No matter how much you try to keep parasites at bay, almost every cat will have some form of parasitic infection during their lives. Worms are particularly common in cats and are usually picked up when they are exploring the outside world.
Worms can thankfully be treated pretty easily with deworming medication. However, the symptoms of worms are pretty unpleasant! They cause your cat to have nasty bouts of sickness and diarrhea. Even the most well-trained cats will have uncontrollable outbursts on your floor.
When your cat has worms, cleaning up after them can be an absolute nightmare! Stains can seem impossible to remove from your walls and carpets, and the foul-smelling odors seem to linger long after their excrement has been cleaned up. Besides, you need to remove all worms and their eggs from every surface in your home to prevent a re-infection.
If you’re hysterically thinking “My cat has worms! How do I clean my house?!” don’t panic. I will teach you everything you need to know in this article, along with tips on preventing a future infestation so you don’t both have to go through this ever again.
How to Clean Your House After a Worm Infestation
When cleaning your home after a worm infestation, you need to do a thorough job. For one, your sick cat will likely be vomiting or have diarrhea as a symptom of the infection which can make a huge mess around your home. Secondly, if the worms and their eggs are not removed from all surfaces, worm infections can easily keep coming back.
When purging worms from your home, you need to use heat. This is the only way to ensure you kill the worms and their eggs. This step-by-step guide will take you through all the stages though, so keep reading and you’ll have a happy healthy cat and a worm-free home in no time!
1. Deworm Your Cat
Before you start cleaning up after your cat and removing all traces of worms in your home, you need to deworm your cat. There are four different types of worms – roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and heartworms – and the deworming medication you need depends on the type of worm that has infected them.
Roundworms are the most common parasite in cats and are especially common in kittens. Tapeworms also cause infections pretty frequently through the ingestion of fleas. Hookworms and heartworms are less common but shouldn’t be forgotten about. If unsure which parasite your cat has, take them to the vet who will be able to offer a firm diagnosis.
Your vet will then recommend a treatment plan and prescription. Alternatively, you can purchase deworming medication over the counter but I would always recommend getting medication from a vet, particularly if you are deworming kittens.
2. Put On Protective Equipment
Putting on protective equipment to clean your home might sound a tad dramatic. However, when dealing with worms this is a vital step you cannot afford to miss. Worm infections can be passed to humans if you accidentally ingest worm eggs that are hiding in your home. This is the last thing you’re going to want to happen!
Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite of cats that are most likely to be transmitted to humans. Their eggs can become airborne and then inhaled by people. Therefore, you need to wear an N95-rated dust mask when dealing with roundworms, especially when cleaning up hard and dry stools.
Other protective equipment I recommend is gloves and rubber boots at a minimum. I always like to wear full-body overalls so I know I am as protected as possible. However, you may wish to wear a disposable apron instead. Always opt for disposable protective equipment where possible that can be thrown away immediately after use.
3. Clean Their Litter Tray
Once your cat has been dewormed, cleaning to remove all evidence of worms in your home can commence! The first point of call should be your cat’s litter box as eggs of roundworms and tapeworms are found in your cat’s stools.
This is especially important if your cat has roundworms as these are transmitted through feces. However, removing tapeworms eggs is equally as important. These eggs are first ingested by an intermediate host which is then eaten by the cat and causes a tapeworm infection. Therefore, removing the eggs helps to prevent these steps from happening.
You need to clean your cat’s litter box out every single day while they are recovering from worms. Always empty the tray and use a disinfectant to ensure you remove as many eggs as possible. I recommend wearing gloves and other disposable protective equipment that you can throw away immediately after use to prevent the parasites from being passed to you.
4. Clean Up Other Accidents
Of course, bouts of diarrhea and vomiting are one of the most common symptoms of cats with worms. It is essential to clean up all of these accidents as soon as possible as well. In most cases, it will just be the stools that contain worms and their eggs, but in severe infestations, it is possible to find worms in vomit too. Therefore, always handle these substances with care.
