How to Wash Cat Bowls and How Often Should You Wash Them?

You want to make sure your cats have everything they need to be happy and healthy. Part of taking care of your cat includes keeping their food and water bowls clean. But how often should you wash them? And what's the best way to do it? Read on for our tips on washing cat bowls.
How to Wash Cat Bowls? How Often Should You Wash Them?

One of the most important, but often overlooked aspect of taking care of a pet cat, is keeping their food and water bowls clean. And while cats are known for keeping themselves clean, they are not great at keeping their bowls clean.

Research has shown that there can be harmful bacteria lurking in these bowls that could make your cat (and you) sick. So, it is necessary to clean cat bowls regularly to prevent the bacteria from growing and spreading.

Not only will this keep your cat healthy and free from illness, but it will also help to keep your home clean and germ-free.

In the following sections, we will discuss how to wash cat bowls and how often should you wash them. We will also see what type of cat bowls are better when it comes to hygiene, which foods cause faster bacteria buildup and what to wash cat bowls with.

Why Washing Cat Bowls Regularly is Important?

Keeping your cat’s food and water dishes clean is essential for their well-being. Dangerous bacteria are known to quickly form and multiply in dirty cat bowls. As your cat eats from such bowls, they can ingest harmful bacteria and become ill.

The bacteria found on cat bowls has been connected to some major diseases in animals such as Salmonella, E. coli, and cryptosporidiosis.

Germs from the dirty dishes can spread all over your house and contaminate everything in it. Handling dirty cat bowls can be quite hazardous to your health as well.

This is even more true if you have young children or elderly people living with you, as they are more susceptible to catching diseases from the harmful bacteria.

Salmonella invading cultured human cells.
By NIAID: These high-resolution (300 dpi) images may be downloaded directly from this site., Public Domain, Link

Washing the cat bowls helps avoid these risks of illness by cleaning away all visible dirt, grime, and harmful bacteria. 

Factors Affecting Cat Bowl Hygiene

Before we discuss how often your cat’s food and water bowls need to be cleaned, let’s look at the factors that directly impact how dirty the bowls get.

Type of Bowl

There are a few different types of cat bowls on the market that are better for hygiene than others.

Stainless-steel cat bowls are the most hygienic type of bowl as they do not harbor bacteria as easily as other materials. They can be easily cleaned with warm water and soap and most of them are dishwasher safe.

If you currently do not have stainless-steel bowls, here are some of the top ones.

Ceramic cat bowls can also work and are easy to clean. But they do not always come with non-stick coating and can get stained. Some cats prefer to drink from them though! Same thing goes for cat bowls made from glass and stone.

Although plastic cat bowls are the cheapest, I would stay away from them. They are also the most difficult to clean and can harbor bacteria very easily.

Type of Food Your Cat Eats

Another factor that affects how dirty the cat bowls get is the type of food the cat eats.

For example, foods that are high in protein, such as raw meat or fish, can cause bacteria to form faster than other types of food. Similarly, wet cat food (including dairy products) are moisture-rich and cause bacteria to form more quickly than dry foods.

Therefore, if you are serving your cat a diet that is high in protein or wet cat food, then you will need to wash their bowls more often.

How Often You Feed Your Cat

If you are only feeding your cat once a day, then their bowls will not get as dirty as if you were feeding them multiple times a day. So, if hygiene is a concern for you, then multiple feedings is something you should reconsider.

Number of Cats Using the Bowls

If multiple cats are using a bowl, it will get dirtier and will need to be washed more frequently. This is especially true if one of the cats is sick and not keeping themselves clean.

Presence of Sick Cats

If you have a cat that is sick, then you will need to wash their food and water bowls more often. This is to prevent the sick cat from ingesting harmful bacteria and becoming sicker.

Also, if there are multiple cats in the household and if one of them is sick, using separate bowls would be a good idea.

Weather Conditions

The weather can also affect how often the bowls need to be cleaned. Hot, sunny weather will cause the dirt and grease to bake on to the bowls, making them harder to clean.

In cold weather, the opposite happens, and the bowls can become frozen solid, making them very difficult to clean.

Now that we know some of the factors that influence how dirty the cat bowls get, let’s look at how often they should be cleaned.

How Often Should You Wash Cat Bowls?

The answer to this question will be different for different people. As mentioned above, how often you’ll need to wash cat bowls depends on how often you feed your cats and how much mess the cats make while eating.

How Often to Wash Cat Food Bowl?

