The Best Grill Cleaners of 2022

Keep your steaks and burgers tasting great with a grill that is clean of grease.

By Timothy Dale and Jen Karetnick | Updated Aug 1, 2022 9:43 AM

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The Best Grill Cleaner Options

Photo: Jen Karetnick

When sunny skies and warm weather call for cookouts, your grill can quickly get gunked up with grease, fat, sauce, and rust, giving food an unappealing taste or even causing problems in your intestinal tract. Save your stomach the trouble and invest in a grill cleaner that removes rust and baked-on food residue from the grill grate, side burner, hood, and exterior.
While most grill chefs will have one or two grill brushes that can quickly clean off most fat or sticky globs of sauce, the best grill cleaner can remove even the most cooked-on grease from your grill grate.

Unfortunately, some grill cleaners leave behind their own residue that makes users cautious about using them. Others have unpleasant odors. And many just don’t work well, requiring you to scrub just as hard with a grill brush.

We tested these grill cleaners in real-life situations after cooking a variety of proteins and plant-based dishes. In addition to simply cooking, we deliberately made some messes. We splashed around extra marinade on grill grates to get a nice sticky char. We melted cheese and caramelized sugar in grill baskets to leave crusty coatings. We grilled fat by itself to generously coat drip pans. And we casually flung barbecue sauces, oils, honeys, mustards, ketchup, and other condiments on grill exteriors, the inside of hoods, and side burners. In short, we made it as challenging as possible for any heavy-duty cleaner.

Where appropriate, we also tried these cleaners on grill accessories like kabob skewers and fish baskets, other outdoor appliances like turkey fryers and smokers, and indoor appliances such as microwaves and ovens. We also tested them on stainless steel surfaces, ceramics, porcelain, and other materials when the makers indicated it was safe to do so.
These grill cleaners below have been proven effective against this stuck-on grease and baked-on food residue, making them among the best on the market and essential for keeping a grill clean.

  1. BEST OVERALL: CitruSafe BBQ Grill Cleaner
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Easy-Off BBQ Cleaner
  3. BEST FOR GRILL EXTERIORS: Therapy Stainless Steel Cleaner Kit
  4. BEST FOR GRILL GRATES: Weber Grill Grate Cleaner
  5. BEST FOR GREASE: Parker & Bailey BBQ Grill Cleaner & Degreaser
  6. BEST NATURAL: Kona Safe/Clean Grill Cleaner
  7. BEST FAST-ACTING: Goo Gone Grill and Grate Cleaner
The Best Grill Cleaner Options

Photo: Jen Karetnick

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Grill Cleaner

Before selecting a new grill-cleaning product to make your grill sparkle, it’s important to determine the type of cleaner you want to use, the application method, and the needed strength of the cleaner so that you don’t accidentally damage the grill grates or any stainless steel surfaces.

All-Purpose vs. Focused Cleaner

Grill cleaners are designed for two general purposes: cleaning the grates and cooking area of the grill where the most grease and fat gets stuck, and cleaning the exterior of the grill where dirt is a bigger problem than grease.

Specially formulated to clean one specific area of the grill, focused cleaners are generally a better choice for cleansing the grates and cooking surface. These products can be thought of as specialists in their field—they’re great at one thing but not as effective at anything else.

To clean the grates and grill’s exterior individually, select a specific formula best for grease and stubborn residue and a product to clean dirt and rust, respectively. The two can be targeted together so that one formula fights both grease and dirt, but combining them creates a typically less effective formula at cleaning each.

All-purpose cleaners are ideal for cleaning exterior areas and can be very handy if the grill is regularly kept clean. These options cover all grill cleaning needs, but their penetrating power tends to fall short, making them ineffective at giving the grill a thorough, deep clean.

Application Method

Grill cleaners can be applied in a variety of ways, though the majority of products are sprayed on and then wiped off with a microfiber cloth. This method is a quick and effective way to coat the grill with the cleaning solution, though areas of the grill may be missed, or they may not get enough grill cleaner to be effective.

Foaming nozzles take longer than a spray bottle to apply the solution, but unlike the spray, users can easily see where the grill cleaner has been applied and use more if necessary. Given that both the spray and foam are removed using a cloth, the only real difference is the speed and accuracy of the grill cleaner application.

Other grill cleaners are designed to be poured into a bag where the grates of the grill are contained. The bag is then sealed and the grates are left to soak in the cleaner for a period before being removed and wiped clean. This method is great for thoroughly caked-on grime, but it can’t be used for any other part of the grill.

