Exchange Bar and Grill is reader-supported. When you buy through a link on this page, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

How to Clean a Charcoal & Gas Grill

Before I move on to the best methods of cleaning grill, let me present you in this longer introduction with consequences of neglecting the grill hygiene as well as the advantages of grilling on a clean grill.

Cooking on a very dirty grill is not only irresponsible, but difficult as well. Why?

The grease and food remains that have stayed on your grates and other elements of the grill for a longer time have a very negative impact on how the grill works. Regardless of whether you cook on a gas grill, a charcoal one, an electric one or a pellet smoker, you have to make sure that your grill is clean.

You need some example of how a dirty grill impacts cooking? Here you go.

Imagine the taste of food cooked on very dirty grates that haven’t been cleaned in a while. The burned grease and food remains on the grates will definitely affect the taste of your food and make it impossible to get nice grill marks on the surface of your food. Another consequence of dirty grill grates are flare-ups, the grease and food remains catch on fire due to the high temperature. See how to clean grill grates easily, quickly and effectively using the simplest methods.

Remember that a dirty grill is more than just the grates. When it comes to gas grills, you have to consider other important elements like burners, aromatizers and the grease drainage systems. Dirty burners might be a source of problems with your grill’s efficiency, which is why you have to check them out once in a while. When it comes to a charcoal grill, you have to pay attention to the ash catcher, which tends to get clogged with ash very often.

Regularly taking care of the grill’s cleanness contributes to extending its durability, effectiveness and getting satisfaction during each cooking.

How often to Clean the grill?

how often clean a grill

It all depends on what you actually want to clean. If you want to keep your grill clean, try to:

Clean the grates every time you have used the grill. You can do it after you’re done cooking ( I say you should, it is easier due to the grill’s grates being hot which makes it easier to clean them with a special brush ). If you don’t feel like cleaning after cooking or don’t have time too, then do remember to do this right before the next cooking.

When it comes to charcoal or pellet grills, control the amount of ash. Always remember to throw out the ash collected as a result of burning charcoal or pellets. Throw out the ash after each cooking, no matter if there’s a a little or a lot of it.  

At least 2-3 time during the season, depending on how often you have used the grill, do a thorough cleaning. I’m talking about other elements of the grill here, which can collect ash, grease or food remains to a lesser extent.

How to Clean a Gas Grill

how to clean a gas grill

To make it easier, I will split this task into few steps. The below steps show how to clean the entire gas grill, grates, grill box and burners. It may seem like a complicated task, but in reality it is very simple. It’s an easy and fast method to bring your grill back to a great condition.

Don’t warm up the grill, we start cleaning with a cold grill. Prepare the necessary accessories that will make the cleaning easier for you. Most of all, prepare gloves, as it is a messy task.

  • Step 1Open the grill’s lid, and then remove all the parts such as the warming rack or grates. After removing the first elements from above, you’ll get access to the upper chamber of the grill, where further significant elements are located such as burners, aromatizers, burner covers etc. Remove all of that to get access to the lower part of the grill chamber.

After a longer time, the main chamber of the grill located below the grates gets dirty. It is because during cooking the grease and small pieces of food fall down between the bars of the grates and collect in the main chamber, creating a thicker layer of residue.

  • Step 2Thoroughly clean the bottom of the grill (cook box ), get rid of everything that’s there. I recommend putting on gloves for this messy task. The grease and food remains collected over time have created a thicker layer of residue by now, which is harder to remove. The best solution will be a thin plastic spatula and a brush that will make it easier to scrub the dirt off every side inside the grill.
  • check-square-o
    Step 3Clean the burners and burner covers. The burners are the element that is most prone to getting dirty, a burner’s pipe can get clogged which results in smaller flames. Another consequence of a dirty burner are flames of a different color, a clean burner burns blue, whereas a dirty one burns orange. All of that leads to problems with the grill’s efficiency. Clogged burners result in problems with getting high temperatures and make an impression of a weaker grill, as they emit a much smaller flame.

Use a steel or nylon brush to gently clean the small holes in the burners’ pipes. Depending on what grill you own, there are several of those pipes, so try to clean them all. Especially pay attention to the holes so that during cleaning you don’t accidentally clog other holes. Use a wet sponge for cleaning as well, which is very good at collecting dirt in form of residue. Remember to carefully dry the burners’ pipes after cleaning with a wet sponge.

