How to Clean the BBQ So You Can Get Grilling

A couple of weeks ago, with all the confidence in the world that winter had passed, I got everything ready for our first outdoor barbecue of the season. The weather was perfect, ditto for the menu.



I pulled the cover off the grill and got a shock—and not of the electrical kind. Actually, I was more embarrassed than anything. The grill was a mess—inside and out. Yuck!

My only explanation is that the cold days of fall prompted me to throw the cover on while my inner procrastinator assured me I’d clean it later.

Granted, this grill is a few years old, but still. A dirty mess? You should have seen me fly into action. I grabbed a spray bottle of homemade degreaser (no time for more heavy-duty options) and went to work. In no time at all, it was clean enough, and we were back in business.

Assuming I’m not the only one who fails to do a deep clean on the outdoor grill after every use, today I have lots of really great grilling tips and tricks for cleaning and for great grilling, too.

Let’s hear it for summer—let the grilling begin!

Grill Cleaning

All-purpose degreaser

Pour these ingredients into a 16-oz spray bottle and shake to mix well:

  • 2 cups hot tap water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda,
  • 2 teaspoons Platinum Ultra (because it’s concentrated) blue Dawn
  • juice of one lemon

Spray on, scrub as needed, wipe dry.


Fire up the grill to super hot. In meantime, soak a stack of newspapers in water to get them quite saturated. Turn the grill off, open the lid and carefully lay the wet newspapers on top of the still-hot grate. Close the lid. The heat and wet newspaper will create a steam-cleaning action. After 15 minutes or so,  carefully open the lid, carefully remove the soggy newspapers and wipe the grate clean.

Aluminum foil

This is a DIY to create a kind of self-cleaning action on your grill provided it is gas or propane powered and has a lid. Just be careful here as you will be using very high heat.

Lay several sheets of aluminum foil over the grill rack (grate), covering it fully from side to side, front to back. Now turn all the burners on high and close the lid. The foil is going to trap the heat below, causing the temperature to soar. This will burn off all of the grease and gunk in the same way this happens when you use the self-cleaning option on your traditional oven.

DO NOT leave this unattended, nor allow it to “self-clean” for hours on end. Twenty to 30 minutes should do it. Please use caution. This is an extreme cleaning method so a word to the wise should be sufficient.

Heavy-duty cleaning

A commercial cleaner that works well on gunked-up grills is Break-Up Professional Oven & Grill Cleaner available online (Amazon, Walmart) and in some supermarkets.



Grill mat

I bless the day someone invented the grill mat. Made of silicone, it’s just a thin piece of flexible material that keeps hot surfaces clean. I lay a mat right on top of the grill, then the burgers on top of it. I don’t know how it happens but the burgers don’t stick, they grill up beautifully and the grill below stays perfectly clean.

I even line the bottom of my Breville Smart Oven with a grill mat! It doesn’t burn and any spillovers wipe away with no effort at all. I throw grill mats in the dishwasher and they come out like new.


I’m convinced that the secret to good grilling is temperature control. I’m not talking about a dial on the grill itself, although that is handy—I mean the internal temperature of whatever you’re grilling. Keeping an eye on that is the secret. The easiest way is with a quick-read food thermometer.

This ThermoPop super handy, food thermometer gives super fast readings for whatever you’re cooking—and it easily rotates so you can see it no matter the angle required. Even better, it has a backlight! It comes in a bunch of cool colors. This is my old faithful because it’s simple to use and I know I can trust ThermoPop. I’ve had mine for years and it still works like new.


Its the secret to making a tough cut of meat as succulent and tender as a prime cut. Just make sure your marinade of choice contains acid such as vinegar, lemon, or wine. Acid breaks down the meat to make it tender. Enzymatic action from wine, beer, cider, and soy sauce also helps. My favorite marinade recipes are in this post.


Outdoor grilling always brings visions of groups of people hanging around a blazing hot heat source—some of them children. Common sense and reasonable safety measures are mandatory.

  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.


The National Cancer Institute (NCI) now warns that the way we grill meats may be contributing to cancer risk. Generally, experts at this institute recommend:

  • Avoiding direct exposure of meat to an open flame and avoiding prolonged cooking times.
  • Using a microwave oven to cook meat prior to exposure to high temperatures to substantially reduce the time that meat must be in contact with high heat to finish cooking.
  • Continuously turning meat over on a high heat source can substantially reduce risks compared with just leaving the meat on the heat source without flipping it often.
  • NCI Fact Sheet


Pocket food thermometer

This ThermoPop super handy food thermometer gives super fast readings for whatever you’re cooking—and it easily rotates so you can see it no matter the angle required. Even better, it has a backlight! It comes in a bunch of cool colors. This is my old faithful because it’s simple to use, and I know I can trust ThermoPop. I’ve had mine for years, and it still works like new.









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3 replies
  1. Mike says:

    I love your column. I also read on a past post that you like cabbage.

    Well, so do I. Do you have and tips, tricks and recipes that you would like to share?

    A fan forever!



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