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How To Clean A Grill Like A BBQ Master: A Guide

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Grill brushing grate

Whether you’re just getting started with barbecuing or have been mastering flames and marinades for years, learning how to clean a grill is must-have knowledge. Discover all about the best ways to keep your backyard cooker in shape, along with how often to clean it, below. If you’re fine with splurging and want a deep clean handled by the professionals, we can handle that too. Give us a call at 847-954-4100 to schedule a scrub with our experts. 

Why Clean At All?

Some folks might ask why anyone should deep clean their outdoor cooker at all. After all, shouldn’t high-temperature flames get rid of any gristle left behind? It’s not that easy: even after high-heat meals you’ll find that your grates can be coated with hardening gristle and fat. And in a space where you prep food for yourself, friends and family, you want to ensure that every square inch is perfect before you toss tonight’s burger patties down. Stock the following essentials and learn how to clean a grill, whether it’s fueled by gas or charcoal.

What You’ll Need

  • For Every Use: Grill brush (optional: metal or wood scraper for tough messes)
  • For Deep Cleans: Paper towels or rags/shop towels
  • For Deep Cleans: Dish soap
  • For Deep Cleans: A handheld cleaning brush
  • For Deep Cleans: A large bucket or container to soak the grates in
  • For Deep Cleans: Handheld vacuum (optional)

Brush Grates After Each Use

Brushing a charcoal grill

It’s common knowledge that you’re supposed to use a wire grill brush after every backyard bash or simple meal. That’s to get rid of burnt-on food residue for a better tasting (and healthier) meal. First, turn your heat up high (or move your coals until they glow hot) for 15-20 minutes. Then simply brush the grates until they’re completely clear of residue. Turn your wire brush from side to side and even use a metal scraper for truly cakey grates.

For A Deeper Scrub

Scrubbing grates with a wire brush

Grillmasters recommend a deep clean between once a month and once every three months. If you find yourself cooking out here more than once a week or so, make sure that you soak and scrub more often. By doing so, you’re actually extending the life of your grill and grates with just a little elbow grease.

  1. Scrape or brush your grates as you normally would (but with your BBQ off)
  2. Add hot water and soap to your bucket or container then let the grates soak for at least one hour
  3. Wash and scrub away any remaining stuck-on food and burnt leftovers. Use rags, paper towels and the wire brush again if necessary.

If your grates are still completely gunked up (or worse, completely rusted) you aren’t out of luck yet. Many companies sell replacement grates and bars.

For Long-Left and Burnt-On Messes

If your grates are spotless but the rest of your barbecue looks shoddy, you may still find yourself stuck on the question of how to clean a grill—the rest of it. The bars beneath it, the ash that pools in the bottom, the grease that sticks to the sides and more. The best advice you can follow is to keep up with these messes as they happen and before they become weathered and firmly stuck. Hot grease is much easier to wipe away than cooled grease. But if your grease is already caked on, use the following methods to make your gear look good as new:

  1. Cookbox/Lid: Mix dish soap and water in a spray bottle, and coat the interior of your cookbox with the mixture. We recommend a ratio of roughly 20% soap to 80% water, but for more severe stains, add more soap. After five minutes, grab your hand brush and scrub the surface. If your lid is made of stainless steel, use a microfiber cleaning cloth and stainless steel spray instead. Dry thoroughly.
  2.  Bottom Cookbox and Burner Tubes (Gas): Use a CLEAN grill brush to gently push debris from the tubes, and make sure you’re only moving from side to side. Otherwise, you may be pushing debris into the holes and clogging the gas flow. Afterward, use a cordless vacuum to pull up any fallen debris. When finished, buff surfaces with a rag until they’re shining. 
  3.  The Grease Tray: Remove any dry debris, then spray with the soap and water mixture and dry. If your tray has a disposable liner, simply dispose of that and replace.

Shine Your Barbecue’s Exterior

Before you can say you’ve learned how to clean a grill completely, shining up the exterior is necessary. When it comes to the outside, some models call for special cleaners, others call for household Windex and still more recommend gentle soapy water. Double-check with the manufacturer’s handbook to see what’s recommended for your cooker’s exterior.

A Clean Grill

How often do you work on your grill, and do you prefer to use other methods? Let us know down in the comments! And if you’re still assembling your barbecue toolkit, don’t forget these five must-haves.

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