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4 Homemade BBQ Grill Cleaner Recipes

You really don’t need a commercial cleaner to clean your BBQ grill properly. You can get your grill sparkling clean with these homemade grill cleaner recipes!

Cleaning a grill with an onion

Dirty Grills are Gross

Have you ever lived in an apartment complex with a communal grill in the courtyard? I have. No one ever cleaned it.

The smell of food grilling on that thing turned my stomach. I don’t know how anybody ate that food. And the sad thing is, it was a nice grill.

Importance of Keeping your Grill Clean 

Keeping your grill clean is important for several reasons:

Food Safety: Leftover food particles and grease can grow bacteria. Cooking cook on a bacteria covered surface is a pretty sure way get foodborne illnesses.

Better Taste: Dirt and leftover food from previous grilling can taint your BBQ items with bad flavors.

Prevents Rust: Letting grease and leftover food residue sit on your grill can speed up the rusting process.

Enhances Grill Performance: A dirty grill may not heat evenly or maintain the desired temperature like it should. Regular cleaning makes it perform better.

Avoids Dangerous Flare-Ups: Built-up grease on your grate can cause unexpected flare-ups of the type that make local news and include tidbits about someone’s eyebrows being burned off.

Saves Money: Keeping your grill clean makes it last longer, so you save money in the long run because you’ll need fewer replacements and repairs.

Homemade Grill cleaner Is cost-effective and eco-friendly

Why not just use a store-bought cleaner? You can, for sure, but there are several reasons not to.

1. Homemade cleaners can be made from cheap common pantry items that are less expensive than commercial cleaning products.

2. Many store-bought cleaners contain harsh chemicals that are bad for the environment. Homemade cleaners make an eco-friendly alternative.

3. And who wants to eat harsh chemicals? If a commercial cleaner leaves residue on the grill, it could end up in your food. These homemade cleaners use natural ingredients that are food safe. They’re also less likely to cause allergic reactions.

4. You can adjust the ingredients and proportions in your homemade cleaner until you’ve got the perfect cleaner for your grill.

5. They’re always there when you need them. Never have to rush out to the store to buy a cleaner again.

Ingredients To Clean Your Grill Effectively

There are a few food and pantry items that clean a grill very well, but are very safe to use.

  • Distilled white vinegar. While not a disinfectant, vinegar dissolves food residue and grease and also kills many germs. Its acidity works wonders on grease and grime, helping to dissolve stubborn residue from your grill’s surface.
  • Baking Soda. Baking soda is great for removing old food residue in ovens and grills.
  • Lemon Juice. Lemons work much like vinegar, dissolving the grease effectively.
  • Salt. Salt is a great cleanser that draws dirt away from surfaces.

1. Deep Clean Grill Grates with Baking Soda and Vinegar

Let’s start with a really deep cleaning recipe. You won’t need this every time you grill – just when it’s been left dirty for a while.

  • Let your grill grates cool.
  • Take them off the grill.
  • Put them in a bathtub or sink that’s big enough to let them soak.
  • Sprinkle a cup of baking soda all over the grates.
  • Pour two cups of white vinegar into the tub over the grates. It will start fizzing when it meets the baking soda.
  • Let it sit for a while, until the fizzing stops.
  • Start scrubbing the grates with a sponge, rag or brush. The dirt should come off pretty easily now.

2. Every day Grill Cleaner Recipe

Use this one after every barbecue, preferably when the grate is still warm, but not too hot to touch.

Mix 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water in a spray bottle.  Spray it on the grates and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before scrubbing it off with a wire brush.

3. Scrub Your Grill with Lemons or Onions

You can literally warm up your grill and clean it with half a lemon or onion. Use tongs to push the half lemon or onion over the grating.

This will take off most if not all the food. After you’re done, let it cool and then give it a quick scrub with a wet sponge or rag.

4. Even Better: Lemon and Salt

Use the method above, except dip your half-lemon in salt. Now when you scrub the grate, it will have some abrasive power from the salt.

The Right Tools to Clean a Grill

Whatever recipe or cleaning solution you pick, it’s important to use tools that will work, won’t hurt your grill, and won’t leave bristles behind to get in your food.

Bad Tools

Wire Bristle Brushes: for years, a grill brush meant wire bristles. But when they get old, they can shed bristles… which can end up in food, and really hurt someone who swallows them.

Steel Wool: It can scratch enamel/porcelain coated grates and lead to rusting over time.

Metal Scrapers: Overuse can scrape off protective coatings on some grill models, leading to premature wear.

Good Tools

Stone Grill Brush: a stone grill brush can’t leave bristles for anyone to swallow. It works like a pumice on a long handle.

Kevlar Cleaning Grill Brush: a bristle free brush that’s basically a chunk of kevlar inside heat resistant foam, on a long handle.

Scouring Pads: These work well for scrubbing off sticky food residue.

Dish Soap: Dish soap mixed with warm water can be used to clean both the grates and the exterior of your grill.

Microfiber Cloth: It’s great for wiping down the outside of your grill after washing it.

Clean a BBQ Grill with Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil is safe on all types of grill grates. Cleaning your grill with aluminum foil is a simple and efficient method. Not only does it save you from using harsh chemicals, but also requires less effort and time. Here’s how to do it:

1. Heat up the grill: Turn on your grill and let it heat up for 15 minutes or so.

2. Prepare your aluminum foil: Take a sheet of aluminum foil, crumple it into a ball large enough to handle without getting too close to the hot grates.

3. Scrub the grates: Using long-handled tongs, grip the aluminum foil ball and scrub across the grates to remove residue and baked-on food particles.

4. Let the grill cool: Once you’ve thoroughly scrubbed all of the grates, turn off the heat and let your grill to cool completely.

5. Wipe down: After cooling, take a damp cloth or paper towel and wipe down the grates to remove any loose debris left behind from scrubbing.

6. Clean every part: Don’t forget to clean underneath your hood, on burners, and on flavorizer bars with this same method if they’re dirty.

How Often Do You Need to Clean Your Grill?

I would suggest using the vinegar recipe after every cookout. It’s quick and easy, and you can just make it part of your barbecuing routine.

The deep clean with vinegar and baking soda is for very dirty grills. You might never need this one if you’ve taken reasonably good care of yours.

That communal grill in that apartment complex could have used a week of vinegar and baking soda baths.

Safety Tips for Using DIY Grill Cleaner

While these grill cleaners are pretty safe, there are a few things to keep in mind about safely handling grills. If you’re new to grilling or have never been careful about it, here’s what you should know.

  • Always allow your grill to cool before you start cleaning it. A hot surface can lead to burns. Seems obvious, but people burn themselves on grills all the time.
  • Wear gloves and an apron to protect yourself from grease splatters and sharp edges on the grill grates.
  • Avoid using metallic brushes. They can leave dangerous bristles behind. Go for nylon or natural fiber brushes specifically designed for grills.
  • Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling harmful fumes. None of these ingredients will hurt you, but vinegar fumes in particular can irritate eyes.
  • Before using a gas grill, check all connections to make sure there are no leaks that could potentially cause fires.
  • For charcoal grills, dispose of ashes safely once they have fully cooled down. They can stay hot for many hours and pose a fire hazard if not handled carefully.
  • Regularly clean your grill to avoid build-up which can become hard and more difficult to remove over time—this also reduces potential fire hazards.
  • Once cleaned, store the grill in a dry place that’s free from flammable materials.
  • Each grill is different so read the manufacturer’s instructions for specific cleaning procedures and safety measures.