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10 Best tips for keeping a bbq grill clean


Having an outdoor kitchen is an excellent way to enjoy cooking in your garden, even if you only have room for a compact and portable BBQ. However, it’s likely that your grill has been sitting neglected in the shed, covered in dust and remnants from last summer’s barbecues. It’s time to face the task at hand, put on some rubber gloves, and begin the cleaning process.

While applying physical effort and scrubbing vigorously is a good starting point, it may not be sufficient to fully restore your BBQ. Depending on the condition in which you stored it, you’ll likely need more than just your strength; you’ll need to employ appropriate cleaning methods tailored to your specific type of BBQ.

The cleaning process for a BBQ will vary based on the material it is made of. For instance, unlike other materials such as metal, cast iron can withstand outdoor conditions without rusting. However, it still requires regular cleaning using hot water and a sponge, especially after cooking and once it has cooled down.

1. Utilise newspaper and steam to clean the BBQ grill


An effective trick for cleaning a heavily soiled BBQ grill involves using newspaper. Once the barbecue has cooled slightly but remains warm, place a sheet of old newspaper on top and generously spray it with water. Close the lid and allow it to steam clean for about 30 minutes. According to expert suggestions, the moisture and heat will facilitate the release of grease, fat, and food debris. When removing the newspaper, you’ll find it covered in grime, which can be disposed of, leaving you with a grill that requires less manual cleaning effort.

  1. Allow the grill to cool down slightly, but ensure it is still warm.
  2. Take a sheet of old newspaper and dampen it with water, making sure it is not dripping wet.
  3. Lay the damp newspaper sheet over the top of the grill grates, ensuring it covers the entire surface.
  4. Close the lid of the grill, trapping the newspaper inside, and let it sit for about half an hour.
  5. The heat from the grill will create steam as it interacts with the damp newspaper, softening the stuck-on grease and grime.
  6. After the waiting period, carefully remove the newspaper, which will likely be greasy and dirty.
  7. Wipe down the grill grates with a clean cloth or sponge to remove any loosened debris.
  8. If needed, you can further clean the grates with warm, soapy water or a grill brush to ensure a thorough clean.

The combination of steam and newspaper helps to break down and lift off stubborn residue, making it easier to clean the grill. It’s an eco-friendly method that doesn’t require the use of harsh chemicals. However, be cautious when handling the warm newspaper and ensure that the grill is not too hot to cause any burns.

2. Scrub the grill

To remove any remaining food particles from the grill, utilize a grill brush equipped with wire bristles. In the case of a porcelain-coated rack, it is advisable to opt for a grill brush with brass bristles to prevent any damage. If a grill brush is unavailable, crumple aluminum foil into a ball and use it to scrub the grill instead. Subsequently, clean the grill using a dishcloth and hot soapy water.

Here are some tips for effective grill scrubbing:

  1. Preheat the grill: Before scrubbing, heat the grill for a few minutes to loosen any stubborn grime or food particles.
  2. Use a grill brush: A grill brush with wire bristles is an excellent tool for scrubbing the grill grates. Choose a brush with sturdy bristles that can withstand the rigors of scrubbing.
  3. Scrub in a back-and-forth motion: Holding the brush at a slight angle, scrub the grates using a back-and-forth motion. Apply firm pressure to dislodge stuck-on debris.
  4. Clean between the grates: Pay attention to the spaces between the grates as they can accumulate grease and food residue. Use the brush to reach between the grates and remove any buildup.
  5. Scrub both sides of the grates: Flip the grates and repeat the scrubbing process on the other side. This ensures a thorough clean and helps maintain even heat distribution during grilling.
  6. Be cautious with coated grates: If your grill grates are coated or non-stick, use a grill brush with softer bristles or nylon bristles to avoid damaging the coating.
  7. Clean the grill body: Don’t forget to clean the grill’s interior and exterior surfaces. Use a damp cloth or sponge with warm, soapy water to wipe down the surfaces and remove any grease or dirt.
  8. Rinse and dry: After scrubbing, rinse the grates and surfaces with water to remove any residue or cleaning agents. Thoroughly dry the grill to prevent the formation of rust.

