How to clean your barbecue: 5 natural tips that will get your grates gleaming

Worried about using harsh chemicals on your grill? These 5 tips will get rid of the gunk without leaving you in a funk

onion cleaning barbecue grate
(Image credit: eldadcarin / iStock)

Longer days and higher temperatures only means one thing for us Brits: barbecue season. The excitement is too real, until you lift the lid and release it hasn’t been cleaned since last August. The first thing to do is remember not to panic. Whilst it might look a bit crusty and grimy, there is still time to fix it before your in-laws arrive. The second thing you must do is decide how you want to clean it. 

When it comes to the best barbecues, there's a mixed opinion on how they should be cleaned. Whilst a lot of people are comfortable using stronger chemicals on their grill, there are many who just simply prefer not to do so. Your preference is completely up to you, but has anyone ever told you how to clean a barbecue with natural ingredients? That’s where we step in, ready with our top tips on how to get started. 

Before we jump in, read our top 5 barbecue safety tips so you can keep things safe this summer!

1. Heat things up

Heat will be your best friend when it comes to cleaning off your barbecue’s grime. Whether it’s a gas or charcoal barbecue, turn the heat on for 15 minutes to bake any grease or left over food. It will become blackened, making it easier to remove than cold grease. Take care when dealing with hot metal as you don’t want to hurt your hands. 

2. Onion

When you think about how to clean a barbecue, you probably wouldn’t reach for an onion. However, Onions have natural antibacterial properties, which means that they are excellent cleaners. Once you’ve finished cooking, grab a white onion, slice it in half, stick it on a skewer and rub it across the metal whilst it’s still hot. You’ll be surprised at how well it does!

3. Olive oil

If the barbecue grates are covered in grime, olive oil is a great option. First, remove the grates and coat them in olive oil. Leave them to soak in the oil for about 20-30 minutes, then rinse them clean.The oil should help remove any food residue and can also prevent your barbecue from rusting in the future. Sounds like a pretty good deal to us? 

4. Vinegar

You’ve probably heard of this one before, but it’s a guaranteed (and natural!) fix so we had to include it. Empty a spray bottle and mix one-part apple cider vinegar/white vinegar with three-parts water. Shake well and then wipe down your barbecue to remove any excess grease. Spray your solution directly onto the grill and leave for about two minutes, and then wipe again. Repeat the process until your grates are gleaming! 

5. Ketchup (yep, you heard us right!)

Ketchup doesn’t have to just be used for burgers and sausages - it’s also a great way to remove rust from barbecues left out in the garden all winter! Just apply a small amount of ketchup to any areas of rust and leave for a few minutes. The results should happen pretty quickly! 

Ready to get going? Read our useful barbecue tips and tricks from expert grillers to complete your crash course on barbecue expertise! 

Lizzie Wilmot
Staff Writer, Home

Lizzie is T3's Home Staff Writer, also covering style, living and wellness. She works closely with Bethan Girdler-Maslen, T3's Home Editor, ensuring all the latest news, trends and recommendations are covered. Outside of T3, Lizzie can be found mooching around Bath, attempting (or at least trying to) a new DIY project or spending time with family and friends.