Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Clean Your Barbecue Grill Without Chemicals!

cleaning your bbq grill

I don’t know about you…but I can’t wait for warmer weather! We are getting a tiny taste of it here and there lately and it’s definitely giving me Spring fever! One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is outdoor cooking! Which inevitably has me lamenting over the awful state of our BBQ grill! No really, it’s BAD!

Last summer I bought myself a Weber Q100 Portable Gas Grill (pictured above). The hubster has a large pellet smoker and we have a large kettle charcoal grill, but neither of those are very useful when you want to grill something quick for dinner.

This little Weber, however, is VERY handy to use….so we end up using it a LOT! My oldest son Erik, who lives in the basement apartment of our home with his lovely wife Kaitlyn, ALSO uses it, so it takes a beating! The last few times I cooked on it I’ve been more than a little disgusted and realized it was long overdue for a cleaning.

I must warn you, this is not for the faint of heart! If you have a weak stomach, you may want to look away!


cleaning your bbq grill

cleaning your bbq grill


I warned you!

I was going to try the same method I used on my stove burner pans (see Cleaning Those Nasty Stove Burners) which works amazingly well, but then I read somewhere that if your grill grate is small enough to fit in your oven, you can clean it by heating it to 500 degrees and “cooking” it for about an hour. It’s basically like putting it through your oven’s self-cleaning cycle.

Since our grill is small I thought this sounded like a good idea.


cleaning your bbq grill


I put one of my old cookies sheets that the hubster uses in his smoker underneath the grill to catch any gunk that might fall through.

I was glad I wouldn’t have to endure that awful ammonia smell, but what I didn’t bargain for was the smoke that this method would generate. Which in hindsight makes perfect sense considering all the grease that was on there! Luckily it was a nice day and I just opened a few windows and doors until the worst of it had passed and no smoke alarms went off. :-)


cleaning your bbq grill


One hour later it looked like this. Hmmmmmmmm….that didn’t look very encouraging! But looks can be deceiving, because as soon as it had cooled down enough to move it to the sink, almost all that burnt on crud had basically turned to ash and came right off with minimal brushing.

After I had brushed the majority of the built up gunk off, I then scrubbed it with some Dawn dishwashing liquid to finish off the grease.

How is this different from just leaving your gas grill on and letting the food burn off? I don’t know. I just know that I’ve tried that SEVERAL times and it never yielded these kinds of results.


cleaning your bbq grill


cleaning your bbq grill


This is how it looked when I returned it to it’s home just an hour and a half later.

Unfortunately it didn’t last very long because no sooner had I replaced it than I looked outside and found Erik out there grilling hamburgers! OY!  A domestic goddesses job is never done! :-)


cleaning your bbq grill

Happy Grilling!

cleaning your bbq grill

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47 thoughts on “Clean Your Barbecue Grill Without Chemicals!

  1. Ilissa

    Awesome! Another tip, be sure to season your grill properly and always preheat it before adding your meat or what-not, to ensure your items don’t stick to your grill (or at least they will stick less). Love your website Jillee!!!

  2. maz o'reilly

    My daughter cleaned our bbq last time we went to use it, and all she did was heat up the hot plate and spray with vinegar and wipe off. works a charm. and no chemicals either.

      1. Kelley P

        True, vinegar is a chemical. So is ammonia. So is water, for that matter. I do get a little miffed when people through the “no chemical” tag around.

      1. kelley

        Woo-hoo! I am now living in Texas but love to see that Minnesota pride. I went to the U of M- saw the Gophers at their Bowl game in Houston last December! My family still lives there so I also support the teams! :)

  3. Sandy

    We clean our grill by placing a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil over the grate, shiny side down. Heat the grill on high until it stops smoking. Everything on the grate will turn to ash and can be brushed off. Have used this method for years.

      1. Kassie

        I do this every time I grill. Press the aluminum foil firmly down onto the grill. Turn it on high, I close the lid, and let it heat for 10 minutes. When everything is ashes, I use my brush to clean it off.
        I do this before I cook my food. I get the big chunks off after I cook, but leave the little stuff until I clean it the next time.

        1. Kelley P

          This is my method, too. And once the grill is clean, I oil it well several times. It smokes for a moment but leaves a shiny, non-stick surface.