The last application method is simply to use a cleaning pad that holds a grill cleaner within it. This method isn’t especially popular, as the cleaning pads quickly tear and wear out. However, the added physical scrubbing combined with the degreasing power of the grill cleaner may be just what’s needed.

Degreasing Strength

The strength of the grill cleaner depends on its purpose. All-purpose cleaners and eco-friendly grill cleaners tend to have a weaker formula for cutting through grease, but they can be effective for basic grill cleaning.

Grill cleaners that focus on the exterior of the grill are designed for one purpose: making a grill shine. This means that they are great for applying a lasting buff on the metal lid of a grill, but their degreasing strength will fall short.

The best grill cleaners for degreasing strength will fall in the grate-cleaner category because they have been designed for just this purpose. Heavy-duty grate cleaners will get even the worst grease and grime off a grill, grill basket, and drip pan, but their powerful chemical formulas can be hard on the eyes and lungs. Make sure to wear appropriate eye and mouth protection while cleaning with these robust grill cleaners.

Eco-Friendly Claims

No matter what product is used, there will likely be an eco-friendly alternative available as the eco-conscious mindset of the market continues to influence product manufacturers. Grill cleaners are no exception.

When picking up an eco-friendly grill cleaner, expect to get a decent product that works for light to moderate cleaning, though it may have a hard time cutting through significant grease buildup. These cleaners often come with the added benefit of a sweet or fruity smell, and they reduce the damage household cleaning products can cause to the environment.

In most cases, the benefits of an eco-friendly grill cleaner outweigh the slightly weaker degreasing strength, but if a strong degreaser is needed, eco-friendly grill cleaners might not be the best choice. They also frequently cost more.

Additional Features

Grill cleaners come with many different features that can make them more attractive options. One of the most popular features is the included microfiber cloth. Since cleaning means that a cloth or rag is needed, there is a temptation to pick up a grill cleaner that comes with a specifically designed cloth.

Other cleaners may try to draw attention to shoppers with their ability to be used on hot or cold surfaces, avoiding the hassle of having to be heat-activated for best results. Finally, a stone grill will benefit from a grill cleaner that boasts a neutral pH balance to ensure the stonework is safe from harmful chemicals.

The Best Grill Cleaner Options

Photo: Jen Karetnick

Our Top Picks

We tested the following grill cleaners to find out if they delivered on their promises and to see which works best for specific purposes. The following grill cleaners are among the top on the market based on effectiveness, cost, and customer satisfaction.

Best Overall

Photo: amazon.com

Keep the grill shining inside and out with CitruSafe BBQ Grill Cleaner. This all-purpose grill spray uses a citrus-based degreaser with a subtle scent to cut through moderate amounts of grease on the grates and add a fresh-smelling shine to the exterior of the grill. We liked that we didn’t have to hold our breath to avoid a blast of chemicals.

The biodegradable formula gives users an environmentally friendly option that can only be used on cold grills. For those who have time enough to wait for the grill to cool down to clean it, great. For those like us, though, who wind up cleaning it another day after the grease has set, the crusty stuff is harder to get off. Still, the solution contains D-limonene, which is safe for the grill, safe for the environment, and safe for the user, making this one of the best all-purpose grill cleaners for the environmentally conscious consumer.

It does take a bit of scrubbing on grill grates that have a lot of baked-on food residue, and it’s easy to go through a whole bottle on a single grill if the grill hasn’t been cleaned in a long time. It’s largely better for frequent, light-duty use. But it can be used as a heavy-duty cleaner. To that end, we found it best to let a layer soak for a bit before wiping, then take another pass for the stuck-on bits. On the plus side, this spray also works well in the smoker and the oven, leaving behind a pleasant aroma and no greasy residue.

Product Specs

  • Volume: 16 fluid ounces
  • Application method: Spray
  • Type: All-purpose

Pros

  • Eco-friendly formula
  • Uses D-limonene to cut through grease and grime
  • Pleasant orange scent

Cons

  • May have a hard time with tough, stuck-on grime
  • Easily use a whole bottle on 1 grill
  • More expensive than noneco formulas, and scrubber is extra

Get the CitruSafe grill cleaner on Amazon or at Lowe’s.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Grill Cleaner Option: Easy-Off BBQ Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

This grill-cleaning product by Easy-Off shouldn’t be used on the exterior or interior of the grill because the powerful cleaning formula can damage stainless steel surfaces or the powder-steel body of the grill. Instead, use the specialized cleaner on the grill grates only to ensure that any and all burned food, stuck-on grease, and residual grime are removed within about 40 minutes after the spray foam has been applied. Usually, users can see grit and grime start to dissolve almost immediately.

