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Cleaning BBQ Grills the Magic Way


My husband just told me that it is going to be in the eighties this weekend. I’m REALLY excited and ready for summer to officially arrive. Since summer is almost here, we spent last week getting the pool in tip top shape. Now we are ready to spend some time swimming and BBQing with friends in the backyard. I thought I was ready to go until I opened our BBQ and found this disgusting mess…..

Clean BBQ Grill

Obviously I had some grill cleaning to do. I can’t remember the last time I gave our BBQ grill grate a really good cleaning. I’m as bad at cleaning my BBQ grill grate as I am cleaning both my stove burners and  oven. Fortunatley I found this pin from Life 123 that directs you to use ammonia and a garbage bag for cleaning a grill grate. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Clean BBQ Grill

Pour 1 cup ammonia in a thick garbage bag, place your grate inside the bag and seal tightly. I used a rubber band to seal my garbage bag. It is important you seal the bag tightly. The fumes from the ammonia is what gets your grate clean. If you do not seal your garbage bag tightly the fumes will escape and your grate will not get clean. Place your bag in the sun and let it sit there until the following day. It was a very sunny day today and I had a hard time getting a good picture with my white trash bag on the concrete. So I set my bag on the grass to get a good clear picture. Because ammonia is a toxic substance to animals, grass and plants  I    made sure the bag was sealed tight enough that no ammonia would leak out and cause any harm to the surrounding environment.

Clean Your BBQ Grill

I called my poison control center to inquire about safety precautions and disposal methods when using household ammonia. For safety precautions the Poison Control  Center recommends wearing rubber gloves and safety glasses when working with ammonia. Be careful to turn your face away when you open your garbage bag the next day. The fumes will be strong and can make your eyes burn. Remove your grate and rinse it off until its clean. For proper disposal of ammonia the Poison Control Center recommends disposing your ammonia down a sink where there is plenty of ventilation such as a garage sink. If  you do not have a garage sink they recommend opening a window near the sink you are using for 10 to 15 minutes. You also have the option of taking your ammonia to the nearest hazardous waste center.  (The gal at Poison Control Center asked me if this really works. When I told her “yes” she was excited to go home and give it a try!) Here is how my grate looks now….

GRILLB&AWEB

Now that my BBQ grills are clean, we are ready to PAARTAAY!

Yup, This Pin ROCKS!

PS. Learn how to use this no scrub ammonia cleaning method on your STOVE BURNERS and OVEN!

Link Parties: A Glimpse Inside , Katherines Corner, What’s Cooking Love?, The Mandatory Mooch, Life With The Crust Cut Off, The Real Thing with the Coake Family, 52 Mantels, Living Well Spending Less, Gingerly Made, Glued to my Crafts, House of Hepworths, 36th Avenue

Comments

  1. WOW! My grill is terrible – I definitely need to do this to it! Thanks for sharing it!

    • Ruth,

      You are welcome! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Enjoy your clean grill! Tracy – The Middle Child

      • I did it almost exactly the same way except rather than us a toxic chemical I just poured a bottle of Coke in the trash bag with my grill.

        • Chris,

          Great idea, I remember cleaning a penny with coke when I was a kid. Makes sense that this would also work on BBQ grills, it’s a great solution for those who do not want to use ammonia. Thanks for sharing! Tracy

          • My husband just put ours on the grass & used the pressure washer . They came nice & clean as well as a lot quicker & no toxic fumes.

    • This really works. I have been cleaning the racks from my oven as well as my grill for years with this method. I open the bag outside, make sure the breeze/wind is at your back when opening the bag.

  2. So, so helpful! I’m in desperate need of this. Thanks so much for sharing. I love grilling season, don’ you? Have a wonderful day, and Happy Mother’s Day this weekend!

    • Brooke,

      Sounds like your BBQ grill looked similar to mine before cleaning it! I do love the grilling season, it’s so great to be with friends and family. Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  3. Thank you so much Tracy! I just told my hubby to try this! Does the garbage bag have to be white? Can he just use those regular black garbage bags?

