A clean grill is an efficient grill, and it’s also a valuable safeguard against contaminants that can make their way into your burgers, hot dogs, and grilled veggies. “For both commercial and full-scale home grills, it is imperative to keep your grill clean and at tip-top condition. A dirty grill can affect not only the flavor of your food, but it can also have negative effects on your health” explains K.C. Gulbro, chef/restaurateur of FoxFire and Copper Fox in Geneva, Illinois. While a heavy-duty deep clean only needs to be performed on your grill once per season, we highly recommend cleaning the grates of your cooking surface after every use. The good news is that it's not hard to clean your grill as long as you have the right tools.
High-quality grill cleaners come in a few different formats, but brushes with metal bristles, which allow you to scrape grease and food bits of your grill's grates, are arguably the most effective. That said, steam cleaners, spray cleaners, and even grill-cleaning “robots” are also viable options.
The following are the best grill cleaners to add to your grilling setup.
Kona 360° Clean Grill Brush
Three-sided design cleans all grill surfaces
Rigid construction makes it easy to scrub hard
Some reviewers claim bristles fall out, which can be dangerous
Three brushes in one will clean your grill quickly, cleaning the top and sides of the grill grate rods with each swipe, and even fitting between the rods to get to the underside of the grates. Our home tester found that the stainless steel hard-wired bristles are more rigid than your typical bristles. They didn’t bend or break while cleaning her grill grates. She also noted that the brush holds onto water well during the cleaning process, allowing for light steam cleaning as the water hit the hot grates.
The 18-inch length will keep your hands away from the heat of the grill while still allowing you to use both hands to apply extra pressure to clean stubborn bits of burned-on food. If that food gets enmeshed in the bristles, our tester found that a soak in warm, soapy water loosened everything up.
Price at time of publish: $30
Bristle Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 4 x 18 inches
"When I worked the brushes at a right angle to the grates and worked across them, the brush was more efficient and even managed to clean plated grates to remove smoke residue and get them shiny again."
Weber 12-Inch 3-Sided Grill Brush
Affordable price point
Wide brush head
Short sides get in between grates
Bristles are spaced far apart
A simple brush that won’t break your budget, this still does a great job on your grill grates. The single wide brush fits neatly between grates, to get stubborn food stuck to the sides, or tip it to use the corners to get into tight spots. Our tester found that, even though it has a triangular head, it doesn't need to held at a certain angle to get your grates clean. The rust-resistant stainless-steel bristles were very effective at cleaning up burnt-on sauce, and even better when she'd dipped it in water first (though she did have to dip it in a lot). It was great at getting between spaces.
While our testers didn't need a lot of effort during regular maintenance, she did need a lot of patience to get rust off cast-iron grates. When cooking was done, it was easy to soak this in hot, soapy water to get any leftover grease and food bits off the bristles.
Price at time of publish: $17
Bristle Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 7 x 12 inches
"Because it can be easily pushed down onto the grill sending bristles between the grates, it was amazingly efficient at cleaning the sides of wires and rods on grill grates."
Best Steam Cleaner
Grill Daddy Barbeque Grill Steam Brush
Built-in water reservoir for steam cleaning
Brush heads are dishwasher safe
A unique handle configuration along with the power of steam makes this brush easy to use, no matter how much of a mess you’ve made on your grill. The handle keeps your hands away from the heat of the grill, while the dual brushes clean and scrape your grill to get it spotlessly clean.
A hook on the end of the handle lets you hang this on a convenient hook, so you can keep it close to your grill. The stainless steel brush heads won’t rust or corrode, and they’re dishwasher safe so you can keep them clean until you need them again. Replacement brush heads are available.
