Required: High Heat & Some Muscle For Sparkling Grills

Barbecue season is finally here and that means regular grill scrubbing. It’s so nice to be able to cook outdoors but those metal spokes sure can accumulate some nasty crud buildup.

I find the simplest method for removing all that gunk is to turn the heat on high (with the lid down) for about 15 or 20 minutes then brush vigorously but there are some other ways to get the job done.

If the buildup is particularly bad and you’re looking for more ideas, try one of these recipes or methods.

Cleaning Tips

Careful: See note at bottom of page regarding safe brushes to use.

  • Recipe #1: 1/8 cup washing soda mixed with 1 quart warm water. Soak in mixture for several hours or overnight. Use a stiff brush after soaking then rinse well with water.
  • #2: Mix baking soda and water to make a paste, apply and leave overnight. Use a stiff brush the next morning and rinse well.
  • #3: 1/4 cup laundry or dishwasher detergent and 1 quart of warm water. Let soak for several hours in mixture then wash, rinse well with water.
  • #4: Lay the metal racks on newspaper then spray with oven cleaner, leave overnight then wash and rinse well. You could also place the racks in a large garbage bag, spray them with the oven cleaner then tie bags closed. Lay them on the ground and in the morning, rip open the bags and rinse off the racks.
  • Heat Method: Lay two long sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil on top of racks so they are completely covered, close lid (a couple inches of foil should be sticking out on all sides) and heat on high for a maximum of 30 minutes. Open cover, allow to cool and remove foil. All the bits should fall off but if not, try tapping them with a heavy stick or lightly brushing.
  • If you have a steam cleaning option on your kitchen oven, toss the BBQ grates in there and steam away.
  • Coffee: Greasy burners & grills can be tackled by soaking in hot coffee for about an hour. Coffee is a great grease buster. (Sent in by Jennifer, thank you!)

The better the scrubber, the less elbow grease it will take to remove any stubborn, crusty bits. If your brush is MIA, try one of these (you may even find you like them better!)…

  • Make a ball with aluminum foil then use to scrub the racks.
  • Natural option: Cut a lemon in half, press the open half into a plate of coarse salt then use the salted lemon to scrub.

Tip: Rub racks with olive oil or spray with non-stick cooking spray before setting food on it (do not spray when heat is on or apply to paper towel first then rub on), this not only helps prevent food sticking while cooking, it also helps washing up a little easier.

How To Clean Without A Wire Brush: Important! Did you know there are now alerts out that wire grill brushes (stainless steel or brass wire) are dangerous because they can leave behind pieces of sharp metal bristles that get stuck to food (and then possibly chewed and ingested). Injuries can be minor cuts inside the mouth to more serious internal injuries.

Other alternatives to try: Pumice stone, stainless steel pot scrubber (these are the little coil balls) or a coil-shaped bristle-free brush. I’ve seen suggestions of using a cut half onion rubbed along the hot metal spokes (use the BBQ tongs to hold onion firmly)…but hey! that’s destroying a perfectly yummy onion ;). You can also use the kitchen nylon scrubbie pads but not when the grates are hot (try steaming them first to make the job easier).

Related Pop culture: “No Wire Hangers”…now “No Wire Bristles” 😉

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What Readers Are Saying: 5 Comments
  1. Peggy Helton says:

    The best thing I have found for cleaning the grill, is a brown paper bag. Just rub the racks with the bag while the grill is still cold.

  2. nikki says:

    i start the grill once its ready to cook take half a onion or potato and use a long fork and rub over the grates till clean if really dirty use the other half or cut the dirty part off the veggie and run it over again if u cut all ur veggies for dinner take a ball of foil and once grill is hot use the fork and run the foil over it works but not as good as the veggies because they are moist and the steam helps to remove all the lil bits

  3. Daniel says:

    When using the BBQ, try the following:

    Heat the BBQ, once it. Is hot, take a half of an onion stick it on a BBQ fork.
    Dip the onion in a little vegtable oil and rub the BBQ bars clean.

    This will help limit food from sticking and keep it clean and the onionoil gives of a great smell..
    Once finished eating just turn on as high as possible once everything is bernt jest brush the remains off.

  4. George says:

    Put dirty grills in an airtight container (garbage bag) with 1 cup of ammonia . Seal. Leave in sun for a day.
    Everything just falls of the grills.

  5. Mike B. says:

    Use plain water. Put water in an used plastic dish, i.e margerine. After cooking, while the grill is still hot, dip the bbq brush in the water and scrub the grates. You will be steam cleaning.


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