  4. What an awesome tip!

  5. If ammonia fumes are so toxic and harsh you need to shield your face and eyes, I’m not sure having them on a surface you cook food on is wise…

    • Kaitie,

      Thanks for your comment. The fumes from the ammonia are stronger than normal because the sealed garbage bag sits in the sun all day. By turning your face away when opening the garbage bag and throughly rinsing off your BBQ grills, you will avoid any adverse effects from the ammonia. However, some people choose not to use this method because they do not care for the strong smell of ammonia. Have a great weekend! Tracy – The Middle Child

  6. What a fantastic tip!! I found you over at Thursday’s Treasures. I can’t believe cleaning your grill grate can be so easy. I’m pinning this and will definitely be giving it a try soon! Thanks!

    Debbie

    • Debbie,

      Thanks for stopping by and pinning this to your boards! Have a great summer grilling season! Tracy – The Middle Child

  7. I’m not sure if using ammonia is a good idea as it seems to be quite toxic, both to the environment and yourself. See here: http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/chemical_terrorism/ammonia_general.htm

    It may not be a good idea to use this to clean something you plan to cook your food on!

    • MMB,

      Thanks for your comment. I read through the information and did some further research. Household ammonia cleaning solutions are manufactured by adding ammonia gas to water and can be between 5 and 10% ammonia. If you store and use the proper safety precautions with household ammonia (5 and 10%) it can be used without any toxic effects. By rinsing your BBQ grills thoroughly all of the ammonia can and will be removed. As an added safety precaution you could turn your BBQ on high for 5 minutes before cooking on the grill surface.

      Have a great week! Tracy – The Middle Child

    • Ammonia is very strong and will take your breath away. Full strength is quite harsh, I wouldn’t use it.

      • Tammy,

        You are not the only person who prefers not to use ammonia. I am currently researching a non-ammonia cleaning method. I’ll have it up next week. Thanks for stopping in. Tracy – The Middle Child

  8. Does the ammonia hurt the grass when you rinse everything off?

    • Hi Lisa!

      Yes, the ammonia will damage your grass. I rinsed mine off over the drainage pipe on my driveway. I rinsed with a large amount of water to avoid any discoloration to the driveway. Enjoy your clean BBQ grills! Tracy – The Middle Child

  9. Judi James says:

    This method also works wonderful for oven racks and you don’t need to put it in the sun so it can be done anytime of year. I also like to use a glass jar to hold the ammonia. Just put the rack or grate in the bag and place jar on top of the rack.. It makes removal & disposal of the ammonia much easier. Just be careful undoing the bag, like the post said, those fumes are nasty. I also wear rubber globes while doing this.

  10. I just fill a plastic bin with hot water, dawn dish soap and 2 dryer sheets. i leave it over night and it wipes clean. ;)

    • Jody,

      Thanks for sharing this method to clean BBQ grills. This is a good option for anyone who doesn’t want to use ammonia!

      Have a great day! Tracy – The Middle Child

    • I really like the hot water and dawn dish soap with the dryer sheets. I will be trying this method.

      • Tammy,

        We would love to hear how this worked for you! Please come back and comment with your results. This looks like a great option for anyone who does not like using mmonia. Good Luck! Tracy – The Middle Child

  11. Molly ryan says:

    IT REALLY WORKS! THANKS

  12. Kayleemae says:

    Does this work on all types of BBQ grills? Example. Cast iron?

    • Kayleemae,

      I did some research, and yes you can use this method on cast iron. Just be sure to re-season after each cleaning. Tracy – The Middle Child

  13. You can.also use oven cleaner. After wiping.it.off, wash wish soap & water and then a 30 min soak in a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. The vinegar soak neutralizes any lye that may have been missed while washing. This is one method of restoring cast iron.

    • Jess,

      Thanks for sharing this great option for cleaning a cast iron BBQ grill. Always season cast iron after a deep clean! Tracy – The Middle Child

  14. Beth Cook says:

    Thanks for adding another chore to my husband’s honey do list for tomorrow!!

