Can You Use Regular CLR On BBQ Grills?

Key Takeaways:

  • Regular CLR can be used to clean BBQ grills, but a product like CLR Clean & Ready to Grill is specifically designed for grills.
  • CLR removes grease, baked-on food, and rust from grill grates and other parts using the power of calcium, lime, and rust removing ingredients.
  • CLR should be used cautiously on grills, checking manufacturer guidelines and rinsing thoroughly after use.
  • For best results, scrape grates first and allow CLR to soak 5+ minutes before rinsing. Repeat if needed for stubborn deposits.
  • CLR makes grill cleaning fast and effective, but proper grill maintenance like routine brushing is still important.


The joy of summertime often goes hand-in-hand with delicious barbecue fare hot off a sizzling grill. But the mess left behind after repeated grilling can be a challenge to tackle. Grease-caked and rusty grill grates are an eyesore, not to mention unhygienic. Bogged down by burnt-on food and grime, it’s enough to make you put off firing up the grill.

This is where a powerful cleaner like CLR can work wonders. CLR (which stands for Calcium Lime Rust) is designed to cut through tough grease, food residue, and rust stains. But can you use regular CLR formulated for household cleaning on a BBQ grill? Are there any special precautions needed?

This comprehensive guide will analyze the benefits, proper usage, and safety considerations of utilizing CLR cleaners to restore your grill. You’ll discover why CLR is an effective grill cleaner and how to use it properly for sparkling grates and flawless BBQ results. With the powerful cleaning action of CLR, you can look forward to delicious grilled food all summer long.

How CLR Removes Grime, Grease, and Rust from Grills

CLR has been a go-to cleaner in households for decades, but many don’t realize it can also tackle the mess on outdoor grills and smokers. What makes CLR so effective?

CLR harnesses the power of calcium, lime, and other rust-penetrating ingredients to break down and dissolve grime. When sprayed or applied to surfaces, CLR goes to work on grease, food deposits, and rust. The lime dissolves the grime, while the calcium acts as a degreaser, and rust-fighting agents remove reddish-orange rust stains.

This makes CLR excellent for cleaning the grate and other parts of a dirty BBQ grill or smoker. Here are some of the messes and stains it can conquer:

  • Grease – CLR is able to cut through and dissolve thick, baked-on grease that accumulates on grates and other grill parts from all the patties, steaks, chops, and other meats cooked over time. The calcium in CLR acts as a powerful degreaser.
  • Baked-on food residue – From crispy chicken skin to burnt edges of steak and veggies, CLR can remove stubborn stuck-on food that a grill brush simply can’t get. CLR dissolves food and breaks down deposits.
  • Rust stains – CLR contains ingredients specifically designed to penetrate and lift rust, restoring grill grates and surfaces to a clean, shiny metal finish. No more reddish rust.
  • Discoloration – In addition to rust removal, CLR removes other discoloration or stains on metal or enameled grill surfaces from heat, smoke, and age over repeated grill use.

Thanks to this heavy-duty cleaning power, CLR can tackle even the most grimy grill with ease.

Is It Safe To Use CLR on Barbeque Grills? Anything to Avoid?

While CLR is an effective grill cleaner, there are some precautions to take when using it on a BBQ grill. Here are some usage tips:

  • Check the grill manufacturer’s guidelines – Some grill makers warn against using CLR or other caustic cleaners as they could damage special coatings or material. Always consult your owner’s manual first.
  • Spot test in an inconspicuous area – Try a small amount of CLR on an unseen part of the grill first to check for any damage to the finish.
  • Avoid contact with aluminium – CLR should not be used on aluminium grill parts, as it can damage this reactive metal. Stainless steel, porcelain, and cast iron are safer surfaces.
  • Rinse thoroughly after use – It’s essential to completely rinse off all CLR residue after application to remove any cleaner that could get on food.
  • Use caution on enamel surfaces – CLR can damage some enameled finishes. Use a diluted mixture.

With proper precautions, CLR is generally safe for most standard BBQ grill materials like stainless steel, cast iron, and porcelain enameled surfaces. Just take care to test and thoroughly rinse. Avoid aluminium.

Can Regular Household CLR Be Used? Are There Better Options?

The regular household CLR formula found at most stores can be used to clean BBQ grills, but there are also some CLR products specifically designed for the job:

  • CLR Clean & Ready to Grill – This has a powerful foaming sprayer that sticks to grill grates for excellent cleaning results. It’s fast-acting but won’t produce harmful fumes.
  • CLR Calcium, Lime, & Rust Remover – The original formula works on the toughest grease and rust stains on grills when needed. Use with care.
  • CLR Smokehouse Cleaner – Formulated for smokers, it removes creosote staining from smoking as well as grease.

These specialty CLR grill products have ingredients tuned for BBQ cleaning, but the classic CLR bottle can certainly be used. Just be cautious, spot test first, and rinse thoroughly after use.

Step-By-Step: How To Clean Your Grill with CLR

Cleaning your BBQ grill with CLR is a straightforward process. Follow these simple steps:

1. Scrape Off Debris

Use a grill brush to scrub off any large particles of stuck-on food or grease deposits first. Get rid of any loose debris.

