Homemade Grill Cleaners for a Spotless Grill

Homemade grill cleaners for a spotless grill

Updated July 2021

There’s nothing better than a meal cooked on the grill, except maybe when your grill is so clean it shines like new. To enjoy those grilled meats and sides, you have to get your grill a bit dirty. Every slather of sauce and flip of a burger adds up on your grill. Luckily, you can erase these messes with homemade grill cleaner.

You could go out and spend money on grill-specific cleaners, but why do that when you have what you need at home? Plenty of household items make a great DIY grill cleaner and don’t involve an extra trip to the store. With these items already at your disposal, you can have an easy grill cleaning job done in no time. While a benefit of a clean grill is how amazing it looks, there are even more reasons to keep your grill clean.

The Importance of a Clean Grill

If you’d rather look at the mess on your grill and shrug it off than give it the cleaning it needs, consider the benefits of a clean grill. Here are some of the advantages.

1. Your food will taste better: No more charred bits of grilled foods past with a clean grill. A bit of charring on your food is great, but when it comes from last week’s dinner, it’s not bringing good flavor.

2. It’s safer to use a clean grill: Grease buildup can become hazardous, especially when exposed to the flame of a grill. Grills with residue can experience flare-ups, which put you in danger. We love flame-grilled flavor as much as the next outdoor chef, but this isn’t the way to get it.

3. It’s better for you: When buildup from your grill gets on your food, you risk putting dangerous substances in your body. Most of the accumulation is from food, but some of it can come from your heat source. Bacteria could also accumulate if you don’t maintain a clean grill. Save yourself the risk of consuming dangerous residue and clean your grill frequently.

4. Your grill will last longer: Clean every component of your grill to avoid damage. Buildup can damage parts of your grill or stop them from working. If you let enough grease accumulate, you may have to replace grill parts or get a new grill. Treat your grill as you would indoor appliances to avoid making replacements.

5. You’ll maintain nonstick surfaces: Residue strips nonstick grates of their nonstick abilities. Clean buildup to make future grilling sessions easier and keep a nonstick surface. You don’t want to end up tearing fish or other delicate foods off a sticky grill surface.

With so many benefits of a clean grill, why not take a bit more time to clean it properly? If you follow specific grill cleaning tips, you’ll have it shining in no time with easy grill cleaning.

Grill Cleaning Tips

A clean grill is a safe appliance that makes delicious food as a bonus. Before you begin your search for kitchen items to clean your grill, you should know some general grill cleaning tips.

1. Clean and scrape grates while they’re still warm: Warm residue is easier to clean than dry, stuck-on grease. If you go with this method, be extra careful while handling your grill grates. Use protective gloves and be sure the DIY grill cleaner you’re using isn’t flammable if you’re working with a warm grill.

2. Give it a quick clean after every use: You don’t need to do a deep clean every time you grill out. But a once-over scrub after using it can save you from painstaking scraping later.

3. Do deep cleans depending on your usage: In general, you should do a deep clean every couple of months. If you use your grill more often, consider a deep clean once a month. If you hardly use your grill — but let’s be real, we’re using it all the time — every few months will suffice.

4. Deep clean a cool grill: If you have to get deep into your grill to clean it, make sure it’s had a chance to cool. If you’re cleaning up charcoal or pellet ash, be sure the material isn’t still warm before taking a shop vacuum to it.

Along with those grill cleaning tips, some preventive measures can save you from dealing with a gunked-up grill. Be sure to:

  • Cover surfaces with aluminum foil.
  • Use a grill pan or basket.
  • Use cooking oil, either on the grates or the food itself.
  • Clean out ashes from pellets or charcoal.
  • Use a grill cover when you aren’t cooking.

With proper care, your grill will last longer and your food will taste better. The steps above will also save you from having to scrub extra hard the next time you clean. With an easier cleaning job, you won’t need any harsh chemicals to clean your grill.

