Evenings spent outdoors, getting together with friends, and having grilled food may sound like fun but cleaning your barbeque is always the toughest part. Burnt food, sauce drippings, and marinades are bound to leave an unappetizing coating in and on your grill . Of course, you would not want the taste of yesterday’s steak on the next day’s salmon, as this would ruin the flavor.
One of the most frequently asked questions is: Can you use oven cleaner on a grill? The answer is yes! You may use standard oven cleaners to break down the toughest residues and buildups. If you only use your grill in summer, remember to deep clean with a good oven cleaner at the end of grilling season.
Those who use their grill all-year-round may need to deep clean the grill grates at least twice a year to keep them in good condition. Please bear in mind that good maintenance is always better than having to replace worn parts so remember to wipe down the grill grates after every use to minimize debris buildup.
What Makes Oven Cleaners A Good Option For Cleaning Grills
Oven cleaners are made of chemicals that are tough on hardened and stuck-on foods, but safe to use around the house. Butane is a key ingredient you will find in many products and it is considered an organic solvent that helps break down the carbon (the char) surrounding the gunk you are trying to get rid of.
Another ingredient similar to butane is monoethanolamine (MEA), and it is another organic compound that helps cut dirt and debris. It neutralizes the fatty acids and converts others into solvents in order to clean the area. It has properties similar to alcohol as it can mix with water and also absorb moisture.
Diethylene glycol monobutyl ether (DEGBE) is used to prevent the monoethanolamine from evaporating too fast so that there is enough time for it to clean. DEGBE also helps cut through stubborn grease and fat deposits.
Sodium hydroxide is also a vital ingredient present in oven cleaners. It works with butane and MEA to soften the coatings and evaporate the fatty acids. Diethanolamine gives a foamy texture to the cleaner when sprayed, thus it helps in cleaning effectively.
While oven cleaners (see Amazon) are good for deep cleaning once in a while, make sure you do not use them too frequently. A harsh chemical-based cleaner can damage the grills if used incorrectly. Below are a few steps to clean the grills using oven cleaner.
Steps For Cleaning Charcoal Grill
Take the ash pan from inner section of the charcoal barbeque and empty it into the garbage. Wipeout any residue and replace the clean ash pan inside the grill.
Spray oven cleaner over the grill grates and make sure that any residue and buildup is properly coated. Also spray the interior of the grill with the cleaner. Be careful to not spray the cleaning solution on the exterior section of the grill because this can ruin the enamel finish.
Let the cleaner sit on the grill grates for about 20 to 30 minutes so that the buildup and grime can loosen and become easier to clean.
Lift the grates out of the barbeque and use paper towel to properly clean the inner section of the equipment.
Mix two tablespoons of dish soap with a gallon of warm water. Wash the grates with the soapy solution. Use the same solution to wipe down the interior and exterior of the grill, if desired. Rinse with water.
Steps for Cleaning a Gas Grill
Gas grills are considered a more convenient and easy-to-maintain option, but they also require cleaning after use to ensure they stay at peak performance.
Start by turning the gas grill on a high setting for about 10 to 15 minutes, with the lid closed. Then turn off the grill and let it cool down slightly.
Take a metal brush and remove the loosened residue from the grill rack. This prevents food from sticking on the grill grates and also avoids flare-ups.
When the grill cools completely, you can wipe the inside and outside area with a soft cloth and warm soapy water.
Rinse the grill with plain water and wipe it completely dry.
Top 5 Oven Cleaners You Can Use On A Grill
Now that you know you can use oven cleaner on a grill, it’s time to look at some of the best products on the market. I have handpicked these top 5 products for their ability to clean the toughest stains with ease.
This is a heavy-duty oven cleaner that works best for commercial and industrial surfaces. It cleans effectively on both cold and hot surfaces with equal ease. It is effective at breaking down the toughest stains, caked-on foods, and grease. The product (see details) can be used for cleaning grills, broilers, splash panels, ventilating hoods, griddles, and fryers.
