Skip the chemical cleaners—here's how to clean a grill with things you already own. 

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated April 16, 2019
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
AVNphotolab/Getty Images

From grilled weeknight dinners to big family barbecues, many of us spend our summers hanging out around the grill. To stop food from sticking and prevent grill flare-ups, it's important to keep the grill clean. Whether you're looking for a quick and easy way to clear off the grates while you cook or you want to deep-clean your grill after a big meal, there's no need to turn to chemical grill cleaners. In fact, it's likely there are unexpected grill cleaning supplies already in your pantry. Here's how to use an onion for a speed clean or let freshly brewed coffee break down stuck-on sauce. As always, start with the easiest, least harmful cleaning method before working your way to the more involved methods.

How to Quick-Clean a Grill with an Onion

When cleaning the grill grates, almost every method starts with the same recommendation: get the grill piping hot. This will help loosen debris and remelt stuck-on BBQ sauce, making it easier to scrub off. Once the grill is hot, you can reach for your trusty stainless steel grill brush ($7, and start scrubbing—or you can grab an onion. Cut the onion in half and use the cut side to scrub off residue on the grates. Because the grill will be hot as you do this, you can stick a fork into the onion to create some distance between your hand and the heat (or else wear a heat-resistant grill glove). Because this grill cleaning method may impart some onion flavor to the grates, reserve it for when you're grilling savory dinner dishes, rather than when you're grilling peaches for dessert.

How to Clean a Grill with Just Tin Foil

If you're grilling packets of fish or wrapping up corn, you likely already have a box of tin foil sitting next to your grill. When it's time to clear off the grates, tear off a piece of foil and roll it into a ball. Hold the tin foil boil with tongs and rub it over the grates to knock off debris and cooked-on food.

How to Deep-Clean a Grill with Coffee

For a deep cleaning (and if you aren't worried about removing any "seasoning" that's built up over time on your grill), you can turn to the coffee cleaning hack. Here's how it works: Brew a pot of coffee and pour it into a large container. Remove the grates from the grill (note: do this when the grates are cool), and submerge them in the coffee. Let sit for one hour. The acid in the coffee will help break down stuck-on sauce and grease. Thoroughly rise and dry the grates before replacing them.

Want to really deep-clean your grill before the start of the season? Follow our complete grill cleaning checklist to get your grill sparkling clean inside and out.