Best Vacuums for Cat Litter

The right vacuum cleaner takes the struggle out of keeping your cat’s litter box area clean. Here’s how to choose a great vacuum for cleaning up cat litter.

Provided that you only clean small amounts at once, there’s no need to worry about cat litter destroying your vacuum.

Most vacuum experts agree that vacuuming cat litter is safe. If your cat leaves mountains of litter around the box every time they use it, it’s a good idea to sweep first, then vacuum any residue lingering in the area. Most vacuums can’t handle large amounts of litter at once.

If you vacuum large amounts of litter, the hard clay granules could damage the mechanical components, while the fine dust may clog the filters.

Odor is a secondary concern. Large amounts of scented litter will make your vacuum reek of perfume, and if it’s soiled, you’ll have a worse smell to contend with. The odor of dirty cat litter doesn’t disappear quickly. Once in your vacuum, it will permeate hard-to-access internal components, potentially leaving you with an appliance that reeks forever.

Avoid vacuuming damp litter – most vacuums can’t handle wet messes.

What is the best type of vacuum for cat litter?

Canister Vacuums

This type of vacuum makes it easy to clean stairs, shelves, and other hard-to-reach areas. It has a motor and dirt containment canister and separate power head, which makes the vacuum feel lightweight. At the same time, this type of vacuum cleaner can be cumbersome. You’ll need to drag the canister behind you while cleaning the house.

Upright Vacuums

Upright vacuums streamline the dirt canister or bag, cleaning head, and all other features into a single unit. The streamlined design makes upright vacuums easier to store and can simplify cleaning, but they are often heavy and may weigh more than 20 lbs.

Handheld Vacuums

When you want a small vacuum that you can store next to the litter box, always at the ready for light litter pick-up, a handheld vacuum does the trick. These vacuums are perfect for smaller areas and aren’t made to clean large spaces.

Stick Vacuums

These lightweight vacuums are slim and portable. If you’d prefer to keep a cheaper, smaller vacuum in the litter box area rather than investing in a powerful full-feature vacuum, this type is a great choice.

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Robotic Vacuums

Some people recommend programming a robotic vacuum to clean the litter box area once a day. Concerningly, a robotic vacuum can’t avoid wet cat litter or soiled litter. Because of the sensitivity of the situation, you’ll likely prefer a vacuum that you can directly control.

Wet/Dry Vacuums

Also referred to as shop vacs, these machines can clean up both wet and dry messes and are strong enough to handle broken glass, nails, and fine dust that the typical household vacuum can’t. Because the material doesn’t pass through any electrical or mechanical components, wet messes won’t damage this type of vacuum.

They’re styled much like canister vacuums with a collection bucket and hose. They’re too cumbersome and unwieldy to clean the entire house, but are a good choice for cleaning up localized messes indoors, in the car, or in the yard.

How to Choose a Cat Litter Vacuum

Choose a vacuum that separates dirt and air.

A bypass flow motor keeps dirt and air separate, discouraging the dust from lodging in the filter. Cyclonic cleaning systems use a bypass motor, ensuring that the vacuum will have strong suction for years. Powerful suction is essential when tackling heavy jobs like cleaning cat litter.

Ensure that the vacuum is compatible with your flooring.

When you’re worried about cat litter trapped deep within carpets and rugs, a roller brush is essential. If your litter box is on a smooth surface, choose a vacuum that is effective on hard floors. Most vacuums have multiple height settings to make them compatible with any type of flooring. Some vacuums also come with a hard floor attachment.

Should it be bagged or bagless?

You’ll need to empty the dirt canister of a bagless vacuum on a regular basis, preventing odor buildup. If you vacuum litter often and are concerned about smells, a bagless vacuum may be the superior choice.