Available in a pack of two, the Professional Fume Free Max Oven Cleaner comes in a refreshing lemon scent to cover the unpleasant smell of spoiled or burned food. You don’t need to wear any protective gloves while using this oven cleaner and it cuts through tough stains, grease and dried food spills with ease. It also works great for everyday spot cleaning.
This product (shop now) has been approved by the Good Housekeeping Institute and it contains the power of orange oil which cuts through stubborn grease and burnt food with ease. As the cleaner contains no harsh chemicals, there is no need to wear protective gloves. It comes with a surface sponge that helps you get the job done perfectly.
This is a heavy-duty oven cleaner that is typically used in restaurants to clean ovens, grills, stove burners, rotisseries, electric frying pans, and other cookware. The product works well on both cold or warm ovens, but it should not be used in continuous- or self-cleaning ovens. You just need to spray on and wipe off to remove caked food, grease, and stains from the surface.
If you host get-togethers and parties regularly, you will need a heavy-duty and fast-acting cleaner in your cleaning cabinet. This high potency cleaner is capable of removing burnt-on food, grease stains, and caked-on deposits with ease. It also works great for cleaning restaurant grills and barbecue grills. It can be used on hot surfaces and it cleans in a jiffy without leaving any white marks.
Natural Alternatives To Clean A Grill
While it’s acceptable to use oven cleaner on a grill, there are some people who are not comfortable with using any chemical-based product. If you are looking for a non-toxic way of cleaning, here are a few household ingredients you can use to achieve amazing results.
Alternative One: Baking Soda and water
Baking soda is an effective natural cleanser. Mix baking soda and water to make a paste, slightly thinner than toothpaste consistency. Spread this paste over the most stubborn gunk on the grill and let the solution sit for a few hours. The longer baking soda sits on the caked-on food and grime, the better it will cut through. If the paste looks like it’s drying up after a couple of hours, moisten it by spraying water. After about 6-10 hours, wipe away the residue and you will have a sparkling clean grill grate without any elbow grease.
Alternative Two: Vinegar
For this cleaning method, you will need a spray bottle, white vinegar, lukewarm water, and aluminum foil. Add two cups of vinegar in the spray bottle, then add two cups of water. Close the lid and shake vigorously to mix together.
Spray this solution on the grill racks and area underneath to cover the gunk and residue. Let the solution sit and dry for about ten minutes. Fold the sheet of aluminum foil until you make a small square of about two inches on each side. Pour some vinegar on the folded foil and scrub the interior of the grill, then wipe out the gunk with a cloth. No rinsing is needed.
Alternative Three: Soap and Borax
To clean with soap and borax, make a solution containing 2 tbsp liquid soap, 2 tsp borax used for laundry, and one quart of warm water. Pour this in the spray bottle and liberally spray on the grills and interior areas. Let it sit for about 20 minutes and then wipe clean. If there is extra stubborn gunk, use a bristleless brush, crumpled aluminum foil, or half an onion.
How can I clean the outside of the grill?
The outside of the grill may also get coated with smoke soot, food droppings, sauces, and marinade. You may use oven cleaner or dishwashing liquid to clean any stubborn stains and gunk. I would suggest that you never use any type of steel wool or anything that can leave residue or cause rust.
Related article: How Often Should You Clean A Grill?
What else can I use in the place of a steel brush
In the case of cast iron grills, you may use a paint scraper or brass brush in the place of a steel brush to remove the gunk. Spray the oven cleaner over the stains and dried food particles and let them loosen up, and then use a stiff-bristled brush or scraper to remove all the residue.
Can I use olive oil to coat the grill?
Yes, you can spray or rub the grill grates with olive oil to keep your food from sticking on the surface, but it also serves as an effective grill cleaner. After you remove the stains and gunk from the grill grates, coat the grate with olive oil to prevent food from sticking. Rinse the grate with water to make it clean like new.