The grill-cleaning product holds about 14.5 fluid ounces of solution, giving users a small stock of heavy-duty cleaner for the entire grilling season. We removed the grill grates and stuck them in a large tub before spraying them thoroughly, then used the hard spray setting from the hose to rinse them off. (Others prefer a pressure washer.) We then took them inside to the laundry room sink to wash with lemony dish soap and water to really make sure the chemicals were gone.

There’s no denying that this grill cleaner, which is kosher certified, works. It can also be used on smoker grill grates (but not on the inside or outside of the smoker, although some customers have used them on glass). However, it has a powerful chemical scent that we found eye watering. We advise that it should only be used in a well-ventilated area with proper personal protective equipment, including a mask, gloves, and safety glasses.

Product Specs

  • Volume: 14.5 fluid ounces
  • Application method: Foam
  • Type: Specialized grill and grate cleaner

Pros

  • Easy-to-use foam cleaner
  • Powerful formula has no trouble with grease
  • Kosher certified
  • Also available in an affordable 3-pack

Cons

  • Not suitable for cleaning the grill (or smoker) exterior or interior
  • Strong chemical scent
  • Need to remove grate to clean it

Get the Easy-Off grill cleaner on Amazon.

Best for Grill Exteriors

The Best Grill Cleaner Option: Therapy Stainless Steel Cleaner Kit
Photo: amazon.com

Eco-friendly, streak-free, and efficient at cutting through grease, Therapy Stainless Steel Cleaner is the best grill cleaner for the cook who uses their grill frequently but not every day. It features an entirely plant-based formula that makes it much safer than ammonia or bleach cleaners and comes with a large microfiber cloth that is perfect for cleaning a grill’s smooth surfaces.

We found that this stainless steel cleaner is amazing at removing streaks and grease spots from the exterior of a grill but is almost as good at cutting through the heavy grease on the interior of the grill. Intended for ongoing light-duty use, this grill cleaner is the best choice for the grill cook who is diligent about keeping the grill spotless between uses.

It’s not as effective if the grill is never cleaned or left outside uncovered. Don’t expect this lavender-scented coconut-oil blend to cut through a year’s worth of grime. Do expect it to polish all the stainless steel surfaces and stainless steel appliances. We used it on everything in the kitchen, from the professional-grade stove, ovens, and refrigerator to the faucet. Afterward, we noticed that our fingers weren’t leaving marks as they had before.

Product Specs

  • Volume: 16 fluid ounces
  • Application method: Spray
  • Type: Specialized stainless steel cleaner

Pros

  • Eco-friendly, plant-based, cruelty-free (no animal testing) formula
  • Useful on grill interior, exterior, and any stainless steel surface/appliance
  • Pleasant lavender scent
  • Family-owned company

Cons

  • Not intended for cleaning grill grates
  • Not intended for heavy-duty cleaning
  • Expensive

Get the Therapy stainless steel cleaner on Amazon or at Lowe’s.

Best for Grill Grates

The Best Grill Cleaner Option: Weber Grill Grate Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

The Weber Grill Grate Cleaner is particularly focused on cutting through tough grease and grime that all-purpose cleaners can’t touch, so it’s great for those grillers who are infrequent users or who are heavy users but forgetful cleaners. Its USDA-approved formula is eco-friendly, nontoxic, noncorrosive, and nonflammable, making it a safe alternative to some of the more hazardous grate-focused grill cleaners. We also like that it’s slightly less costly than other biodegradable, skin-safe formulas. We especially enjoyed its odorless composition. That was a pleasant surprise for such a heavy-duty cleaner.

The solution is easily sprayed on the grill grates, regardless of whether the grill is cold or recently used, allowing users to save some money on both fuel and time. The grill grates don’t have to be removed either since the spray is safe for all surfaces. This allowed us to clean the grill after dining without having to wait for it to cool down, which often means that we procrastinate into the next weekend, allowing the grease problem to worsen.

We found this grill and grate cleaner equally effective with the grates and interiors of smokers, ovens, and microwaves. As promised, it did help cut through any tough grease, oil, baked-on food, and fat, although burned messes resisted it. Just spray the cleaner, give it some time to eat through the grime, then wipe it away with a clean microfiber cloth.

