13 Secret Uses for Cat Litter: Thinking Outside the Box

Cat litter is a necessity for those who live with feline companions. However, the litter box is not the only thing that kitty litter is good for. There happen to be several different ways that it can be used around the house (and outdoors) to enhance your own quality of life in one way or another. Here are interesting cat litter hacks that you should know.


The 13 Secret Uses for Cat Litter

1. Freshen Your Shoes

Just like kitty litter helps keep the litter box fresh, it can freshen up your shoes. The litter absorbs moisture and helps remove odors that are less than pleasant to the nose.

To freshen your shoes, grab a knee-high nylon, or cut a foot off an old pair of pantyhose. Then, fill the nylon with about 1 cup of cat litter, and tie the end to keep the litter from falling out. Once you have created two “shoe inserts,” place one in each shoe that you want to freshen up. Leave the litter in the shoes overnight, and you should be left with dry shoes that don’t offend the nose when they’re being put on or taken off.

Cat peed in shoes
Image Credit: AJSTUDIO PHOTOGRAPHY, Shutterstock

2. Keep Pests Away

While the smell of kitty litter does not generally offend people or household pets, it does deter pests like mice and moles. They hate both the texture and smell of kitty litter, so it can be used to keep them out of your home. Just pour litter into the tunnels and holes that mice and moles use. Lay down a large amount of litter along the walls in the basement too. This should help ensure that these pests do not take up permanent residence indoors.

3. Save Your Smartphone

You have probably heard that submerging a smartphone in rice after it’s been dropped in water can help dry out the insides so it will work again. The process seems to work well for many people!

It turns out that cat litter can be even more effective at soaking up moisture that has infiltrated a smartphone. To save your mobile after it’s been submerged in water, protect it with an old sock (so litter won’t get inside of it), and then place the sock in a bag of kitty litter. Leave the phone in there for at least 2 days. Once it seems that all the moisture has been absorbed, turn it on and test it.

Smartphone placed in a litterbox
Image Credit: Nitiphonphat, Shutterstock

4. Give New Life to Used Items

Old clothes, books, stuffed animals, and other items can get musty after being stored in the garage or a self-storage unit. It can be tough to sell these things at a garage sale or resale store. Luckily, you can freshen up those old things and prepare them for sale with the help of kitty litter.

To do so, fill the bottom of a large plastic storage bin with kitty litter (at least 2 inches worth), and place the items that you want to freshen up in a single layer on top of the litter. Put the lid on the storage bin, and leave everything inside for at least 24 hours. Everything should smell fresh and new when you take it out of the bin afterward.

5. Maintain Seasonal Items

You can use kitty litter to keep your seasonal clothes and accessories fresh throughout the year so you don’t have to wash or replace them when you’re ready to use them again. This is made possible by creating “kitty litter sachets.” Just put about 1 cup of cat litter in an old sock, then tie the end, and you’ve got yourself a sachet. Place one or two sachets in with the tents, the packed winter sweaters, the coolers, and the suitcases full of bathing suits.

Woman tying a sock filled with litter
Image Credit: Larysa Dubinska, Shutterstock

6. Safely Dispose of Unused Paint

It’s not safe—and often, not legal—to pour unused paint onto the ground or down the drain. You cannot throw unused paint away as-is because it can leak and become a hazard. Fortunately, you can turn your unused paint into solid waste by mixing it with cat litter. Stir a handful or two of litter into the paint, and let it sit uncovered overnight until all the liquid is absorbed, adding more litter as necessary throughout the day. At this point, you can either throw it away or recycle it, depending on your county guidelines.

7. Keep Your Trash Cans Fresh

Easily keep your home’s trash cans smelling fresh by sprinkling a small amount of cat litter (a couple of tablespoons should do the trick) onto the bottom of each can. You can put a garbage bag right over it and leave the litter in the bottom for several changes before it should be replaced.

Cat between cat litter box and trash can
Image Credit: Ysbrand Cosijn_Shutterstock

8. Soak Up Nasty Spills

Kitty litter is good for getting rid of nasty spills that are almost impossible to clean up with soap and water, like oil and grease spills. About 10 pounds of cat litter can sop up 1 gallon of spilled liquid! The fresher the spill, the better the kitty litter will work. Just sprinkle a generous amount of your preferred litter on the spill, and let it soak up everything for a few hours. Then, just clean up the litter.

9. Get Your Vehicle Unstuck

If you’re extremely lucky, you’ve never been stuck in mud, ice, or snow while trying to travel in your vehicle. Unfortunately, many people have, and if they didn’t know about this cat litter trick, the experience would be awful. Cat litter is an awesome way to create traction for tires so they can get out of “sticky” situations.

So, if you know that you’ll be driving in the snow after everything has iced over or in muddy conditions, it’s a good idea to keep a bag of kitty litter in the trunk of your vehicle. If you get stuck, just put a handful or two of litter under the stuck tire(s), and you should be able to work your way out and get back on the road in no time.

Bag of cat litter inside a car trunk
Image Credit: fotolyubitel, Shutterstock

10. Keep Gardening Soil Moist

When the soil in your garden stays moist, you don’t have to water it as often. The drier the soil, the more often the garden must be watered. Whether you maintain an in-ground or potted garden and whether you manage flower or food plants, you can utilize cat litter to help keep the soil moist between waterings.

For this to work, the litter must be clump-free. Otherwise, it will inhibit the ability of water to permeate the soil. Just toss equal parts clay cat litter and gardening soil together to create your base. You can fill new pots and gardens with the mixture, or start incorporating it into an already established garden before each planting cycle until you achieve an approximate 50/50 soil mixture.

11. Use It for Crafts

Cat litter is the perfect filler for craft projects because it’s cost-effective and holds up well. You can use clay kitty litter to fill the bottoms of vases before putting flowers in them to reduce the chance of the vase falling over. You can refill a stuffed toy or fill up a child’s bean bag with natural litter. You can even use litter as a sand alternative for projects like a boat in a bottle or a Zen garden. The options are only limited to your imagination!

Two-color cat litter used for mosaic art
Image Credit: Op pakpian, Shutterstock

12. Reduce Ashtray Odor

If you have ashtrays around the house, you know just how stinky they can be. They can also be offensive to visitors who don’t use ashtrays themselves. You can cut down on odors by simply placing a thin layer of cat litter on the base of the ashtray. The litter will absorb odors as the ashtrays are being used and long afterward to help keep your house smelling fresher overall.

13. Fill In Small Holes

Whether your gravel driveway is developing small holes or you notice divots in your beautifully manicured backyard, you can economically fix the problems by filling them in natural clay cat litter. If you are filling in holes and divots in a part of the yard that is not frequented by people often, you can even unload used kitty litter to fill in said inconsistencies. Cat litter is a great filler for areas that are uneven before they are seeded with new grass.

Placing cat litter under car to cover potholes
Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock



There are so many great uses for kitty litter other than being a filler for cat restrooms. It’s a good idea to stock up on kitty litter, whether you own a cat or not, when you see it on sale. You never know when you are going to need it!

Featured Image Credit: Seika Chujo, Shutterstock

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