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25 Useful Alternatives for Cat Litter

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on January 4, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

ginger cat litter close-up

25 Useful Alternatives for Cat Litter

It may never have occurred to you to use cat litter for anything other than its intended purpose. As it turns out, however, you can use kitty litter for quite a few other tasks. Our list below will reveal our outside-the-litterbox ideas for using cat litter, and you may be surprised by what we’ve found.

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The 25 Unusual Things Cat Litter Can Do for You

1. Get Your Car Unstuck

car in snow
Image Credit: al-grishin, Pixabay

It’s a good idea to keep a box of cat litter in your trunk, and it’s not in case you meet a desperate-looking kitty at a rest stop. If you’ve driven into sand or snow and can’t get out, sprinkling litter underneath your tires may be all they need to get traction and allow you to drive out.

2. Put Out Grease Fires

It can happen to even the most experienced chefs; the grease you were cooking with got a little overheated, and now flames are threatening to devour your kitchen. Never throw water on a grease fire since it will cause it to spatter and spread.

Instead, prevent the fire from starting in the first place by placing a bit of kitty litter (unused) on the bottom of the grill, which won’t affect the flavor.

3. Soak Up Oil Spills

a broom and water cleans up an oil spill
Image Credit: Karen Hermann, Shutterstock

Any mechanic knows that it only takes a single clumsy movement to mar your garage floor permanently. However, it doesn’t have to be that way; if you sprinkle litter on the spill quickly enough, it can soak everything up, preventing stains. However, if the oil has set, you’ll need to use the litter to scrub it clean.

4. Keep Your Fridge Smelling Fresh

Everyone has a few things in their fridge that they forget about until it is too late. Once the food starts to go bad, it can stink up your kitchen. Keeping an open box of kitty litter in your fridge can absorb the odors and keep them under control. Just don’t spill it into your leftovers.

5. Keep Your Closets Fresh, Too

Image Credit: teenacobb, Pixabay

If your kids have seemingly let something die in their closets, keeping an open box of litter inside can absorb the odors, much like it does in your fridge.

6. De-Ice Your Sidewalk

There’s nothing worse than slipping on a patch of ice on your sidewalk. Cat litter can soak up the moisture and melt the ice, leaving the area safe to walk on again. Better still, most litters are all-natural, so you don’t have to worry about using chemicals that will harm the environment.

7. Eliminate Algae in Your Pond

Image Credit: makamuki0, Pixabay

Keeping algae under control is difficult for even the most experienced pond owner. However, kitty litter can keep the green cloud from choking out life in the water. All it takes is a pound of litter per 2,000 gallons of water; the water will be murky for a few days, but it should soon be crystal clear again.

8. Save a Phone Dropped in Water

Everyone knows about dropping a wet phone in uncooked rice to soak up the moisture, but kitty litter may be an even better choice. After all, it’s designed to soak up spills. However, put the phone in a sock first unless you want to inhale cat dust every time you answer calls for the next few months.

9. Dispose of Paint Safely

old paint cans in shelves
Image Credit: stux, Pixabay

Getting rid of old paint is difficult; you can’t pour it down the drain, nor can you just throw it away. That’s why most people leave half-empty paint cans in their garage until they move. Instead of that, you can pour litter into the cans; it will turn everything into solid clumps of waste that are easy to dispose of.

10. Moisten Your Soil

If you sprinkle a layer of the litter over wet soil, it will trap the existing moisture in the soil below. Of course, it will also make your garden seem like a public restroom to the cats in the neighborhood, so ensure the area is secure before attempting this.

11. Use in Ashtrays

cigarette butts
Image Credit: P. Schreiner, Pixabay

Cat litter does a great job of snuffing out cigarettes. Just as importantly, it soaks up the smoke odor, leaving your house smelling fresh instead of like week-old cigarettes.

12. Remove Spray Paint

To remove spray paint, you can make a paste by mixing litter with water in a one-to-one ratio, then apply it to the surface. Rub it with a scrub brush, then leave it for 6 to 8 hours. Rinse it off, and repeat as needed until the paint is gone.

13. Clean Up Vomit

hand cleaning red wine
Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock

To remove vomit from a vinyl or tile floor, sprinkle litter on the mess, let it soak up the liquid, and sweep it up. It also works on carpets and harder surfaces (just vacuum instead of sweep).