Price at time of publish: $100
Bristle Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 6 x 17 inches
Best with Spray
Grill Dozer Steam Cleaning Grill Cleaning Tool
Built-in water pump that creates steam
Three-sided brush head
Metal scraper on front
Water doesn't spray well
No need to dip your brush in water as you clean your grates—the Grill Dozer has a built-in pump system that sprays water onto the hot grill as you scrub, creating steam for superior cleaning. The tool is 18 inches long, and its 3-sided brush makes it easy to clean both the grilling surface and in between grill grates. There's a button on the handle that allows you to quickly release a stream of water, and the stainless steel bristles and metal scraper make quick work of caked-on food. Plus, the brand sells replacement heads for the handle for when the bristles are worn down.
Price at time of publish: $30
Bristle Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 5 x 18 inches
Best for Indoor Grills
OXO Good Grips Electric Grill and Panini Press Brush
Soft bristles are safe for nonstick surfaces
Silicone wiper blade
Can't be used on outdoor grills
Great for those who do their grilling indoors using an electric grill or nonstick grill pan. The bristles are soft, flexible, and completely safe for all of your nonstick cookware, while the bristles fit neatly into the grooves of your ridged grill. A silicone wiper blade lets you scrape off difficult bits of food without damaging your cookware.
The handle is comfortable to hold and gives you a secure fit, even if your hands are wet and soapy. While this should not be used for outdoor grills, it’s safe for use up to 600 degrees, so you can start cleaning your electric grill while it’s still hot from cooking. When you’re done, this is completely dishwasher safe, so it will be ready for you the next time you grill.
Price at time of publish: $15
Bristle Material: Flexible plastic | Dimensions: 3 x 6 inches
Best for Outdoor Grills
Grillinator 18-Inch BBQ Grill Brush
Cleans faster thanks to perpendicular bristles
Replaceable brush head
Built-in bottle opener
Can break under heavy pressure
A long, 14-inch handle and a unique brush-head design make this grill great for all your outdoor cooking, even when you’re cleaning a large grill. The grill head has brushes that are oriented in two different directions and the bristles are two different lengths, so they clean the top of the grates and between the rods at the same time. A scraper at the end of the brush lets you scrape off any stubborn bits of food that won’t release easily.
The hole on the handle lets you hang the brush on a convenient hook, so you can keep the brush near your grill or hang it in the garage. The hole also doubles as a bottle opener, so you won’t be thirsty while you cook, and the handle has a formed rubberized grip so you can hold it securely as you clean.
The brush head is removable, and replacements are available. They attach easily with standard screws.
Price at time of publish: $35
Bristle Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 4 x 14 inches
Best Stainless Steel
Kona Safe/Clean Grill Brush
Can be used for steam cleaning
MIght have a learning curve
If you’re only going to keep one grill-cleaning tool on hand, make it a high-quality grill brush. Brushes are inexpensive, easy to use, and highly effective at clearing food debris and ash from grill grates. However, one common complaint about grill brushes involves the fact that “many brushes have bristles that wear away or fall off from repeated scrubbing,” says Jayme Muller, brand manager and outdoor kitchen expert at RTA Outdoor Living.
That’s exactly why Muller is such a fan of the Kona Safe/Clean Grill Brush; this stainless steel tool “is a bristle-free brush that's shown to last five times longer than traditional bristle brushes,” says Muller. “This sturdy yet flexible brush features three rows of scrubbing power made of durable stainless steel, so it's built to last. Its coil construction means [that] no metal particles will stay behind on the grates and end up in your food.”
The Kona Safe/Clean Grill Brush can be used for standard scrubbing in between grill sessions, but Muller also points out that it's possible to repurpose this device as a steam cleaner for the grill. “While the grill is hot, simply dip the brush into water and scrape [it] across individual grates for a steam clean that's safe for porcelain, ceramic, steel, and cast iron grills,” Muller tells us. We did notice online reviewers commenting that multiple cleaning sessions are needed before getting the hang of this brush.