Top 5 Recommended Vacuums for Cat Litter

Vacuum Price Rating
Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional NV356EShark Navigator Lift-Away Professional NV356E
Read Reviews Next ArticleWhere To Buy Next Article
$$$$ A+
Hoover Vacuum Cleaner T-Series WindTunnel Pet Rewind Bagless Corded Upright Vacuum UH70210Hoover Vacuum Cleaner T-Series WindTunnel Pet Rewind Bagless Corded Upright Vacuum UH70210
Read Reviews Next ArticleWhere To Buy Next Article
$$$ A+
Bissell BOLT Lithium Pet Lightweight 2 in 1 Cordless VacuumBissell BOLT Lithium Pet Lightweight 2 in 1 Cordless Vacuum
Read Reviews Next ArticleWhere To Buy Next Article
$$$ A
Armor All 2.5 Gallon, 2 Peak HP, Utility Wet/Dry VacuumArmor All 2.5 Gallon, 2 Peak HP, Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum
Read Reviews Next ArticleWhere To Buy Next Article
$ A-
Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Corded Handheld VacuumBissell Pet Hair Eraser Corded Handheld Vacuum
Read Reviews Next ArticleWhere To Buy Next Article
$ A-

Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional NV356E Review

A bagless vacuum that converts from upright to canister style

Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional NV356EIf you’re looking for a versatile vacuum that can clean around the litter box and in every room of the house, this flexible upright/canister hybrid is a powerful choice. It works well on both hard floors and carpet.

The machine is lightweight and easy to transport at 13.7 lbs in the upright mode and 8 lbs in Lift-Away® mode.

People with allergies will appreciate the vacuum’s Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology and HEPA filter. It uses Cyclonic Technology, which separates dirt and air, protecting the filter and ensuring years of strong suction.

The Shark Navigator comes with a crevice tool, which helps to extract litter and other debris from corners and other tight spaces, the Hard Floor Hero, which is designed for bare floor cleaning, a dusting brush, and a pet power brush made for cleaning up pet hair. – Buy It


  • Doesn’t make a lot of noise, which can help keep your cats comfortable
  • Three-level filtration system captures allergenic particles
  • Provides excellent suction that effectively captures litter
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  • Because the vacuum is top-heavy, it tends to tip over while the wand is in use
  • The dirt canister can be messy during disposal

Hoover Vacuum Cleaner T-Series WindTunnel Pet Rewind Bagless Corded Upright Vacuum UH70210 Review

Hoover Vacuum Cleaner T-Series WindTunnel Pet Rewind Bagless Corded Upright Vacuum UH70210A bagless upright vacuum ideal for carpeted areas

This bagless vacuum was built with pets in mind. It’s a robust suction tool with a cyclonic cleaning system that gives it long-lasting power.

This vacuum has five position carpet height adjustment so that you can clean multiple flooring types. According to customer reviews, while the vacuum doesn’t scratch hard floors, it’s most effective on carpet. You may prefer to use the hose and crevice tool to clean cat litter on smooth surfaces.

The folding handle makes the vacuum more compact and easier to store.

It comes with multiple pet-specific attachments, including an air powered pet hand tool, a pet upholstery tool, a 12 inch extension wand, and a crevice tool for accessing corners and other tight areas.

The 25-foot cord rewinds at the tap of a pedal. – Buy It


  • Features multiple pet-specific attachments
  • Offers strong suction that can handle cat litter
  • Automatic cord retraction makes rewinding effortless
  • An affordable all-purpose vacuum
  • The HEPA filter captures allergens


  • Most effective on carpet; this isn’t the best vacuum for hard floors

Bissell BOLT Lithium Pet Lightweight 2 in 1 Cordless Vacuum Review

Bissell BOLT Lithium Pet Lightweight 2 in 1 Cordless Vacuum

A 2-in-1 handheld and stick vacuum design

This slim, agile model from Bissell is ideal for those who don’t want to be weighed down by the bulk of traditional canister and upright vacuums. It’s powered by a 14.4V lithium Ion battery that generates powerful suction for 25 minutes. An LED display indicates battery power and lets you know when it’s time to return the vacuum to the charging base.

The charging base is a storage area for the included tools – a pet brush roll, a sweep and scoop tool, a rubberized pet and debris nozzle tool, and a crevice tool with a dusting brush.

Because this is a bagless vacuum, it’s easy to dump out any litter. The dirt cup has a .6 liter capacity. The two-way folding handle compacts the vacuum for easy storage and helps you to clean underneath low areas. The handheld vacuum pops off at the touch of a button, allowing you to clean hard-to-reach areas with ease.

