How to Clean Your Grill the Right Way
This story is part of Home TipsCNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
Although it’s nice to have a well-organized fridge and Give your dishwasher a regular cleaning To keep it running smoothly, a thorough cleaning of your grill has a major impact on its performance and can significantly extend its lifespan. Even if the dirt and debris doesn’t completely ruin your Weber or Char-Broil, who wants to use a dirty, rusty grill? Leave the task at hand long enough and you will reach a point of no return. As barbecue season rolling, now is a good time to give your grill a thorough cleaning so you’re ready for the second half of summer.
A dirty gas or charcoal grill not only looks gnarly, but it can also affect the flavor of food in ways you don’t want. And all that accumulated buildup of grease, grease, and dirt can cause fires and flare-ups of the dangerous kind. If you’re wondering how to really clean and properly care for your grill so it lasts longer and doesn’t cause problems, I’ve outlined some simple steps below.
For this article, I used a propane-powered model to illustrate the best grill cleaning techniques, but any should work charcoal grills, Bullet smokers and Kamado grills, to. (For more cleaning tips, see how to clean a cast iron skilletand How to clean your kitchen in less than 15 minutes.)
Also read: Best Grill and BBQ Tools Under $25
1. Open the grill and pull it apart
First you have to open the grill and remove its different parts. This allows you to access the main grill chamber. They are typically located under the grates where heavy food particles fall and drips of grease land.
Start with a cold grill. Open the hood, remove the cooking grates and set them aside. Some propane models also have one or more metal heat diffusers that rest over the burners. If your grill has them, take those out too.
2. Clean the inside of the grill
Inside the grill, also known as the “grill box”, a lot of fat and food residue collects. Use a cheap spatula (metal or plastic) or an old spatula to wipe as much dirt off the sides of the cookbox as possible.
Any thin, flat tool will do. Just make sure it offers a good surface or grip. You should also consider getting a pair of work gloves as this is bound to be dirty work.
On charcoal and wood pellet grills, ash collects in the charcoal pans and fire pits. This in turn limits airflow and ultimately affects cooking performance. And on pellet grills, ash can cause the pellet system to misfire. Sometimes this situation leads to a precarious over-ignition condition when too much fuel is ignited at once.
Avoid this by regularly cleaning your grill of ash deposits. Only do this when the ash has completely cooled.
3. Clean the burner tubes
if you have one gas grill, one part that often gets clogged is the burner tubes. A symptom of fouled burners is reduced flame size. You can also burn with an orange color instead of the usual blue. Both indicate abnormally low temperatures and an underpowered grill.
Typically, a gas grill has multiple burner tubes, although some may only have one. Use a nylon or steel wire brush to gently clean the small holes on the tubes. Be sure to brush outward from the center of the tube and move sideways (not up and down). Otherwise you can force dirt into the pipe or holes themselves instead of cleaning them.
4. Clean the cooking grates
Reassemble the grill, then turn it on to the highest temperature setting and close the hood. It may even be that your torch scales have a cleaning stage. After a few minutes, open the lid and vigorously scrape the grates with a bristle-free metal grill brush. The one I personally used was the Grill Bristleless Scraper by Taylor. This brush has multiple surfaces and edges to attack and remove dirt from cooking grates. It even has a handy bottle opener.
You can also use a nylon brush, but be sure to only do this when the grill is cold. Other options are the $13 Sumpri grill brush and scraper and the $20 Kona Safe Clean grill brush. It is made of stainless steel and is also bristle-free. While I haven’t used it myself, it seems popular with Amazon buyers.
There may come a time, perhaps at the start of grilling season, when a thorough cleaning is needed. To loosen stubborn charred dirt, soak your grates in soapy water overnight. Another option is to hit rusts with an aerosol grill cleaner like Plain green.
5. Prevent future accumulations
Certain practices can help prevent dirt and grease build-up in the first place. One method is to grease the grates of your hot grill with a little cooking oil just before grilling. Likewise, scrubbing your grill grates with a raw onion is another tactic you can try. If you have a non-bristled grill brush, it’s a good idea to scrape your hot grates both before and after you grill.
Another tactic is to scrub hot grill grates with the open side of a sliced (halved) onion. The idea here is that it will flavor the grates while adding moisture. It is also said to release organic compounds that break down stubborn grease and dirt. I’ve found it’s not as effective as scrubbing, but it certainly creates a wonderful smell.
Of course, a full cleaning every few months is the best way to enjoy a sparkling clean grill. A little elbow grease goes a long way.