The Best, Most Effective Way to Clean Disgusting Grill Grates

updated Aug 31, 2021
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Hand lifting a grill grate from the grill
Credit: Rachel Joy Barehl

Cleaning my grill is one of those maintenance tasks I know I should do on a regular basis, but I dread doing. In fact, I dread it so deeply, I find myself stacking my chore list with anything and everything else. You should see how clean my windows are!

A big part of my problem, aside from the gross factor, is that I haven’t found a reliable way to get rid of all that built-up grease and char without a multitude of expensive specialty products or don’t-breathe-while-using chemicals. I can’t tell you how many grill bricks and bottles of oven cleaner and degreaser I’ve blasted through. If I had one sure-fire way to clean it — with stuff I typically have on hand — I’d probably be more likely to do it more often.

So, when I saw the recent results of Kitchn’s grill grate cleaning showdown, I was intrigued. The hands-down winner was a mixture of Dawn dish soap and baking soda — two things I’m never without. Could it be that the solution to my problem was in my kitchen all along?

Credit: Danielle Centoni

With summer grilling season here, and my grates already looking really dirty (because I didn’t clean them last fall), I realized it was time to stop procrastinating. Plus, I had no excuse. I already had everything I needed. 

I followed the method in the article, mixing up a big batch of the cleaning mixture — 1/2 cup baking soda and enough Dawn to make a thick paste. As recommended, I scraped the grates clean as best as I could with a ball of aluminum foil, then set them out on newspapers so I could coat every centimeter in the paste. 

The scraping part was intense and took a while. The underneath part of the grates had been neglected for a long time and were really caked with crud. Luckily, the foil ball worked fantastically well as a scraper and molded itself between the gaps, so I could easily get all of the surfaces. It didn’t chisel everything off, but got things looking a lot more manageable. Little bits of aluminum flaked off, but I wasn’t worried because they’d get rinsed away eventually.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The paste part was easy — and satisfying, too. I could see the mixture starting to break up the grease right away, turning brown and gunky instantly as it got to work. I let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. Then, I got a fresh ball of foil and started scraping again. 

I could tell the mixture had dissolved pretty much all of the grease and made a lot of the stubborn, burnt-on stuff I couldn’t scrape off the first time a lot easier to remove. I rinsed the grate in a big bucket of warm water and was amazed at the difference! 

Now that I was into it, I could see there were still some stubborn areas that weren’t budging. That’s when I remembered my new chainmail scrubber! I added a little more paste and started scrubbing with the chainmail, and those tenacious chunks of gross in the in-between areas didn’t stand a chance. It’s like the grates are brand new! 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

Now that I have a solid, inexpensive way to clean my grill using readily available supplies, I’m sure I’ll be doing it a lot more often!

How do you clean your grill grates? Tell us about it in the comments below!