  15. Christine says:

    I would make two recommendations for this tutorial:
    1) At the very least, people dealing with chemicals like ammonia in quantities large enough to splash you should be wearing splash goggles to protect your eyes. If it was me using this tutorial, I would also wear a dual-cartridge mask rated for vapour protection, both goggles and masks can be bought at most hardware stores. Protecting your eyes and lungs is really important and a few mins of extra protection really makes a difference.
    2) Please try to limit the chemicals you dump on your lawn, as all those chemicals go straight to stormdrains and other water pipe systems that are NOT processed or cleaned before they go into natural bodies of water like rivers, lakes and streams that animals and plants depend on. Dispose of chemicals properly, the best place is the sink but you should definitely consult with your local waste management authority to have them advise you what is the most environmentally-friendly and responsible way to dispose of your chemicals.

    • Christine,

      Thanks for your comments. I contacted the Poison Control Center for their recommendations on safety precautions and disposal of household ammonia. PPC recommends wearing safety glasses and gloves when using ammonia. They do not recommend a dual-cartridge mask rated for vapor protection, but did comment that it would provide another layer of protection.

      Disposing of ammonia should be in a well ventilated sink, ie. garage sink. If you do not have a garage sink it is recommended opening several windows closest to the sink that you are using for 10 to 15 minutes. I took the picture of my trash bag with the ammonia and BBQ grills on the grass to get a nice picture for the post. However, I used proper disposal methods for the ammonia to avoid any harm to the environment or water supply. I’ve updated my post with this information to clear up any confusion regarding use and disposal of household ammonia.

      Have a great weekend! Tracy – The Middle Child

      • Christine says:

        Hey Tracey! Thanks for the follow-up and for amending your tutorial :) I sometimes use my gas mask in situations where it’s not strictly necessary as it keeps me in the habit of using a mask during chemical-related activities and thus it’s less likely I’ll forget in the future but you may have a better memory than I do :) Best of luck in your future DIY tutorials.

        • Christine,

          You are welcome, we always appreciate comments and input from our followers! We had several followers comment with concerns about the use of ammonia. So I did some research and found a chemical free option for cleaning your BBQ grills that will post tomorrow. Have a great week and thanks again for your input. Tracy – The Middle Child

  16. Theresa says:

    an easier way to clean your grill is to also throw the grills out into the yard at night and let the dew work on it through the night…the next morning, wash them. I have done this and it works great without any fumes or chemicals.

  17. jennifer s. says:

    So it is the fumes that clean the grates or the elbow grease or do you saturate the grates?

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Yes, the fumes from the ammonia do the work for you! You only need 1 cup of ammonia in your trash bag to do the job. Enjoy your clean BBQ! Tracy – The Middle Child

  18. My mom (now 83) has been using ammonia for as long as I remember
    to clean stove & oven parts in garbage bags & now so do I – I confess I never thought about doing it with the grill plates – thanks for making the light bulb go on!

    • Joan,

      You are so welcome! Glad we could “shed come light” on using ammonia to clean your BBQ grill plates. How wonderful you still have your mom here at 83 :-) Have a great week! Tracy – The Middle Child

  19. Such nice idea… Thank you so much, your idea is really great, the only thing is the pics are distorted :((

    • Andrea,

      Thanks, and we are working on getting the pictures corrected! We should have it fixed in the next few days. Have a great weekend Tracy – The Middle Child

  20. Don & Dawn says:

    We will be trying this.better than easy off oven cleaner which I have been doing for years.thanks again

  21. Jess D. says:

    Does this work if there is a hint of rust on the cast iron grates?

  22. Jamie,

    Just got my jar of your soft scrub and can’t wait to try it out! Thank you so much! Tracy – The Middle Child

    • Hi, Tracy! Just checking in to see how you liked the Soft Cleaning Scrub? Did you ever receive the e-mails I sent? It sounded like I was being spammed. :) -Jamie, Mrs. Jones’ Soapbox. jamie at mrsjonessoapbox dot com

      • Jaime,

        I loved the soft cleaning scrub! I emailed you yesterday with a few questions and look forward to hearing from you. Have a great day! Tracy

  23. Ammonia is common component of fertilizer. It’s the strength you have to be mindful of. If you add water to the bag to dilute it you can dump it right out. Your plants will thank you.

