How to Clean a Grill
Time Required: 2-4 hours
There’s nothing quite like a home-grilled meal, prepared in your own backyard. Keep your grills in tip-top shape throughout the grilling seasons year after year and follow these basic steps for the best way to clean a grill. Read on to learn how to clean a grill.
Safety: When cleaning grills with bristle brushes and other grill cleaning tools, always thoroughly wipe down the cleaned area afterwards in order to remove any bristles that may have come off during the cleaning process and stuck to the grill. The best way to clean a grill is to start while the grilling surface is warm, but wait until the surface has cooled enough that it will not burn you.
Out of the many different types of grills, the varieties that heat using charcoal require the most cleaning. Keep charcoal grills in peak condition by cleaning them after each use and thoroughly cleaning before and after each grilling season.
After each use:
Charcoal ash gathers at the bottom of the grill every time it's used, so you must clean the grill after each use. Built-up ash can block vents in the bottom of the grill, making it difficult to control cooking temperature and increase fire risks.
- Once the charcoal has cooled, remove the bricks and brush out the ash.
- Cleaning grill grates is best done with a long-handled stiff-wire brush. If you don’t have a brush, ball up some aluminum foil and hold with long-handled tongs.
- Use a rag or folded paper towels to apply vegetable oil to the clean grates. This will help prevent rust and food build-up.
- Clean the inside of the grilling bowl and lid using mild dish soap and a steel brush.
Before and after each grilling season:
In addition to cleaning out old charcoal, keep your charcoal grill in peak condition with regular maintenance. Follow these cleaning tips at the beginning and end of each grilling season, performing more often as needed.
While gas grills don’t require the level of cleaning required of charcoal grills after each use, they should be thoroughly cleaned at the beginning and end of each grilling season in order to keep them in top grilling condition. These steps can be followed using either natural gas or propane-powered grills.
After each use:
- Cleaning grill grates is easier with a long-handled stiff-wire brush. If you don’t have a brush, ball up some aluminum foil and hold with long-handled tongs.
- Use a rag or folded paper towels to apply vegetable oil to the clean grill grates. This will help prevent rust and food build-up.
- Clean the inside of the grilling lid using mild dish soap and a steel brush.
- Remove the heat deflectors located over the burners and wash with dish soap and water. Dry with a rag.
Before and after each grilling season:
- Pre-heat the grill for 15-minutes on high heat then turn off the grill.
- Turn the gas off - either on the propane tank or the gas line.
- Clean the grill using a stiff wire brush dipped in water. Do not lean over the grill while cleaning, as this should create plenty of steam.
- For tough grease spots, add dish soap to the water or a grill cleaner.
- Once the surface has cooled, wipe the grate with a damp cloth to remove residue or brush bristles.
- Remove burners from the gas supply line and remove blockages to the burner’s gas ports using a dry wire brush. Clean the ports by brushing side-to-side instead of up-and-down, as the vertical motion may push debris into the ports.
- Clean the burner valve with soapy water and run water through the inside of the valve.
- Clean the inside of the grill using a wire brush and warm soapy water and rinse with water. Towel dry the burners and reinstall.
- Refer to the instructions manual for specifics on how to clean the outside of a grill. Certain materials may be sensitive to harsh cleaning agents. For a stainless-steel grill, use a specially formulated stainless-steel BBQ grill cleaner and micro fiber cloth. Ceramic, porcelain and painted steel surfaces can be cleaned using soap and water.
- If you have a propane grill, you can store it outside with the propane tank attached. If storing inside, remove the propane tank and keep it outside away from direct sunlight.
- Keep the grill protected with a grill cover.
- Replace your grill brush annually.
Flat top grills are more commonly used in commercial spaces, but they can be a great addition to your backyard setup. They don’t have regular grill grates, so use a different method to clean them.
- Start cleaning the surface while the burner is still hot.
- Spray a cleaning solution along the top and let it sit for about 1-minute. You can dish soap, a degreaser or a homemade baking soda mixture.
- Use a grill brush to scrub away any stuck-on food and debris.
- Wipe it down with a dry cloth and repeat the process as needed.
Make sure the pellet smoker has completely cooled before cleaning a pellet grill.
- Remove the grill grates and place them in a bucket of warm, soapy water.
- Take a wet-dry vac and clear out the ash and debris from the grill’s interior.
- Use a scrub brush or abrasive sponge to clean the drip pan.
- Remove the chimney cap and clean the inside with a scrub brush.
- Wipe down all parts with a damp cloth.
If your grill grates are still dirty after a regular scrubbing session, it’s likely time for a deep clean. Soak them in a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. Together, these ingredients break down any stuck-on food. See below for more specifics on cleaning different types of grill grates:
- Stainless steel grill grates are generally the easiest to clean. Cover the top with aluminum foil and let the grill heat up for about 15-minutes. This should burn off the remaining food bits and make it easier to scrub once they’ve cooled down.
- For porcelain grill grates, try to burn off any lingering bits of food. Then let them cool completely. Remove them and use a nylon or soft bristle brush to scrub the surface. Don’t use a brush with wire or metal bristles, as those will damage the surface.
- For cast iron grill grates, burn off any lingering bits of food. Once they’re cool, use a soft bristle brush to scrub any remaining debris, using minimal water to prevent rust. Finish them off with a light coating of vegetable oil.
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