How to Clean Your Grill and Why You Need to Do It STAT

Updated 05/24/19

Aral Tasher

 

Cleaning your grill might be up there with making an appointment for a dental checkup—you know you need to do it, but who really wants to? But by not pulling out the scrub brush, you increase your chances of getting a foodborne illness (if there’s crud on your grates, meats and seafood may not cook evenly or all the way through), plus you risk a fire if your drip trays are filled with flammable fats. “At a minimum, you should deep clean your barbecue at the start of each grilling season, but if you’re a grilling junkie, don’t go longer than two to three months before your next deep clean,” says Melissa Homer, Chief Cleaning Officer at MaidPro.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Rubber dish gloves

Grill brush

Plastic putty knife

A kitchen sponge with a non-abrasive scrubbing back

Microfiber towels

Dish soap 

Paper towels

Canola or avocado oil

2 buckets

For Gas Grills:

Nik MacMillan 

Preheat the grill on high for 10 minutes to burn off food residue. As your grill heats up, any food remnants will turn to ash. Mix some dish soap with hot water in a bucket, then dip the sponge and wipe down the grill’s exterior. Rinse and dry with a microfiber towel—paper towels have bits of cardboard in them and can scratch a stainless steel surface.

Open the lid, shut off the gas, and allow the grill to cool for a few minutes before scrubbing off the ash with a grill brush. Dip the brush in the soapy water and scrub the grates on both sides. Rinse and dry. Rub avocado or canola oil on all sides of the grates with a towel to protect from rust. 

Remove any flavorizer bars—the inverted V-shaped pieces of steel that sit below the cooking grates and above the burner tubes—and scrub them in the soapy bucket with your brush. Rinse and dry. 

Scrub the burners with the brush, in an up and down motion—not lengthwise across the burner bar—to keep debris out of the burner holes. Remove the metal reflectors—the thin metal plates at the bottom of gas grills that reflect heat from under the burners back up to the food—and empty the drip tray into the bucket. Scrub them clean with the grill brush. Rinse and dry. 

For Charcoal Grills:

Paul Hermann 

Mix some dish soap with hot water in a bucket, then dip a sponge and wipe down the grill’s exterior, using the rough side as needed. Rinse and dry with a microfiber towel.

Open the grill. Dip the grill brush into the soapy water and scrub both sides of the grates. Rinse and dry the grates with a microfiber towel. Rub canola or avocado oil on all sides of the grates with a cloth to protect from rust. 

Remove the charcoal ash and charcoal grate holders. If the grill does not have a catch, place the second empty bucket under the bottom holes, pushing any ash and debris through the bottom. Using a plastic scraper, remove any loose debris from the inner sides, lid, and base of the grill basin, pushing any debris through the hole at the bottom.

Scrub the inside lid and kettle bowl with a grill brush and soapy water, pushing all debris and water through the hole. Rinse with fresh water and dry. Replace all the cleaned items, leaving the lid open until everything has thoroughly dried, then close and cover with a grill cover.

Take Cover:

Standing water is enemy #1 when it comes to your barbecue. A cover guards against lousy weather and rodents, but most importantly, protects against “ash paste,” which forms when rainwater mixes with the charcoal ash at the bottom of the grill. When that hardens, it turns into a cement-like substance that’s nearly impossible to remove and reduces the efficiency of your grill. 

Prevent Fires:

Check for leaks (which happen to be the biggest source of gas grill fires), at the beginning of each season by applying a light soap and water solution to the gas hose. If there’s any seepage, it will release bubbles, and you’ll need to service your grill immediately. If your grill ever catches fire, shut the lid to cut off the fire’s oxygen supply, then turn off the gas. Don’t reach for baking soda—metal covers shield most gas grill burner systems and will prevent baking soda from working. As for an extinguisher, make sure it’s designated for grease fires, or you could make the flames worse.

 

Pick Your Battles:

Many grill parts can be switched out for less than $15, so don’t waste hours scrubbing a heavily corroded, rusty, or carbon-covered part that’s easier to replace. Time for a new grill? Check out these top-selling barbecues on Amazon. 

Cuisinart CGG-200B All Foods Tabletop Gas Grill, Black $169
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George Foreman 15-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill, Silver $90
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Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Black $165
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Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill $35
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Blackstone 1554 Station Propane-Fueled 36 inch Outdoor Flat Top Gas Griddle Station $250
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