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  • The Grill Drill: Outdoor Grill Cleaning Tips



    Before you light the grill, spray the grill rack with nonstick cooking spray. This works great on gas or charcoal grills. Apply a liberal coat and food won’t stick, making cooking and cleanup a lot easier.


    Make a ball of aluminum foil and “scrub” the warm grill rack surface with it, taking care not to burn your fingers. When you are done, simply toss the foil, it’s so much easier and healthier than a filthy dirty, smelly grill brush with bits of spoiled food stuck to it.


    You haven’t looked at the inside of the grill since last September and you haven’t deep cleaned it in years. You always have good intentions, but when you open the grill and look in, it’s overwhelming. After today, you’re going to have an entirely new attitude! I have a few ways to clean the grill rack(s) that will work for everyone. You can choose, or try them all a different times, to see which ones you like. The first one works on the filthiest grill rack with almost no effort. It does use ammonia, however. Now this is household ammonia not commercial. When diluted it is not toxic, farmers even use ammonia in their fields to add nitrogen back into the soil.


    This method uses ammonia fumes to clean the grill racks and is an overnight procedure. Wait until you see how easy it is and how well it works!

    • Lay out a sturdy garbage bag.
    • Lay the grill racks in the bag so that they can be fully covered by the bag and the bag can be tightly sealed.
    • Put 1 cup of household ammonia (clear or sudsy) in a glass jar. I rinse out and save jars that food comes in, like jelly or salsa, for this purpose. Be sure the jar holds one cup.
    • Lay the bag with the racks inside out in the sun. I lay it on the cement so that the grass isn’t damaged by the plastic bag. Sit the jar containing the ammonia in the bag on top of the racks with the lid OFF.
    • Carefully seal the bag tightly with a twist tie. The fumes are going to do the cleaning so make sure the bag is tightly sealed to keep them in.
    • Leave the bag outside and sealed overnight.
    • Next day open the bag carefully away from your face. Ammonia fumes are strong. Wearing gloves, I use disposables for this, remove the jar containing the ammonia and seal it with the lid.
    • Reach in and remove the racks. I generally take some paper towels and wipe them off a little while they are in the bag to remove the worst of the burned on grease and food.
    • Lay them out and turn the hose to a strong stream and rinse them on both sides. If you have a couple of stubborn places, rub with a piece of fine steel wool. I generally never have to rub.
    • By rinsing well you have diluted and removed the ammonia.
    • Place the grill rack on the grill and heat on high for 10 – 15 minutes.
    • You are done!
    • Toss the bag and any paper towels and pour the ammonia down a sink with cold water running to wash it away. It will not hurt pipes. Rinse out jar, put on lid and toss.


    This method uses the power of natural white vinegar to clean the racks. It may not be quite as effective as the formula using ammonia and takes more elbow grease.
    You will need: White vinegar, water, a spray bottle, several large pieces of aluminum foil about 18 “ long.

    • Select a spray bottle that will hold 4 cups. *If you don’t have one that size, mix the vinegar and water in a 50/50 ratio to fit your spray bottle.
    • Pour two cups of white vinegar into the spray bottle
    • Add two cups of hot water
    • Put the lid on the bottle and shake to mix
    • Fold the aluminum foil until you have a folded layered pad that is comfortable for your hand. I fold it to about 3” x 3”.
    • Spray the water/vinegar solution on the racks of the grill and the area above and underneath them to wet.
    • Let the solution dry for 15 – 20 minutes.
    • While the grill dries, pour out any extra water/vinegar solution and fill the bottle with undiluted white vinegar.
    • Spray the vinegar on the foil and use it to scrub the grill’s interior. No rinsing is required. You can also add vinegar spray to any areas that are hard to clean and then rub with the foil. I always wear disposable gloves for this because it is dirty and greasy.
    • Turn the grill on high for 10 – 15 minutes to remove any vinegar residue.

    If you find that the steps above don’t get your grill racks spotless, there’s another process you can try which may give you a deeper clean. This one again uses vinegar but also combines it with baking soda.


    • Place the grill racks in a sturdy plastic garbage bag that will enclose them.
    • In dish stir together two cups of vinegar and one cup of baking soda. It will foam so allow space in the container. I like to use a large 4 cup measuring cup.
    • Pour this solution on the racks, spreading it well.
    • Close the bag and leave it overnight.
    • Cut open the bag and leave the racks in it to contain the mess. Rub the racks with balls of aluminum foil.
    • Rinse well with the garden hose.

    Here’s one more way to clean those dirty grill racks.


    Yes, you read that right. We are going to use dryer fabric softener sheets.
    Here’s what you will need:

    • A large plastic storage container that will hold the racks.
    • Hot water or water from the hose to cover the racks – hot water works best.
    • 4 Tablespoons DAWN Ultra or Original Dish Washing Liquid
    • 2 dryer fabric softener sheets.

    Put the racks in the plastic container and cover with the water. The water only needs to cover the racks well. Add the dishwashing liquid and mix it into the water. Drop in the dryer fabric softener sheets.

    Leave it overnight. The next day use the softener sheets to wipe the racks as you remove them. Rinse them well and rub with a scrubbing sponge if needed. Place the racks on the grill turned on high for 10 to 15 minutes to burn off any residue.


    Your BBQ is much like any kitchen appliance, it’s made out of the same materials: plastics, metals and stainless steel. The exterior can be cleaned between uses as needed with soapy water and a soft sponge or paper towels. Fill your bucket with about a gallon of warm water and add a couple of good squirts of dish washing liquid to the bucket. Using an old cloth, sponge or paper towels, apply the soapy water to the exterior. Rinse off and buff dry with a soft cloth. If you notice there is greasy build up on the exterior, choose a non-toxic degreaser and apply it to the dirty areas. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then rub with damp paper towels. Rinse well and buff dry with a soft cloth. To clean stainless steel, spray on a gentle stainless steel cleaner and wipe in the direction of the grain using a soft cloth. If it is more heavily soiled, wash with soapy water, dry and then apply the stainless cleaner.


    These tend to be dirty and greasy and also have bacteria on them from raw meat and sauce. They need to be cleaned to prevent greasy build up and potential cross-contamination from bacteria on them to cooking food. Use a degreaser to clean these, let it sit for 5-10 minutes and then wipe off; the degreaser will break down the bacteria-laden build up. You can also use hot water and dish soap to wash them well and then wipe with hydrogen peroxide to disinfect.


    Clean the exterior of any grill with waterless hand cleaner. This is used by mechanics and workers who get grease and oil on their hands. You don’t need water to use it. It comes in a cream waterless hand cleaner, such as GOJO and also in wipes. Simply wipe it on, let it dissolve the grease and dirt and then buff with paper towels. So easy! Find this at hardware stores and auto supply stores.

    When you are completely done cleaning the interior and exterior of the grill, rub some cooking oil on the racks and heat the grill to about 350 degrees and leave it on for 15 minutes to season the cooking rack.


    When cooking keep some salt handy. If any grease splatters on to your cement, stone or wood patio, sprinkle heavily with salt and grind it in with your foot. It will absorb the grease and help prevent stains. Sweep off and reapply if needed.

    We hope you found these outdoor grill cleaning tips helpful! Now you can cook with ease knowing your grill is clean and microbe free.