How to Clean Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes in 8 Simple Steps

While Self-cleaning litter boxes are literally called “Self-cleaning”, this isn’t exactly the case here. Sure, it’ll do the nasty job of sifting out and removing the waste, but like any other machine, it does require thorough cleaning after some usage. 

In this article, we’ll explain how you can clean your self-cleaning litter box, and while it’s not a particularly fun job, it’s still much better than sifting through a normal one every single day!

Knowing What Your Litter Box Is Operating On

One of the very first things you need to do before starting the cleaning process is to figure out what your self-cleaning litter box is operating on. 

Remember, not all models use the same power source; some are battery-operated, and others actually need to be plugged in a power outlet. 

Knowing what type of power source your machine is operating on is the pre-cleaning step everyone should start with. If it’s battery-operated, it’s much more convenient when it comes to cleaning. There’ll be no worries if water gets certain areas wet. 

If however, it connects to a power outlet, you need to be very careful with water around it. 

Remember not to use more than necessary, and to take caution anyway because there’s plenty of dangers when you mix water and electricity.  

How to Clean Your Box in 8 Simple Steps

In this section, we’ll outline for you in order how you can give your self-cleaning litter box a good scrub with everything going on without a hitch! 

Step 1: Empty the Litter Box Completely 

The very first step is a given; to give your litter box a good wash, you need to make sure it’s litter-free. Use a trash bag to collect all those litter that was initially in the litter box, and if you don’t want it to go to waste, just collect it in a bag and leave it in a corner until you’re done. 

We recommend you throw out the old litter and use a fresh one, though. This way, your litter box will be sparkly clean with new litter in one go. 

Make sure all the litter is off the tray before proceeding with the next step. If you start cleaning with a wet cloth and there’s some unsuspecting litter in the way, things can and will get messy.

The Litter can clump easily because of the water and it might stick to your cat’s feet, who then will walk around the house spreading that wet litter all over the place. 

So just do yourself a favor, and make sure that the box is completely void of anything before proceeding. 

Step 2: Cut Off the Power Support

As we highlighted above, one of the most important things to do before attempting to clean the box is to find out what the power source is. 

Now that you’re well aware of its type, you can now go on and cut it off. You must ensure that absolutely no power is reaching the litter box. 

If you have a battery-powered litter box, take it out, and if you have a litter box that uses a power adapter, take it out of its socket and place it away from the cleaning space. 

You have to ensure that no water comes near the power supply, don’t risk it and place it near you, because accidents can happen, and the consequences of such accidents are nowhere near pretty.

Step 3: Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

Next, you need to gather your cleaning supplies. 

For this, you won’t need much. You’ll only be cleaning certain parts of the box anyway, and in almost all cases, the need to scrub is at a minimum. 

So, for this cleaning process, you’ll need:


Gloves are essential since you’re technically dealing with cat’s waste. Get a pair of rubber gloves and make sure to wash them thoroughly afterward with water, detergent, and a little bleach.

Remember that you’re dealing with feces here, and those nasty things can sometimes bring about infections or diseases if not properly handled.

A Small Shovel or Rake

A plastic shovel or rake would do, like the ones that normally come in kids’ sand-castle building sets. These are spot-on for this operation. It’s preferable that you use a rake to a shovel because it’s hard ends can help scrub off pesky old waste more than shovels. 

A Cloth and an Old Brush

You’ll be doing plenty of wiping and scrubbing here, so make sure you have a cloth and a brush you can use, preferably, old ones that you won’t be needing afterward. 

Try assigning a cloth and brush for your litter box. That way, you won’t keep on ruining ones each time you clean it.


Try to use running water since your water will become filthier and filthier every time you dip in the cloth after giving the litter box a good wiping. 


Use a detergent that doesn’t have a strong odor. Felines and animals, in general, tend to have higher sensitivity when it comes to smells. Their noses can get easily irritated from hard scents.

Step 4: Start with the Waste Compartment

After gathering all your supplies, it’s time to start with the cleaning.  

The waste compartment is where all clumps of cat’s waste are stored after being sifted and raked through. Most waste compartments are at the bottom of the litter box. It depends wholly on your brand though. 

Locate the waste compartment, take it out, and empty its contents directly in a disposable plastic bag. Now, I know the sight in front of you at that moment is far from pretty. Because sometimes, waste might stick to the compartment. 

That’s where the shovel or the rake comes in. Gently scrub the waste that’s sticking on the compartment. Try to do it directly underneath the bag of waste, and after you finish, squeeze some detergent on it along with some water. 

Using the brush, scrub very well until you’re sure there are no remains of the waste. After doing that, run it underneath the water and then wipe it with the cloth. 

You have to make sure that all the old waste was scrubbed off before using the cloth. You don’t want your cloth to be covered in old cat’s waste, especially when that can be easily avoided.

Step 5: Move on to the Rake

After cleaning the compartment, you’ll then move on to the rake. The rake is the main part of the self-cleaning litter box since it technically does all the work. The rake is used to sift, rake, and then push the waste into the compartment. 

After the compartment, the rake is probably the dirtiest part of the litter box.

Squeeze a bit of detergent on the rake, and then using the brush, gently scrub it. You need to take care while scrubbing the rake since it’s probably pretty sensitive and is prone to breaking. 

After scrubbing it completely, soak a corner of the cloth in water and start lightly drying the rake. You have to make sure that the rake is completely dry before you start using the litter box. 

Step 6: Replace the Carbon Filter if Needed

In most models, the self-cleaning litter box comes with a carbon filter. This carbon filter ensures that no nasty smells are emitted from the litter box. 

While they don’t require frequent changes, you should change them every now and then. This isn’t necessary every time you decide to clean the litter box.

However, if you find the area surrounding the litter box beginning to smell a little off, consider changing the carbon filter the next time you clean it. 

Step 7: Make Sure to Dry Everything you washed with water

While it’s highlighted in every step, it’s important enough to warrant a point of its own.

The reason why this point is pretty essential is that cat litter can be affected negatively by water. It can clump, become moist, and make your cat dirty, who’ll then make a mess of your house. 

This can all be avoided if you make sure that the litter box is completely dry before using it.

Step 8: Put Everything Back Together

After washing, polishing, and drying everything up, it’s time to put it all back together. 

After unloading, cleaning and drying the compartment, make sure it’s back and secure in its place. This is the most important part of the litter box; you can’t have this part falling out!

Also, make sure that the rake is correctly positioned and dry. Afterward, you can start piling fresh litter back into the box, and following that, connect it back to its power supply. 

Don’t forget to include the carbon filter if you decided to change it while cleaning! The carbon filter is what prevents the smell from leaking outside, so you must remember to replace it if you happened to take it off originally. 


While the process can be quite tedious, it’s essential to routinely clean your litter box, self-cleaning or no. Self-cleaning can only do so much, and the rest lies in your hands.

So, make sure you regularly check your cats’ litter boxes. It’s extremely important to make sure they’re quite ready for our beloved pets to use.