The Ultimate Guide to Using Kitty Litter for Oil Spills

kitty litter oil spill

Oil spills are a common occurrence in every garage, driveway and workshop.

While there are many products that we can use to clean up oil, the surprising product we are going to use is kitty litter.

Oil spill on concrete that we tried to remove by using kitty litter

Kitty litter can be used for oil spills due to it’s large surface area and porous nature. The clay particles in kitty litter have a very high affinity and allows the oil to adhere to the surface of the particles. These adhesion then creates a clumping effect, which makes the oil easier to remove

We will now dive into the science behind using kitty litters for oils spills, discover how effective it is and how to use it in the right way.

We will also have a look at some myths that are very common when using this method and recommend the best brands that you should use for oil stains

Understanding Kitty Litter

Cat litter is commonly made of clay, specifically bentonite clay, which is know for its absorbent properties that it has.

oil spill on wood floor tiles
The second oil spill we had was on the wood tiles. We started by covering the spill with cat litter

However, contrary to popular belief, cat litter doesn’t absorb oil in the traditional sense. Instead, the oil coats the surface of cat litter particles, making a clumping effect that helps the oil stick to it’s surface, making it easier to remove

Step-by-Step Guide to Using Kitty Litter for Oil Spill

Here are the steps you should follow to cover and oil spill:

  1. Cover the Spill or Stain Completely: As soon and you see the oil spill, cover the area with cat litter. Be generous with the amount you are using to ensure the entire spill is covered in full.
  2. Let the Litter Sit: Allow the kitty litter to sit on the spill for several hours, or even overnight. This will give the litter time to bound with the oil
  3. Sweep Up the Litter: Once the litter had enough time to clump with the oil, sweep it up and dispose of it properly.
  4. Scrub the area: After you remove the bulk of the oil and the litter, scrub the area with a strong detergent to remove the remaining oil stain
  5. Rinse with Water: Finally, rinse the area with water to remove any remaining detergent or oil
cat litter on concrete oil spill
We did the same with the concrete spill

Debunking Myths about Kitty Litter and Oil Stains

Despite being used very often, there are a few misconceptions about using cat litter to remove oil stains.

One common myth is that cat litter is the best option for cleaning up and you don’t need any other spill kits.

While it can be effective for fresh spills, it’s not the ideal solution for all situations as it doesn’t act like absorbent pads.

Using the oil spill kitty litter trick can sometimes be messy, and may not fully remove the oil, leaving a trail that can be slippery and dangerous

Contrary to common belief, cat litter it’s absorbing oil spills in the traditional sense that we all think about.

Instead, the oil coats on the surface of the litter particles, creating a clumping effect that makes the litter easier to clean up.

oil spill covered with cat litter
We fully covered the oil spill with cat litter and left it to absorb for 2 hours

Also, while cat litter is a natural product, it’s not necessarily an environmentally friendly option for removing any oil stain.

Used cat litter can’t be composted or recycled and will end up in the landfill, moreover, the mining of clay for cat litter production can also have a significant environmental impact.

Evaluating Kitty Litter Brands for Oil Spill Cleanups

When it comes to choosing a cat litter brand for oil stains, there are several factors to consider.

These include the litter’s absorbency, clumping ability, cost, and environmental impact.


The primary function of cat litter in oil stains cleanup is to absorb the oil. Therefore, the litter’s absorbency is a crucial factor to consider. Clay-based litters and particularly the ones made from bentonite clay, are the best as they have high absorbency and are the most recommended for removing any old stain present.

cat litter absorbed oil
All the oil was absorbed by the cat litter and it didn’t go into the floors

Clumping Ability

The clumping ability of the cat litter is another important factor. Non-clumping litters are generally preferred for oil spill cleanups as they allow the oil to be easily swept up after it has been absorbed


The cost should also be a deciding factor, especially when it comes to large spills where you might need a significant amount to clean up everything.

While there are many premium brands on the market, you might be surprised that even the cheapest brands can be effective in cleaning oil stains

While it can be a more affordable option for small, fresh oil spills, traditional oil kits can be more cost-effective for larger spills

concrete oil stain after using cat litter
There was still a stain on the concrete after we cleaned the cat litter. We washed it with the pressure washer after that.

Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of clay the cat litter is also another fact to consider. Some litter are made from natural materials and re biodegradable, making the a more environmentally friendly choice for many of us.

Based on all these factors, some of the best cat litters that help with removing oil stains are:

  1. Purina Tidy Cats Non-Clumping Cat Litter: This clay cat litter is highly absorbent, making it an excellent choice for any oil stain
  2. Fresh Step Non-Clumping Premium Cat Litter: This litter is also made from clay and it’s also very known for it’s high absorbency. It’s slightly more expensive then the Purina Tidy Cats litter, but it’s also highly effective
  3. Nature’s Miracle Intense Defense Clumping Litter: While this is a clumping liter, it is made from clay and has hight absorbency rates. It is also made from natural materials and is biodegradable, making it a more environmentally friendly choice.

As always, choosing the best litter for the oil stains will depend on your specific circumstances. But it’s always a good idea to test a few different brands to see which one works the best for you


While this is not a prefect solution to keep your garage floor clean, it is a cost-effective and readily available option that can be very effective, especially against fresh spills. By understanding how it works and how to use it properly, you can make the most out of this unconventional cleanup method

Indre K Williams

Indre K Williams

Indre K Williams (DVM) graduated from the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2015, she brings a wealth of knowledge and a genuine passion for animals to their writing. With years of experience working closely with pets and their owners, she has developed a deep understanding of their needs and behaviour.

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