Unlike 2020’s best non-toxic grill cleaners, many regular options on the market are made with harsh chemicals… which you may not want on your food surfaces! In fact, according to the Toxic Free Future, the most acutely dangerous cleaning products are corrosive drain cleaners, acidic toilet bowl cleaners, and oven cleaners. Grill and oven cleaners share many common ingredients, which are notorious for increasing the risk of an array of health issues (but more on that later).

But if you have no idea how to clean your grill the non-toxic way, don’t fret. We have some tried and true natural grill cleaner recipes and plenty of non-toxic BBQ cleaner options for you here.

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.

First: What Chemicals Are Typically Used In Grill Cleaners?

Conventional grill cleaning products are often packed with strong chemicals. A few of the common ones include:

  • Sodium hydroxide, which is corrosive and can cause chemical burns, tissue damage, and irritation to the eyes, nose, or respiratory system. It also goes by names like “lye”, “caustic soda”, “soda lye”, and “sodium hydrate”.
  • Ammonia is also commonly used in household and industrial cleaning products, along with things like refrigeration systems and fertilizers. It can also cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, including coughing, wheezing, and even difficulty breathing. It’s not something you want to use regularly, as prolonged exposure to high concentrations of ammonia can lead to severe lung damage, bronchitis, and pneumonia (although this is more of a risk for industrial workers).
  • Petroleum distillates can also cause acute health effects, including skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
  • Ethanolamines are used as emulsifiers and fragrances (not only in grill cleaners but also in personal care products like shampoo), but the IARC and NTP list them as probable carcinogens. Some of them have also been found to cause damage to reproductive health and certain other organs.
  • Of course, mystery ingredients are not uncommon, either. This can include undisclosed fragrance ingredients (which may or may not contain endocrine disruptors or carcinogens) and unspecific “cleaning agents.”

So, How Do You Clean Grill Grates Without Toxic Chemicals?

You may prefer to make your own homemade grill cleaner with simple, natural ingredients, or you may want to buy a pre-made non-toxic grill cleaner from a safer brand. We’ve got both options for you!

4 Non-Toxic Homemade Grill Cleaner Recipes:

Below are four different homemade grill cleaner recipes you can make using simple ingredients (which you probably already have in your home).

The steps are very similar for each recipe. You’ll want to grab a mixing bowl or storage container, a few rags or paper towels, and a grill cleaning brush if you have one.

Recipe #1: Baking soda and water paste

Recipe #2: Baking soda and vinegar solution

Recipe #3: Baking soda and lemon juice solution

Recipe #4: Baking soda and olive oil paste

Best Non-Toxic BBQ And Grill Cleaners for 2023

Honestly, the homemade grill cleaner solutions listed above are probably the easiest and safest bet for cleaning your grill the all-natural (and cheap!) way.

That being said, I know DIY just might not be your thing, and you might want to buy a pre-made non-toxic grill cleaner from a trusted brand. Here are some good brands to check out:

1. Branch Basics (Best Multi-Purpose, Eco-Friendly Cleaning Solution)

Branch Basics Review on TheFiltery.com

Branch Basics is on a mission to help you “toss the toxins” and swap your chemical-laden formulas with safer cleaning products that actually work.

Granted, it’s not a grill cleaner per se, but rather a multi-purpose, eco-friendly cleaning solution that can be used for just about any cleaning job—including the grill! Our Editor, Abbie, uses Branch Basics for all kinds of things around the house, from the countertops to the laundry, the bathroom, and more.

The Starter Kits come with a bottle of the Concentrate and several different bottles (you can choose between plastic or glass). Each bottle has a fill line on the side to help you make cleaning sprays of different solutions (one for the bathroom, an all-purpose one, a streak-free one, etc.).

All you have to do is pick a bottle and fill it to the “water” line on the label, add the concentrate to the “soap” line, shake gently, and start cleaning!

I would recommend using either the All-Purpose or the Bathroom formulation for your grill, but if you want or need something even stronger, you can technically make your own formulation! The more Concentrate and the less water you use, the stronger it will be.

And if you need even extra help, you can sprinkle some of the Oxygen Boost powder on your grill grates along with the cleaning spray. Letting them both sit for a few minutes and then scrubbing it with a brush should clean your grill pretty easily.

