Dealing with Scattered Cat Litter 3 Times a Day? Here are Some of the Best Vacuums for Cat Litter

TL;DR: Competition is tough but the Black+Decker 20V MAX Handheld Vacuum comes out as one of the best vacuums for cat litter.

Here are some of the best vacuums for cat litter we’ll be reviewing:

Best vacuum for cat owners

Vacuum cleaners are a must if you have pets. They’re way more important than any cleaning tools or supplies. This is especially true when it comes to combating cat litter that’s been kicked out of the litter box.

The struggle is real. Picking up stray litter 3 times a day is a norm, as most cat owners will tell you, and they’re not even very tidy people.

Sweeping the cat litter up with a broom? Forget about it, that’s just too much work. The way I see it, getting the best vacuum for cat litter is the way to go. 

I keep three litter boxes in a spare bathroom. The bathroom is not frequented by humans, and it is dedicated to the cats. I also keep their food bowls in there.

That bathroom is their little private area in the house. The bathroom floor is tiled. They use the pine wood pallet variety of litter. The particles are quite large, and they don’t tend to stick in between their paws like the sand variety would. So litter hardly gets tracked out of the bathroom.

Thinking through your specific situation helps you decide the type of vacuum cleaner and features you’ll need. Let’s look at some of the features to look out for when you’re picking out a vacuum for cleaning up cat litter.

Look out for the right attachment tool for the job

Attachment tool is your best friend. For the job of cleaning up cat litter, I typically use the brush tool and crevice tool.

My requirements for the brush tool is that it’s wide enough but not too clunky to maneuver around tight spaces. A narrow brush means I would need to go over an area with more swipes. 

The crevice tool would need to have a long and narrow body. The length makes it easy to reach the sides of the litter box, even if the box is right up against the wall in a tight space.

Some vacuum cleaners have crevice tools that’s hardly 2 inches long. Short crevice tool feels more like an extension of the nozzle. It should be a tool that actually have the utility of reaching into and around the nooks and crannies. 

I don’t usually need the motorized brush for this job. The motorized brush is more suited for pulling pet hair stuck in rugs, especially high piles ones. And if you’re also using wood pallets like me, then it’s likely that the litter won’t travel too far from the litter box. 

Look out for exhaust port that doesn’t scatter cat litter 

Vacuum cleaners is not an air dark hole. The intake air doesn’t just disappear. The air that gets sucked into the vacuum, once gone through the filtration system, will need to exit the machine. The exhaust port is where air exits the machine.

A poorly designed exhaust port, with an awkward position and airflow direction, will disturb the cleaning process. If the primary function of this vacuum cleaner is to pick up stray cat litter that’s been flung out of the litter box, then having jets of air blowing at it while you’re cleaning wouldn’t be helpful. This is especially true if the cat litter you’re using is rather small and lightweight. 

Another thing to keep in mind is cat litter dust. Cat litter dust is unavoidable around the litter box area. Even if you’re using a low or non-tracking litter, or Captain Fluffy simply has impeccable potty manners, you’re bound to get cat litter dust.

Have you seen the dust cloud forming above the litter box when you pour a fresh batch of litter in? That’s what everyone faces, even if it’s the crystal variety. This lightweight dust won’t stand a chance against the jets of air. 

To get a unit with terrible filtration system is to add insult to injury. If the filter in the vacuum cleaner is faulty or just poorly made, then it won’t be able to catch all the dust. The dust that gets past the filter will get spit out at the exhaust port.

So, take note of how the exhaust port is designed, make sure to get a vacuum that’s not going to spit air and dust back out at you. 

Dedicated unit vs multi-use unit

And finally, would this vacuum cleaner be used exclusively for cleaning up pet mess, and specifically cat litter?

Or would you need an all-rounder vacuum cleaner for most of your home cleaning?

And cat litter just happens to be one of the things to clean on your list?

Making this decision would determine if you need a cordless or corded unit. And also if the vacuum cleaner needs to be more versatile and work well on most surfaces. 

For hygiene purposes, I would rather not have the vacuum cleaner run through the bathroom floor and around the litter boxes, and then go on to clean the cupboards in the kitchen.

Unless the machine is cleaned and disinfected after every use, before moving onto the next area in the house, I wouldn’t be too comfortable about it. 

Knowing your own cleanliness standards and habits saves you a lot of frustrations and unnecessary chores. I know myself to be too lazy to clean and disinfect every single time I vacuum around the litter box, so I don’t.

Forking out a bit more money to get a second dedicated unit is what works for me. But you do what’s comfortable for your standards and budget. 