If stubborn dirt persists, you may consider using a household cleaner. However, it is essential to exercise caution as some cleaners can be abrasive and contain toxic elements that may not be suitable for a barbecue. Therefore, ensure that you select a cleaner explicitly designed for this purpose.

3. Use a Drip Pan or Tray


Using a drip pan or tray is an important aspect of maintaining a clean BBQ grill. A drip pan or tray serves as a catchment system for grease, drippings, and food particles that accumulate during cooking.

The primary purpose of a drip pan or tray is to prevent grease and drippings from falling directly onto the burners or heating elements of the grill. By collecting these liquids and solids, it helps prevent flare-ups, reduces the risk of grease fires, and promotes more even heat distribution.

Most BBQ grills have designated areas where the drip pan or tray can be positioned. It is typically located beneath the cooking grates, either directly over the burners or on a separate tray holder. Ensure that the drip pan or tray is securely in place before starting the grill.

4. Use Natural Cleaners

Using natural cleaners to clean your BBQ grill can be a safe and eco-friendly approach.


Natural cleaners offer several advantages over chemical-based cleaners. Firstly, they are generally safer for both the environment and your health. Natural cleaners are often made from biodegradable ingredients that break down more easily and have minimal impact on ecosystems. Secondly, natural cleaners are typically free from harsh chemicals and toxins, reducing the risk of residue transfer to your food during grilling. This ensures a healthier cooking environment. Additionally, natural cleaners are often more gentle on surfaces, preventing any potential damage or discoloration. By opting for natural cleaners, you can maintain a clean and safe BBQ grill without compromising on sustainability.

There are various natural cleaners that can effectively clean your BBQ grill. One popular option is a mixture of white vinegar and water. Vinegar’s acidic nature helps break down grease and grime. Simply mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, spray it onto the grill surfaces, and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrub the grates with a brush or sponge, and then rinse thoroughly with water. Another natural cleaner is baking soda.

Make a paste using baking soda and water, apply it to the grill grates, and let it sit for a while. Scrub the grates with a brush, rinse well, and wipe clean. Lemon juice, another natural option, can be used in a similar manner as vinegar. Its acidity helps cut through grease and leaves a fresh scent. Whichever natural cleaner you choose, ensure you follow the recommended application instructions and always rinse the grill thoroughly to remove any residue.

5. Use an onion for cleaning

Believe it or not, a clever hack for cleaning your BBQ involves using an onion. The team suggests a rather unconventional but effective method: while the grill is still hot, take half an onion and attach it to the end of a fork. Rub the onion over the hot grill bars, and as the onion releases its natural moisture, it creates steam that helps loosen stuck-on food particles. The onion’s natural antibacterial properties also aid in removing impurities.

Onions possess inherent antibacterial properties, and if you’re using a charcoal grill, you can even enhance the flavor of your grilled food by throwing the used onion directly into the coals after cleaning. This adds a delightful taste element to whatever you’ll be grilling next.

6. Sprinkle frying oil on the grill

While it may seem counterintuitive to the cleaning process, this technique is actually beneficial for preventing food from sticking and keeping your grill rust-free. Prior to each use of the BBQ, generously coat it with sunflower oil, and similarly, give it a thorough rubdown with oil once you’ve finished grilling. Your BBQ will greatly appreciate this care and maintenance.

7. Ketchup helps to eliminate rust

It appears that tomato ketchup has a surprising use beyond its role as a burger and sausage accompaniment. According to experts, ketchup is an excellent rust remover, making it particularly useful for BBQs that were exposed to the elements last summer.

To use ketchup for rust removal, you can apply a small amount directly to the rusted areas of the grill. Allow the ketchup to sit on the rusted spots for a few minutes to penetrate the surface. The acidic nature of the ketchup will start to react with the rust, loosening its grip on the metal. Afterward, you can scrub the area with a brush or sponge to further assist in removing the rust.

The combination of the acid in ketchup and the physical action of scrubbing helps lift the rust particles from the grill’s surface.