Product Specs

  • Volume: 16 fluid ounces
  • Application method: Spray
  • Type: Specialized grill and grate cleaner

Pros

  • Nonflammable, noncorrosive, nontoxic
  • Odorless solution
  • Can be used on cold grills to reduce wasted fuel
  • Less expensive than other eco-friendly cleaners

Cons

  • May have a hard time with very tough stuck-on grime
  • Wire scrub brush might be required
  • Pricier than cleaners that are not eco-friendly

Get the Weber grill cleaner at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Lowe’s.

Best For Grease

Best Grill Cleaner Option: Parker & Bailey BBQ Grill and Surface Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

Ensure that the tough grease, fat, and oil that has been built up throughout the grilling season can be easily removed by using this strong degreasing grill cleaner. It comes in a simple spray bottle with 24 fluid ounces of cleaning solution. This all-purpose spray can be used on the exterior and interior of the grill as well as the grill grates, drip pans, grill baskets, and any grill tools. It quickly breaks up baked-on food, grit, burned scraps, and other messes.

While other cleaners are known for leaving behind streaks and oily residue, Parker & Bailey’s grill cleaner has a completely nonstick formula that cleans the grill without creating more work for the user. However, it’s important to use this cleaner in a well-ventilated area because the chemical formula can cause eye irritation. For those cooks who enjoy their grills on a frequent basis but loathe the cleaning part, this heavy-duty cleaner is a good choice.

We also tried this as advertised as a cleaner for cookware, countertops, and appliances and found that it does leave streaks on some metallic surfaces if they aren’t rinsed with water and dried afterward. However, the solution is phosphate-free. While we wouldn’t use it during prep, this all-purpose spray saves on having bottles and wipes everywhere when cleaning up.

Product Specs

  • Volume: 24 fluid ounces
  • Application method: Spray
  • Type: All-purpose

Pros

  • Works on a variety of surfaces ranging from metal to tile
  • Suitable for grill exteriors, interiors, grates, drip pans, and more
  • Doesn’t leave a residue behind

Cons

  • Can cause eye irritation
  • Prices vary wildly depending on retail outlet
  • Leaves streaks on shiny metallic surfaces

Get the Parker & Bailey grill cleaner on Amazon or Parker & Bailey.

Best Natural

The Best Grill Cleaner Option: Kona Safe Clean Grill Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

One of the downsides of grill grate cleaners—even eco-friendly ones—is odor. For those who don’t like strong ones, it’s the first reason to like Kona Safe/Clean Grill Cleaner. This water-based formula is practically odorless and fume-free, so we didn’t have to worry about it irritating our eyes when we were using it. It’s also nonflammable, noncorrosive, biodegradable, and free of phosphates.

Packaged in a generous 23-ounce spray bottle, the formula is all-purpose. This means that it will degrease the interior and exterior of a grill, drip pan, barbecue tools, hood, and more, as well as take care of the crusted-over grill grates. We even used it on the wheels of the grill, which hadn’t been cleaned in a long time. It works and is safe on a number of materials, including ceramic, porcelain, stainless steel surfaces, and tile, so users can clean a backsplash or outdoor prep area as well. It also works inside for ovens, air fryers, microwaves, and other appliances.

Best of all, because this is a nonflammable formula, it can be used to clean while the grill is still cooling down. That makes it easier to prevent buildup as users are less likely to procrastinate or forget to clean the grill the next day, as we so often do. This spray is a win for any kind of barbecuer, from occasional to obsessive.

Product Specs

  • Volume: 23 fluid ounces
  • Application method: Spray
  • Type: Grill grate/cooking surfaces

Pros

  • Eco-friendly and biodegradable
  • Safe for a variety of cooking surfaces and grill accessories
  • Made in the U.S. by a small business
  • Water-based and nearly odorless

Cons

  • Need to leave on for 20 minutes to remove baked-on food
  • Need to use a paper towel or grill brush anyway
  • More expensive than competitors

Get the Kona grill cleaner on Amazon.

Best Fast-Acting

Best Grill Cleaner Option: Goo Gone Grill and Grate Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

Goo Gone has specialized in removing glue, adhesive, and even caulking, so it may come as no surprise that its Goo Gone Grill and Grate Cleaner is amazing at removing tough grease. Just keep in mind that it should still be used with appropriate personal protective equipment to prevent the user’s eyes from becoming irritated while cleaning the grill.