Certain tools or chemicals may be a bit too harsh for your grill’s surfaces. Whether or not these cleaners are harmful depends on how you use them and the type of grill you have. Here are some general tips for proper cleaning.

1. Be careful with some materials: If your grill has porcelain or similar coating, avoid using steel tools. They can chip away at or damage the coating. Instead, use wooden varieties or plastic on cooled surfaces because they won’t scratch.

2. Don’t get cast iron wet: When cleaning cast-iron grates, avoid using soap and water, since that will ruin the seasoning and cause rust. Brush the material instead, then re-season with oil.

3. Avoid specific cleaners: Don’t use oven cleaner on your grill. It’s easy to assume an oven cleaner can do double duty here. However, the product can damage the exterior of your grill, and some cleaners will also damage nonstick grates.

4. Do your research: Consult your grill’s manual before breaking out the tools and cleaning solutions. The manufacturer knows what’s best for their product, and following their guidelines will help your grill last longer.

Eliminating harsh chemicals and other methods from your cleaning lineup doesn’t mean you’re out of options. Look in your kitchen and throughout your home for items to clean your grill.

Home Products to Clean Grills

Look throughout your kitchen, and you will find items to clean your grill. There’s no need for cleaners that only work on your grill when you can clean with home products. Use these multi-taskers to get a spotless clean.

Distilled white vinegar: You may have used vinegar to clean your home before. Bring that bottle outside to get your grill spotless. Use an even mix of water to white vinegar — to avoid that harsh smell — and shake it up in a spray bottle. Be sure your grates are cool before you spray them with the solution. Saturate the racks of your grill, letting it sit for 10 minutes. Resting the solution allows the vinegar to break down grease and grime, since it is a de-greaser. Take a folded square of aluminum foil and spray it with more vinegar to rub the grates down. You don’t even have to rinse the racks, since vinegar isn’t dangerous to ingest.

Lemons or onions: Yes, the delicious additions you use to flavor your grilled food make a great DIY grill cleaner. If you’ve got half a lemon or onion, use it to clean your grill. Dip the lemon in some salt to give this homemade grill cleaner a scrubby boost. Only use salt if your grates have a lot of buildup, since it is an abrasive substance you don’t want directly on your grill’s surface. Use tongs or a grill fork to hold the half of lemon or onion and carefully scrub away at warm grates. The acidity in either piece of produce will break down residue.

Baking soda: If vinegar alone didn’t help you wipe away every spot of grease, invite baking soda to the party. Put your grill grates in a large bag to soak. Mix up a two-to-one mix of vinegar and baking soda, then pour it over your grates and close the bag. The combination will bubble up, so use a sufficiently sized container when combining to avoid spill-over. Baking soda helps break down grease to make it easier to rinse off, so once the grates have sat overnight, take them out and give them a rinse. If you still see residue on them, take out the grill brush to send it packing.

Dish soap: For more degreasing power, grab the bottle of dish soap by your kitchen sink. Fill a bucket large enough to fit your grill rack with hot water. Stir in a quarter of a cup of dish soap. Add more if you’re working with an oversized bucket. Mix in some baking soda if you think your grates need an added boost. Submerge the grates in the bucket, handling them with gloved hands if you do this while they’re warm. Depending on how much gunk your grates had on them, you can leave them for 15 minutes to an hour. When you take them out, give them a scrub and a rinse. The soap — and baking soda, if you added it — breaks down the grease and makes it easier to remove.

Non-abrasive cleansers: A non-abrasive kitchen cleaner — usually in a powder or spray — will remove residue on your grill. Sprinkle or spray it on, let it sit then scrub it away. Be sure to give the grates a good rinse after this, since products like these aren’t natural grill cleaners. They’re safe to use as long as you rinse them thoroughly, though. Since these cleaners are non-abrasive, you don’t risk scratching up your grill’s surfaces. Scratched grates will impact how easily they clean down the line, so go non-abrasive when you can.