Ideally, if they eat more than one meal a day, then I would recommend cleaning the bowl once every day. If these meals consist of wet foods, then wash the bowl after each meal.

On the other hand, if you are feeding them just once a day, then washing the bowl every other day should suffice. But if the food being served is raw meat or fish, then wash the bowl each time your cat finishes eating.

How Often to Clean Cat Water Bowl?

Under normal circumstances, washing the water bowl once a day is enough. If you are adding any sort of water additives to your cat’s water, it may get slimy and need to be cleaned more than once a day.

If your cat is drinking from a water fountain, just follow the cleaning instructions that come with it, and you should be good. If the water is left uncleaned for too long, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria.

The bottom line is that you should clean your cat’s food and water bowls as often as needed to keep them clean and free from harmful bacteria.

How to Wash Cat Bowls?

Now that we know how often the bowls should be cleaned, let’s look at how to wash them properly. You have two options when it comes to cleaning cat bowls.

  • Hand washing, or
  • Using the dishwasher.

Washing the Cat Bowls by Hand

To wash the cat bowls by hand, you will need:

  • Washing gloves.
  • Warm water.
  • Dish soap.
  • Sponge or brush (keep separate ones for pets).
  • Bucket.
  • Scrubbing pad (optional, keep separate ones for pets).

Once you have all the stuff, follow the instructions below.

Step 1: Fill a bucket with moderately hot water and add a few drops of dish soap. Swish the water around to create suds.

Step 2: Place the bowls in the soapy water and let it sit for a few minutes. Then use a sponge or brush to scrub off any dirt or grime.

Step 3: Rinse the bowls with warm water and make sure all the soap is gone. Any soap residue can be accidentally ingested by cats.

Step 4: If there are any stubborn stains on the bowls, use a scrubbing pad to remove them.

Step 5: Dry the bowls and place it back in its rightful spot.

Washing the Cat Bowls in a Dishwasher

If you have a dishwasher, then your job just got a lot easier. Just place the bowls in there and let it do all the work for you. Wash them separately.

Washing Cat Bowls with Human Dishes

Some people choose to wash their cat’s bowls with their human dishes. This is not recommended because you run the risk of contaminating your dishes with harmful bacteria.

You can wash cat bowls in kitchen sink if you disinfect the sink after.

How to Sanitize Pet Bowls?

To sanitize pet bowls, you can either use a bleach solution or a dishwasher.

If you are using a bleach solution, mix one part bleach with nine parts of water in a bucket. Soak the bowls in the solution for 10 minutes and then rinse them off with warm water.

If you are using a dishwasher, just place the bowls in there and run a normal cycle. Make sure to wash them separately from your human dishes.

No matter which method you choose, always make sure to dry the bowls off completely before putting them away. Bacteria can grow quickly if the bowls are left wet. 

What Should You Wash the Cat Bowls With?

Ideally, you should use a dish soap that is specifically designed for pets. This will help remove any stubborn grime or dirt and will not be harmful to your cat if they accidentally ingest it. Just make sure to read the ingredients carefully before purchasing.

Some people also choose to use a vinegar solution to clean their cat’s bowls. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and can kill most bacteria and viruses.

Just mix one part vinegar with three parts of water in a bucket and soak the bowls for 10 minutes. Rinse them off with warm water and dry them off completely before putting them away.

Closing Thoughts

So, there you have it – some general tips on how to wash cat bowls! Cleaning your cat’s food and water bowls is a necessary evil that we all must deal with. But by following the simple tips in this article, you can make the process a lot easier.

Just make sure to sanitize the bowls regularly to keep your cat safe from harmful bacteria. Happy cleaning!

Other FAQ

Here are some more frequently asked questions about cleaning cat bowls. 

Is It Safe to Wash Cat Bowls in Dishwasher?

Yes, it is safe to wash cat bowls in dishwasher. Just make sure to wash them separately from your human dishes.

Can I Use Vinegar to Sanitize Cat Bowls?

Yes, you can use vinegar to sanitize cat bowls. Just mix one part vinegar with three parts of water in a bucket and soak the bowls for 10 minutes. Rinse them off with warm water and dry them off completely before putting them away.

How Often Should I Sanitize Cat Bowls?

You should sanitize cat bowls at least once a week. But if your cat is sick or you have a lot of guests, you may need to do it more often.

Can You Wash Cat Bowls with Dish Soap?

Yes, you can wash cat bowls with dish soap. Just make sure to read the ingredients carefully before purchasing.

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