14. Use It as a Toilet — for You

Sometimes you have to go, and there aren’t any suitable facilities around. If you’re camping, you can use a bucket or another container with kitty litter to contain your mess. Not only will it be easier to clean, but it will also keep odors under control.

15. Absorb Water from a Leaky Pipe

Close-up water burst leaking from broken pipeline
Image Credit: Siyanight, Shutterstock

The best thing to do with a leaking pipe is to fix it immediately. However, that’s not always the case, so if a pipe is dripping and you can’t fix it, slide a tray of cat litter under it. It will contain the mess and prevent water damage to the area beneath the pipe.

16. Purify Water

You’ll have to trust us on this one. Cat litter can be used to purify water in extreme cases, such as after a disaster that’s affected your water supply. If you have a litter with bentonite clay, the clay will bind to impurities in the water. You can line a container with the litter and then fill it with water (use 1/8 cup of clay per gallon of water).

Mix everything up, then wait for the clay to settle on the bottom. Pour the water through a sieve to remove all the remaining clay, and drink up.

17. Eliminate Trash Can Odors

household trash
Image Credit: Travis Wolfe, Shutterstock

This idea works much the same as deodorizing your closet or fridge does. You can leave a layer of litter at the bottom of the can; it will soak up nasty garbage water while keeping the can smelling fresh.

18. Keep Seasonal Gear from Getting Musty

The last thing you want is to pull your ski gear out of storage only to remember you sweat a lot while skiing. If you fill a couple of old socks with litter and pack them away with your gear, they’ll soak up the odors so that everything will smell fresh the next time you pull it out.

19. Use It as a Weight

woman lifting a heavy sandbag
Image Credit: BAZA Production. Shutterstock

Cat litter can be added to bags or containers to increase their weight, and you can get a great workout with litter-filled containers. It’s a cheap but effective substitute for weights, and if you’ve ever carried an entire box of litter through a store, you know how taxing it can be on your muscles.

20. Clean Minor Cuts

Sticking an open wound into a bag of kitty litter may seem like the last thing you want to do, but it can help treat cuts. This trick only works with bentonite clay, so don’t try it with any litter. The clay has antimicrobial properties and will help clean and treat the wound, preventing infection.

21. Treat Acne

young woman with facial mask
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

We promise we’re not trying to trick you into doing weird things with kitty litter with this list. A litter that uses bentonite clay can also double as an inexpensive beauty mask. The clay has antimicrobial properties, and it will cleanse your pores.

It will also soak up oils and remove dead skin cells. However, be aware that it will be tough to explain why you have cat litter all over your face.

22. Deter Rodents

There are few predators in this world as efficient as cats. By now, word of their hunting prowess has spread throughout the animal kingdom, and many of their prey have learned to avoid anything that remotely smells of them.

Cat litter certainly qualifies, so sprinkling it around areas where you’ve seen rodents and other vermin may be enough to keep them at bay.

23. Preserve Flowers

preserving flowers
Image Credit: Chamille White, Shutterstock

If you have a particularly beautiful bouquet you want to preserve for prosperity, cat litter can help you do it. Lock the flowers in an airtight container with a little bit of litter and leave them for 7 to 10 days. Once the time is up, you’ll have dry, perfectly preserved flowers on your hands.

24. Soothe Itchy Skin

This is yet another use for bentonite clay. In addition to being antimicrobial, it can also act as a topical antihistamine, so if you wander into poison ivy, mix pure bentonite clay with water in a one-to-one ratio and spread it over your skin. It also works on bug bites.

25. Patch Up Holes in Your Lawn

shovel and wheelbarrow
Image Credit: Dmitry Trubitsyn, Shutterstock

If you have holes in your yard but no dirt to fill them, cat litter can work in a pinch. It is a cheap and effective solution, but it’s unlikely that anything will grow in the hole after the litter has been used.

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How Will You Use Your Litter?

Although most cat owners aren’t fond of cleaning up the litter outside of the litter box, some will be pleased by its versatility. While we hope this list has provided you with new ideas, it’s far from comprehensive. There are many ways to use cat litter around the house, and the only limitation is your imagination. Just be sure to leave some for your cat. After all, the original use of kitty litter is still the best.

Featured Image Credit: Yuliya Alekseeva, Shutterstock

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