A steamer: A portable clothes steamer can help loosen stubborn bits on your grill grates. Be sure to remove the racks from your grill before steaming, since the water can cause certain parts of your grill or smoker to rust. If you use this method carefully, it could be safer than trying to work with a warm or hot grill. The moisture combined with the heat from the steamer will help remove stuck-on residue. Because the device is portable, you can direct the steam right at the area that needs the most attention. The best part is that nothing is a more natural grill cleaner than water. Dry off your grill racks after steaming for an easy grill cleaning solution.

LA’s Totally Awesome Cleaner: Ok, we admit that this one isn’t a product you’d normally find in a kitchen. But since it’s a bargain buy and highly praised by grillers everywhere, it should be on your go-to list of grill cleaners. Even Mark is a fan! Just be careful when using this degreaser on painted parts of your grill since it can cause discoloration.

From natural grill cleaner to DIY concoctions, these make for some straightforward grill cleaning. They’re great if you don’t have grill cleaner on hand or if you’d like to clean your grill naturally. Once you try them, you’ll only want to clean grills with home products. Make them your go-to cleaners in combination with the right tools for a spotless grill.

What Tools You’ll Need to Clean Your Grill

You may already own some of these tools. If you don’t, they’re worth getting to make cleaning your grill easier. Have these items on hand.

1. A wire grill brush: It’s your grill’s best companion for a reason. Scrub away at any tough residue your homemade grill cleaner may have missed, or use it for a quick brush after cooking. Be sure to wipe the grates down after using a wire brush. You should also use a new, quality brush so you’re not leaving any bristles behind — no one likes topping their burger with some wire.

2. Stainless steel tongs: Use tongs to wield whatever you’re using to scrub down grates. This tool is especially useful if your grill is still warm while you’re cleaning. You don’t want to risk touching the hot surface, even if you have gloves on. The tongs will also give you extra reach for getting to the back of the grill. You can use a grill fork instead of tongs when cleaning with lemons or onions, as we mentioned above.

3. Putty knife: A flexible, yet sturdy, putty knife is great for working on stubborn residue. Scrape racks, trays and the inside of your grill with this tool.

4. Grill scraper: Scrape your grill grates after cooking with this tool, which you may already have integrated into your grill brush. You could also use it when doing a deeper clean. Scrape in the direction of your grates from front to back, shaking off residue into the garbage between passes.

5. Sponge, cloth or rags: Once you use one of the easy grill cleaning methods we described above, you’ll need to wipe down your grill grates. Use any soft, non-abrasive fabric or sponge to pick up loosened bits of residue.

6. Heat-proof gloves: If you’re working with a warm grill, be sure to protect your hands. Even if you’re holding cleaning rags with tongs or other tools, you’ll still be over the heat. You don’t want to grab a hot surface without gloves absentmindedly — grill marks belong on your food, not your hands.

Pick Up Some Grill Gloves

7. Rubber gloves: When you’re handling cool surfaces, protect your hands from the grime or cleaning solutions with rubber gloves. While not necessary, it’s much easier to wash grease off gloves or throw them away than scrubbing it off your hands.

Use these tools in combination with kitchen items to clean your grill for a spotless shine. Be sure to keep these tools clean, as well. You’re not going to clean much if you’re using dirty scrapers, brushes and cloths.

Choose Grilla Grills for Low-Maintenance Grills

If you’re tired of your high-maintenance grill, get something more fun to cook with and easier to maintain. At Grilla Grills, we offer high-quality grills at a reasonable price. Our range of smokers and pellet grills provide an authentic smoke flavor with reliable and durable engineering.

See the Grill Possibilities

Browse our selection of Silverbac, Chimp and Grilla pellet grills and our Kong kamado smoker for low-maintenance grilling options. Check out more grill cleaning tips on our site, and contact us at 616-392-7410 with any questions you have. Make grilling and cleaning up a breeze with our products at Grilla Grills!

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