What Is the Best Way to Clean Grill Grates Without a Brush?

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Picture this.  You are about to host a BBQ, but your grill grates are disgusting, and you don’t have a grill brush.

Or, you just got your brand new grill and forgot to pick up a brush to go with it!

Neither situation is good, but let’s face it it happens.  We forget things all the time, or our grill brush is worn out, lost, or eaten by the dog.

Never fear, where there is a will, there is a way!

 Best Way to Clean Grill Grates Without a Brush

The best way to clean your grill grates without a brush will come down to what you have on hand.  Let’s take a look at a couple of options.

Nothing But Elbow Grease – The Best Way to Clean All Grill Grates

Without a grill brush, you are going to have to use some elbow grease.  Get ready to scrub down those grill grates!

You can do a good number on your grill grates with just plain water, and something to scrub them with.

The most important thing is to know what your grill grates are made out of.

If your grill grates are made out of porcelain, do not use anything too abrasive on them or scrape them.

Some things you can scrub your grill grates with are:

  • Paper Towels
  • A Sponge
  • Steel wool
  • Rags

Simply fill up a bin or your kitchen sink and go to town.  For really bad grates, you may want to add a tiny bit of liquid dish soap.

While we are on the topic of dish soap – there is only one kind I ever buy.

Blue Dawn.  The kind with the animals on it.

It has to be the one with the animals on it!

This is what they use to clean the poor animals that get covered in oil during an oil spill.

It works on everything.  I’m notorious for getting grease on my clothes while cooking.  I put a few drops of this on immediately, throw it in the washer, and my clothes are saved.

It is powerful, yet gentile, and perfect for getting caked on grease off of your grill grates.

If you do use soap, remember to rinse them thoroughly.  You can even send them through the dish washer on a rinse cycle without soap to ensure they are squeaky clean.

If your grill grates are made out of cast iron, do not forget to season them after cleaning, or they may rust.

Cleaning Grill Grates with Baking Soda and Vinegar, and a Little Elbow Grease!

Did you know you can also clean your grill grates with baking soda and vinegar?  This is a great, natural way to clean your grill grates.

First, find someplace to put your grates, because this may get wet and messy.

You don’t need to soak your grill grates, but you may want to catch the excess vinegar.  An old towel is good.

Old baking sheets are also great, and do let your girl grates soak a little bit too.  While you don’t have to let them soak, it can make them easier to clean and require a bit less elbow grease.

Sprinkle baking soda over your grill grates, then pour vinegar on top.  Don’t just dump the vinegar, but pour it gently to allow the baking soda and vinegar time to react.

If you have a spray bottle, that is even better!  Spray your vinegar over the grill grates that have been covered in baking soda.

Let them it for about ten minutes, then begin to scrub them.  You will see all that  built up gunk come off of them.

You may need to apply this method a couple times to get your sparkling clean grill grates.

A Dry Sponge

If you aren’t looking to do a crazy cleaning of your grill grates, but just get off some caked on food, a dry sponge works wonders.

No joke.  I do this on a cold grill all the time.  A dry sponge is hard enough to get the stuck debris off, but soft enough that it won’t damage your grill grates if they are made out of porcelain.

Plus, if your grill is cold, it is much easier to put a little elbow grease into it, since you do not have to worry about getting burned.

The Best Grill Grate Cleaner

If your grill grates are beyond some elbow grease and mild detergent, you may need specific cleaner designed for grill grates.

When you are looking for the best grill grate cleaner there are a couple of things to remember:

  • While you will of course rinse your grill grates after cleaning them, you are cleaning a surface you cook with.  Avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Be sure to try the Nothing But Elbow Grease Method before advancing to grill cleaner.
  • Are you sure your grates are cleanable?  If they are cast iron and full of rust, it is time for a new set of grill grates.  You can learn more about the different type of grill grate materials here.

I have two go to products that I have used when my grill gates were a especially dirty.

Weber Grill Grate Cleaner

I have been a Weber Genesis owner for a number of years now, and always swear by Weber products.

Weber’s grill cleaner is no exception.  I bought it when I bought my grill, and have been sure to keep it clean with this.

For some strange reason, there are no reviews on this 2 pack version on Amazon, but you can read reviews on the 1 and 3 pack versions here.

Are the reviews mixed?  As with anything they are, but it seems like most people wait until their grill is almost unusable before they clean it, which makes for a more difficult cleaning exercise.

Citrusafe Grill Cleaning Spray

This cleaner looked interesting, so I bought a bottle on a whim.  I have used other Citrusafe products in the past mostly because they smell nice and citrusy.

Once again, reviews are mixed probably because people neglect their grills for way too long.

I found this spray did the job without issue, and my grates were shiny in no time.

How to Use the Best Cleaner for Grill Grates

When using a grill cleaner, I usually cut open a brown paper bag, spread it out on my deck, place down the grates and spray them.

This way I am not bringing the mess inside, and I can easily clean up when I’m done.

Even better, I hose the grates off after I am done with using the grill cleaning spray on them.

I usually use paper towels, a rag, or a sponge on the grill grates.

The trick is letting them sit for a few minutes after you spray them.

The Ultimate Best Cleaner for Grill Grates

Believe it or not, the best cleaner for grill grates is to not let them get too horribly dirty in the first place.

My Weber Genesis was so neglected earlier this year, I literally just took a hose to it.  Don’t me be!  Regular maintenance for your grill is your best defense.

Here are some easy and practical tips for keeping your grill clean:

  • Keep your grill covered when not in use.  This way you won’t have to clean off things like pollen and bird poop!
  • Wipe down the exterior at the first sign of dirt.  I usually just use Lysol Wipes.
  • Before you turn off your grill, brush the grates.
  • Every few uses, crank your grill on high for five to 10 minutes, then brush the grates after.
  • Don’t forget to empty the drip pan, and scrape off the inside every once in a while.

Keeping your grill clean is much easier if you stay on top of it!  Be sure to leave your grill care tips in the comments!

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