling a few tablespoons of litter at the bottom.
     
  • Clean litter can replace your odor eaters in a jiffy. Simply place a cup or two of cat litter in knee-high pantyhose, tie a knot and leave it in the shoe overnight.

Absorbent

  • Mechanics are aware that you can use litter to clean up oil in the garage. A 10-pound sack of litter will absorb more than a gallon of liquid, including paint and gasoline.
     
  • Ever unpack your tent to find it’s moldy? Next year, place a tied-off sock full of litter in the tent before packing it away.

Beauty Treatment

  • Make your own clay mask (think spa treatment) with an all-natural, 100-percent clay cat litter that is scent-free. Mix three tablespoons of cat litter with about three tablespoons of water, then mix with a mortar and pestle. This is a great detoxifier as well.

Additional Uses

  • Keep a big bag of kitty litter in the back of your car to add weight and for added traction if you get stuck.
     
  • Pouring litter down mole holes is a kind way to send them packing!
     
  • Add a layer of litter to the bottom of your outdoor grill to prevent grease fires.

Dear Wise Bread readers, can you share any other ideas? We would love to hear about them in the comments!

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Guest's picture
Michael

First find out if your community has a paint recycling facility. If not, mix some clumping litter into leftover latex or acrylic paint and the whole mess will harden overnight enabling easy disposal into trash. (I think about 1 cup per half gallon...)

Guest's picture
Guest

Then you have a toxic lump that will eventually disintegrate in the landfill and pollute the groundwater. Why not wait for a day when the landfill folks are collecting stuff (they are called "roundup" around here) like this and just give it to them to dispose of properly?

Guest's picture
Rebekah

The old-school, non-scoopable litter is fantastic on ice. (You mention "traction" which will also include mud....) if I'm walking a short distance in icy weather, I will carry some to sprinkle as I walk. Yes, I know I look stupid - and I don't break a leg, falling, either.

I've kept the largest bag I can carry in the trunk in case I get stuck in the mud OR in snow or ice.

Again: you don't want scoopable or flushable. You want the stuff that goes for $6 for a 50 lb bag. (I pay $2 for the 10-lb, which is the most I can lift - if I didn't keep first aid supplies in the trunk, though, I'd put a larger bag in a tub and scoop what I needed.) GENERIC. UNSCENTED.

This hint, and those shoe traction thingies, were the best gifts I gave to a friend who'd moved North from Southern California (she'd never driven in snow before - like THAT).

Guest's picture
Guest

Thanks for the tips...we just got my little car out of DEEP mud, using this kitty litter trick!! Yea!!!!!!!!!

Justin Ryan's picture

I know I've heard an authority somewhere (fire marshal or something) say you shouldn't use cat litter around fire, because it may be flammable. I seem to remember a story about someone burning down thier house after they threw cat litter on a grease fire and it fed the fire instead of putting it out.

I can't find any source or confirmation online, which makes me think it was probably bad information, but still, something to be careful about, just in case. I guess "test your litter first" would be good advice.

Great post Linsey!

Guest's picture
p38

Some premium brands are clay-less. They are made of kibbled recycled newspaper or lumbermill waste. Stick with johnny cat or store brand and you will get fire-proof clay.

Andrea Karim's picture

Aw, man. Now I have to figure out whether or not it's flammable. That's going to cost me a garbage can, Justin.

I had no idea cat litter was so versatile. Since it's always underfoot (my cat likes to fling it out and around the house), I always just thought of it as a nuisance. The tent tip is a great one - I HATE opening up my tent at the start of summer!

Guest's picture
Wil

I'm a smoker, and I filled a huge sundial bird-feeder with the stuff to use as an ashtray. When I put my cigarette out, it stays out (since I smoke outside, this reduces the chance of fire in my yard), and when I want to clean up a little, I just use a cat litter shovel to pick up my butts.

Justin Ryan's picture

@Andrea: Awwww. Well, if it doesn't light up, keep trying other things until it does, and then do a "How to blow up a trashcan" post!

Guest's picture
jgodsey

most of these are anecdotal
>Selling used books on Ebay? Get rid of smoke and must by sealing them overnight in a can with clean cat litter.

this doesn't work.

Linsey Knerl's picture

It has personally worked for me in my little corner of the world.  I have purchased many books from Ebay and Amazon that seem to have been reincarnated from an ashtray.  They are now clean and fresh thanks to this "anecdote."  It's a good frugal option to try for most people, not that I would want to discourage anyone from buying your book deodorizers.... and if there is a particular book that kitty litter doesn't work for, than no harm/no foul.

Guest's picture
Mike

Definately a good use for litter. We don't have a cat and we have a bad for rare spills. Just pour some on the spill and then using your foot, grind, crush and rub the litter into the oil and it's gone.

Guest's picture
Mel

Living in the UP lot's of people carry it in their cars for traction during the winter months-- it is really useful!

Guest's picture
Guest

I'm not saying it wouldn't work, but come on! I think being frugal is great, but maybe you ought to consider some other substance for your face. I also wouldn't put it in my fridge. It's just the thought of it - I know it is clean, but I think that baking soda is cheap enough that I will stick with that.

