How Do I Clean a Cat Bowl the Right Way?

wet cat food in bowl

Having a cat isn’t all about snuggling, keeping up with their sassy behavior, or filling up your gallery with cute photos. It comes with a responsibility that your cat eats properly, stays happy, and feels safe.

And to make sure your cat’s little fat tummy stays healthy, washing cat bowls thoroughly is essential. Although, the method of cleaning your cat’s food dish can vary a little depending on the type of bowl you’re using.

Scroll down and find out how to clean your cat’s bowl.

best water dish for cats

Why Disinfect?

Just rinsing the pet dishes under the tap water doesn’t ensure thorough cleansing. You must disinfect to stop the potential growth or presence of any pathogenic or inanimate microorganisms on the food and water bowls. Especially if your cat eats raw meat or other raw diets. Also, make sure to know about the required water intake for your cat.

You can’t take a chance on that, and here’s why:

Germs Lurk on Dirty Bowls

cat food in a bowl

Like human dishes, cat food bowls, if left unclean for a long time, can become the hub for germs and mold buildup, which also invites parasitical insects carrying viruses. Thus, drastically impacting your cat’s health.

Microorganisms Can Make Your Cat Sick

clean that kitty

Stale water and feeding your cat in the dirty food bowl results in your cat intaking harmful bacteria, causing chronic stomach distress. Your cat can get super sick and suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, acne, and infection in the cat’s mouth.

How Often Should I Clean My Cat’s Bowls?

bowls for cats

You need to clean your kitty’s bowl EVERY DAY! Every Single Day. Did we emphasize enough? The more you delay cleansing your pet bowls, the more the chances of harmful microorganisms and bacteria aboding the food and water bowls increase!

Also, they start to smell bad, which may deter your kitty from eating its meal altogether.

You cannot afford to be lazy in this regard if you love your cat enough.

How Do You Disinfect a Cat Bowl?

No matter what type of cat bowl you have, it’s important to disinfect it. Although, I always prefer non-porous stainless steel bowls or ceramic bowls over plastic ones. Plastic bowls can get scratched, and germs/bacterias enjoy their stay in those little scratch grooves.

clean cat food

Now, to disinfect, there are many options available out there in the form of veterinary disinfectants. But if you don’t have it, there is no need to worry. Bleach is one of the most common household items you can use as an alternative to disinfecting your pet bowls.

Below are tips to provide your feline animals with fresh, clean dishes.

1- First, scrape any cat’s food debris off the cat bowls so the bleach solution can work perfectly.

2- Make a bleach solution at a 1:10 dilution rate and immerse the food and water bowls in that solution for about 10 to 13 minutes.

3- Rinse off the pet bowls thoroughly, making sure the surface is free from any sign of bleach solution.

4- Let the cat bowls air dry, don’t wipe them off to dry using a cloth or towel.

How to Clean Your Cat’s Bowl?

ceramic cat food bowls

As we mentioned above, cleaning your cat’s bowl can vary with the type of food bowls or water bowl you use or your preference. You can wash pet dishes in a dishwasher or by hand. Both ways are right and effective if you do them correctly.

A dishwasher is more simple & easy way to clean, but rinsing the cat bowls before putting them inside is essential.

And when washing with hands, wear gloves. Hand wash the cat’s bowls in warm soapy water and then let them dry.

Washing Your Cat’s Bowls in a Dishwasher

ceramic cat food bowl

Most of the cat bowls are dishwasher friendly. However, not all dishwashers get hot enough to sterilize them properly.

It’s best you clean/scratch out the food build-up (mostly because of the raw food diet) and rinse a little before putting the food bowl inside the dishwasher and running it on the highest setting.

Washing Your Cat’s Bowls by Hand

no tip cat water bowl

If you don’t have a dishwasher or dishwasher-friendly cat bowls, you can easily clean them with your hands under your kitchen sink. It keeps the food and water dishes hygienic and clean.

Can You Wash Cat Bowls with Fairy Liquid?

cat food dish

Yes. It is perfectly fine to use the normal fairy liquid that you use to cleanse your own dishes, to wash cat’s bowls. It is mild in nature and is safe for cats. So, yes, you don’t need to buy additional washing supplies to wash the food bowl of your furry friend; just use the one at home.

Wash Your Human Dishes First

cats in a bowl

Washing your own dishes in the kitchen sinks first, followed by the food bowl of your cat, is both safe and wise. Make sure to use separate sponges.

Use Hot, Soapy Water

cat feeding dishes

Using hot, soapy water to clean cat bowls effectively kills all germs and bacteria. Make sure the water is hot enough to sterilize. However, take precautions, so you don’t burn your hand in the process.

Give the Bowls a Bit of a Soak

cat ceramic bowl

Immersing the pet food bowl in the soapy hot water will soften the caking of the cat’s food debris, making it easier for you to clean. And giving the soak will leave no chance for the germs to survive or grow on the surface.

Use a Sponge or Dishcloth

cat food bowls

Even if there’s no old food build-up on the bowl’s surface, use a sponge or dishcloth to wash cat bowls. This way, all the grease and slimy residue on the bowl wipe away smoothly. Also, don’t keep reusing the same sponge for too long. Kitchen sponges, if used for long, can add to germs on the food dishes’ surface.

Don’t Forget to Rinse

cat in bowl

After soaking the bowls, don’t take the shortcut by thinking you’re done cleansing. Once you are done soaking, give the pet’s food bowl a good wash, followed by proper rinsing. You don’t want to see your cat sick, do you?

Drying Time

water bowl for cats

After you’re done washing the cat’s dishes, let them dry for a while. You can also wipe them dry. It’s best to keep multiple food and water bowls so you can keep switching between them without waiting for other bowls to be washed or get dry.


Whether you’re washing the cat bowls using the dishwasher or by hand, just make sure they are sterilized, disinfected, and thoroughly rinsed afterward. Porcelain ones are easier to clean and safer to use. Bowls of stainless steel are also a good choice.

Always remember to change the water in your cat’s water bowl frequently, don’t let it stale. Refill the bowl with clean water daily, giving a quick rinse before, or it’s even better to wash it. Cleansing the food bowl, however, is important to wash daily.

Being cat parents is not easy. But it’s all worth it when you see their adorable faces and hug these softest creatures after a tiring day.

Hopefully, this article helped you with how to clean your cat’s bowls.

Cody Mitchell
Cody Mitchell is a pet lover and a passionate pet writer. He has worked as a professional writer for over 6 years, with a focus on creating compelling content for pet-related brands. His work has been featured in major publications. When he's not writing, Cody can be found playing with his two dogs (a labradoodle and a cocker spaniel) or cuddling his cat.

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