    • I have rinsed it out on the grass with no problem to my plants. This is great input. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  24. Sunday bbq is ready!

  25. If you’re in a hurry, Crumple up a piece of aluminum, squirt with a degreaser and scrub the grill

    • Flora,

      That’s a cleaning method I haven’t heard of before. Our grill is getting a lot of use this summer and could use a quick clean right now. Thanks for the great idea. Tracy

  26. Carol Schrader says:

    Why do people on Pinterest always comment BEFORE they try an idea. It would be MUCH more helpful if they would comment AFTER they try a suggestion!!!! It seems that all of Pinterest followers do this and it defeats the helpfulness of this site!

  27. I have been using this method to clean my oven rack for years..
    got the tip from Heloise in the sunday paper..

    • Mary,

      So glad you stopped by and commented. Funny how some of the older cleaning methods are still the best! Have a great week! Tracy – The Middle Sister

  28. You should not use any cleaning liquids on your grill. Cleaning liquids remove the coating of your grill and it makes grilling harder. Real grillers either use water and elbow grease or pre clean i during the prheat stage. The heat of the grill helps tremendously.

  29. Thanks for the tip! It looks great.

  30. I have used the soap method many times. I had
    a cleaning service and one of my customers told me. Really works.

  31. I just put my bbq grills in the self cleaning oven and 4 hours later Presto they look new again, no chemicals needed. Worked great.

  32. A much easier was is to take the grills and put them in the oven and turn on the self cleaning and then just rinse them off when done. They will looks like new.

    • Hi Gary,

      For those people who do not have a self cleaning oven or prefer not to use the self cleaning feature this cleaning method is a great option for them. I’m glad you have found another option that works for you, thanks for sharing it with us! Have a great day, Tracy (the middle sister)

  33. can ammonia be used with septic systems? Not sure how I’d dispose of it if it’s not. Don’t know if/where we have hazardous waste disposal around here.

    • Here is a link to an article that lists and explains what chemicals and cleaning agents can be safely disposed of through your septic system and into the environment (http://goo.gl/mo7h24). Household ammonia is listed as an agent that can safely disposed of with a septic system. Household strength ammonia released into the environment through a septic system becomes diluted and is not a hazardous threat to the environment. Enjoy your clean BBQ grills! Tracy

  34. Eric Scott says:

    Just soaking the grates in a pan of ammonia is not how it works? I assume its the fumes that are cleaning? How much ammonia gets put into the trash bag? Thanks.

    • Hey Eric!

      You are correct, it is the fumes from the household ammonia that does all the dirty cleaning work for you. One cup of household ammonia will do the job! Thanks for commenting and enjoy your clean BBQ grills! Tracy

  35. So I am going camping this weekend and I am new to grilling. I was trying to get to the bottom of why people don’t like to clean their grills and cast iron pans/pots etc. I am very weary of old food and possibly eating it. Sort of a personal paranoia. Anyways, this is not why I am commenting, I am going to speak about peoples concerns with ammonia and the environment and their health.

    Ammonia is a natural bi product of decomposition. So having it on your grill surface or dumping it on your grass or anything is not going to do any PERMANENT damage. It is toxic in its current state, that is true. However, it is almost everywhere constantly at some level or another. It is part of the circle of life.

    I will use a fish tank as an example.

    * You feed your fish
    * Fish release food after digestion
    * Food decomposes and releases AMMONIA
    * Bacteria in the water consume the ammonia and release nitrites.
    * Another form of bacteria consumes the nitrites and releases nitrates.
    * This is called the nitrogen cycle and one of the key fundamentals of plant growth.
    * Fish eat the plants and the cycle repeats.