Guest's picture
Alyson

It's used in glory holes in glass blowing. That's the hottest thing next to the furnace that melts and stores the liquid glass. It's (the glory hole) used to reheat while shaping and gets to be about 2000 degrees F. If the stuff was going to burn, it would burn in there, and it doesn't. It's put on the bottom so if you lose a piece of glass (slippery stuff) you can just poke around and pick it up - covered in kitty litter - but it doesn't stick to the bottom and cause cracking when the glory hole cools down.

And, just to clarify, the kitty litter in your trunk, to be used for traction, needs to be taken out and spread around your tires. Most cars are front wheel drive, so the extra weight alone in the back ain't gonna do you much good.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Good point about the wheels.  We use the litter around our tires often, when we get stuck in the snow...

Guest's picture
Catherine

Montmorillinite clay chips were originally used for oil spil cleanups. cat litter was a secondary use. This stuff swells 300x (the official definition) it's original volume when saturated from water, not so much with oil. use it on grease fires, make clay masks out of it, use it at the bottom of a trench where you want to hold water (like a pond liner). use it to block leaks in your foundation wall (dig a trench and fill it up outside) If it gets sticky and slippery when wet that is the right stuff.

Now a good cat litter is alfala pellets, biodegradable, NO ODOR for a least a week with one cat, flushable in small amounts, and if you buy it as rabbit pellets you can get a 50 lbs bag for about 12$ in Anchorage. cat litter is $8 for 10 lbs and I find the smell of cat p on clay litter horrible.

Guest's picture
kman

there are a lot of things better and lighter to be an absorbant than kitty litter. kitty litter takes way to long to absorb oil spills and gas spills unless poured directly on it or its thrown on a puddle. buy some spill magic and you wonder why you ever used kitty litter. it absorbs right away and its hazardous materials safe. picks up oils, acids,gas, and many more items and is environmentally safe. as far as the tires i couldn't tell you i have never been or driven in snow but sounds like a great idea.

Guest's picture
Guest

If you have to use a bedside commode, a camping potty, or your water goes out for some reason and you still have to use your toilet, line the receptacle with a plastic bag, then put a couple inches of kitty litter in the bottom. Absorbs most of the liquid and keeps odor down. If you, er, deposit solids in the container, cover with another scoop of litter. It is much more aesthetically pleasing for the next person -- wish the Porta Potty people would include a scoop and a sack in those horrid blue outhouses. We have actually used this on several occasions, and it does work better -- and cheaper -- than the chemical stuff you can buy for the same purpose.

Guest's picture
Guest

It's also an excellent and cheap alternative to specialist soils! There's a great article discussing various international brands of cat litter here:
http://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basicscatlitter.htm

Guest's picture
Guest

On a hot day you can take about a half cup of cat litter, a sack of tea (anykind) and a couple of ice cubes and you have yourself a fine shake or meal, depending on how much water. Full of fiber.

Guest's picture
Guest

Tasty!

Guest's picture
russ vincent

The ripening of fruit occurs through the absorbtion of the gas ethylene. This gas is given off as fruit ripens, and its presence increases the ripening of nearby fruit that can absorb the gas. In a refrigerator vegetable drawer, ethylene given off by the fruit present, increases the ripening and subsequent going bad of the fruit in the drawer. Since kitty litter is an absorbent, it could reduce the level of ethylene gas in the drawer and thereby exdend the storage life of the fruit in the drawer and markedly reduce spoilage. The kitty litter only has to be placed in each drawer in small paper bags or cloth satchels made from clean rags tied to hold the litter with a string. It is easy for each person to experiment with how much to use depending on the size of the drawer, how much fruit is in it, and when to replace the litter for best results. Since kitty litter is so cheap, it would not be unreasonable to start with a small handfull of litter and change it every two weeks. -Russ vincent, Charleston SC

Guest's picture
Guest

i use it in my fish tanks its the same think as the gravel but cheaper

Guest's picture
Guest

cat litter works great to clean up vomit. It smells great, masking the vomit odor, absorbs all of it, and then you just sweep it into a dust pan. (maybe this reminds you of grade school, when the janitor used some stuff to soak up vomit?) I managed a bar/restaurant, and drunk people vomit occasionally. The litter even masks the alcohol smell, which is worse than regular vomit odor. Cat litter saved us from vomiting while cleaning vomit. Also good for other bodily fluid accidents. urine, diarhea, etc.

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Guest's picture
Guest

Truly a wonder dug.... except that it is addictive and countries with socialized medicine (uk, australia etc) refuse to prescribe it for more than two months due to the addiction problems. In america.... well, I've known addicts who were prescribed it for decades by the quacks we have here. Only you can prevent your own addiction.

Guest's picture
Michael

We all should know that the number one purpose for Kitty Litter can be for stopping an out of control formula one racecar. Does anyone remember; Michael Schumacher into the "Kitty Littea"??

Guest's picture
Guest

Encircle plants in the garden with a line of cat litter to deter slugs.

Guest's picture
TOMBUS 88

cat litter is also great for a makeshift ashtray--in the event you are hosting a party with smokers, or are a desperate undergraduate on finals week, bought a pack of stress-squares, and need a last minute fix. Take a 1/4-1/5 cup of (fresh) litter, dump it into a throw-away tupper wear type container (ideal for this are those that cheap sandwich meats are often packaged in. In now has a lid to contain the smoldering ashtray reek, and put your butts out immediate, as in sad-topped public ash facilities (R.I.P.)