Cleaning a grill is an easy task when you have the right supplies and a plan in mind. From grill brushes to natural cleaning products, you can reduce the scrubbing and get back to enjoying your favorite recipes by following these helpful tips.
The Importance of Keeping a Grill Clean
A well-maintained, clean grill works better than one with clogged grates and dirty ports. It also lasts longer because grease isn’t collecting in the bottom and subsequently damaging the grill. Plus, keeping the grill clean keeps bacteria growth from starting, so you can be confident your food is safe to eat. A good cleaning will also prevent the transfer of flavors from one meal to the next. Since a well-maintained grill can last a decade or longer, keeping it clean is an important way to protect your investment.
How Often Should a Grill Be Cleaned?
Generally, you should do a deep cleaning at the start and end of each grilling season, a light wipe-down after each use, and a gentle cleaning before each use. Staying on top of grill cleaning makes each task easier. If you get a little behind, letting the cleaning products soak in and using a bit of extra elbow grease simplifies most of the work.
Depending on the type of foods you cook, you may want to clean the grill more often. Gooey melted cheese should be removed once your grill cools, as well as fatty food drippings that can cause flare-ups and uneven cooking. Oh, and when you’re cleaning, don’t forget the side burners and built-in cutting boards.
Step-by-Step Cleaning Methods by Grill Type
There are different cleaning methods based on the type of grill you have. While the grate-cleaning procedure remains the same for each type of grill, cleaning the grill’s base tends to vary by grill type. Take note of these steps for cleaning your charcoal or gas grill:
How to Clean A Charcoal Grill
- When cleaning a charcoal grill, clean out the ashes and loose debris first. A whisk broom or shop vac may be necessary to get rid of the last particles.
- Wash out the lower basin with warm water and dish detergent.
- Use a soft-bristled grill brush, and then finally rinse away the dirty water.
- Let the grill base air dry or dab it with paper towels to remove excess water.
How to Clean Gas and Propane Grills
- For stuck-on food on gas grills, turn your grill on high and let the food burn off for about 15 minutes. Turn off the gas and allow the grill to cool.
- Use a metal brush or scraper to remove the charred food. It should brush or chip away easily.
- Scrape the catch pan out over a trash can then wash it with soapy water.
- Use a brush to clean the cook box and burner tables.
- Wash the grill’s exterior with dish detergent (if painted) or spray glass cleaner (if stainless steel). Gently wipe the lid with a microfiber cloth.
How to Clean Grill Grates
Grill grates should be cleaned before and after each use, though the cleaning techniques are different. Before each use, spray down the grates with vinegar or submerge them in hot, bubbly dish water. Scrub gently to remove grease and any dirt particles. After each use, wipe off the cooled grates with a paper towel or soft cloth to remove chunks of left-behind food before it sets on the metal.
How to Clean Rusty Grill Grates
This is where you need to break out the elbow grease. Let the grates soak for 15 minutes in hot, soapy water. Start scrubbing with a metal brush, steel wool, or sandpaper. The soaking time gives the detergent a chance to do its job. Expect to use a lot of soap and get clean water whenever it starts to look thick or grimy. Rinse the grates thoroughly when the rust is scrubbed away. Season the racks with high-heat cooking oil before putting them back on the grill.
How to Season Grill Racks
Seasoning grill racks is actually pretty simple. You can do it as a separate step by coating the racks with cooking oil. Or, as a belly-filling alternative, you can cook your favorite greasy food, like sausages, on the clean racks and let the grease dripping of the cooking food season the grates for you. It usually takes about 30 minutes on medium heat for the grates to be thoroughly seasoned, though a lower setting and longer time can work, too.
Chemical-Free and Natural Grill Cleaning Options
Consider keeping it natural by avoiding harsh cleansers. Gathering everything you need to clean a grill before you begin saves you the trouble of running after missing cleaning supplies halfway through the job.
For regular cleanings, a wash basin filled with hot water, dish detergent, and a grill brush may be all you need.
If grease has become baked onto the grill racks or inside the grill, you may need a metal scraper, steel wool, sandpaper, and a spray bottle filled with vinegar-based cleaning product.
If you need something gritty to scrub off baked on food, consider a thick paste made from baking soda and water. Let it rest on the grill for 10 minutes, and then begin scrubbing.
Grill Cleaning Hacks
Taking advantage of these simple BBQ grill cleaning tips can help extend the life of your grill and make the food you prepare on it taste better.
- Coat grill racks with nonstick spray after each use. This helps keep the racks from rusting if you store the grill for a long time.
- You can also use aluminum foil as a scrubber instead of paper towels or a brush.
- Try using a power washer for tough jobs. Let a degreaser detergent work for a few minutes first, and be sure to disconnect the propane supply before spraying.
- To maintain the clean, it’s a good idea to use a grill cover between uses and during the winter.
Remember that regular cleaning is the key to preventing excess buildup and prolonging the life of your grill. Plus, a clean grill cooks food more evenly and is safer to use. With these easy cleaning tips, your grill will be fresh and ready for the next cookout every time.