How to Clean BBQ Grill Grates With Vinegar (Pics + Video)

cleaning-grill grates with vinegar and aluminum foil

Every time you use the grill it gets messy.

Bits of food and grease get stuck to the grates and some even fall down below into the grill.

If you’re using a charcoal grill, then it’s even dirtier because of the ash.

Ash is not that big of a deal. You just scoop it up or – if you’re clever – suck it up with a vacuum cleaner.

The real problem is the burnt food residue on the grates.

If you don’t clean them after every cooking session, it will get layers of dirt and grime, and fat.

That’s not only unsanitary but also detrimental to your health.

The most simple solution would be to just scrub the grates with a wire brush. Hold on. This stuff is burnt on pretty badly, kind of like glue.

Instead of spending hours scrubbing your ass off, why don’t you try a different approach?

In this guide, I’ll show you one of the most simple and effective ways to clean grill grates – by using vinegar.

It’s natural, cheap, every household and store has it, and (most important) it’s super effective.

Why Is It So Important to Clean Grill Grates

When you cook your meals on a grill, the heat burns the fats and most of it drips to the surface of the grill.

The excess oil collects in the grill and forms a thick layer of grease.

The accumulated grease, other than harboring dirt and germs, could cause a fire when it comes into contact with burning flames.

electric grill grease fire

The heated grill grates also burn the foods placed on them and some particles are left attached to it.

The pieces of food on the grill gates attract bacteria when the grill is left for some time without being used and this results in contamination.

I’m pretty sure you don’t want to serve your guests contaminated meals that will make them sick and the only way to prevent this from happening is by upholding cleanliness.

Now that you are aware of the need to keep your grill clean and free of germs, you are probably wondering how often you should do it.

Well, cleaning your grill thoroughly after every cookout is not always possible but you can at least clean the grates to remove the food particles attached to it before you store the grill.

Here, I will teach you how to clean your grates with vinegar – a natural cleaning agent.

apple cider vinegar

The Supplies Needed to Clean Grill Grates

Here are some of the things that you should get:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda (optional)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Spray bottle
  • Kitchen towel

The Best Way to Clean Grill Grates

  1. Prepare a vinegar solution
    • Do this by adding equal amounts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle
    • If the food is really burnt, don’t use any water
  2. Shake the mixture
  3. Cut a piece of aluminum plate for scrubbing the grates
    • Crumple it up
  4. Spray the mixture on the grates before you begin scrubbing
    • Don’t forget to spray the bottom of the grates as you will have to clean that area as well
  5. Leave the grates alone for about 5 minutes to allow the stains and food particles to soak in the solution and loosen up
  6. Spray the vinegar mixture on the aluminum foil as well and give the grates a good scrub
    • Start with the top of the grates and move to the bottom section
  7. Rinse the grates with clean water
  8. Dry the grates with a kitchen towel or place them in an open area for them to air dry

NOTE: For a deep clean process, sprinkle baking soda on the grates before spraying the vinegar solution. Baking soda will soften the tough stains and make it even easier to clean your grill.

This cleaning procedure will ensure that your grates are the cleanest they can be and free of germs.

Once you are done cleaning the grates, you can still use the vinegar solution to clean the other areas of the grill.

Vinegar will leave a distinct smell on the grill and if you don’t want it, you should use a diluted solution.

You can also use a cotton cloth to scrub the grates if you are out of aluminum foil.

Vinegar as a Cleaning Agent

cleaning kitchen countertop with vinegar

Vinegar works great on grill grates by softening the stains and food particles for effective cleaning.

Some people hardly associate vinegar with cleaning but it should be noted that it is one of the best solutions for cleaning your grates effectively.

It’s so effective, I am using it to clean my coffee maker regularly.

Vinegar has been around since ancient times.

Why is Vinegar Good for Cleaning?

The Acidic acid in Vinegar eats through grease and oil left behind after grilling.

The chemistry in the good, old-fashioned household, vinegar turns out to be just the thing for cleaning off the built-up gunk and goo on your BBQ grill.

It takes a little while for the acid to eat through the grime but it not only helps the grill look like new, it also kills any bacteria or germs left over from the last cookout.

Does Vinegar Clean Grill Grates?

Vinegar by itself can get the job done surprisingly well.

However, by adding baking soda, the mixture becomes much more effective.

Baking Soda adds an abrasive to the liquid and that makes scrubbing off charred bits and pieces a lot easier to accomplish.

Together, Vinegar and Baking Soda make an environmentally safe combination.

Vinegar plus Baking Soda is one of the best formulas for cleaning grill grates.

Is White Vinegar a Degreaser?

Yes, White Vinegar is an excellent degreaser. When heated, White Vinegar (aka Distilled Vinegar) works as a degreaser by breaking down the minerals and ingredients of whatever it contacts.

white distilled vinegar

I like to heat the Vinegar in the microwave so that it is hot to the touch before using it with a cloth or spray bottle.

Use caution when mixing in Baking Soda as the liquid may bubble up and make a mess.

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Better Than White Vinegar for Cleaning?

Truth be told, there are no actual differences between these 2 kinds of vinegar in terms of cleaning.

The main difference is the smell.

White vinegar has a strong sour smell while apple cider vinegar gives off a more pleasant sweet odor.

So, if don’t like the smell of white vinegar, then use apple cider. Your grill grates won’t be less clean.

Another Grill Grate Cleaning Procedure That’s a Bit Unusual

What I’ve found works best is to spray a mixture of 4 cups of water + 1 cup of Vinegar + 1/2 cup Baking Soda.

placing grill grates into a garbage bag

I use the mixture in one of 2 ways:


Putting the mixture into a spray bottle, preferably warm, I lay a large garbage bag on the ground or a table and place the dirty grate on top.

Then I shake up the mixture in the bottle before spraying it onto the grate.

I let the whole thing sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing both sides of the grate with a brush or a wadded ball of aluminum foil.


Following the same mix instructions as above, I pour the mixture into the large garbage bag before sliding in the grill grate.

After sealing the bag, I shake it to distribute the mix over the grate and let the bag sit for at least 30 minutes or longer, depending on the amount of cleaning needed.

The longer between cleanings, the longer I let it sit and soak.

Safe, Clean, and Environmentally Friendly

By itself, vinegar has long been recognized as an excellent cleaner.

Not only does it do a thorough job on metal, ceramic, plastic, and many other surfaces, it also disinfects and sanitizes.

Vinegar doesn’t affect the environment negatively and is safe if it contacts the skin or food.

Some cleaning compounds can leave a residue on the grill grate that is later transferred to food. Vinegar doesn’t leave any residue and doesn’t produce an aftertaste as a result.

How often do you clean your grill grates?

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About Mario 148 Articles
I am the owner of Kitchen Guru Ideas. I've set up this site so I can share my kitchen tips and hacks that have been passed on to me from my parents and grandparents and show you how a wonderful experience cooking is and not just a way to save money. Even in this hectic lifestyle, there is time to prepare and most important enjoy a home-cooked meal.

1 Comment

  1. Bought a grill, and used it for the first time, and dreaded the clean up. I clean my oven with baking soda, dawn, water, enough to make a paste and leave it over night, the next morning, I wipe it off. When I found your article, I was grateful that I do not have to use harsh chemicals, to clean my grill. Thank you.

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