How To Clean a Grill Like a Pro

With barbecue season fast approaching, it’s time to give your grill a spring cleaning! If it’s been outside all winter, it’s probably overdue for a good scrub. It’s also important to clean your grill after each use. This prevents the buildup of dirt and residue on the grill that can shorten its lifespan. Keep your grill gleaming all year round for the healthiest results.

How to clean a BBQ grill

It’s easier to clean a warm grill than a cold one. Heat can help dislodge food and other debris from the grill. However, if you use a charcoal grill, allow it to cool and remove the ash before cleaning.

But heat alone won’t kill the nasties you might find on your grill. Instead, follow these tips for the best way to clean a grill: 

Step 1: Use a long-handled, stiff wire brush to scrub the grates

Step 2: Once clean, apply a thin coat of vegetable oil to the grates using an old rag

Step 3: Use dish soap and a steel brush (or crumpled up aluminum foil) to clean inside the grilling bowl

Step 4: Check for and remove any bristles that may have come loose and stuck to your grill, as these can create a fire hazard

At the end of each grilling season, clean the whole grill with soapy water, and towel dry to prevent the grill from rusting. Use a grill cover to protect it from the elements and your grill should last for years.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to clean your oven! Learn how with our handy guide!

cleaning a grill with an onion

How to clean a grill with an onion

You might have heard of this crafty BBQ tip, and it really works! The acid of raw onions is a great non-toxic cleaning solution. While we don’t use it often indoors due to the smell, it can be just the thing to clean your grill. It’s best to use this method when the grill is very hot.

Step 1: Peel and halve a large onion

Step 2: Use a long-handled fork to rub the cut side of the onion firmly against the grill

Step 3: Stand back from the fumes to avoid getting onion in your eyes!

You’ll still need to clean your grill properly after using this method, but rubbing an onion over the grill is a fast and effective way of removing the worst of any burned-on food. Now you know how to clean a grill without a brush!

how to clean a grill

How to clean a grill top

If you prefer to use a flat grill top rather than cooking on the rack itself, you’ll find you have a larger area to clean. You also risk getting food burned onto the top if the temperature is too high. Grease can also build up on a flat grill top and create a fire hazard. But don’t worry! Our cleaning Pros know how to handle any task and get your grill top looking as good as new in no time.

Before you clean…

  • Use a spatula to remove as much grease as possible from the grill top
  • Next, wipe the grill top down with paper towels, this will absorb the last of the grease and remove any excess food

Next, use one of these methods to clean the grill top.

Steam cleaning a grill top

One of the best cleaners is simple steam. Heat the grill top until very hot, and then pour water onto it. Be sure to stand back to avoid scalding yourself, and don’t throw the water, as you risk splashing. Use a grill brush to scrub the grill top when the water is hot. Repeat as necessary until the grill top is clean.

Cleaning a grill top with vinegar

White vinegar is an excellent cleaner for almost any surface. Make a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water, and spray it onto a hot grill. Be sure to stand back and avoid the steam. Use a grill brush to loosen any debris, and keep spraying and brushing until the surface of the grill is covered with what looks like black tar. At this point, turn off the grill and pour more of the vinegar and water solution on the grill. Use the brush to loosen and remove the residue.

Using salt to clean a grill top

Salt is abrasive, and that makes it a great cleaner. It’s also absorbent, so it can help soak up any spills and residues. Simply sprinkle the grill generously with salt. If the grill was warm, allow it to cool. Then use a grill brush to remove any debris. The salt adds extra scouring power that really helps! For an extra cleaning boost, use half a lemon as a sponge to scrub the grill. The mix of lemon juice and salt will cut through grease in no time.

Cleaning a grill top with dish soap

Plain dish soap is designed to make short work of greasy residues, so it’s a great cleaner to use on your grill top. Let the grill top cool, then use a sponge to apply soapy water to the grill. Then rinse the grill top with plain water to remove any traces of soap.

How to use a grill brick to clean a grill top

Grill bricks are designed to remove oil from grill tops, and they’re valuable tools for people who cook on grill tops regularly. A brick is made from pumice stone, and it won’t absorb any grease or odors, meaning it can be used over and over. The best way to use a grill brick is to heat the grill top gently, then pour on a small amount of neutral oil. Use the grill brick to blend the oil with any dirt and residue, moving in a circular direction to prevent marking the grill top. Once the debris has lifted, turn off the heat and when cool, use paper towels to remove the oil.

how to clean grill grates

How to clean a grill grate

If you use a stiff brush to scrub your grill grate after each use, you’ll find the grate easy to keep in good condition. However, sometimes your grill grate needs a little extra cleaning power because soot and debris can accumulate over the grilling season. Here’s how to deep clean it.

  • Remove grill grates when completely cooled
  • Place them in a heavy-duty trash bag
  • Add 2 cups of vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda to the bag
  • Seal the bag with an elastic band or tape
  • Leave the bag overnight for the mixture to work
  • Remove the grates and wash with plain water

This method will work well with both porcelain and cast iron grates. Make sure to dry the grates thoroughly after cleaning to prevent them from rusting.

how to clean grill grates

How to clean a gas grill

Gas is a much cleaner fuel than charcoal, but it can still leave behind a residue over time. Here’s how to clean your gas grill.

  • Let the grill cool completely before dismantling to clean
  • Remove the grates and the metal plates covering the gas burners
  • Clean these using one of the methods above, or soak in hot, soapy water for 30+ minutes
  • Brush away any loose dirt or debris around the burners
  • Use a cleaning solution or soapy water to clean any greasy residue
  • Use plain water to flush away any cleaner, and dry the grill thoroughly
  • Wipe off the cleaned burner plates and return to the grill

That’s all there is to it! Occasionally taking the gas burner plates apart and cleaning underneath will prevent oil and grease buildup that can pose a fire risk.

How to clean a charcoal grill

Charcoal is by far the messiest fuel for your grill, but it does impart an amazing taste and smell to your food. To clean a charcoal grill, follow these tips.

  • Let the grill cool completely and remove any excess charcoal and ash
  • Use hot soapy water and a firm-bristled brush to scrub the inside of the grill
  • Don’t worry if you see what looks like peeling paint, this is just baked-on grease and smoke deposits
  • Dry the surfaces with an old cloth to prevent rusting
cleaning a grill with degreaser

How to clean a grill that’s been sitting

Whether you’re cleaning a public barbecue grill and you don’t know when it was last used, or you overlooked cleaning after last season’s final cookout, sometimes you’ll need to clean a grill that’s been sitting neglected for some time. Don’t worry, you can still salvage it.

Step 1: Start by scraping away any old charcoal or food residue

Step 2: Next, use very hot soapy water and a firm-bristled brush or scouring pad to remove as much debris as possible

Step 3: If the grill is still gross, spray it with a degreaser and let it sit for about 20 minutes (or follow the instructions on the bottle, if different)

Step 4: Use a brush or scouring pad to scrub the grill again (wear gloves to prevent getting degreaser on your hands)

Step 5: Flush the grill with plain water and wipe down with paper towels or an old cloth

Step 6: Repeat if necessary to get the grill completely clean

Pro Tip: Did your unused grill go moldy? Find out how to clean mold now!

Final thoughts

Now you know how to clean your grill, whatever its condition. Don’t forget to clean your grill after each use, and give it a deep clean once or twice a season. This will not only keep your grill looking nice, but it will also improve the food you cook on it, and reduce the risk of fire hazards.

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