6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Put a Litter Box in the Laundry Room

In the wild, cats are especially vulnerable while eliminating and are very particular about the location they choose. This instinct has carried on to many domestic cats today. 

As a result, placing your cat’s litter boxes in areas that will make them comfortable is really important. 

Is it okay to put a litter box in the laundry room?

The typical laundry room isn’t a very good spot for a cat’s litter box. Laundry rooms are full of loud appliances, overwhelming scents, and unpredictable foot traffic that may be stressful for cats.

You shouldn’t put a litter box next to a washing machine or dryer 

Cats prefer quiet, peaceful areas for their litter boxes.

Litter boxes should never be placed next to loud appliances like washing machines and dryers. The noise and unpredictability of cycles may startle or upset your cat. One bad experience may be enough to make them avoid the litter box entirely.

Cat next to washing machine and laundry basket

Cats are sensitive to smell 

Though a cat’s sense of smell isn’t quite as keen as that of a dog, it’s still about 14 times stronger than that of a human.

Cats use their strong sense of smell to help them safely navigate their environment.

Cats are averse to smells that may indicate danger. There are obvious examples, like the urine another cat used to mark its territory. But also not so obvious examples, like citrus and lavender, to name a few.

Many of the scents that cats avoid are found in laundry detergents, dryer sheets, and many sprays used while laundering clothes. 

Some scents aren’t only irritating to cats, they’re potentially harmful.

The collection of off-putting, and potentially harmful, scents found in the laundry room may keep your cat from using their litter box — or not being able to do so safely. 

Laundry rooms are often less accessible 

Cats need constant, easy access to all of their litter boxes.

Having a litter box in an area of your home that your cat doesn’t frequent, much less an entirely different floor of your home, can become a problem. 

This is particularly true for senior cats and kittens — whose bodies may give them less time to reach the litter box. 

As cats age, navigating stairs becomes increasingly more challenging. It’s estimated that as many as 90% of cats 12 years of age or older suffer from arthritis. And because cats have an innate instinct to hide pain, so as not to appear weak to predators, it’s difficult to know if your cat is affected. 

Place litter boxes in areas that are easy for your cat to access quickly and on every floor of your home

Laundry rooms have poor ventilation 

Depending on the setup of your laundry room, ventilation may be an issue. Small, enclosed spaces and below-ground basements often allow very little air circulation. 

When combined with the damp air typical of most basements, your litter box will smell worse, bacteria will multiply more quickly, and the lifespan of your litter will be reduced. 

Cat in laundry basket with folded clothes

Laundry rooms get busy on laundry day

The inconsistency of foot traffic to the room may throw off your cat’s routine.

If they become accustomed to a quiet, peaceful litter box six days a week, they may avoid using their litter box on busy laundry days.

Placing litter boxes in spots that your cat always feels comfortable using is very important.

Litter boxes should be placed in open areas 

To stay safe in the wild, many cats have developed an instinctual desire to avoid feeling cornered-in.

Placing a litter box in a small space, often with a single exit can cause stress and lead to litter box avoidance.

This is particularly true of multi-pet homes and homes with young children, where a cat is more likely to be startled while using the litter box. 

Place your litter boxes in open spaces with multiple escape routes. 

Final thoughts

The laundry room may seem like the perfect location for a litter box. It’s quiet, keeps the litter box out the main living area, and keeps litter-box-smell out of the rest of the house. 

But there are several reasons laundry rooms are a poor location for a litter box — they’re loud, have strong scents that may bother your cat, are less accessible, have poor ventilation, have inconsistent foot traffic, and are often too enclosed. 


About Matthew Alexander

Matthew lives in Maryland with his two cats, Puff and Pancho. He’s been caring for and fostering cats with various special needs for more than fifteen years. He hopes to pass some of the insight and knowledge that he’s gained on to the readers of Pawmore.