Last Updated: 2 months ago

Are you wondering, “Does cat litter ruin vacuums?”

Keeping up the house and carpets litter-free can be a chore, so it’s natural to wonder if you can use your usual vacuum cleaners to make your job easier.

Fortunately, you’re at the right place to learn all vacuums and cat litter.

Just keep reading.

Does Cat Litter Ruin Vacuums?

Cats like to dig like crazy when using their cat litter box, so you often find litter particles in the least expected places.

Depending on the type of litter you’re using, your cute feline can leave tons of dusty paw prints all over the floors. It’s no wonder you’re considering grabbing your vacuum cleaner to deal with the mess.

But does cat litter ruin vacuums? The short answer is yes – litter can damage your regular vacuum cleaner. However, it depends a lot on the type of vacuum you’re using.

vacuuming cat litter residue

So, let’s talk in more detail about what cat litter does to vacuuming machines.

Can You Vacuum Cat Litter?

Many regular vacuum cleaners can handle a little bit of cat litter from time to time. But it’s not a good idea to use it regularly. Here are five reasons why.

lady scooping her cat's litter

#1 Blocked Hoses and Canister

Most cat owners use clay-based litter brands, which form solid clumps when they absorb liquids, such as urine.

As such, vacuuming soiled litter can clog your cleaner’s hoses and canister. It will be almost impossible to unblock them without inflicting further damage.

Moreover, think about how hard soiled litter is. Often you have to scrape the remaining cement-like residue from the litter box to clean it.

Now imagine it inside your vacuum cleaner, sticking to the canister walls and hoses! It will slowly destroy your machine in a couple of months. (1)

#2 Damaged Electrical Components

Fresh litter is no less dangerous than soiled one. That’s because it’s rocky sharp and can damage your cleaner’s suction and filtration system.

Moreover, the litter is small enough to reach the motor, where it will wreck the internal components.

Even if you don’t damage your machine’s motor and filtration system, think about the hoses! The hoses are one of the first parts to replace, even when you don’t deal with litter.

And most brands on the market aren’t the best for dealing with wet messes, so they’re useless for some types of litter, such as pellet litter.

#3 Clogged Filters

Clay dust is a big problem for regular cleaners because it can clog the filters and wreck the filtration system.

Moreover, vacuuming cat litter dust can spread fine particles into the air. If you have a heating or air conditioning system, the clay particles will be all over the house.

That’s a big problem for people and animals with allergies and asthma.

#4 Unpleasant Odors

As I already explained, it’s easy for litter to get trapped into hoses, canisters, and brushes. If you can’t get all the dust particles out, it’s going to get stinky in just a few weeks.

Worse, you can spread the unpleasant smell all over the house when you’re vacuuming the floorings, carpets, and furniture.

And since the particles are so small, you’ll have a hard time getting rid of the odor buildup.

#5 Litter Everywhere

Vacuuming near the litter box will send litter and dirt flying in every direction. Then you’ll have a much bigger mess to deal with.

READ MORE: How To Get Rid Of Cat Pee Smell On Tile?

What’s the Best Way to Pick Cat Litter?

Since a standard vacuum machine won’t do a good job at picking up litter, let’s talk about what other options you have at your disposal.


Sweeping with a broom or a sweeper is the easiest way to pick up cat litter and avoid damage to your machine. Just clean the majority of the mess and vacuum the surface afterward.

Use a Carpet Rake

All cat owners know the struggle of getting pet hair out of the carpet. Cleaning embedded litter from the carpeted floors is also not the easiest task.

vacuuming the carpet

Fortunately, you can use a carpet rake to get the majority of litter particles out of the carpet. Then you can vacuum the carpet surface to remove the rest of the dirt and debris.

Get a Vacuum Cleaner for Cat Litter

As I already said, standard machines won’t last long before they break. However, some types of vacuums with powerful suction and bypass flow motor are suitable for handling litter.

Unfortunately, these powerful shop vacuum machines have a high price tag. More about what features to consider when you’re shopping for the best vacuum for cat hair and litter in a bit.

Use a Handheld Vacuum

Handheld vacuuming machines are another suitable tool for picking up cat litter. They’re light, easy to use, and can reach into tight places.

portable handheld vacuum

Keep in mind that the litter can still damage them if you aren’t careful, and they don’t have the same capacity as big ones.

How to Pick the Best Vacuums for Cat Litter?

Since you don’t want litter to damage your vacuuming machine, you should look for products specific features to reduce the risk.

#1 Type of Motor

The motor is one of the most important components. It should be powerful enough to provide strong suction power and separate air and dust.