    This is also why you change your water frequently with fish tanks as ammonia is toxic and you usually have more fish then your ecosystem can process the waste of.

    So from BBQ grills to fish poo, I hope you feel better about eating off a surface that once had nitrogen on it. Nature will clear it off over time even without rinsing it. Although you will be left with other substances. So rinse….

    • Dear Jonathan,

      This is now my all time favorite comment about cleaning with ammonia! Thanks for helping all of us put cleaning with ammonia into perspective by using a little factual humor. Thanks so much for following our blog and leaving your wonderfully funny comment! Best, Tracy

  36. So do I understand, from all the tips in these comments, that I can put a cup of ammonia in a jar in the bag with the grill grates and the fumes will do the work? I don’t have to pour it all over the grates, but leave it in the glass jar and then carefully remove & dispose of the ammonia down the appropriate drain source, and then rinse and wipe down the grates, and then season them again after they are dry, right? This sounds do-able even if it does rain all weekend. Thanks for doing all the research first and then sharing this great tip. I will keep my mask and safety glasses on when I open that bag outside, and make sure the dog is safely inside!

    • Susan,

      I poured the ammonia in the bag, then placed my grills in the bag and sealed it tight. One our of our readers used the ammonia in a glass jar and shared with us that it worked great. I think either way will work just fine. Enjoy your clean BBQ grills :) Tracy

  37. CJ Livingston says:

    This is a great tute – we’ve had several people locally end up in a hospital from someone using a wire brush to clean the grill: some of the bristles come off during the scrubbing/scraping and end up in the food eaten and they puncture the intestine! This is a lot better than an accident waiting to happen!

    • CJ,

      I wasn’t aware using a wire brush to clean your BBQ grills could be so dangerous! Cleaning with ammonia is a MUCH safer method. Thanks for following us and leaving a comment, it makes our day! Tracy

  38. Using a toxic substance like ammonia is great for those people too lazy to put some elbow grease into cleaning their grills.
    Using dish soap and some steel wool cleans the grill without using a toxic substance.

  39. I want to try this! When it is time to open the bag, stick a hose in and pre rinse! Then use watered down ammonia to kill weeds in the driveway! Cant wait!b

    • Hi Holly,

      You are brilliant! What a great idea to use the hose to pre rinse and then use the watered down ammonia to kill weeds.

      Thanks for the great idea, Tracy

  40. BChampion says:

    Another great way to clean your grill grates is to put them in your oven and run the self-clean cycle.

  41. Bruce H says:

    The glass jar method: couldn’t you use something like a mason jar with a screw on cap and keep reusing it? Would have to rinse after each use because the jar has ammonia residue.

    • Hi Bruce,

      Yes, I think a mason jar would work just fine. I agree, you would need to be careful about cleaning the jar out after each use.
      Have a great day! Tracy

  42. hi,,just to let all of you know,,this trick works great for the parts from the inside of your oven the grates come out clean

  43. And to think of all the MAPP Gas* I have been wasting because I did not know about this… :(
    (MAPP Gas burns a lot hotter than propane, and burns off all the residue from past use)

    This is an EXCELLENT idea!! TY for sharing!!

    *DO NOT use MAPP Gas in a Propane grill…

    why?

    #1) the gas molecules are different & may start an unwanted fire/or could explode.
    The MAPP Gas I used was in its own container made specifically for MAPP Gas.

    #2) MAP Gas is NOT approved for cooking food

    #3) MAPP Gas is highly flammable & dangerous unless you have experience with it & know EXACTLY what it is you are doing.

    Have a fun & safe summer everyone!!! :)

    • Hello Capernius!

      Great to hear you like this method for cleaning your BBQ grills. No more MAPP gas for you! Enjoy your clean grills :) Tracy

  44. Does this also work on black grates in a gas grill?

    • Hi Jody,

      Yes, this method should work just fine on your black grates from your gas grill. No scrub cleaning is the BEST! Enjoy, Tracy

  45. Betty Radcliffe says:

    This is a wonderful idea. After so many years of constant scrubbing and more scrubbing and still not perfect. I hated using my grill. Unfortunately I no longer have a grill but I will pass this on to all my friends and keep it for when I finally get a new grill!! Thanks so much. Betty Radcliffe

    • Hi Betty!

