Do You Have a Dirty Grill? How to Clean it the Right Way

Up to 75% of Americans own an outdoor BBQ grill or smoker. At some point, those grills will need to be cleaned.

There are many benefits of having a clean grill. Here is the best way to clean your grill whether it’s a charcoal or gas BBQ grill.

Benefits of Cleaning Your BBQ Grill

The biggest benefit of having a clean grill is that your food is going to taste better. A dirty grill has a smoky, rancid smell. Cooking in that will result in the smell transferring to your food.

It’s also healthier to cook with a clean grill. Harmful carcinogens and bacteria can build up in your grill and then wind up getting onto your food.

A dirty grill will attract pests and their droppings, as well. Insects that carry diseases are attracted to dirty grills and increase the risk of potentially hazardous cooking conditions.

By keeping your grill clean it cuts down on the possibility of smoking or a flare-up, too, minimizing the possibility of burnt food.

Two Types of Grills

Charcoal Grills

The benefit of having a charcoal grill is that you can easily clean it out after each use. Don’t dump the ashes out, that’s not good enough since the grates will still be dirty.

Keep a wire brush nearby and give the grates a good scrub after each use. This removes any cooked on food particles.

Cleaning the grates well will also help to prevent excess smoke the next time you use it while preventing stale or bad flavors from being infused in your food.

Periodically scrape out the bottom of the grill to remove old food and ash, but this doesn’t have to be done each time the grill is used.

Gas Grills

There are several basic types of gas grills, including free-standing and those built into a counter or surface. Watson Brothers Patio and Hearth have some great examples of each kind.

Regardless of the style you have, gas grills need to be cleaned, just like charcoal grills. The bad thing about many gas grills is that they have a clean function on them.

This leads owners to believe that they have cleaned their grill just by using this feature. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. You need to manually clean your grill every time you use it.

A light scrubbing with a metal brush works for regular maintenance and cleaning.

Do Not Do This

It has been a long-standing idea that cleaning a grill involves aluminum foil.

You put a piece of foil over the grate and turn the grill on high for 20 minutes. The idea is that the foil traps the heat and turns everything to ash.

You then easily sweep up the ash and you’re done.

This doesn’t work today. Grills today are made from stamped steel with burners that are designed to wear out and be replaced.

Grills today simply can’t handle that high heat.

Grill Cleaning Equipment

Don’t buy into the hype of specialty grill cleaning products. Nothing beats a wire brush, soapy water, and old-fashioned elbow grease.

Getting some good cleaning gloves could also be very useful.

Avoid using any toxic chemicals. They can leave a residue on your grill. This residue can emit fumes that can get into your food the next time you go to use it.

Some sponges and rags could also be useful.

Soak It

give your grill grates a quick brushing to knock off any loose debris. Place the grates in a bucket of soapy water.

Make sure to place the infrared in the bucket also. The infrared panels are located right under the grates. Let them soak for 15-20 minutes before taking them out.

Use a Vacuum

While the grates are removed from the grill and soaking get your vacuum out. The easiest way to clear out the loose debris in the bottom of your grill is to vacuum them out.

Be aware that you are going to be sucking up burnt old food particles and greasy bits. If you are concerned about getting that in your vacuum, you may want to skip that step or use a shop vac, designed for these types of jobs.

Take a damp rag or paper towels and wipe down the bottom inside of the grill if you don’t want to use a vacuum.

Scrub Everything

After the grates and panels have had a good soaking, take the metal grill brush to them. You may find it helpful to buy a brush with a long handle.

A long-handled brush will help you have the leverage to remove stubborn stuck on debris. It will get you back down to the original steel or porcelain.

If you are having trouble getting the stubborn stuck on debris off, you can use a flat head screwdriver to scrape off the stuck on particles.

Using the screwdriver may leave scratch marks, but it’s a small price to pay for having a clean BBQ grill.

A word of warning, using anything other than the wire brush on your porcelain grates can damage them.

Wash and Wipe

Replace the water in the bucket after letting the grates soak. Use the new soapy water to wash the outside of the grill using a sponge or rag.

Don’t use steel wool, this will leave scratches all over. You could even scratch your grill with too coarse of a pad, so be careful. You want a gentle but firm approach.

It makes cleaning easier if you remove any knobs, buttons, badges, or thermometers.

Wipe down the grill with a clean dry cloth when you are done.

Final Touches

Use some stainless steel cleaner to put the final touches on your BBQ grill, but don’t use it for the heavy cleaning.

Spray it on, let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe it away with a clean dry cloth. Vinegar is also effective in cleaning stainless steel.

Inspect the gas lines and tubing. This is the perfect time to check that everything is in working order. Before you put the grates back in, light the grill and inspect the tubing for any blockages.

If you have any blockages in the burners, turn the grill off and use the brush to gently scrub the blockages away.

What Else Can you Clean?

Your BBQ grill is now clean and looking great! The next time you grill you’ll be tasting the meat, and not the heat.

Keep your cleaning roll going. Check out these great tips for cleaning your bathroom cleaning tips.