Cat litter is fascinating stuff. Traditionally made from clay (but other forms made from silica, pine, or other materials have become increasingly popular), its sole on-label purpose is to provide your feline friends a place to do their business. Americans spend billions of dollars on cat litter every year, and wind up throwing most of it away, by design.
But cat litter is something worth keeping on hand even if you don’t own a cat. You can buy pounds and pounds of it for less than $10 in most stores—and you should, because it’s surprisingly useful stuff and if kept dry, it will keep until you need it. And chances are you will need it at some point. Here are six ways cat litter can prove surprisingly useful that have nothing to do with cats.
Cat litter can provide traction
Whatever else you have in the trunk of your car, if you live in a climate that sees a lot of ice and snow, make sure a bag of cat litter is in there. That’s because cat litter can provide excellent traction on icy roads and give your car just a bit more grip to get out of a snowy rut.
Litter can also be used in a pinch to improve traction on icy sidewalks and steps. While it won’t do much to melt the ice, it at least reduces the slip factor and makes it a little easier to walk through the deadly winter wonderland that has descended on your home.
Cat litter is an effective deodorizer
Cat litter does two things pretty well: It absorbs moisture and it masks smells. These are key things when your primary use case is cats going to the bathroom in you. But the deodorizing capabilities of cat litter make it a great way to get the stink out of other things, like:
- Shoes. Cat litter can definitely remove the stink from your shoes. You can either line the bottom of your shoes with some litter and leave overnight, or fill a sock or other piece of fabric with litter and stuff it in there. Either way, after a day or so your shoes will smell a lot better.
- Trashcans. Similarly, putting some cat litter on the bottom of your trash can will not only absorb any gross liquids that escape your garbage, it will also reduce the noxious fumes that get released into your home every time you lift the lid.
- Closets and other small spaces. If you have a small space like a closet or pantry that consistently smells bad, leaving an open container of litter in a bucket or small container can absorb those smells and freshen the space considerably. You can also make DIY sachets with an old sock filled with litter to hang from the rod in a closet.
Cat litter can help you clean up (non-cat) messes
Litter is designed to be absorbent, so it’s a very useful tool for cleaning up challenging messes, like:
- Grease spots. If your car has left an oil puddle on your driveway, or you’ve spilled something greasy on the concrete floor of your basement or garage, dump some cat litter on it and let it absorb away. Come back a few hours later and sweep it up—you might need to repeat the process once or twice to get it all. Note that this works only on fresh stains—once a stain is set in, no amount of cat litter will help. You can also use a layer of cat litter on the bottom of a backyard grill to absorb grease as you grill, which can cut down on eyebrow-singing grease fires.
- Vomit. If you do own a cat, you are familiar with vomit and how not fun it is to clean up. Whether it’s your furry friend’s puke or your own, cat litter will make short work of it: Pour some litter on the grossness and let it clump up, then just sweep the mess away. In fact, this process works on any liquid mess that you’d rather not mop up with paper towels.
Use cat litter when throwing out old paint
Old paint can be a pain in the butt to dispose of. Most local governments require you to get rid of old paint properly, which might involve bringing it to a drop-off location—and almost certainly forbids you from just dumping it in the garbage, where latex paint can cause all manner of environmental harm. But if you harden the paint so it’s no longer liquid, you can usually throw it in the trash—and cat litter will do the job for you nicely. Just mix an equal amount of cat litter into your remaining paint, right there in the can.
Use cat litter to dehumidify a space
Cat litter’s moisture-absorbing properties also make it very useful as a small-space dehumidifier. While you won’t be drying out your whole house with buckets of litter, small, enclosed areas like closets, car interiors, and storage boxes can be effectively dehumidified simply by placing an open container of litter inside them. This can be as simple as opening a bag of litter and leaving it on the floor for a few days, or you can fill a sock with litter and tie off the end.
Use cat little to save a wet phone hone saver
Today’s phones are increasingly water-resistant, but it’s still pretty easy to ruin your expensive device by dropping it in a toilet or other container of water. The old saw about putting your phone in rice won’t work, but cat litter might. Put your soggy phone inside something like a sock or other thin fabric to keep any litter dust out of it, then leave that sock it sitting in a bag of litter for a day or two. The litter will draw out the moisture effectively, perhaps even saving your phone in the process.
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