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Sara Hansen

Homemade Grill Cleaner: Natural Options To Get & Keep Your Cooker Spotless

If it is time to clean your grill or smoker, you may already be anticipating a battle against grease and carbon buildup. It may be tempting to reach for a concentrated grill cleaner solution at the store to help give you an advantage and shorten cleaning time. 

But, some all-natural items will help you clean just as effectively (if not better) and allow you to avoid heavy toxins. The last thing you want when you go to cook your quality meats is a lingering smell or taste of chemicals.

In this article, we’ll break down some powerful natural grill cleaning options using things you probably already have around the house. Plus, how to make your own homemade grill cleaner to have on hand. 


Items You Can Use For Natural Grill Cleaning

Keeping your cooker clean and ready to go for every use is not only safer when it comes to using your grill or smoker, but will also give you better tasting barbecue and extend the life of your cooker. 

Using natural products will help ensure your food’s flavor isn’t tainted by harsh chemicals either. Some concentrated grill cleaners contain skin and respiratory irritants. That’s the last thing you want to be added to your meat or veggies on your cooker.

So, here are a few of the household items you can use to keep your grill spotless and help ensure you keep cooking great tasting food. All while knowing exactly what you’re cleaning your cooker with:


Distilled White Vinegar


homemade grill cleaner | natural grill cleaner | white vinegar grill cleanerSource: Kitchen Guru Ideas


White vinegar is one of the best natural cleaners around. This is due, in large part, to the acetic acid in it. Due to its acidic nature, vinegar is effective in dissolving grease, carbon, dirt, and mineral deposits.

To use white vinegar on your grill, mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Make sure the grill or smoker is cool and then spray the solution on, especially making sure to saturate the grates. Let the vinegar sit for 10 minutes to allow it to break down grease and grime. 

You can then use a ball of aluminum foil, sprayed with more vinegar, to rub the grates and interior down. Vinegar is not dangerous to ingest so you don’t have to rinse the grates off if you don’t want to. 


Baking soda

Baking soda can be used for much more than your favorite cookie recipe. Combine this neutral compound with vinegar and you’ve got a dynamic duo of natural cleaning. When you combine the two, the acid-based reaction causes the solution to bubble up and break down even tough grease and carbon.

When it’s time to clean your cooker, put the grill grates in a large heavy-duty trash bag or plastic tub with a two-to-one mix of vinegar and baking soda. Leave the grates to sit overnight and then remove them from the solution and rinse off. If there’s any residue still left, a quick brush with a stainless-steel grill brush should easily remove it.


Onions or Lemons


homemade grill cleaner | natural grill cleaner | how to clean a grill naturallySource: Chatelaine


As you may have gathered by now, naturally acidic items do wonders for cleaning a grill. That is why both onions and lemons also make great options for natural grill cleaners, as they break down grease and food residue. Simply warm up your grill grates, cut an onion or lemon in half, hold it with tongs or a grill fork, and rub it cut side down over the grates.

If you have a lot of buildup on the grates, you can even dip the lemon in some salt to add a slightly abrasive surface. Only use salt if you’ve got a lot of buildup on the cooker’s surfaces. You never want to use anything abrasive directly on the grates or grill surface.



Yes, it's true, beer can help clean your grill or smoker. This is due to the carbonation and the fact that it is acidic with a low pH level. Pour half a bottle of beer over the grates and grease trap and then scrub them with aluminum foil, a stainless-steel grill brush, or a clean rag. Then pair the other half of that beer with your delicious barbecue




homemade grill cleaner | natural grill cleaner | natural grill cleaningSource: Root and Revel


Hot steam works wonders on cleaning a grill or smoker. It helps to loosen food residue and can make wiping down your grill grates much easier. Get your grill grates warm, safely remove them from your grill using high-heat grill gloves, and then rub a wet clean rag over the grates to utilize the steam cleaning. 

Or, even better, a portable clothes steamer can make this even easier. There are even steam grill brushes available now as well, which have a steamer capability built into a handled grill brush. 

You always want to remove the racks from the grill before steaming because the water can cause certain parts of your grill or smoker to rust. With a handheld steamer, you can direct the steam directly to the area that needs the most attention. Make sure to dry the racks off immediately after steaming.


Homemade Grill Cleaner Recipe

This all-purpose natural grill cleaner recipe combines three powerful household items and makes the perfect cleaner to use on the grates, grill/grease pan, lid interior, and more. 


All-Purpose Homemade Grill Cleaner Recipe 


                                                         1 tablespoon of baking soda

                                                         1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar

                                                         1 tablespoon of Sal Suds (or similar natural/biodegradable cleaner)

                                                         1 ball or sheet of aluminum foil

                                                         2 tablespoons of avocado oil spray (or similar high-heat oil)


Instructions for use:

  • Place a shallow baking tin filled with hot water inside the grill. Close the lid and allow the steam to fill the inside for about 10 minutes. This will loosen any unwanted food buildup and grease.
  • Mix the Sal Suds, baking soda, and 12 ounces warm water. Then pour this mixture into a clean spray bottle and add the vinegar.
  • Once the 10 minutes of steaming is done, remove the water tin and spray your cleaning solution mixture onto the grates and other parts you will be cleaning.
  • Use balled up aluminum foil or a stainless steel grill brush to scrub the grease and char off. Then, wipe the grates off with a clean cloth. 
  • Use a clean paper towel to wipe avocado oil onto the grates to help prevent them from rusting.


homemade grill cleaner | natural grill cleaner | natural grill cleaningSource: FoodFireFriends


Clean Your Grill Naturally For Best Results & Taste

As you can see, it can be very easy to clean your grill or smoker naturally using household items that pack a punch. You’ll end up with better results, without harsh chemicals, and protect the delicious flavor of your cooking. A homemade grill cleaner will also end up saving you money in the long run.

Combine the natural ingredients/items we covered above with the tips we cover in our grill cleaning article and keep your cooker spotless and ready to go!

Do you have a favorite natural grill cleaning method? Know of another homemade grill cleaner recipe? Leave a comment below. We want to hear from you!

Make sure to also check out our YouTube channel for the insider info, tips, and BBQ news straight from the pros. Click “Subscribe” to see all the latest from BBQ Champs Academy!

Sara Hansen

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3 comments on “Homemade Grill Cleaner: Natural Options To Get & Keep Your Cooker Spotless”

  1. Oh wow, you know what? I've got to thank you very much for such brilliant ideas! When you said that it's also pretty much convenient to use sliced onions or lemons to keep our grill spotless, it really enlightened me. My husband just had a small BBQ session with his friends last night and he's now trying to clean all the utensils. I'll definitely ask him to use this tip to make his job easier later.

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