If the accident is on a hard surface, you can soak and wipe up as much of the mess as possible using tissue or paper towels. Use boiling hot water and a detergent to wash the floor after use. Then, follow with a disinfectant spray to remove bad bacteria. Always take caution on what products you use so you don’t damage the hard floor.
Cleaning carpet is more difficult. Wipe up what you can and then steam your carpet before applying a carpet cleaner and use it as per the directions on the bottle. It can be tempting to put higher concentrations of cleaner on your carpet to remove the stains and odors. However, this can damage the floor and it is better to clean the area multiple times instead.
Additionally, I recommend getting an enzymatic cleaner. Many cleaning products will mask smells rather than remove them, but enzymatic cleaners break down the odorous molecules to make them leave for good. Again, apply several times if needed.
5. Wipe All Hard Surfaces
Many people assume they only need to clean the surfaces that their cat has directly vomited or pooped on. However, you need to wipe all of the hard surfaces in your home after your kitty has had a worm infestation. The worms or eggs could easily have attached to your cat’s fur and been transmitted to all areas of your home.
Thankfully, worms do struggle to stay alive on hard surfaces for long periods, but it is still always better to be safe than sorry. When cleaning hard surfaces, pay particular attention to ridges and crevices. These are the most likely places that worms will congregate and manage to survive.
Using a mixture of boiling water and bleach is a great way to ensure that any remaining worms are killed. As always, do take care when using bleach though as you do not want it to stain or damage your furniture or floors. Disinfectant sprays and enzymatic cleaners work well too.
6. Deep Clean Your Carpets
Cleaning your carpets is arguably one of the most important tasks you need to do when cleaning your house after a worm infestation. Worms and their eggs can be transferred to carpets in all kinds of ways. For example, they could be found in contaminated soil or animal waste that you or your cat brings in from outside. Next thing you know, the worms are deposited on your carpet.
Many types of worms – including roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms – can all survive on carpets. Some can survive for weeks, whereas others will only survive a few days. However, the real risk is with their eggs which can survive there for even longer. For example, roundworm and tapeworm eggs survive on carpets for several months. If these are not removed immediately, they can cause a future infection down the line.
Cleaning your carpets is vital in preventing this. The best way to effectively remove worms is by using heat, so I like to start by vacuuming my carpet and then steam cleaning it. When my carpet is dry, I sprinkle a small amount of salt over the top and let it sit for a few days. Be sure to keep your cats and other animals in a separate room while you let the salt sit. Finally, vacuum the salt and dead worms and dispose of all waste immediately.
Doing this deep cleaning procedure once should be enough, but regular vacuuming and steaming can also help to remove any remaining worms so your house is completely clean.
7. Wash Soft Furnishings
Unfortunately, carpet is not the only thing worms can survive on. These pesky parasites can survive on other soft materials too, such as bedding, pet beds, cushions, blankets, and cat toys. They can easily get stuck to your cat’s fur and transmitted to these areas.
As such, you need to ensure you wash all of these soft furnishings as well. Take all of these items that your cat has been in contact with and put them in the washing machine. Be sure to use a hot cycle so that any remaining eggs die to prevent another infection in the future.
Larger fabric items in your home such as the couch or an armchair should also be cleaned if they are in a room that your cat has access to. Using a steam cleaner is the most effective as this supplies the heat needed to kill the eggs. Leather furniture can simply be wiped down with hot water and detergent.
As with cleaning hard surfaces, the crevices on soft furniture pieces are where the worm eggs are most likely to survive. Be sure you get properly stuck in and get the entire couch. Any areas you miss could result in a worm infection coming back in a few months!
8. Clean The Outside Area
Most owners will cry in despair, “My cat has worms! How do I clean my house?” However, cleaning outside your home is just as vital as cleaning the house itself, especially if you have an outdoor cat. There is no point going to endless efforts to make sure your home interior is worm-free only to find eggs and worms lurking on your patio.
Boiling water is again the best option here. Fill the kettle with boiling water and mix it with bleach. Then, pour this mixture all over your concrete patio to kill any worms that are there. Avoid using a pressure washer or powerful hose as this could just spread the parasites further around your garden.
