How To Clean Your Outdoor Grill in 5 Easy Steps

How To Clean Your Outdoor Grill in 5 Easy Steps

April 16, 2024

There’s nothing quite like the aroma of a sizzling burger or the taste of a perfectly grilled steak. But to ensure the best cooking results and prolong the life of your grill, you’ll want to keep it clean. If you’re not sure how to do that, don’t worry. This guide will show you exactly how to clean a grill and keep it clean.

With a few simple steps and basic tools, you can have your grill spotless and backyard-BBQ ready!

Table of Contents

Why Should You Clean Your Grill?

Before diving into the cleaning process, let’s talk about why cleaning your grill is important.

First and foremost, a clean grill is a healthier grill. Grease, food particles, and bacteria can build up on your grill grates and other cooking surfaces over time. If left uncleaned, these can contaminate your food and potentially make you (or your guests) sick.

And regular cleaning helps maintain the longevity of your grill. Built up grease can cause corrosion and damage to the metal components of your grill, which can lead to costly repairs or even prematurely replacing your barbecue.

Finally, a clean grill simply performs better. When grates and other surfaces are covered in grease or leftover bits of food, it can affect your grill's heat distribution and cooking efficiency, resulting in unevenly cooked food or longer cooking times.

How To Clean a Grill: Tools Needed

If you’re ready to clean your grill, gather the following tools and supplies:

  • Grill brush
  • Ash tool
  • Sponge or washcloth
  • Large bucket
  • Dish soap
  • Degreaser (optional)
  • Grill spray or cooking oil

How To Clean a Grill: Step-by-Step Guide

Once you have your supplies nearby, it’s time to get to work. The exact steps to clean a grill vary depending on your grill type, but the guidelines below work with most charcoal, gas, and wood grills.

If you have questions about cleaning a specific model, your owner’s manual should be your go-to resource.

1) Prepare your grill

The first step to cleaning your grill is getting it ready for the process. Ensure your grill is turned off and cooled down enough to be safe to touch.

When it’s cool, remove the cooking grates and place them in a bucket of hot, soapy water to soak. This will help loosen any built-up residue.

While the grates soak, use an ash tool to remove any loose ash or debris from the bottom of your grill.

2) Scrub the grates

Now that you’ve soaked your grates, it’s time to clean them! Using a grill brush with stainless steel bristles, scrub away any food or grease. This keeps your food from sticking or developing a rancid taste the next time you cook.

You’ll need to use some elbow grease to get the grates clean. But you don’t want to scrub so hard that you scratch the coating or damage the cooking surface.

If you’re having difficulty removing stubborn food particles, try using a mixture of equal parts baking soda and water. This natural solution can help break down tough grease and grime.

Commercial grill cleaners are also available online or in your local hardware store. If you go this route, read the instructions carefully and use gloves to protect your hands from the chemicals.

3) Clean the inner parts

After your grates are clean, let them air dry while you tackle the inside of your grill. Using a sponge or washcloth and warm, soapy water, scrub your grill's drip pan, inside walls, and lid.

Don’t forget to clean the bottom of your grill, where grease and ash can accumulate over time. Use the brush to remove any build-up before wiping it down with soapy water.

As you clean, check for rust or damage that could impact the performance of your grill. If you notice rust on the interior, use fine-grit sandpaper to remove it. Then, apply a thin coat of high-heat grill paint to keep it from spreading.

Once you’ve cleaned the entire inside of the grill, rinse the soap off with water and leave the lid open so it can air dry without rusting.

4) Clean the outer parts

Now that you’ve cleaned the inside of your grill, cleaning the outside should only take a few minutes. In addition to the body and lid of the grill, you’ll want to clean all the other bits, including the:

  • Shelves
  • Handles
  • Burners
  • Hooks
  • Thermometers

Wipe everything down with a damp cloth and warm, soapy water or a degreaser if needed. Then rinse everything off with water and let it air dry.

5) Do a final inspection

Before you call it a day, give your grill one last look to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Check the grates, inside walls, and bottom of the grill for remaining debris or residue. Quickly spot-clean problem areas and let them dry.

Once your grill is dry, return the grates and apply a light coat of oil to season them. Now, your barbecue is ready for your next backyard get together!

Now that you know how to clean your grill, let’s talk about how often you should do it.

How Often to Clean a Grill

You only need to do a deep clean on your grill once or twice a year, depending on how often you use it.

However, you’ll want to do a quick clean after every use to keep your grill in top shape. You might turn your grill on high after cooking to burn off the residue, but that alone won’t keep your grill clean.

You’ll need to:

  • Scrub the grates with a grill brush
  • Wipe down the inside of the lids and walls with a cloth or paper towel
  • Remove large pieces of debris from the bottom
  • Empty and wipe out the grease trap

These steps can prevent grill fires, keep bacteria at bay, and ensure your food cooks evenly.

Grill Maintenance Tips

In addition to cleaning your grill, here are a few other maintenance tips to keep it functioning properly.

Use a cover

A grill cover can protect your grill from the elements when you aren’t cooking. This helps minimize rust and other damage that can occur over time.

Your cover should fit snugly over your grill to prevent rain from getting underneath. For example, the Kamado Cover has a drawstring at the bottom to ensure a tight fit.

Note: If you’ve just cleaned your grill, wait until it’s completely dry before covering it to avoid trapping water inside, which can lead to rust.

Inspect the fuel lines

If you use a gas grill, regularly check the fuel lines for cracks or leaks. If you notice any issues, replace them before the next use.

Clean your grill tools

Just like your grill, your tools can also accumulate greasy residue. Give them a good cleaning after each use. This not only helps prolong their lifespan but also ensures you aren’t transferring unwanted flavors onto your food.

Prepare for winter

When the grilling season ends, it’s important to prepare your grill for storage during the winter months. Do a deep clean (as described above) to discourage pests from moving in while the grill isn’t in use.

In addition, you’ll want to:

  • Remove the burners and put them in plastic bags to keep spiders and bugs out.
  • Remove rotisserie motors, batteries, and other electronic components and store them inside your home.
  • Move the grill to a safe location that’s out of the elements. Ideally, you’ll put it in a covered area such as a garage or shed (just don’t turn the grill on in there).

These steps will keep your grill in good condition during the off-season so it’s ready to use when warmer weather returns.

Grilling Made Fun With Ash & Ember

Understanding how to clean a grill properly is just one aspect of successfully grilling. To truly elevate your barbecue game, consider upgrading to a high-quality grill, like these from Ash & Ember.

With innovative features and durable construction, Ash & Ember grills make grilling easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable. We have a variety of sizes and models available so you can find the perfect grill to fit your needs and budget.

But it’s not all about the grill — Ash & Ember also offers a wide range of products to enhance your outdoor cooking experience. From cast iron skillets to pizza trays, we have everything you need to take your get together to the next level.

Happy grilling!