4 Essential Cleaning Items For Charcoal Grill

Using your go-to grill — whether a full-size gas grill, charcoal grill, pellet grill or even a portable grill or indoor grill — means less mess in your kitchen, but scrubbing charred and grimy grates after a big cookout can be a beast of a chore — especially if a dish like ribs left a sticky, caked-on mess in its wake.

And it’s not like you can skip the job altogether, since this runs the risk of dangerous flare-ups from dripping grease and lingering flavors that can ruin your next batch of food. And while a great grill brush is an essential BBQ tool, a brush can only do so much. To clean a dirty grill and restore cooking grates to their former glory, you also need a great cleaner.

These are the grill cleaners we recommend to remove grease, charred-on food and sticky sauces quickly and easily:

Our top picks:

Carbona 2-in-1 Oven Rack and Grill Cleaner Bagged 16.8 Oz
CARBONA 2-IN-1 OVEN RACK AND GRILL CLEANER 16.8 oz.; Cleans oven grates, rack and grill grates in 3 easy steps

Last update on 2023-05-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

1- Carbona 2-in-1 Oven Rack and Grill Cleaner

Carbona 2-in-1 Oven Rack and Grill Cleaner Bagged 16.8 Oz
  • Safe and effective way to clean your oven racks, newer BBQ grill...
  • Cleans oven grates, rack and grill grates in 3 easy steps
  • Eliminates the need to turning on oven or grill to get rid of dirt
  • Includes: cleaning fluid, rack cleaning bag and disposable gloves

Last update on 2023-05-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Carbona’s 2-in-1 Oven Rack and Grill Cleaner was the top performer in our Lab tests. It’s easy and mess-free to use, plus works overnight for a virtually no-scrub cleaning job. The kit contains a large zip-top plastic bag, a bottle of cleaning solution and some disposable plastic gloves. All you have to do is quickly brush any big chunks of grime off the grates and then place them in the bag. Pour in the solution, seal the bag, swish it around so the grates are covered with cleaner — like a marinade — and head to bed.

In the morning, remove the grates and wipe or lightly scrub them clean. The dirty solution can be rinsed down the drain and the bag disposed of in the trash. Just make sure to place the soaking bag out of reach of children and animals while the cleaner works its magic. And note that, although we found this grill cleaner to be highly effective on new and gently-used grates, it had a little more trouble on grates covered with caked-on grease. The bright side: We love the versatility — you can use the product on indoor oven racks, too.


1- Works overnight.

2- Cleans up to two grates at once.

3- Can clean oven racks too.


1- Best for new grate or grates in good condition.

2- Goo Gone Grill & Grate Cleaner

No products found.

Goo Gone Grill and Grate Cleaner foam clings to grate surfaces for more targeted cleaning. Testers found that the comfortable trigger spray dispenser makes it easy to target the foam into every nitty-gritty corner and spot. (Just don’t use it on aluminum or faux stainless steel.)

It works quickly, too. In tests, the Goo Gone Grill and Grate Cleaner loosened our charred-on soil almost instantly and took only a few minutes to work on tougher, stickier messes. Testers loved that, despite its prowess, the biodegradable formula doesn’t have the same harsh fumes other products do. That’s because it harnesses the power of citrus oils to cut through grease.


1- Works in 2 to 10 minutes.

2- Clings to grate surfaces.

3- Can be used on stainless steel grill interiors and exteriors.


Not for use on aluminum or faux stainless steel.

3- Zep Heavy-Duty Oven and Grill Cleaner (2-Pack)

Zep Heavy-Duty Oven and Grill Cleaner ZUOVGR19 (2-Pack) Dissolves Grease on Contact
  • POWERFUL RESTAURANT GRADE FORMULA: The cleaner is suitable for use on...
  • DISSOLVES GREASE ON CONTACT: Thick foaming formula clings to surfaces...
  • FOR USE ON: Suitable for use on stainless steel, porcelain, ceramic,...

Last update on 2023-05-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Originally formulated to clean restaurant grills, Zep Oven and Grill Cleaner was a powerhouse in our tests. We let this foam cleaner sit for the required 10 minutes, and it took the fewest number of swipes — after Carbona — with a damp sponge to take our burnt-on messes right off. We didn’t have to do any heavy-duty scrubbing.

And because it’s a foam, this hardworking grill cleaner clings to vertical surfaces better than liquids, making it a great cleaning option for other parts of the grill, like inside the lid. It’s also great for anyone who has a grill with added accessories like a rotisserie. It’s very strong though, so make sure to protect any surrounding surfaces before spraying it. And budget a little extra time for cleaning — it takes a full 10 minutes to work its magic.


1- Foam clings to grate surfaces.

2- Required little to no scrubbing.


1- Takes up to 10 minutes to work.

4- Char-Broil Nylon Bristle Grill Brush

No products found.

If your grill’s grate is ceramic- or porcelain-coated, you should scrub it carefully with nylon bristles, West said. The Char-Broil Grill Brush has nylon bristles to do exactly that. Plus, once you wear out the head, you can replace it with a new one, purchased with the brush or sold separately. Extra features include a scraper, as well as a back hook on its handle for hanging. Char-Broil’s Nylon Bristle Grill Brush has a 4.5-star average rating from over 8,000 reviews on Amazon.


1- Easy to use

Grill cleaning basics: How, when and how often to clean

You should thoroughly clean your grill twice a year, Lyman recommended: once at the beginning of grilling season and once at the end. If you grill year round, schedule your deep cleans around the warm season, or whenever you’re likely to use your grill the most, he said. The grill grates, however, require cleaning after every use.

When it comes to which tools to use to clean your grill, West said stainless steel and silicone brushes are preferred because they can withstand high heat. As for cleaning solutions, West suggested avoiding anything chemical-based. “I don’t worry about cleansers,” West said. “Let the heat do the sanitizing.”

Lyman shared similar advice about cleaning solutions. While oven cleaners and commercial cleaners work well to clean grill grates, he said these products can damage the surface of your grill or pose health risks after you cook food on the grate if they’re overused.

Why it’s important to clean your grill

It’s common for people to add fat to foods while barbecuing, like butter on steak or oily marinades on chicken, said Wolf, who wrote “Food by Fire,” a recipe book that explains how to start cooking fires and the best fuel sources. Wolf said grilling these foods is perfectly fine, but if you don’t clean your grill after it gets covered in grease, you may face problems later on. Sugar — an ingredient common in barbecue marinades and sauces — also burns quickly and, if it sits on a grill’s grate, can actually cause food to have a bitter taste the next time you cook.

“The problem is that heat and fat are friends,” Wolf said. “Having a clean grill really helps to prevent flare ups while cooking. If you don’t clean your grill grate, residual fat will drip into the grill.” A dirty grill grate may also prevent your barbecue from cooking food evenly, while cleaning it ensures a consistent cooking temperature throughout, Wolf said. This means that all sides of your food — from hamburgers to hot dogs — will be uniformly prepared. Clean grill grates also help create crisp sear marks on food from meat to vegetables, which some people like the look of on grilled food.

4 Essential Cleaning Items For Charcoal Grill

Nancy Food Vlogger
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Hi, I'm Nancy, a professional blogger, and writer with over 4 years of experience in creating engaging content for readers. I am the owner of CartsVella.com, where I share my insights on topics such as marketing, entrepreneurship, and lifestyle.