The citric acid in this biodegradable cleaner is an effective degreasing agent that comes with a strong orange smell, which makes using it far more pleasant than using products that give off a chemical scent that’s strong enough to make eyes water. However, we realized after using it that we shouldn’t have cleaned the grill before we were going to use it. As with other cleaners, this one should only be used on cool grill grates and interiors, and then they should be rinsed or users will smell the cleaner once it heats up.

That said, the cleaner reduces flare-ups, prevents corrosion, and is safe on all food-prep surfaces, so even if it can be smelled, it’s not harmful. It also comes at a great price for a substantial bottle, allowing users to keep it on hand through an entire grilling season. That makes it a great heavy-duty cleaner for enthusiastic grill cooks.

Product Specs

  • Volume: 24 fluid ounces
  • Application method: Spray
  • Type: All-purpose

Pros

  • Biodegradable, eco-friendly formula
  • Safe for grill exterior, interior, grates, and drip pans
  • Pleasant citrus scent

Cons

  • May cause eye irritation
  • Can only use on a cool grill
  • Spray bottle can clog

Get the Goo Gone grill cleaner on Amazon or at Lowe’s.

Our Verdict

Overall, we recommend the CitruSafe grill cleaner for its environmentally sound formula and its all-purpose effectiveness both outside in the grill, smoker, and barbecue area and in the kitchen. If you’re on a budget, however, and don’t mind preparing for fumes, Easy-Off grill cleaner never fails to remove the really difficult buildup on grill grates.

How We Tested the Best Grill Cleaners

We tested grill cleaners in real-life post-cooking situations on grills, smokers, barbecues, tools, accessories, indoor appliances, and any materials that were indicated as safe.

Along the way, we used a rubric to create parameters, giving scores of 1 to 4 (with 4 being the highest) on the following objective and subjective questions:

  • Was it specialized or all-purpose?
  • Did it come with accessories?
  • Was it eco-friendly or chemical-based?
  • Did the grill cleaners perform within a reasonable amount of time?
  • Did they clean only grates or elsewhere?
  • Did we have to use multiple applications?
  • Did we have to use grill brushes afterward?
  • Was the odor mild or intense?
  • Did we have to don protective gear?
  • Did we have to rinse or wash grill grates afterward?
  • Could we use the grill cleaners on hot and cold grills or only on cold grills?
  • And finally, how did the volume inside the container compare with the price point and quality?

FAQs

As there are always new products, there is always more to learn about grill cleaners and how to use them effectively to get rid of baked-on food and tough grease. Take a look below to find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about using a grill and grate cleaner.

Q. What is the best way to clean grill grates?

The best way to clean grill grates is with a heavy-duty cleaner that can cut through the grease without damaging the metal. Typically, this involves applying the cleaner directly to the grill grates or to a soft microfiber cloth before wiping with the cloth to remove dirt, grime, oils, and other residues. Once the surface is clean, you can rinse it with a clean, damp cloth and then dry it.

Q. Is it safe to use a wire brush on grill grates?

Wire grill brushes are generally safe as long as you remember to replace them at least once a year. However, the wire pieces on a wire brush can come loose and get stuck on the grill. If you aren’t careful, then the wire can end up in your food, posing a risk to whomever is going to be eating.

It’s advised to always check the grill brush before using it to clean the grill and to check the grill after cleaning to make sure that the wires did not come loose during the cleaning process.

Q. Can you clean a grill without a brush?

A grill brush is one of the most basic tools for cleaning a grill. It gets rid of large stuck-on pieces, but you can clean a grill without a brush. Simply spray stainless steel cleaner on the exterior of the grill or apply it to a cloth to wipe away dirt, dust, and grime. Then spray a heavy-duty cleaner on the grill grates, and use a cloth to clean off dirt, grime, oils, and other residue.

Alternatively, remove the grill grates and place them in a large bucket or tub where they can soak for a short period of time in a grill-cleaning solution before being rinsed and dried.

Q. How do you clean the outside of a grill?

When it comes to cleaning the grill, it isn’t all about scrubbing the grill grates or emptying the drip pans. Like most stainless steel appliances, the exterior of the grill can be sprayed with stainless steel cleaner and wiped down with a clean cloth to remove any dust, dirt, grease, grime, oil, or any other substances. Make sure to rinse the grill with a clean, damp cloth and then dry the grill to prevent any water damage.