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Home » Getting Rid Of Cat Litter Smells in Small Apartments

Getting Rid Of Cat Litter Smells in Small Apartments

February 9, 2023

In our last post we talked about finding the best place for a litter box to live in a small apartment, and today we will discuss the next part of this marvelous equation, smell. 

Yes, cat litter can start to smell. And it can go from a foul smell to something quite awful rather quickly if you’re not acting or reacting to it. Depending on where your litter box lives will determine how important following all these steps are. 

For us, our litter box is front and center (though hidden) of our living room,so we really live by these rules. 

Effective Litter Box Smell Hacks

Let’s discuss some of the best ways to alleviate the awful smell of dirty cat litter. And no, we’re not going to tell you to clean it every day, we’ve done that enough already. I’m assuming that you clean up every day already. 

Change Food

Let’s start with what makes cat litter smell bad. It’s poop. If the litter smells really bad, your cats poop smells really bad. Which means it’s time to review their diet. 

Yes, the easiest solution to bad smells is actually your cats diet. And we’ve really battle tested this one. If you are giving your cat dry food all day, your apartment probably smells awful. They are probably pooping 2x more than they should be and are probably constantly dehydrated. 

Try switching to one meal of wet food and one meal of dry food. Do it for a week and see if you’re scooping less poop and their poop doesn’t smell as bad. Leave a comment below if it works! 

Change Litter

Yeah, the easy one is ditching clay litter. These standard clumping litters are not the best for smell, especially if you wait a bit before cleaning them up. The general consensus is that crystal litter does a much better job at keeping your apartment clean (cats are less likely to drag pieces of crystal than clay litter) and keeping the smell in line. 

We’ve heard amazing things about these, and while it’s a bit more expensive than standard litter, it’s probably worth the investment if you have smell issues. We recommend PetSafe litter, as it has a great reputation amongst cat owners. 

Baking Soda

Maybe you can’t afford to level up to crystal litter. Maybe your cats don’t respond to it well, or maybe there’s some other reason holding you back. Don’t worry, there’s more solutions. One of the most common is baking soda. Mix a bit in with the standard litter and watch as it helps absorb some of those more rotten smells. 


As we’ve discussed, the location of a litter box is pretty important. If you can get it near a window, that is perfect. That is, as long as you open that window to let some fresh air in. If your litter box is trapped in a closet, it’s going to take a lot more effort to keep the smell away, but if it’s in an open area it’s much easier.

If your litter box is open, it's going to smell way worse than a closed one. Cats hate the little flaps they have to walk through, but we love them because they help trap the smell. But your cat can get stuck in the litter box if the flap malfunctions, we've had to rescue a few of our cats from this before so be sure to buy a high quality litter box to avoid this.

Another pro tip - if you enclose your litter box with something, like we did with our giant box, it will significantly help the litter smell. Consider litter box furniture for a more long term solution without so much work. 


Yes, this one has to be slipped in because routines and cleanliness are your responsibility. Don’t expect baking soda to do all the hard work for you. One of the biggest reasons you’re smelling cat litter in your apartment is because it’s everywhere. Your cats are tracking litter wherever they go. 

Every few days when you clean the litter you should run through it with a vacuum to grab all those little pieces that made their way out of the litter box. They slowly build up, which is why we don’t find it necessary to worry about every day. But maybe every two or three days they should be dealt with. The quicker you are, the less distance they have to spread to. 

Clean The Box Monthly

The smells build up over time. And as long as your emptying the dirty litter daily, it hopefully won’t get so bad for you. But imagine your cat, sitting in there smelling all of that nastiness all day. And they have way better smell senses than we do. It’s disgusting. 

Cleaning the actual box every month is a great habit to get into. Dump all the litter out, soak it in hot water and baking soda and maybe vinegar and give it a good scrubbing. We’ve found cats claws generally cut the plastic and create weird indents that are really hard to clean, so for that we recommend completely changing the bottom half of the boxes on a yearly basis. In the meantime you can also trim your cat's nails to prevent those deep scratches from happening. 

Air Purifier

This is your final solution for extreme needs. An air purifier is far superior to toxic air fresheners as it’s actually designed to remove elements from the air. And it’s way safer for your cat. You can even purchase an air purifier that’s designed for pets, like this one, to ensure you’re getting the right one because they are kind of expensive. 

The real benefit here is that it’s cleaning everything out of the air, so the litter smell gets better, but also lingering cat hairs get trapped in there as well. It even helps people with cat allergies. If you're worried you may be allergic to cats, take our quiz.


There’s lots of solutions for improving the overall smell quality of your apartment when it comes to cat litter. The easiest solution is to change a cat's diet so their poop doesn’t smell so bad. After that, it’s mostly cleaning tricks. We would strongly encourage anyone in a small apartment to consider litter box furniture because it’s fun and practical and provides a world of benefits for your day to day living. Drop a comment and let us know which tip helped you alleviate the smell of cat litter in your apartment!


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