The Best Grill Cleaner for Your Cookout
Maintain your outdoor cooking station with a quality grill cleaner. Ahead, read our guide to understanding and choosing between many available options.
Backyard cookouts can leave your grill gunked up with grease, fat, and sauce, giving food an unappealing taste. Worse yet, grill masters must also be mindful of rust. If rust develops on the grated metal cooking surface within your grill, it can easily attach to the food you cook. Ingesting a small amount isn’t likely to cause any issues, but ongoing consumption can lead to severe problems in your intestinal tract.
Protect your food’s flavor and the health of your family by investing in a cleaner to remove caked-on residue and rust from the interior and exterior of your grill. As essential as a good grill brush, a good grill cleaner can remove even the most stubborn patches and globs of gunk.
Ahead, read our guide to understanding and choosing among the available options, and don’t miss our roundup of top-pick favorites among the best grill cleaner options out there.
- BEST ALL AROUND: Citrusafe Grill Cleaning Spray
- BEST FOR GRILL GRATES: Weber Grill Cleaner Spray
- BEST FOR GRILL EXTERIORS: Therapy Premium Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish
- BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: Easy-Off Professional Oven & Grill Cleaner
- HONORABLE MENTION: Goo Gone Grill and Grate Cleaner
Key Shopping Considerations
All-Purpose vs. Focused Cleaner
Grill cleaners have two jobs: 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. You can purchase formulas that specialize at each task or a single formula that can do both.
- 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: 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.
- All-purpose cleaners are ideal for cleaning exterior areas and can be very handy if your grill is regularly kept clean. These options conveniently cover all of your cleaning needs, but their penetrating power tends to fall short, making them ineffective at giving your grill a real, deep clean.
Cleaning your grill with a grill cleaner can be done in a handful of different ways.
- 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 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, you 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 cannot 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, but the added physical scrub, combined with the degreasing power of the grill cleaner may be what you need.
The strength of the grill cleaner depends on its purpose. All-purpose cleaners and the eco-friendly grill cleaners tend to have a weaker formula for cutting through grease, but can be effective for basic to standard grill cleaning.
Grill cleaners that focus on the exterior of the grill are designed for one purpose: making your grill shine. This means that they are great for applying a lasting buff on the metal lid of your 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 your grill, but their powerful chemical formulas can be hard on the eyes and lungs. Make sure you wear appropriate eye and mouth protection while cleaning with these robust grill cleaners.
No matter what product you are working with, 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 you pick up an eco-friendly grill cleaner, you can expect to get a decent product that works for light to moderate cleaning, though it may have a hard time cutting through significant grease build-up. 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 will outweigh the slightly weaker degreasing strength, but if you need a strong degreaser, the eco-friendly grill cleaners aren’t the best choice.
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. You know you will need a cloth or rag already, so there is a hefty temptation to pick up a grill cleaner that comes with a specifically-designed cloth. Other cleaners may try to draw your attention 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.
Our Top Picks
1. BEST ALL AROUND: Citrusafe Grill Cleaning Spray
This all-purpose grill cleaner uses a citrus-based degreaser with a subtle scent to cut through moderate amounts of grease on your grates and to add a fresh-smelling shine to the exterior of your grill. D-limonene, the active ingredient in Citrusafe Grill Cleaning Spray is safe for your grill, safe for the environment, and safe for you.
2. BEST FOR GRILL GRATES: Weber Grill Cleaner Spray
The Weber Grill Cleaner Spray is focused on cutting through tough grease and grime. Its USDA approved formula is eco-friendly, non-toxic, non-corrosive, and non-flammable. The odorless solution can be easily sprayed on the areas of your grill that need it, regardless of whether the grill is hot or cold.
3. BEST FOR GRILL EXTERIORS: Therapy Premium Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish
Eco-friendly, streak-free, and efficient at cutting through grease, Therapy Premium Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish is a worthy option to consider for exterior grill cleaning. It features an entirely plant-based formula, free of ammonia and bleach, and it comes with a large microfiber cloth that works well on smooth surfaces.
4. BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: Easy-Off Professional Oven & Grill Cleaner
If your grill is looking like it hasn’t been cleaned since the dark ages, then you might want to get out the rubber gloves, a mask, and a bottle of Easy-Off Professional Oven & Grill Cleaner. This heavy-duty, grate-focused formula can cut through stubborn residue in minutes. Apply the spray in a well-ventilated area, then wipe away the grease and grime.
5. HONORABLE MENTION: Goo Gone Grill and Grate Cleaner
Goo Gone Grill and Grate Cleaner works quite well to remove tough, caked-on grease. The citric acid in this biodegradable cleaner is an effective degreasing agent with no chemical scent.