With the turn of Spring, there is no better time than now to learn how to clean a grill.
To clean a grill, start by removing the grates, diffusers, and any other removable parts. Then remove the ash and scrape any built-up gunk from the inside of the grill and clean the burners. Finally, clean the grill grates either by soaking in water overnight or heating them so you can scrape them clean.
A dirty grill is not just messy and unpleasant; it is also a potential fire hazard. When food gets stuck on your grates and grills, it can catch fire the next time that you light up. So keeping your grill clean at all times is a must. Combine that with the fact that a dirty grill is also much more likely to cause your food to taste bad, and you’ll quickly understand why cleaning a grill is essential.
If you want to learn how to grill an amazing steak, view our post on how to grill a steak.
Introduction to Types of Grills
Let’s go over the four basic types of grills before we learn all about cleaning your grill. All of them are great, but each grill enthusiast will usually have a favorite. The four types are:
- Gas grill: These often use either bottled propane or natural gas.
- Charcoal grill: These use charcoal briquettes that you have to light up.
- Electric grill: Uses heated grill plates, and there is no actual fire needed with this one.
- Portable grill: These are small grills that you can take with you anywhere.
Prepare the Grill
Start by making sure that it is room temperature and isn’t hot from being used recently. Never start with a grill that is still warm, even just a little bit. Remove the grates and put them to the side. If you’re using a propane grill with metal heat diffusers sitting on top of the burners, remove them as well. Once you remove everything, you’ll need to start by cleaning the inside of the grill or the grill box. If you use a thin flat tool such as a putty knife, the task is a lot simpler. We also recommended wearing work gloves since this is usually a very messy job. Scrape the insides of the grill and get as much gunk as possible. Keep in mind that the more ash you remove, the better the airflow will be, which means more even cooking. If you have a charcoal or wood pellet grill, make sure that you get the ashes out of the coal trays and fireboxes.
Don’t Forget the Burner Tubes
When you clean a grill that uses gas, you’ll have burner tubes to remove and clean. If you’re grilling and notice an orange flame instead of a blue one or the flame size is lower than you think it should be, this may be a sign that the tubes need cleaning. Take a wire brush made of nylon or steel and clean the small holes on each tube. Be aware to check for multiple because you can have one or more of these tubes. Clean in a sideways motion starting with the center of the tube and moving outwards. Do not move up and down. You will make things worse by pushing the ashes and gunk into the holes instead of removing them.
Cleaning the Grates
Once you clean the burner tubes and remove as much ash and debris from the bottom and sides of the grill as you can, it’s time to start cleaning the grates. You’ll need to close the lid and either turn to your “cleaning” setting or turn your dial as high as it can go. Wait for a few minutes (up to 30 minutes if you have a lot of gunk), then open the lid and start vigorously scrubbing the grates with a bristle-free grill scraping tool. For charcoal grills, you won’t need to let it get hot. Instead, dump out the old briquettes into a container or straight into the garbage can, then use your putty knife to scrape off any stuck-on debris. If you ever get to the point where the grills cannot be scrubbed clean by hand, all you have to do is soak them in soapy water overnight. The gunk will be much easier to remove. You can also use a cleaning solution made just for cleaning grills, but make sure that you use the product according to the directions and nothing else.
Some Final Thoughts
Knowing how to do to clean a grill properly is not difficult or complicated. Gather the right tools and the right cleaning materials, and then you’re all set to go. You’ll also have to know the type of grill you have. Of course, if the user manual gives you different cleaning instructions than what our directions here, always follow their directions instead. If you own a wet/dry vacuum cleaner, you can use this tool to make sure that the inside of the grill is completely free of debris. Make sure that it can accommodate dampness and water to avoid any complications or problems. Never use a regular vacuum cleaner to clean a grill. For debris that is extra difficult to scrape off with a scraper, mix baking soda and white vinegar to make a paste. Apply the paste to your burnt-on grates, wait a minute or so, then scrape with a good scraper, and it comes right off. If it doesn’t work the first time, reapply the paste and wait longer this time before scrubbing. It is certainly not complicated to clean a grill the right way, and cleaning the grates before and after using the grill can prevent gunk from building up in the first place. A little ongoing maintenance goes a long way in cleaning and maintaining your grill, but for those extra-deep cleaning sessions, at least now you know just what to do.