Because this is essentially a handheld vacuum on a stick and it’s not as powerful as heftier canister and upright vacuums, it’s ideal for smooth floors. This vacuum will struggle to access litter embedded deep within carpet. – Buy It


  • Exceptionally lightweight at only 5.6 pounds
  • Comes with multiple pet-specific attachments for cleaning hair and other debris
  • The detachable hand vacuum makes it easy to clean difficult areas


  • The 25 minute battery life may be inadequate for larger homes
  • On the weak end of the spectrum; not ideal for large carpeted areas

Armor All 2.5 Gallon, 2 Peak HP, Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum, AA255 Review

Armor All 2.5 Gallon, 2 Peak HP, Utility Wet/Dry VacuumA small wet/dry vacuum

If you’re worried about damaging your standard vacuum with harsh clay particles, this utility vacuum is a sturdy alternative to traditional household vacuums.

It has a 2 horsepower motor that’s strong enough to handle major litter messes. Because debris doesn’t pass through any mechanical or electrical components, it’s safe to vacuum wet messes as well as dry ones.

This is by no means your everyday household cleaning vacuum. It’s best suited for smooth surfaces and doesn’t perform as well on carpet. Its short power cord measures just 10 feet long and because it doesn’t have wheels, you can’t pull it around the house.

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It was made with cars, garages, and shops in mind, but the small, lightweight vacuum is perfect for storing in the litter box area. It weighs 7 pounds and measures 10.6 x 14.2 x 14.4 inches. The 2.5 gallon capacity will contain plenty of litter before you need to change it out. Because the litter isn’t contained in a bag, it’s easy to empty the receptacle before any odors start to build up.

The vacuum comes with a crevice tool, deluxe car nozzle, 2-in-1 utility nozzle, blower nozzle, and detail brush. Convenient on-board organization keeps the tools in place and easy to access. – Buy It


  • An affordable alternative to larger household vacuums
  • Strong enough to handle clay cat litter particles
  • Can vacuum both wet and dry messes
  • Comes with a variety of useful attachments
  • Small and lightweight


  • 10-foot cord doesn’t give you much mobility
  • This vacuum is anything but quiet – not recommended for use with your cat in the room

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Corded Handheld Vacuum Review

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Corded Handheld Vacuum

Handheld vacuum designed for homes with pets

Handheld vacuums are a popular choice for litter cleanup.

This model from Bissell was designed specifically for pet-inclusive homes. The vacuum comes with two nozzles; one is made from hard plastic and designed for picking up litter and other messes. The second nozzle is made for another major cleaning concern in cat-inclusive homes: pet hair. It’s made with rubber comb-like bristles that effectively gather up hair without tangling or twisting.

The vacuum has a cyclonic cleaning system, so you don’t have to worry about it losing suction over time. It features a HEPA filter to trap the tiny particles that could irritate allergies.

The vacuum measures 10x5x8 inches and weighs five pounds. It’s a small machine that you can easily store near the litter box, always ready to clean up any litter messes as they happen. You can’t clean your entire house with it, but it’s a great solution for litter scatter on floors, upholstery, and cat furniture. – Buy It


  • A lightweight handheld vacuum perfect for quick clean-ups
  • Provides excellent suction
  • Comes with two pet-specific nozzles


  • A relatively loud vacuum

Four Ways to Prevent Litter Tracking and Scattering

1. Use a litter mat.

What’s better than a powerful vacuum that sucks away every granule scattered outside of the litter box?

A litter mat is the simple solution to litter tracking that works all day, all night, and when you’re not at home. A good litter mat works like a doormat, capturing any litter from your cat’s paws as they step on it. It also catches litter as it flies out of the litter box.

It’s easy to shake litter out of the mat and into the trash. No need to sweep or vacuum.

2. Look for low-tracking litter.

Changing to a new litter can make a big difference. Pellet litter and litter with heavy granules track less than do lightweight, fine-grained products.

3. Position the litter box strategically.

If possible, place the litter box against a wall or in a corner. By doing this, you’re essentially blocking off the litter escape routes and minimizing its opportunities to reach the floor.

4. Choose a larger litter box.

Large litter boxes retain more litter. While it can’t stop tracking, choosing a large or hooded litter box can help prevent litter scatter.

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