8. Add a small amount of beer


When you find yourself with leftover beer after a barbecue, don’t let it go to waste. Instead, pour it onto the hot grill and use a wire brush to scrub it diligently. This clever technique will not only give your grill a sparkling appearance but also make efficient use of the beer. So, rather than being seen as a loss of good beer, it becomes a smart and effective way to enhance the grill’s shine.

Additionally, you can use beer to create marinades and sauces for your grilled dishes. The carbonation and unique flavors in beer can add depth and complexity to your marinades, complementing various types of meat, seafood, and vegetables. From lighter lagers to robust stouts, there’s a wide range of beer styles to experiment with, allowing you to customize the flavors to your preference.

However, it’s important to note that adding beer to the grill should be done with caution. Ensure that you follow proper grilling and food safety guidelines to avoid any risks.

9. Use coffee to soak BBQ tools

A unique approach to cleaning BBQ tools involves utilizing coffee as a soaking agent. Soaking your BBQ tools in coffee can help remove tough grease, grime, and odors. Simply prepare a strong pot of coffee, let it cool down, and then submerge the BBQ tools in the coffee for a period of time, allowing the liquid to work its magic. The coffee’s acidity and natural oils help break down stubborn residue, making it easier to clean. After soaking, thoroughly rinse the tools with water and dry them properly before storage or use. This method not only helps maintain the cleanliness of your BBQ tools but also adds a touch of novelty to the cleaning process.

10. Use tin foil for cleaning bbq grill

Tin foil can be a handy tool for cleaning your grill effectively. To use tin foil for grill cleaning, simply crumple a piece of foil into a ball. With the grill still warm (but not too hot to handle), use the foil ball to scrub the grates, removing any stuck-on food particles and residue. The textured surface of the foil helps to dislodge the debris, while the foil itself acts as a mild abrasive.

As you scrub, you may notice the foil becoming dirty or discolored, which indicates that it is effectively lifting off the grime from the grill. After scrubbing, be sure to thoroughly rinse the grates with water to remove any remaining residue or foil particles.

Using tin foil for grill cleaning is a convenient and inexpensive method, providing a quick way to maintain the cleanliness of your grill between more thorough cleanings. However, it’s important to note that tin foil should not be used on coated or non-stick grill grates, as it can potentially damage the surface. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for the specific care and cleaning instructions for your grill.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your BBQ grill clean is essential for optimal performance, longevity, and enjoyable grilling experiences. Here are some key takeaways and a concluding summary of tips for cleaning your BBQ:

  1. Regular maintenance: Regularly clean your BBQ grill to prevent grease buildup, rust formation, and the accumulation of food residue.
  2. Preheating and brushing: Preheat the grill and use a grill brush with wire bristles to scrub the grates before and after cooking to remove debris and residue.
  3. Natural cleaners: Consider using natural cleaners like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, or coffee grounds to tackle tough stains and grease.
  4. Steam cleaning: Utilize steam cleaning techniques by using damp newspaper or introducing moisture to loosen stubborn grime.
  5. Drip pan or tray: Place a drip pan or tray beneath the grill grates to collect grease and food drippings, making cleanup easier and preventing flare-ups.
  6. Safe materials: Be mindful of the materials used for cleaning, avoiding abrasive tools or cleaners that can damage the grill’s surfaces.
  7. Protect and store: Use grill covers or store your BBQ grill in a protected area when not in use to prevent exposure to the elements.

By implementing these tips, you can maintain a clean and well-functioning BBQ grill, ensuring delicious and perfectly grilled meals for your enjoyment. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety instructions specific to your grill model. Happy grilling!

Can I use a pumice stone to clean my grill?

While a pumice stone can be effective for certain grill surfaces, it’s important to check the manufacturer’s guidelines and ensure that the stone is safe for use on your specific grill.

Can I use regular household cleaners to clean my BBQ grill?

While some household cleaners may be effective, it’s important to choose cleaners that are safe for use on BBQ grills. Avoid using abrasive cleaners that can damage the grill’s surfaces and opt for cleaners specifically designed for grills.