  • Step 4The next thing you should do is cleaning the burner covers. You can do it using a wet sponge, thoroughly clean the surfaces off the old residue, then dry them. Next clean the tray located under the grill, it is the easiest to do by washing it hard with a wet sponge, then wiping with a paper towel.
  • check-square-o
    Step 5After cleaning the entire chamber of the grill and all the significant elements located inside the grill and responsible for its proper functioning, you can move on to the next stage. Put all the clean and dried elements back where they originally were.
  • check-square-o
    Step 6Cleaning the food remains and grease. The best method is to set the burner knobs to the maximum, close the lid and leave the grill on like this for 10-15 minutes. It will allow to reach a high temperature which will burn the food remains and grease on the grates to a significant degree. After about 10-15 minutes open the grill’s lid and clean the grates using a metal brush.
  • check-square-o
    Step 7Clean the grates, it seems like a mega simple task but there are different kinds of grates ( steel, porcelain, cast iron etc ). Each type of grill grates requires a different method of cleaning. For example, you can’t clean porcelain or cast iron grates using a steel brush, as you would damage the surface which could lead to corrosion. For this task, you have to own a nylon brush that is delicate and doesn’t damage the surface of grates. It’s a broad topic that I touched in a different article, find out how to clean grill grates using different methods depending on the type of grill grates.
  • check-square-o
    Step 8Clean the side shelves and the lid. Wash the lid using a paper towel and a cleaning agent ( Use a special glass cleaner for porcelain covered lids and a stainless steel cleaner for stainless steel lids ). You can wash the side shelves using a micro fiber towel or paper towels and a stainless steel cleaner.

That’s it when it comes to gas grills. Plenty of instructions and steps on my part is how a detailed guide for beginners was made. Try to perform most of those actions. Remember to clean the grates after each cooking or before it. Comprehensive cleaning of burners, burner covers, aromatizers and the entire grill chamber, on the other hand, is enough to be performed 1-2 times a year depending on how often you cook on a grill.

How to Clean a Charcoal Grill

how to clean a charcoal grill

I think that charcoal grills are among the easier ones when it comes to cleaning. Of course it is the best to clean them after each cooking, but when it comes to comprehensive cooking, there are way less actions to perform than with gas grills for example. The design of a charcoal grill is simple most of the times, it doesn’t have diverse elements like other grills do, which require more maintenance in order to be 100% operational and efficient.

Once again, I will show the entire guide by splitting it into several steps. The most popular model is the kettle charcoal grill, which is why most of the notes below will refer to them.

Charcoal grills get dirty quite a lot due to ash, which is why if you cook very often it is a good idea to clean them regularly several times a season. That way you will restore your grill to its old fresh look and extend its lifespan.

  • Step 1 – Cleaning the inside of a grill – Regardless of the structure of your charcoal grill, you have to clean its inside. To do that, remove the grates and all the other elements ( like a warming rack ) and put them aside in order to get access to the inside of the grill. Next remove the ash, if your grill is equipped with a special ash removal system then use it now, if not then try to remove the ash manually. Next use a sponge and a water and soap mix to clean the internal walls of the grill from the ash residue, old grease and food remains.

The internal walls of the grill get covered with grease and food remains over time. That way it eventually forms lumps that look like something bad was happening to the paint job. Don’t worry, those are lumps of grease and food remains that are easy to remove using a sponge and a water and soap mix. I recommend doing it from time to time after being done cooking when the grill is still warm ( not hot ! ), it makes it easier to remove this kind of stains

  • Step 2 – Clean the grill grates – It is the best to do this right before cooking, like I mentioned in case of gas grills. Which means, heat up the grill for about 20-30 minutes, and then use a brush to remove old stains that reside on the surface of grates. Heating up the grill allows to burn the fat and food remains and makes it easier to clean it, under the temperature the grease and food remains are easier to remove, which makes it a good idea to clean the grill grates before starting to cook. There are several types of grates, which is why before cleaning you should read the guide and learn several methods of cleaning grates for cooking without damaging the surface.
  • check-square-o
    Step 3 – After cleaning, dry the entire grill, and then put all the elements back where they were.

That’s it, remember to clean the grates before each cooking and to check the amount of ash. After each cleaning make sure that the grill is dry, especially after season ends when the grill will be stored under a cover.

Storing a Gas & Charcoal Grill

grill covers

It’s a very important topic, after season ends most of us hide the grills in a safe place in the garage or somewhere under a roof. For example, Gas grills are expensive, which makes it a good idea to know how to properly store such grill so that it’s in a great condition for the next season.

You have to buy a grill cover, pay attention to the size so that it fits your grill model. Such cover is effective at protecting your grill from many harmful factors such as dust, water, freezing rain, sun, snow etc.

The worst thing you can do to your grill is leave it in the backyard with no protection at all.

Hiding a grill under a cover will significantly extend the durability and lifespan of your grill and make it ready for cooking anytime you want.

Final Words

cleaning grill tips

Cleaning a grill regularly extend its lifespan and keeps it in a great shape. A dirty grill has a bad impact not only on the elements of the grill but also on the food’s flavor. It’s a good idea to spend some time once in a while comprehensively cleaning the entire grill.

One more very important thing – you have to remember about cleaning the grates before every cooking. Such procedure prevents the food from sticking to the surface, lowers the number of flare-ups and changes to the food’s flavor.

Related Post