Black+Decker Dustbuster Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum

Best budget vacuum cleaner for cat litter

This lightweight (2.11 lbs) handheld vacuum is a great option for cleaning up after pet mess like spilled kibbles and stray cat litter. This nifty little vacuum has great suction, giving good performance on hard surfaces as well as carpets.

The Black+Decker Dustbuster Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum really picks up cat litter very well, picking up big or small pieces. I use pine wood pallets for my cats, and it’s like 50x bigger than a grain of typical cat sand. This handheld vacuum will be able to pick that up.

And for times when the particle is crushed or it’s the sand dust you’re after, it does the job well too. I can’t count the number of times I need to clean up smushed cat litter. Someone (human or pet) stepped on sand/palette and it’s flatten and sort of stuck to the surface. The suction on this handheld vacuum will be able to handle that.

The Black+Decker Dustbuster Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum comes with 2 attachments – a brush and a crevice tool, that you snap in and out of the nozzle of the vacuum.

The crevice tool is not the longest wand, compared to the other options on this list. But it’s sufficient to get around the litter box and vacuum any stray litter that got kicked out of the box.

The charging time is one of the longest, at 10 hours for a full charge. And it can take longer as the battery life deteriorates. The run time is about 15 minutes, and the battery’s ability to hold a charge tend to deteriorate over time.

This model doesn’t come with a docking charger, just a cord that plugs into the machine and into the wall. 

The dust cup capacity is decent at 3.9 cups, but it’s definitely not built for heavy cleaning, only light dusting around the house. Emptying the cup often is key to keeping the suction power strong.

The filter is washable with mild soap and water, but it would be wise to keep a replacement filter around in case it gets damaged. 

Pros: Compact design, lightweight, great suction power, handles carpet cleaning well

Cons: Short crevice tool, long charge time

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Hand Vacuum

Versatile vacuum for cat litter on hard surfaces and carpets

The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Hand Vacuum is not only great for hair (it made it on our top 5), but an excellent choice for cleaning up cat litter as well.

Like most bagless vacuum, this machine does circulate the air back out after it’s been through the filter. Some might find this stream of air scatters cat litter around. But if you’re tilting this at the correct angle, it doesn’t and the litter particle wouldn’t go flying across the floor. 

This handheld vacuum comes with a washable triple level filter, which is very handy especially if you’re using it to pick up a lot of cat litter. For cat litter that dissolves/ crumbles, like the typical sand variety or wood pallet, you’ll be picking up both the whole piece as well as the dust version of it.

And after whirling around in the dust cup, the particles can look like they’ve been thru the blender, all chopped up into smaller chunks. And for this reason (and others), it’s best to clean the filter often. Have a few replacement filters on hand, if possible.

The dust cup holds almost 3 cups, but don’t wait for it to reach maximum capacity before emptying its content. Cleaning it out is easy, just twist to unlock and dump the contents.

Emptying often and cleaning the filter out thoroughly ensures the machine maintains a strong suction power.

The charging time is about 6 hours and a full charge gets you about 20 minutes of runtime. If you’re not using the motorized brush (which is meant for pet hair), but the crevice tool to pick up loose cat litter then, it’ll be pushing 30 minutes per charge.

The crevice tool is thin and long, great for getting in tight spaces around the litter box area. Weighing at 3 lbs, this machine is not as lightweight as the Black+Decker DustBuster. 

Pros: Triple layer filter, long run time

Cons: Not very lightweight, exhaust vent can scatter litter

Dirt Devil Scorpion Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

Best corded vacuum for cat litter

This is a corded unit, but it works if what you want is strong and lasting suction power. I have several pet areas in my house, one their play area, another is their litter box and food area.

At this affordable price point, it can be a dedicated unit for cleaning up pet mess in the pet area. If you’re planning on keeping a vacuum there for quick cleanups multiple times a day, then the Dirt Devil Scorpion Handheld Vacuum might be a good choice.

This handheld vacuum comes with a quick-flip crevice tool. The other attachment in the box is a 2.5 ft hose. The crevice tool is attached to the machine with a hinge that allows you to flip the tool down and snap it into place when you need it. Once you’re done, flip it back up and the crevice tool tucks neatly away.

This is a great space-saving feature, and such a game-changer for forgetful people like me. For the life of me, I can’t find 2 out of the 3 attachments that came with my current vacuum. I simply don’t know where they went, and there’s no storage built into the design. 

Corded handheld vacuums are usually more powerful but also less portable. And weighing 3.75 adds to that “less-portable” feature. The dust cup is comparatively smaller (1.9 cups) than other vacuums in this lineup.

And one of the biggest downsides of this machine is that the filter cannot be rinsed or washed. You can dust it but it can’t go under water. This means more money spent on buying replacement filters. 

