Can UV sanitizers decrease odors?
November 8, 2011 7:00 AM   Subscribe

Will running a UV Sanitizing Wand over the litter box help with odors?

I've been seeing in recent years items like this.

I'm not sure if they work, and never really cared because I had no interest in an overly sterile home, but then I started to wonder what would happen if I ran it over a litter box. Would it help with odors? In the time between scooping the clumps and completely replacing all the litter, I'm sure lots of germs are left behind. What would one of these wands do? I'm really more interested in the science behind it, rather than tips on how people keep their litter boxes clean, as I was just curious and this isn't an actual issue I'm having. Thanks for any info!
posted by veganfilmjunkie to Science & Nature (4 answers total)
Most of the smell of a litter box is ammonia from urine, which is released through an abiotic process (no bacteria involved). So I don't imagine this thing would have any effect at all on litter box odor (if it works on anything, which is another separate issue).
posted by hydropsyche at 7:05 AM on November 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

UV is only really useful for sterilising smooth surfaces, and a wand such as the one you've linked to isn't likely to do even that very well, for reasons of intensity and duration. Cat litter just isn't a good candidate, as the UV isn't going to penetrate more than the top fraction of a milimetre of the surface of what is a very porous material. So that, added to the ammonia issue hydrospyche mentioned, suggests it's not going to help.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:20 AM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best thing I've found for making litter boxes not smell of ammonia is clumping wood-pulp litter. Magical.
posted by flabdablet at 9:15 AM on November 8, 2011

Agreed with above. For the same reason you should not use/trust a steripen for sterilizing water while camping if the water is not close to clear. More cloudiness means more resistance to the UV waves, and thus less killing of the guys that will ruin your trip real quick.
posted by zombieApoc at 9:16 AM on November 8, 2011

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