The best choice is a cleaner with a multi-cyclonic system to remove the embedded particles from the flooring and carpeting.

#2 Type of Bag

In general, bagless vacuums are better for picking up cat litter. That’s because all the dirt and dust goes to the container, which you have to empty after each cleaning.

#3 Types of Flooring

You can’t use the same tools to clean different surfaces. Nozzles work the best for picking up dirt from hardwood floors, while brushes are best for carpets.

As such, consider what floor types you’re going to clean before picking up a model.

#4 Type of Vacuum

An upright vacuum or a canister vacuum is the best for dealing with cat litter. Stick and robot vacuums are better suited for lighter cleaning tasks.

#5 Dust Capacity

Pick a vacuum with a large dust capacity, no matter if it’s bagged or bagless. Small capacity means you’ll have to clean the canister too often.

This video shows the types of vacuum cleaners.

3 Tips on How To Use a Vacuum for Cat Litter

While a powerful vacuum with strong suction and triple filtration system will pick up litter with no problems, you still have to be careful.

So, here are three smart tips on vacuuming cat litter.

#1 Move the Litter Box

Since you want to minimize litter spreading in every nook and corner of the house, move the cat litter boxes to another location when you’re vacuuming or sweeping.

#2 Remove Vacuum Filters

It’s easy for cat feces and urine to get caught in the filters and stink up the whole house. Remove the filters, or you’ll have to replace them after each vacuuming to deal with the smell.

#3 Use Nozzles and Crevice Tools

Remove the motorized brush and use the nozzle to pick the cat litter from smooth surfaces. In this way, the brush won’t send the litter particles all over the house.

However, a motorized brush can be handy for getting the litter particles and pet hair out of the carpet. To clean corners and hard-to-reach areas, use a crevice tool.

3 Alternatives To a Cat Litter Vacuum Cleaner

If you don’t want to use a vacuum to pick up cat litter, there are still a few litter box hacks that will reduce tracking and dust around the house.

Litter Mat

A litter trap mat traps litter particles from your cat’s paws so that your feline friend can’t track them all over the house. You just have to place it around the litter box and clean it on a regular basis.

It’s a very affordable tracking solution and will reduce the amount of litter you will have to vacuum.

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

A cat box that cleans itself runs on a battery or electricity. It uses a rake to clean the litter and deposit the wet and dry messes into a container.

Since the box has a cover, your cat can’t fling litter in every direction, which reduces the mess. However, not all cats like self-cleaning litter boxes because they’re noisy.

But as specialists from PetMD say, “it may take some time and patience for your cat to become used to the box.” So, don’t be quick to give up. (2)

High-Sided Litter Boxes

If a self-cleaning litter box is not up to your budget, you can always switch to a normal litter box with high sides. The high wall will prevent litter from flying everywhere when the cat digs.

Also Check: Can You Use Horse Pellets For Cat Litter?


Can You Vacuum Cat Poop?

Wondering if you can flush cat poop from your litter box? Read on to find out, plus learn the best way to dispose of your cat's waste.

No, you shouldn’t vacuum cat feces. Cats are hosts to a parasite called Toxoplasma Gondii, which spreads through the feces.
Vacuuming cat poop can spread the parasite around the house and contaminate your cleaner. 

Does a Roomba Pick up Cat Litter?

Yes, a Roomba can pick a small amount of cat litter. However, it won’t be useful for cleaning corners or getting the particles out of the carpet.


Yes, you can pick up cat litter with a Dyson. Most Dyson models are great at cleaning sand, dirt, and other fine particles and won’t get easily damaged by litter. 
Check this video for a demonstration.


Cat litter can damage a standard vacuum’s internal components and spread foul odors around the house. It can also fling particles of cat litter into the air and cause problems for people with allergies.  

As such, you should avoid vacuuming cat litter or pick it up with a special vacuum cleaner capable of dealing with wet and dry messes.

lady vacuuming litters

What do you think about this topic? Can cat litter ruin vacuums? Share your thoughts in the comment section. 


  • 1. Can You Vacuum Cat Litter? [Internet]. Clean That Floor. 2018 [cited 2022 Feb 11]. Available from:
  • 2. Huston L. How Do Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes Work? [Internet]. PetMD; 2012. Available from:
Olfa T
Olfa T

Olfa knows how to get things done and has a keen business sense that others admire. She’s always on the go, coming up with new ideas! Her ability to anticipate the needs of her readers and deliver information that they want is what makes CatVills such a success. She loves cuddling her cat Picaciu. He is her inspiration.