Price at time of publish: $21
Bristle Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 4 x 17.4 inches
Best Spray Cleaner
Spray Nine BBQ Grill Cleaner
Both a grease remover and a germ decontaminant
Easy for day-to-day maintenance
Doesn't replace a full-scale scrub down
Corrosive formula can cause skin injuries
If you’re a regular griller, then you likely already know that a serious, full-scale scrub down of the grill grates is necessary at the beginning of the grill season (and should perhaps be repeated mid-season). But for smaller-scale, day-to-day cleanups, a powerful spray cleaner can save time and energy while also keeping the grill grease-free (and therefore reducing the risk of dangerous flare ups) and removing germs and bacteria.
When it comes to the best grill spray on the market, grilling expert and writer Michael Haas of Angry BBQ recommends Spray Nine BBQ Grill Cleaner. “It’s powerful enough to dissolve grease, fat, and burnt-on food within 10 seconds to three minutes,” Haas says. “Likewise, it can disinfect grills, cooking surfaces, food preparation areas, and utensils.” This spray is reasonably priced enough to keep on-hand all throughout the grilling season. Since the powerful chemicals in the spray can cause negative skin reactions, it’s advisable to wear gloves when using it to clean.
Price at time of publish: $10
Size: 22 fluid ounces | Can Be Used On: Stainless steel, ceramic, glass, painted surfaces
The Kona 360° Clean Grill Brush is our top pick for a grill cleaner, as its coiled metal wires do a superior job scraping gunk off grill grates, and they don't wear down over time. If you want to leave the cleaning to the bots, we like the Grillbot Automatic Grill Cleaning Robot with Carrying Case.
What to Look for in a Grill Cleaner
Stainless steel bristles are arguably the most popular style of bristles on grill cleaners, as they're durable, rust-resistant, and generally inexpensive. However, the problem is that they need to be carefully monitored during use—if wire bristles shed into your grill, they can end up in the food you cook, which is dangerous for your family. To avoid this, you may want to opt for a grill cleaner with a bristle-free design or one that uses nylon bristles, instead.
You'll want to look at the size of the grill cleaner's head, as well as the length of its handle. A larger brush head with more bristles will make cleaning your grill faster, especially if your grill has large grates. Additionally, a longer handle will keep your hands safely away from the heat of the grill, but it also needs to be sturdy enough that you can apply pressure when scrubbing.
One popular feature for grill cleaners is steaming, which helps to break up cooked-on food and grease. Some grill cleaners have built-in water reservoirs that allow you to squirt water onto hot grill grates to create steam, but this feature typically drives up the price of the product. If you don't want to pay a premium, the same effect can be achieved with a spray bottle.
Are spray cleaners for grills safe?
There are a variety of spray-on cleaning solutions for your grill, and these formulas are typically food-safe, non-toxic, and biodegradable. However, it's always a good idea to try cleaning your grill with a regular grill brush and water first—after all, why use chemicals if you don't have to?
Can you use oven cleaner on a grill?
In a pinch, you can use a spray-on oven cleaner to clean your grill. Because these cleaning products are designed to remove tough, baked-on grease, they're often quite effective on grill grates. However, be sure to check that your oven cleaner is safe to use on your grill grate material, whether it's cast iron, porcelain coating, or stainless steel.
How often should a grill be cleaned?
For superior grilling results and easier long-term maintenance, you should clean your grill after every use. While your grill is still warm, use a grill brush to scrape off the food residue and grease—dipping the bristles in water can help to remove caked-on pieces. You'll also want to regularly remove the grates and clean the interior of your grill. This includes wiping out grease and brushing out any ash.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a freelance food writer who specializes in product reviews and recipes. Her work has appeared on Serious Eats, Fine Cooking, and her own recipe blog, Cookistry.com.
This article was updated by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats. She's written close to a dozen pieces on all styles of grills and done firsthand testing of smokers and grills featured in her articles.
- K.C. Gulbro, chef/restaurateur of FoxFire and Copper Fox in Geneva, Illinois
- Michael Haas, grilling expert and writer of Angry BBQ
- Jayme Muller, brand manager and outdoor kitchen expert at RTA Outdoor Living