How To Clean Grills on a BBQ

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Updated June 27, 2022

Knowing how to clean grills on a BBQ will keep your food tasting its best and keep the grill working properly, especially if you’ve built an outdoor grill and kitchen set up for regular use. But not everyone knows how to clean one or how to keep them free of mice. Even the best grill won’t perform well if it’s poorly cleaned and maintained, and there are different guidelines you need to follow depending on whether you have a charcoal or gas grill.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Some parts of your grill, notably the grease tray, can be dishwasher-safe, which can save time and effort, especially for greasy parts of an AOG grill.
  • Except for the burners, soapy water or a mix of vinegar and water are very effective for cleaning most parts of a dirty grill, are cheaper than grill cleaner, and won’t affect the taste of your food.
  • Charcoal grills take a little more effort to clean, but generally, the same cleaning instructions for a gas grill will work for a charcoal one.

If you’ve decided instead to retire your old barbecue, you may want to read about how to dispose of old grills.

Easiest Way to Clean BBQ Grills

Cleaning a gas grill is easier than cleaning a charcoal grill since the gas burns clean and doesn’t leave carbon residue on the grates or get ash everywhere. That said, you can easily apply most of these instructions to most charcoal grills.

Insider Tip

A water/vinegar mixture may be good for especially tough-to-clean grill parts, however, soap and warm water are usually effective enough and won’t leave any odor.

Always make sure the grill igniter is off and the gas supply is shut down, and allow the grill to cool completely before cleaning.

STEP 1 Turn off the gas supply.

Put on your gloves and turn off the grill’s gas supply. You can also detach the gas tank to be extra secure.

STEP 2 Remove and clean the grates.

Remove the grill gates and scrub them vigorously with the grill brush/cleaning brush to remove stuck-on food. Here you may use a solution of white vinegar and water or just soapy water and a soft cloth, though often you won’t really need to use any liquid. You can also use a spray bottle filled with water to dampen the cooking grates, then apply baking soda, using a scouring sponge to clean them.

STEP 3 Clean the burners.

Clean any parts covering the burners such as v-shaped heat tents, ceramic briquettes, and lava rocks, and brush them clean with the grill brush.

STEP 4 Clean the burner tubes.

Gently brush the burner tubes with the grill brush, checking to see that the gas ports are open and sufficiently cleaned.

STEP 5 Clean the grill bottom.

Brush any debris you find out of the grill bottom. Peeling carbon flakes and grease on the bottom of the grill or inside of the lid should be cleaned off with the bristle brush. You can also use a putty knife to scrape it off if the bristle brush isn’t effective.

STEP 6 Empty the grease tray.

Pour any grease from the grease collection tray into an empty can or bottle. DO NOT put it down your sink drain or toilet as this will cause a clog. Instead, wait for the grease to harden and dispose of the entire can/bottle in the trash.

STEP 7 Clean the grease tray.

Using soap, warm water, and your cleaning rag, remove and thoroughly clean the grease collection tray. You can also put most grease trays into a dishwasher if that isn’t proving effective.

STEP 8 Clean the outside of the grill.

Wipe down the outside of the grill and side carts with soap, water, and a fresh cleaning rag. Wipe down with another clean rag to dry off.

STEP 9 Put the grill back together.

Reassemble the grill, making sure all parts are dry and clean. You’re ready for more BBQing.

Warning

Be absolutely sure your burners and grill igniter are clear of debris or obstructions when you clean them or you could damage your grill the next time you use it.

F.A.Q.S

How to light charcoal?

You can help prevent rust by seasoning the grill plates with a light coating of vegetable oil — preferably an oil with a high smoke point like canola. You can do this every few times you use your grill to keep it well-seasoned.


When is the time to buy new grill grates?

Seasoned and regularly cleaned grates should last a long time, especially if they’re cast iron or ceramic. If they start to become too pitted from spatula scraping, food will stick to them more easily. That’s when you may want to consider buying new grates.


How do you clean pellet grills?

A pellet grill takes more time and effort to clean than a conventional grill because there are more electronic and mechanical parts, meaning soap and water can only be used on a few parts. You’ll also have more to dissemble before cleaning. Consult your owner’s manual before attempting a cleaning.



STAT: If you use vinegar when cleaning, a mix of 60% vinegar and 40% water works best. (source)

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