Pros: Budget option, quick-flip crevice tool, good suction power

Cons: Corded, small dust cup, non-washable filter

Black+Decker 20V MAX Handheld Vacuum

Value and quality – Best cordless handheld vacuum for cat litter

This is a much more powerful model in the Black+Decker lineup of handheld vacuums. At 35 AW, it has twice the suction power of the Dustbuster Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum.

It charges much faster as well, it takes only 4 hours (vs. 10 hours on the Dustbuster) to reach full charge, and it charges on a docking base. The runtime on this machine is about 20 minutes. 

One of the great features of this vacuum is the on-board brush and crevice tool. No more worrying about carrying the attachments with you around the house, or where to store them. It’s right there attached to the machine. Snap the tool into place and go to town.

The nozzle on this machine is also quite wide, so you can cover more surface with less going back and forth. This is actually just the right combination to width and slimness of the crevice tool for cleaning around the litter box. And because of the wider nozzle, it can pick up larger sized cat litter such as the pallet variety. 

It works well on hard surfaces such as tiles or hardwood floors. The suction is strong enough to pick up pet hair or scattered cat litter, even on carpets.

Another great thing about this vacuum is that it can suck out cat litter stuck in the cat litter mat. Litter mats can be useful to keep stray litter from tracking too far into the room. But cleaning the mat can be a chore in itself. So having a handheld vacuum that’s strong enough to pull the litter out is great.

The dust cup is detachable, and along with the 3-layer filter. You can wash both with mild detergent and water. Emptying the contents is just one part of maintaining the machine.

You should always remember to clean out the filter as well. Emptying and cleaning regularly will keep the suction strong and the machine running smoothly. 

Pros: Great suction power, relatively quick charge, on-board brush and crevice tool

Cons: Tricky to empty dust cup

Shark Rocket Ultra-Light with TruePet Mini Motorized Brush Hand Vacuum 

Best heavy duty corded vacuum for cat litter

This is the other model in this lineup that is a corded unit. This Shark Rocket Ultra-Light Hand Vacuum is a suction powerhouse.

Like the Dirt Devil Scorpion, corded units are always reliable in terms of their suction power. It pulls pet mess like stray litter or hair efficiently from carpets. And it doesn’t scatter them around on hard surfaces.

The other great thing about having a corded unit is there’s no worries of the battery dying after a year or two of operation. You don’t need to remember to charge it, or keep track of how much runtime you still have on it. Cords on devices are one of those things that you thought you’d never miss it but you (secretly) will once it’s gone. 

The 15 ft cord is not the longest, but is sufficient if you’re keeping it plugged in close by your pet area in the house. Keeping a dedicated handheld vacuum near the pet area, where the cat litter box is, is ideal for people like me.

The thought of sticking the vacuum nozzle near a litter box and then in my kitchen area makes me cringe ever so slightly. Unless you’re emptying the dust cup contents and washing it with detergent before using it to clean near the kitchen, keeping a separate unit for pet mess sounds like a good idea. 

Besides having a short cord, the handheld vacuum is also on the heavier side (3.7 lbs). A plus point of this vacuum is that the filter is washable and reusable. There’s no additional cost to operating the vacuum once you’ve owned the machine.

The dust cup holds about 1.8 cups, and emptying the dust cup is easy and relatively mess-free. 

This handheld vacuum comes with more attachments than the other model, it has a hose, motorized brush, dust brush and crevice tool. The crevice tool is particularly useful for reaching and maneuvering around tight spaces because it is long and narrow.  

Pros: Good suction power, dust cup is easy to clean

Cons: Short cord, heavy, small dust cup

Any of these vacuums will be up for the job, they all fit the bill well. But if you’re looking for value and quality to match, then you should definitely consider the Black+Decker 20V MAX Handheld Vacuum. It’s a mid-range handheld vacuum but with some of the strongest suction power on a cordless machine. 

Rarely do handheld vacuums have on-board attachments tools. The Black+Decker 20V MAX has both of its tools attached to the main machine.

On-board tools means you’re not going to lose or misplace them. They’re always available on hand anytime you need to switch tools. No more running around the house, looking into your storage area to locate the missing attachment tools, in the middle of your daily clean up.

The exhaust port of the Black+Decker 20V MAX Handheld Vacuum is well designed and positioned so that it doesn’t infer with the cleaning process. It doesn’t scatter dust or litter. But do remember to empty the dust cup and clean out the filter regularly.

This vacuum is not the most lightweight model on this list, but it’s still not too heavy. Having no cord provides more maneuverability and no cord to readjust every few swipes of the vacuum.