How to Clean an Outdoor Gas or Charcoal Barbecue Grill

How to Clean an Outdoor Gas or Charcoal Barbecue Grill

Get ready for outdoor entertaining season by making sure your barbecue grill is clean.

Not only does a clean grill ensure that it will last, but your food will taste better and isn’t that what’s important?

Experts suggest cleaning a barbecue grill more often than you might think so here are helpful tips regarding how to do it, however, the most important thing you can do as a grill owner is check your manual for specific operating advice.

How to Clean and Maintain Grill Grates

Whether your barbecue is charcoal or gas, it has grill grates that will need to be cleaned lightly between uses and thoroughly as you notice caked-on food.

1. Loosen food with hot grates.

It’s much more difficult to scrape food off of cold grates.

Some experts believe that lightly scraping the grates with a brush (see step #2) should be done prior to cooking while others prefer after.

In the case of a gas grill, turn the burners to low after cooking to scrape off large particles

Then, turn the heat to high in order to burn off the remaining food.

If starting with cold gas grates, crank up the heat to high for 15 minutes.

2. Grab a stiff wire brush and scrub.

This should actually be done after every use!

Make sure that your brush is compatible with grates.

3. Soak grates in water and scrub.

Do this when you start to notice build-up occurring.

Scrub with either a plastic brush or SOS pad.

Tip:  Oil the food, not the grates.

If you oil the grates, it’s likely to slip down the sides or burn off so it’s better to oil the food instead.

Charcoal Barbecue Grill

 How to Clean Charcoal Barbecue Grills

Assuming the grates are clean, getting the rest of a charcoal grill sparkling is relatively easy.

1. Clean cooled ash.

Ash actually contains moisture which leads to rust, the enemy.

It is incredibly important, regardless of your food coma, to empty all of the ash out of the bowl and wipe it down afterward.

Keep a fire-proof bucket next to the barbecue grill in order to make this process as easy as possible.

2. Wipe the lid.

Use a warm, wet sponge to wipe the ash off the inside of the lid to keep difficult-to-remove carbon build-up from accumulating.

It helps if the lid is warm, not hot, when you do this.

3. Clean the exterior.

Use warm, soapy water to occasionally wipe down the exterior of your charcoal grill.

An SOS or other steel wool cleaning pad can help scrape off tough food stains.

Tip:  Use lump charcoal instead of briquettes as it generates very little ash, and put charcoal on top of aluminum foil which makes it easy to lift up and dispose of ash when you’re finished.

The grilling experts from Weber share their charcoal grill cleaning tips in the helpful video below:

How to Clean a Gas Grill

Some gas grills have a clean setting on the knob that does not work like the self-cleaning feature on an oven.

Rather, this setting preheats the grill to a high heat allowing for burned food to disintegrate.

It’s extremely important to check the manual of your gas grill before attempting to clean it as parts and materials vary depending on the manufacturer.

1. Clean the exterior.

If the exterior of your gas grill is stainless steel, use an appropriate cleaner along with a microfiber cloth and wipe with the grain, not against it, in order to avoid streaks and smudging.

Use glass cleaner on porcelain lids and soapy water on plastic side tables.

2. Clean the grill grates using methods above.

3. Remove the lava rocks.

Bang or brush off any debris they might have, but it’s typically advised not to wash them as they burn clean with use.

4. Clean burners per manufacturer’s instructions.

5. Clean the grease tray.

Empty big chunks of debris and wash with soapy water while scrubbing.

Oven or stainless steel cleaner can help, but you may need to re-apply depending on the extent of the stains.

How NOT to Clean a Grill

This aluminum foil method is an old wive’s tale that should never be used in a barbecue grill.

Covering the grates with aluminum foil and cranking up the heat as high as it can go.

The aluminum foil is said to lock heat against the grates, causing caked on food to fall off as ash.

In all likelihood, your grill won’t be able to take the extra heat provided by the aluminum foil resulting in damaged burners, grates and hoses.

Even worse, the aluminum foil can trap gas, leading to an explosion.

Tip: don’t do this.

The Importance of a Grill Cover and Splash Mat

If you’re going to the expense of investing in a grill, spend the extra money for a good grill cover as it’s the best way to protect it from the elements.

Exposing the grill to unnecessary moisture, dirt and grime will mean replacing parts on a more frequent basis potentially exceeding the cost of a grill cover.

Protect your pavers, natural stone and concrete from grease and barbecue stains by using a splash mat, which is easy and inexpensive to find at Home Depot or similar stores.

Tips for Charcoal Grills

how to clean a charcoal grill

Let lighter fluid soak into the coals before lighting them in order to get explosive vapors to dissipate.

If you need to quickly extinguish coals, wear protective mitts and use tongs to place coals in a metal bucket of water.

Make sure the grill is stable and can’t be easily tipped over—this applies to gas grills, also.

Gas Barbecue Grill Safety

As you’re cleaning your gas barbecue grill, it’s a good idea to give it a good once-over as parts are removed.

Check for rust and inspect tubes for insects, tears, scratches and blockages.

Protect the tubes with heat shields if they are not far enough away from potential grease splatters.

Make sure that tubes do not have sharp turns that may block the flow of gas.

Light a gas grill with the lid open.

Determine if your Gas Barbecue Grill has a Leak

Create a solution of equal parts water and dish soap and brush it on areas you think might be leaking.

Turn on the gas supply.

If the area starts to produce growing bubbles, there’s a leak.

How to clean a gas bbq grill

Always keep a fire extinguisher and the instruction manual near the grill, just in case of an emergency.

And, most of all, enjoy the outdoors!

Your Turn…

Do you have any cleaning tips to share?

*Photo credits: stock.xchng, klsa12 (charcoal grill); stock.xchng, naneki (bottom rotisserie photos)