Cleaning the Barbecue with essential oils – Chemical Free Living

So, lets get down to it! I want to see what these Essential Oils and other chemical free options can really do in my world – A Man’s World. So here we go on our first Mansperiment: Cleaning the barbecue with essential oils (or smoker, or grill, or camp oven – basically whatever we can cook meat in, we will see if we can clean it). All that in a Man Versus Oils spirit of a chemical free living.

Why using essential oils for cleaning the barbecue?

Well… I guess because I created this website to test this stuff … But in reality, I have always been a little uncomfortable in the chemicals that I have used in the past to get the job done. I have usually gone to two options:

1. Specialised BBQ cleaning spray

Risks (according to MSDS*) – Irritation to eyes and skin – risks to aquatic environments.

Cost – $6 to $7 AUD

2. Engine degreaser

Risks (according to MSDS*) – Irritation to eyes, skin and respiratory systems. Extremely corrosive and should not be released into any drainage system.

Cost – $2 to $4 AUD.

If I am being honest, I am not even sure why I thought using Engine degreaser to clean a BBQ was ever a good idea but at the time, it was there and I could use it. So, I thought… hmmmm, let’s see if it works.

In both cases, I would spray the BBQ and leave for a little while then hose off in the yard.

What am I trying to achieve?

Well to start with, I want a clean BBQ… But without the risks to myself, my family and our pets. We also live on the coast so anything that goes into the soil or drains here goes directly into the ocean… and we LOVE the ocean.

So, my acceptance criteria is simple – the BBQ is clean from grease!

What am I going to use?

So, I did some research (remembering my own info from a previous blog on choosing oils) and came up with the following:

Cleaning the Barbecue with essential oils - Chemical Free Living

Step 1 – Essential oils – Is there an Oil that am I going to use? (we are after all, Man versus Oils). As I look through my wife’s inventory, I see Lemon. Lemons are in everything that cleans aren’t they? Let’s start with that.

Step 2 – What carrier will I use. Most of the carriers I have talked about to date are oils. Oils will not, to my knowledge clean grease… when my Dad retired he drove Mum nuts by throwing out all of her cleaning products and replacing it all with vinegar. Let’s go with that.

Read more: The Best Carrier Oils for Essential Oils - Man versus Oils Investigates

Step 3 – Google it! – A lot of variations… Lemon essential oils… check… Vinegar… check… and a lot of call for baking soda… Baking soda (or Sodium bicarbonate) is a naturally occurring product with slight acidic qualities. It is also a proven odor remover which, if your BBQ has had a while between cleans, can be really necessary.

So… after further research, I am going to go with:

I have decided to leave the baking soda out for the moment but if your BBQ is particularly smelly or greasy, I would suggest sprinkling some onto the plate or grill first then adding the spray later on. If however you are going to clean the outside or shelving first, I would suggest choosing a small area to test first (to test for paint or stainless steel discoloration).

The Test

Here we go… We need:

  1. Mix ingredients into a spray bottle
  2. Locate dirty BBQ
  3. Spray ingredients onto BBQ
  4. Leave for 10 minutes
  5. Wash off with hose (use clean hot water for particularly dirty BBQs)

Cleaning the Barbecue with essential oils - Chemical Free Living. Dropplets on window

What happened?

So…. the results are really not too bad… It is not as spotless as the chemical options. Which is not surprising as their chemicals are pretty strong. However, it is much better than it was. Something I did notice immediately was the smell, or lack of it. There was no stale grease smell and the BBQ is clean-ish. I gave it a second round of spray and left for another 10 minutes.

The Verdict

So, I have written this on the fly in ‘real time’ meaning that the steps outlined above are the only steps I took. I did it twice and took some photos which are below. I did not use any baking soda on the BBQ which may have improved speed of cleaning and there is certainly room to tweak the recipe. However, all in all, I would have to call this mansperiment a success. Here is why:


  1. The BBQ is clean
  2. No chemicals were used
  3. The lemon essential oil cuts down the smell of the stale grease and also the strong acidic smell of the vinegar


  1. It takes a little longer to clean than the chemical cleaners
  2. Some wipe down or scrub of the BBQ would be required to fully remove ALL grease and charring form corners and burners etc.


Cleaning the Barbecue with essential oils - Chemical Free Living. Dirty BBQ top - BeforeCleaning the Barbecue with essential oils - Chemical Free Living. Dirty BBQ - Before


Cleaning the Barbecue with essential oils - Chemical Free Living. BBQ Top - Clean - AfterCleaning the Barbecue with essential oils - Chemical Free Living. BBQ - Clean - After



And there you go! Our first mansperiment is done and a success. Oh, and I reckon if you keep the spray bottle on hand you could give the old grill plate a quick spray and wipe down with a paper towel to maintain a clean, fresh smelling BBQ!

Now to find something to cook!

Have Fun


Read more: 5 Reasons to take Essential Oils Camping


* A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a document that provides health and safety information about products, substances or chemicals that are classified as hazardous substances or dangerous goods. MSDS’s can usually be found on the website of the manufacturer.


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My name is Paul and I live on the east coast of Australia with my wife and six year old son. I also have 19 and 23 year old daughters. I am an ex government and bank worker who took a bit of a sea change and opened my own business by the beach with my amazing wife. If you can do it, try it. You will never look back. You want to know more about me, read my About Me page

16 thoughts on “Cleaning the Barbecue with essential oils – Chemical Free Living”

  1. A man brother and i agree with you there and. Its disturbing to have chemicals on the BBQ Grill. i want my family to eat a delicious meal and not have any allergic reactions in our immune system.. Purchasing a degreaser and lemon oil to smell fresh on the stove..

  2. Love this!!
    I use this method all over the house!
    One other great use for lemon oil is to keep spiders from making their home in your home! A spray bottle with water and some lemon oil, 4 to 5 drops, should keep those spiders out ?

  3. Having lived in two countries (namely Germany and Australia) that adore the art of bbq-ing, this is something I’ll definitely have to try. I love Young Living Essential Oils anyway, so these are two of my favourites combined. I can imagine it smelling beautifully with the Lemon Oil too.

    (In the past, whenever there was nothing else to clean the BBQ and it was still hot, we would use beer to clean it. What a waste though!)

  4. Love this post. By the looks of it, your bbq is much cleaner and in a better state to cook on than before your mansperiment. So much better for both your family’s health and the environment. I’ll have to pass this recipe onto my husband who usually does the bbq cleaning and cooking. Thanks for sharing..

  5. I love your post. My family loves BBQ. But I always think that BBQ is not good for health. As you can see, the food is always burned and the equipment is difficult to clean especially the BBQ grill.

    I will pass this to my family and ask them to clean that by your suggestion for my family health.

    Thank you for you sharing.

  6. Hi, like your post. I too never understood why people put dangerous chemicals on their BBQ’s and then cooked on it. Very interesting to read and the results of your tests were as I expected. Not quite as good as the chemicals, but much much better for everyone. Good one.

  7. Awesome experiment! Thanks for this alternative to harsh chemicals! I also used engine degreaser and I cannot for the life of me figure out why I thought it was a good idea!


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