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How to clean a grill — top tips for gas, charcoal and more

Man grilling sausages and vegetables outside in front of guests
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Most of us know the basics of how to clean a grill, but many of us don’t take the time to give it a thorough clean, even if we own one of the best grills. As the summer draws to a close, you might be ready to store your barbecue away until the springtime. But, before you do, take a good look at it. If there’s burnt residue on the grates, or rust forming on the plates, you should deal with this before storing so it doesn’t lead to damage. 

Not sure where to start? Luckily, we’ve pulled together a comprehensive guide on what to do, so you can rest assured that your barbecue will be in pristine condition for next year’s cook-ups. Here’s how to clean a grill.

Before you follow any of the below advice, you should first refer to your manual for exact instructions on how to clean your grill. If no instructions are given, or you can’t find the manual, the below should guide you. 

How to clean a grill — the grates 

What you will need

Metal brush or microfiber cloth/sponge

Dish soap

Stainless steel or enamel cleaner (optional)

Plastic scraper (optional)

Protective gloves

Soft scouring pad

Whatever type of BBQ you have, you should always start with the grates — here’s what we recommend:

1. Firstly, you should run the empty grill on full temperature for 10-15 minutes. This will burn any remaining food residue to a charred state, making it easier to remove. At the same time, this will also kill any bacteria. 

2. Wait for the grill to completely cool before you start to clean.

3. The next step depends on the type of grates you have. With the exception of porcelain, cast iron and stainless steel grates, most can be scrubbed with a metal brush or spatula. Scrub in the direction of the grates, and make sure you cover the underside as well. Stainless steel, cast iron and porcelain can scratch easily, so for these use a sponge, microfiber cloth or dedicated cast iron brush.  

Grates being cleaned with a metal brush

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

4. If this doesn’t shift the residue, you can submerge the grates in hot, soapy water and leave them to soak overnight before scrubbing, rinsing and drying. If you’ve got a cast iron grate, do not leave this to soak as it will leave it vulnerable to rust. You can rinse this grate under hot, running water, but make sure you thoroughly dry it afterwards and coat it in a layer of oil for protection. The easiest way to make sure it’s dry is to place it back on the grill and run it on full temperature for 10 minutes.

Your grates should now be spotless again!

How to clean a gas grill 

1. If you’ve got a gas BBQ, then the next step is to turn off the gas and remove the propane tank. 

2. While wearing protective gloves, remove the plates as well as the Flavorizer bars (if your grill has them) and wash in warm soapy water. Make sure you scrub away any fat and grease. You can also use a dedicated cleaner, such as the Weber Grill Cleaner Spray from Amazon. 

3. Remove anything else you can from your grill, including the hot plates, warmer racks and drip tray. These can also be cleaned using warm soapy water and a soft-bristled brush or sponge. 

4. While these are all drying, you can tackle the body of your BBQ. First, place an empty bucket under the firebox to collect residual water if you don’t want to make a mess.

5. Using hot soapy water and a soft scouring pad, give the firebox a thorough scrub. You can use a plastic scraper for any stubborn spots. Then rinse and leave it to dry.

6. To clean the outside, you should apply the appropriate cleaning spray (enamel or stainless steel), and polish with a microfiber cloth. Remember, with stainless steel you need to scrub in the direction of the grain. You can use hot, soapy water and a sponge on any other external parts.  

7. Once everything is dry, reassemble and run the grill for 15 minutes to burn off any remaining residue. 

Someone grilling vegetable skewers and burgers on a gas grill

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

How to clean a charcoal grill

1. For charcoal grills, once you’ve cleaned the grill grate following the above steps, remove the charcoal grate (if you have one) as well as any ash from the base. 

2. To clean the charcoal grate, you can scrub it with a ball of aluminium foil. Scrape in the direction of the grates and cover the underside too. 

3. Next, clean the inside of the grill using warm soapy water and a brush. Give it a thorough scrub and rinse with water.

4. Give the inside of the lid a scrub as well using the same method. You can use a plastic scraper to tackle tough residue. 

5. The outside can be cleaned using warm soapy water, or a dedicated cleaner. 

6. Reassemble your charcoal grill and make sure it’s thoroughly dry before closing the lid and storing away. 

A hot charcoal grill with dirty grates

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

How often should I clean my grill? 

This largely depends on how often you use your grill. You should give it an everyday clean after each use, but a deep clean should only be required every 2-3 months. You should also give it a deep clean before you store it away for a long period of time. 

Katie Mortram

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed kitchen appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be stand mixers as she loves to bake in her spare time.