      I believe in a life that has as little scrubbing as possible! I love letting the ammonia fumes do all the work for me. So glad you are following us and thanks for commenting! Tracy

  46. Lawrencer24 says:

    Any suggestions for cleaning the rest of a stainless steel bbq grill?

  47. NOW I KNOW HOW TO CLEAN THE GRILL PARTS OF MY BAR B QUE GRILL BUT WHAT ABOUT THE RUST INSIDE THE BODY OF THE STEEL GRILL. ALSO HOW DO YOU SEASON THE METAL PARTS AND CANT YOU SEASON THE WHOLE INSIDE OF THE GRILL.

    • Hi Bill,

      Yes, you can season the whole inside of your grill. Clean it as best as you can and then spray it with an oil based cooking spray. Bring the temp. up to about 350 degrees without food for about an hour and let it cool. Hope this helps! Tracy

  48. Melanie Brown says:

    I’ve used this method to clean the nasty hood vent filter. It works like a charm!

  49. I have some concerns with the grill. even though it looks great and clean. But ammonia is toxic. Still thinking it’s not a good idea use it after it’s washed with ammonia even with the clean off from water…

    • Hi Bing!

      I understand your concerns about cleaning food surfaces with ammonia. I did a second post, the “Magic No Ammonia Way to Clean Your BBQ Grill”. We would love to hear your results if you chose to give it a try. Best, Tracy

  50. Really? Using dangerous chemicals rather than do a bit of scrubbing is a ” life hack”? I’ve got a good one too.
    Do you hate it when you get a stain on your rug? Tired of all that scrubbing with mild soapy water to remove it?
    Simply pour trichloroethane on your rug and the stain will vanish. Be carefull though as it’s quite a toxic chemical that can give you cancer and mess your brain up. Better than scrubbing though eh?

    • Gareth,

      Because some people prefer not to clean food surfaces with ammonia I did a second post “Magic No Ammonia Way to Clean Your BBQ Grill”. If you decide to give it a try we would love to hear your results. Have a great day, Tracy

  51. But then youre eating on ammonia grates. And when it gets hot the poison will seep into your food. I will try this with coke. Still poison but at least it’s edible

    • Jan,

      Because not everyone is a fan of cleaning with ammonia, I did a second post the “Magic No Ammonia Way to Clean Your BBQ Grill”. I’d love to hear your results. Thanks for following us! Tracy

  52. Hi tracy, I want to Thank You for the great idea. I also want to Thank you for having to repeat things over and over again for those who chose not to read or understand your instructions. I thought you showed great patience. Anyone else would have posted and ignored all the comments. Thanks again for sharing and hope after reading all the comments you had to answer over and over again asking the same question doesn’t keep you from sharing future ideas and helpful projects. Have a great weekend. You are Awesome !!

    • Hey Debbie!

      You are welcome, I’m so glad you like this cleaning method! This post has generated a large number of comments, we love hearing from our readers. Don’t worry we will keep the good ideas coming! So glad you are one of our followers. Tracy

  53. Thanks for the ping back! Tracy – The Middle Child

  54. Thanks for the pingback!

  55. Beware I am a great fan of internet tips for cleaning etc. im glad so many found this ammonia trick helpful. Unfortunately it is not advisable for all surfaces. I followed the directions. It removed seventy five percent of the gunk from my grills and fifty percent of the finish on the grills. This experiment will cost me a great deal to replace the grills!

  56. Hi Liz,

    I’m so sorry to hear about the damage to your BBQ grills. Can you let us know what brand of BBQ you have? I’ll update the post stating that this method does not work on this particular brand. This is the first time I have heard of it causing any damage. Thank you for letting us know and again I’m sorry it didn’t work for you. Tracy

Trackbacks

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