Parasites such as worms are also sensitive to UV light and will die if the surface they are living on becomes too hot and dry under the sun’s rays. Therefore, you could also try placing a clear plastic tarpaulin sheet over any soil you think is infected and pin it down with rocks. Over a few days and weeks, the UV light will go through the plastic and kill any worms and eggs on the soil’s surface.
In small infected areas, you can alternatively remove the top layer of soil, the place where the majority of worms and their eggs will be found. Be sure to wear gloves when doing this and take the worm-infested soil to a landfill to prevent re-infection.
If your cat defecates in your garden, you also must ensure you clean up their waste immediately. The same goes for any feral or neighborhood cats that use your garden as their litter tray. Unfortunately, any of these animals may have a worm infection and, as mentioned already, transmission through feces is likely. Try to check your garden for excrement and safely remove it each day.
9. Disinfect Any Tools Used
Once you have done all the above steps, the final thing to do is to disinfect all the tools you have used throughout the process. This includes your vacuum, steam cleaner, and even the boots you were wearing when removing the worms and their eggs from your garden.
These need to all be wiped with boiling water using paper towels that you then throw away. Try to use as much disposable equipment as possible during the cleaning process, such as disposable gloves, aprons, cloths, and more. This makes it easier to ensure no worms are remaining in your home.
When you are disposing of cloths and other waste items, ensure you put them in a garbage bag and then put this bag inside another just to be on the safe side. Take this garbage to a landfill or skip so the source of infection is as far away as possible.
How to Avoid Worm Infections in Cats
Unfortunately, there is no way you can guarantee your little furry friend won’t contract these nasty parasites in the future. However, there are several preventative tactics you can use. Try to implement some or all of these and your cat’s chances of catching worms will be dramatically reduced.
- Keep Your Cat Indoors: How cats become infested depends on the type of worm we are talking about. However, in most cases, it comes from ingesting fleas or fecal matter of an infected animal. Keeping your cat indoors will lower their exposure to such substances, thus helping to keep them safe from worm infections.
- Supervise Your Cat Outside: If you don’t want to have an indoor-only cat, try only letting them outside when you are there to supervise them. Keep an eye on what your cat eats when it is exploring. Prey such as mice and birds can carry worms and can easily infect a cat.
- Give Monthly Heartworm Medication: Heartworms are the most dangerous worm parasites that can infect cats and come with severe health consequences. Providing monthly preventative heartworm medication can help avoid this potentially deadly infection.
- Apply Flea Preventative Medication: Fleas are one of the biggest causes of tapeworms in cats. The fleas will be infected and, when ingested, pass the worms and their eggs onto the feline. Keeping on top of regular flea prevention medication will help them avoid picking up fleas, which in turn reduces the chances of worms.
- Groom Your Cat Weekly: Cats are meticulous self-groomers but still benefit from you brushing their coats with a flea comb once per week, especially if you have a long-haired breed prone to matting. Brushing will help catch any parasites before the infection spreads and causes worms.
- Keep Your Home Clean: Cats will sometimes come into contact with soil or feces contaminated with worms and bring it into your home. As we have discussed, some worms and their eggs can last for months living on soft fabrics. Keeping your home clean can help to remove any lurking worms before they cause infections.
- Clean the Litter Box Regularly: If infested fecal matter is left in the litter box, it can spread to mites and fleas which in turn spreads the worms further. Be sure to scoop their waste daily and empty, clean, and refill the litter box once per week.
- Keep Animals Separate: If you have more than one pet, it is essential to keep the animal with worms away from all other pets in your home. They need to have separate litter trays, food bowls, and water bowls while staying in a different room. The fewer of your pets that contract worms, the easier they are to manage and eliminate quickly.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
Cleaning your home following a worm infection is hard work. These pesky creatures and their eggs can survive on surfaces for months on end, causing frequent re-infections. Worms can also be transmitted to people, so your furry friend isn’t the only one at risk here.
Follow my above steps and you should be able to eliminate all kinds of worms from your home for good. Don’t forget to implement the prevention methods either; avoiding worms in the first place is much easier than treating them and going through the entire cleaning process once more.