Branch Basics Review on TheFiltery.com

You can check out our full review of Branch Basics right here.

Price: From $67 (for the Cleaning Essentials Kit)

Ingredients: Purified Water, Decyl Glucoside, Organic Chamomile Flower Extract, Coco-Glucoside, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Phytate

Use the code THEFILTERY for 15% off your Starter Kit.

2. Simple Green (Best Heavy-Duty BBQ Cleaning Spray)

non toxic grill cleaner from simple green

This option is probably the most similar to the more “conventional” grill cleaners that you might be used to.

According to dozens of natural-living aficionados, the Simple Green formula is the best non-toxic grill cleaner for removing grease build-up and baked-on foods… especially when other solutions might not be working for you.

This heavy-duty BBQ & grill cleaner is ideal for tacking carbon deposits on grates, stainless steel parts, smokers, BBQ covers, and more. It’s an easy-to-rinse solution that doesn’t leave harsh chemicals behind on cooking surfaces, and it’s safe to use on steel, aluminum, plastic, and other surfaces.

Just spray it on the surface, allow a few minutes for the cleaner to penetrate, and then scrub your grill with a non-abrasive sponge, scrubber, or brush. Let it dry completely before the next use.  

Go for the non-aerosol spray if you can, as aerosol spray products tend to be contaminated with benzene, a carcinogen.

Price: $8-14

Ingredients: Water, C9-11 Ethoxylated Alcohol, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Carbonate, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Citric Acid

Buy at:

3. AFM (Best Heavy-Duty All-Purpose Surfactant)

afm non toxic degreaser for grill

The AFM Super Clean All-Purpose Surfactant is a heavy-duty non-toxic degreaser for grills that require some tough love.

Safe, odor-free, dye-free, and biodegradable, this formula contains no phosphates, alkalines, acids, ammonia, butyl ethers, chlorine bleach, or chemical scents. This means that it’s ideal for anyone with sensitive skin, MCS, or other chemical sensitivities. Yet, it’s able to tackle even industrial-strength cleaning chores with ease.

It’s not just for the grill, either. You can use it to treat everything from stainless steel and fiberglass to porcelain, ceramic tile, chrome, and painted surfaces. But note that it’s not recommended for aluminum. because it can cause a brushed reaction.

It comes in three different sizes: quart, gallon, and 5-gallon pail.

Price: from $15.02

Ingredients: Water, two non-ionic plant surfactants, water softener, two plant-based emulsifiers, phosphoric acid

4. AspenClean (Best Non-Toxic Liquid Dish Soap)

non toxic dish soap for grill cleaning

The last option for a non-toxic grill cleaner is just your favorite dish soap! AspenClean is one of my personal favorites, but you can also find some other good options here.

AspenClean’s home cleaning products work to deliver the same results as conventional formulas but without any of the harsh chemicals. This liquid dish soap in particular can double as one of the best non-toxic grill cleaners that stands strong against food, dirt, and grease.

They have an unscented formula as well as Lavender & Lemongrass or Eucalyptus & Rosemary (both of which are scented using essential oils). They’re all baby-safe, pet-friendly, hypoallergenic, and vegan. They’re also certified by EWG, Ecocert, and Leaping Bunny.

Price: $11.99

Ingredients: Water, Sodium Chloride, Lauryl Glucoside (sustainable Coconut, Palm Kernel Oil derived), Coco Glucoside (sustainable Coconut, Palm, Palm Kernel Oil derived), Organic Glycerine (Vegetables derived), Citric Acid, Populus Tremuloides (Aspen) Bark Extract

Now that you have a pretty good idea of how to clean your grill the non-toxic way, it’s time to start sending out those BBQ invitations! We hope this article gave you all the inspiration you needed to DIY your own natural grill cleaner recipes, but in case you want to leave it to the pros, there are plenty of the best non-toxic grill cleaner solutions available at your disposal.

About Konstantina

Konstantina Antoniadou is a sustainability writer with an ongoing curiosity to explore new innovative technologies and report on trends in “green” industries. With almost ten years of expertise in media and publishing and undying love for upbeat and energetic storytelling, Konstantina is at the forefront of the creatively charged fashion, beauty, and non-toxic home verticals. When she’s not crafting ethical shopping guides, she’s either trying to perfect her roller skate dance moves, thrifting, or binging series for the hundredth time.

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