How to Clean a Grill – Gas or Charcoal

Learn the best way to clean grills, grates, and interiors with this easy-to-follow guide for safe and delicious cooking all season long.

how to clean a grill
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Barbecue season is back, but before dusting off the grill and cooking, consider giving it some TLC. A clean grill is important for protecting against flare-ups from grease buildup, foodborne illnesses, and rusting, leading to a safer and longer-lasting appliance and better flavor!

This guide covers everything you need to know about cleaning gas and charcoal grills, so whether you are a seasoned grillmaster or a beginner barbecuer, your grill will stay in tip-top shape for years to come. 

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Why Clean Your Grill?

There are many reasons to clean your gas grill. Here are three of the most important ones:

Barbeque flare up while grilling.
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  • Safety: Grease buildup can lead to dangerous flare-ups, while leftover food particles may harbor bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.
  • Taste: Cleaning grill grates allows food to cook evenly and prevents unwanted flavors from past uses from transferring to your food.
  • Longevity: Regular cleaning helps prevent rust and other damage that can shorten a grill’s lifespan, saving money and hassle.

Supplies for Cleaning a Grill

grill cleaning supplies
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  • Rubber gloves 
  • Grill cleaning spray or spray bottle (if using homemade cleaning solution) 
  • Hand broom and dustpan or vacuum 
  • Grill brush: We recommend this one so you have no fear of stray bristles getting in your food.
  • Dish soap
  • Towel or rag 

How to Clean a Grill After Use

Here is the best way to clean a grill for routine maintenance after every use:

Cleaning a grill after use.
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  1. Turn Up the Heat: Heat your grill to high and let it heat for 10-15 minutes. This will help loosen any food particles and grease stuck to the grates.
  2. Brush It Off: Turn off the grill and allow it to cool until it reaches 250-300°F. Then, use a grill brush to scrub the grates and remove the loosened debris.

How to Deep Clean a Grill

In addition to a quick cleaning after each use, it’s important to perform a grill deep cleaning every 3-4 months for frequent users or once per year for occasional grillers.

Follow the steps below to learn how to clean a propane and charcoal grill.

How to Deep Clean a Gas Grill

Using a wire brush on a gas grill
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  1. Cool the Grill: Make sure the grill is completely cool before cleaning, and disconnect the gas line for added safety.
  2. Remove the Grates: This will make it easier to reach the inside of the grill. 
  3. Clean the Grates: The best cleaning method to remove food residue and grease will depend on how dirty your grates are. See “Deep Cleaning Grill Grates” below for specific cleaning instructions.
  4. Degrease the Upper Cookbox: Spray the inside of the cookbox with a solution of 20% dish soap to 80% water. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes, then scrub down with a wire brush once the grease has been dissolved. 
  5. Clean the Lower Cookbox: Using a wire brush in a side-to-side motion, scrape any hardened debris from the burner tubes, sweeping or vacuuming any loose debris that collects at the bottom. Using a putty knife, scrape the remaining debris into the grease trap. Apply a grill cleaner to the burner tubes and the lower cookbox, and wipe down
  6. Inspect and Clean Igniters: Test each igniter to ensure it works properly, then wipe with grill cleaner if needed.
  7. Clean the Grease Tray and Catch Pan: Remove the grease tray and catch pan, scrape out any debris, and wipe down with grill cleaner. 
  8. Clean the Burners: Scrape off any exterior grime with a grill brush, and use a paperclip to unclog any blocked gas ports if needed. 
  9. Empty and Clean the Drip Pan: Remove the drip pan and discard the accumulated grease and debris. If desired, wash the pan with hot, soapy water.
  10. Clean the Exterior: Finally, wipe down the outside of the grill, including the burner control knobs, with a damp cloth to remove any grease and residue. Avoid using abrasive scrubbing pads to avoid damaging the grill’s exterior. 

How to Deep Clean a Charcoal Grill 

Cleaning a charcoal grill
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  1. Cool the Grill: As with a gas grill, you will want to ensure the grill is completely cool before cleaning to avoid injury. Once cool, remove the grates and any detachable accessories
  2. Remove the Ash: Using a grill brush or putty knife, scrape off any large pieces of ash or burnt debris stuck to the bottom of the grill, then empty out the ashtray. 
  3. Clean the Grates: Your cleaning method may vary depending on how much grease or food residue has accumulated on the grates. See my notes below for a few ways to deep clean grill grates. 
  4. Clean the Interior: Spray the inside of the grill with a 1:1 mixture of white vinegar and water, allowing it to sit for 5-10 minutes to break up the grease. Then, scrub with a grill brush and wipe down with a damp sponge or cloth. 
  5. Clean the Exterior: Wipe down the grill’s exterior with a sponge or cloth dipped in warm, soapy water, rinse with clean water, and dry with a rag or towel. 

Deep Cleaning Grill Grates

The best way to clean grill grates is to scrape off any hardened debris with a wire brush and then spray them with a grill cleaner or degreaser.  

As for how to clean a dirty grill with heavily soiled grates, I recommend using one of the following methods:

  • Baking Soda Paste: Make a paste with equal parts baking soda and water. Apply the paste to the grates, let it sit for 15-20 minutes, then scrub and rinse.
  • Degreaser: Apply a commercial degreaser and follow the product instructions, or make a natural degreaser with a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and water. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes to loosen the grime, then wipe it clean.
  • Soaking: For extra-stubborn stains or buildup, soak the grates in hot, soapy water for 10-15 minutes to loosen the residue before scrubbing.

How to Season Grill Grates

Once your grill has been cleaned and reassembled, seasoning the grates is an optional but recommended step. Seasoning creates a non-stick layer that simplifies cooking and makes future cleaning easier. 

Spraying grill grates with high smoke point cooking oil.
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First, lightly coat the grates with a thin layer of cooking oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable, canola, or grapeseed oil. Then, heat the grill to 400-450° for 15 minutes to allow the oil to penetrate. 

More Grill Maintenance Tips:

Man cleaning the exterior of a grill.
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  • Clean the Drip Pan Regularly: Even though the drip or catch pan is specifically made to get dirty, emptying and wiping it down regularly will prevent rust and make any future cleaning easier. 
  • Check for Gas Leaks: To easily check for gas leaks, first apply a 1:1 mixture of water and dish soap around the gas connections of the grill. Then, turn on the gas supply without igniting the grill. If any bubbles form, this indicates a gas leak that will need professional repair.
  • Store Your Grill Properly: When not in use, keep it covered and stored in a ventilated area to protect it from the elements.

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