  4. Kevin @ Extraordinary BBQ

    I’ve got spring fever bad too! Bad enough that I had to cook some ribs in the snow this week-I couldn’t wait any longer.
    This cleaning method is very cool-minus the smoke. I’ve never had to go to these extremes… I’ve found that if I scrape/brush my grill before and after every use, and spray every time, it stays pretty darn clean.

  5. Rosalie Lenihan

    Looks fine for the grill, but what about the greasy gunk in the bottom of the BQ. That’s what I hate cleaning. With the grill, aren’t you just putting it through the self-clean cycle? When I have a crudded up cast iron pan I do that.

  6. KimH

    They do make grill brushes that take care of that kinda problem… You can give it a quick brush either just after or just before you cook something on it, just make sure that your grates are hot and its little energy used other than a flick or two of the wrist..

    I personally would kill one of my kids if I found my grill looking like that.. and trust me.. I’ve found it looking very close when my son was a teenager.. He’s learned better.. A quick little flick of the wrist beats a lambasting from mom & dad by a long shot.

  7. Kirsten

    My husband tried this method once when I was not home. Our grates were large and VERY dirty. He put them all in the oven at once. It caused an excessive amount of smoke which set off the smoke detectors which terrified our then 2 year old. Next thing I know, I get a call from my husband informing me the fire department is at our house. They had to ventilate the house with their fans to get the smoke out. We should have just scraped off most of the gunk first and then not put ALL of our grates in at the same time and we probably would have been okay. Took days to get the smoke smell out of the house. Now I often use the non stick foil placed over the grill grates when I grill something real messyv- no mess at all!

  8. Allie

    I have a similar Weber grill that I adore. The grill itself isn’t bad on mine (I brush it clean before and after each use). But the inside of the lid cover and the concave inside part of it (underneath the grill) is disgusting and thick with grease. I have nightmares that one day the whole thing will just catch on fire! Any ideas of how best to clean the rest of the grill itself? Best degreaser?

  9. Steve

    Sounds great, but according to the instructions for my Kitchenaid oven- The racks have to be removed before self cleaning or the chrome finish will be destroyed.

  10. cty

    Here’s what my son does every time he grills. Heats the grill & scrapes what he can with a grill brush. Then he uses half an onion (held with grill tongs) to rub away what ever lingers. He repeats to process when he’s finished cooking. Doing this each time he grills is the key. When he cooks seafood he uses half a lemon instead of onion.
    For the heavy duty gunk build up I think that Sandy’s comment with the foil is essentially the same as the oven method–it just all takes place outside.

  11. STACEY

    JILLEE, First REMOVE THE FOIL from the bottom of your oven. It will burn out the coils. There is a mat made of silicone (I think) that you can cut to fit the bottom under the coil. It’s wonderful to use and oh so easy to clean. If you have a self cleaning oven, you’ll need to remove it before cleaning !!!

    1. Kpotocki

      Can you keep tinfoil around the bottom most rack in the oven (instead of below the coils) without it burning out the coils, too?? I have never heard of this!? And Jillee, how do you clean the BIG grills? :-) I swear my husband’s motto is “go big or go home” so… Clearly there are no small grills at our house!

  12. Emily

    I just had to write and tell you how much I love your blog and use it as one of my best online resources.
    I recently cancelled my Pinterest, then decided I wanted to renew it, and the one blog that made me the happiest to pin again was yours! It was like seeing an old friend! Thanks for sharing your inspiration!

  13. roxanne

    Can t find the recipe for the biscuit cinnamon rolls . I went back and looked to see if you up dated the post. No luck. I went to joy of cooking looking for the recipe, again no luck. PlEase help…….thank you ever so much Roxanne

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  15. Marie

    I noticed that you put the grill portion in the oven, but not the “V” pieces that were below it. I observed in the first picture that both were caked up and dirty (just like mine is). I’m wondering if you did not put the pieces underneath the grills (mine are long (oblong) “v” shaped pieces that cover the flame, supposedly to protect from the flames shooting up during cooking), How did you manage to get those pieces just as sparkling clean as you did the grill? Thank you, I enjoy and learn a lot from reading your articles on non chemical cleaning methods. Really appreciate all you have taught me.’

  16. Pingback: Quick Tips For Cleaning Your Grill | Fine Choice Foods

  17. Rose

    I had Hardware person tell me just foil wrap cover the grate with it. Turn the grill on up for 20 minutes. It is like a self-cleaning oven. NO CHEMICALS!!

  18. Pingback: Great method for cleaning a totally gunked-up grill. | ruggedthugruggedthug

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