How to clean the exterior of your stainless steel grill

There are a lot of methods for cleaning stainless steel to be found on the Internet, we have tested many products on a very dirty grill. Following you will find a list of things that we have tried to cut a winters worth of grime, and the products that we have found that work the best. It seems for best results you will have to go through a multi stage process to get the grill in like new condition.

Your results may vary depending on the type of stainless steel your grill is made from. The tests were performed on an inexpensive Brinkmann grill.

smoke on the back of a stainless steel grill cleaned
Smoke stained back of stainless steel grill hood

Tested Products: C.L.R., Pledge, Orange Glo Hardwood Floor Cleaner, Vinegar, Windex, Hand Sanitizer, Goo Gone, Soap and Water, Stainless Steel Cleaner, and Grate Chef Stainless Steel Wipes.

While most of these things worked somewhat on the light dirt here are the results.

First we rinsed the grill with water and wiped it down with a rag to remove any loose dirt.

On the heavy grime most of the products didn’t work very well, Orange Glo worked well, however I was amazed at how easily the hand sanitizer worked. Place a small dab on a rag and wipe, the grime will wipe away. The downside is that it seems to leave a film, it does come off easily with any of the light dirt cleaners.

Light Dirt easily cleaned up with Steel Cleaner, Grate Chef Stainless Steel Wipes and Windex. The wipes left a protective coating that needs to be wiped with a dry rag.

Smoke Stains on the rear of the hood were not touched by any product but the C.L.R. this didn’t seem effective on anything at first glance. The C.L.R. needs to sit on the stain for a few minutes to begin working. To accomplish this on the slanted part of the hood, I sprayed it onto a paper towel and stuck the wet towel to the hood, and smoothed it down. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes and clean with a another paper towel, rinse with water (or it leaves a film), repeat in needed. Then clean with the cleaner of your choice.

Finally if any scratches or discolorations remain you will need to use a Stainless Steel Polish.


If you clean the outside of your grill on a frequent basis, you will be able to maintain a great appearance with any of the cleaners from the light test.

Since this article was posted originally (about 8 years ago) many stainless steel grill specific cleaners have hit the market. I would suggest using one of those like the one from Weber. I have also recently found that you can use a chemical degreaser to remove smoke stains easily. They are available at most hardware stores for less than $10 and it is what restaurants use to clean their stainless steel equipment.

About the author: Mike is the owner of 4thegrill.com, a Certified Food Safety Professional and KCBS member.

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