2. Apply CLR and Let Soak

Spray or apply CLR directly onto the grill grates and other parts needing cleaning. Ensure the CLR coats and penetrates the grime. Let it soak for 5-10 minutes.

3. Scrub and Wipe Away Grime

Use a grill brush, balled-up aluminum foil, or an abrasive sponge to gently scrub the grates while the CLR is still working, wearing gloves. Wipe away dissolved grease and loosened food bits.

4. Rinse Thoroughly

Use a garden hose on a strong setting to thoroughly rinse away all CLR cleaner residue and dissolved grease from the grill grates and parts.

5. Inspect and Repeat if Needed

Inspect the grill parts. If any stubborn deposits remain, repeat the CLR application, allowing it to soak again before rinsing.

That’s all it takes to renew your grill with CLR cleaner! Proper rinsing is key – be sure no cleaner residue remains before grilling food.

How Often Should You Clean a Grill with CLR?

While CLR makes quick work of built-up barbecue grime, it’s still best to avoid letting your grill get too messy:

  • After each use – Do a quick brushing of the grill grates after each barbecue session while still warm to remove accumulated food debris.
  • Every few uses – Give grates a good scrubbing with a quality grill brush every couple of uses to prevent grease buildup.
  • Monthly deep clean – Use CLR to give grates and other parts a thorough deep clean monthly or as needed to remove grease, stains, and any signs of rust.
  • Seasonally – Do an intensive CLR cleaning at the start and end of grilling season to remove all residues when storing or taking the grill out of storage.

While CLR can tackle even heavily soiled grills, regular basic cleaning maintenance will keep the need for heavy-duty CLR cleaning to a minimum.

Does CLR Damage Grill Grates or Finishes? Precautions.

As a powerful cleaner, CLR does need to be used with care on grills. Here are some top precautions when using CLR:

  • Spot test first on an inconspicuous area before applying to the entire grill.
  • Dilute CLR with equal parts water if unsure about surface compatibility.
  • Avoid metal bristle grill brushes – these can leave behind wires that contaminate food. Use a soft brush.
  • Check if a grill is enamel coated before using CLR – enamel can be damaged.
  • Rinse extremely thoroughly after use – residual cleaner can affect food.
  • Follow all manufacturer instructions for your grill.
  • Use CLR grill cleaning products as they are formulated for BBQ surfaces.

With proper care taken, CLR is generally safe for most grill materials. But siempre test first and rinse well after use. Avoid contact with reactive metals like aluminum.

What Are Some CLR Alternatives For Cleaning Grills?

For those concerned about using CLR on their barbecue grill, there are less harsh cleaner alternatives:

  • Baking soda – Make a paste with water and scrub onto grates with a cloth or brush before rinsing. Helps degrease.
  • White vinegar – Also cuts through grease and removes buildup. For rust, try equal parts vinegar and water.
  • Lemon juice – The acidity in lemon juice breaks down grime well. Follow with a rinse.
  • Mild dish soap – Use a non-abrasive sponge and dish soap with warm water to clean grates and surfaces. Avoid soaps with strong perfumes.
  • Salt – Mix with water or lemon juice into a paste to scrub grates clean. The coarse grains help remove deposits.

While these home remedies don’t have the heavy-duty power of CLR, they are gentler cleaner alternatives to try first before bringing out the CLR for the toughest messes.

Grill Cleaning FAQs:

Should you clean the grill while hot or cold?

It’s best to scrub the grill grates while still warm or hot after cooking is complete. This allows any food debris to detach more easily while softened by heat. Wait for the grill to cool down fully before doing a deeper CLR cleaning.

What’s the best grill cleaning brush?

Look for a brush with tough but gentle stainless steel bristles. Avoid brass brushes, which can leave behind traces of lead. Change grill brushes regularly as bristles wear down with use.

How do you clean grill grates by hand?

Use a soft scrub brush and dish soap with warm water. For heavier buildup, let grates soak in a container filled with warm, soapy water to loosen deposits before scrubbing clean.

What removes burnt on grease from grates?

CLR or a baking soda paste are excellent grease-removing options. For burnt on mess, an abrasive wadded up aluminum foil or grill stone can be very effective along with CLR or baking soda and elbow grease.

How do you clean a rusty grill grate?

CLR is ideal for removing rust from grates and other steel parts. Let it soak 5+ minutes before scrubbing and rinsing away all rust and staining. Repeat if needed for heavy rust.


Regular household CLR products can be used to clean BBQ grill grates, remove burnt-on grease and food, and eliminate rust stains. For best results, look for CLR formulas specifically designed for grills. While powerful, CLR should be used cautiously by first testing on an inconspicuous spot and thoroughly rinsing after application.

Alternating regular grill brushing after each use with periodic CLR deep cleaning sessions will keep your grill spotless all grilling season. With CLR removing layers of accumulated grime, food, and rust, you can continue grilling up delicious barbecue fare all summer long without mess or hassle.

Just be sure to follow all grill manufacturer instructions, avoiding use of CLR on aluminum parts and taking care with enamel coatings. Rinse thoroughly after use. And enjoy your freshly cleaned grill – the barbecue tastes even better when the grill looks its best!


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