How To Clean A BBQ Grill
Cleaning your grill may not be as fun as cooking on it, but regular upkeep is crucial for extending its lifespan as long as possible. Food residue and carbon buildup that remain in your grill for extended periods of time will cause components to break down and even rust, leaving you looking for replacement parts or a new grill altogether. While we recommend cleaning your grill grates after every cook, you should occasionally perform a deep clean on the entire grill to ensure it’s in proper shape.
Deep-cleaning is done from the top down, which allows debris and scraped-off gunk to fall into the removable drip pan at the bottom of the grill. That means you shouldn’t start the process unless your grates are completely clean. If you didn’t burn off leftover grease and grime after your last cookout, just follow these simple steps to get up to speed:
Turn all burners to high and close the lid for about 10–15 minutes
Open the lid, turn all burners off, and disconnect the gas if necessary
Allow grill to cool to a moderate temperature of about 250–300 degrees Fahrenheit
Scrub each grate back to front with a grill brush or wadded ball of foil
Take one final look at the grates to make sure there isn’t any stuck-on grime that still need scrubbing. Once they’re totally spotless, you can begin cleaning the whole grill.
Deep-cleaning a Gas Grill
Avid grillers should cleanse their whole grill every 2–3 months, whereas the more casual crowd can get away with an all-over clean at the end of each grilling season. Because you’ll be reaching inside the grill to remove internal components and eventually the burners, you shouldn’t start the process until your grill is completely cooled. Always disconnect your gas line before deep-cleaning your grill, and it’s also a good idea to double-check that the burners are off just for good measure.
Start by removing the cleaned grill grates and setting them aside. This will give you access to the flame tamers, which need to be scrubbed clean with a stainless steel wire brush. When you remove each flame tamer from the grill, check the underside to see if there’s any food residue there too. Heavy exposure to direct flame will generally burn off drippings that make their way to the bottom, but it’s worth inspecting while you’re taking the grill apart.
Once your flame tamers are out of the way, all that should be left are the burners and (if your grill includes them) heat baffles. Clean your grill burners one at a time, scraping the exterior with a grill brush and using a paperclip to unclog the gas ports. If present, the heat baffles need a good scrubbing as well.
At this point, you should have removed every internal component from your grill besides the drip pan. Now’s the time to use your wire brush on the side walls and firebox walls, which must be maintained or else corrosion will make the grill unusable. Also take a look at the underside of the hood for any carbon buildup and scrub it with a grill brush. The temperature probe on the back of the hood thermometer might also be coated with buildup, in which case it’ll need to be cleaned with Carbon-Off and a soft cloth or sponge.
Remember what we told you about cleaning from top to bottom? Your drip pan will probably be pretty full by now, so all you have to do is pull out from the grill and toss the debris and grime in the trash. You’ll be glad you did it this way.
Finally, cleaning a grill’s exterior might be the easiest part of the whole process. Clearing away dust, dirt, and grime for the grill body is as easy as wiping it down with a damp cloth — don’t even think about scrubbing it with an abrasive nylon brush.
Gas Grill Cleaners
Depending on how dirty your grill is, you can just reinsert the inner components in reverse order of how they were removed and call it a day. But while your grill is already taken apart, it’s best to wash every component but the burners with at least water, a mild dish detergent, and a sponge. We recommend you never expose the burners to water because they must be completely dry before they can be ignited again.
Mild detergent is the way to go for grills that need a surface cleanse only, but Bar Keepers Friend will be your best friend when it comes to hard-to-clean grills. Bar Keepers Friend, which is particularly tough on rust, is available as either a powder or liquid that can be scrubbed on your components and inside the grill itself. With both Bar Keepers Friend and dish detergent, be sure to thoroughly rinse and dry anything you’ve treated before turning on the grill again.
You should never use caustic oven cleaners, chloride cleaners, or bleach on any part of your grill. Those cleansers contain chemicals that will eat away at your grill worse than any grease or grime ever could.
How to Clean a Moldy Grill
Believe it or not, it’s possible to salvage a grill that has developed mold. This nasty stuff forms when moisture combines with grease inside a grill. Inhaling mold spores could be harmful, so it’s best to kill mold with heat rather than cleaners or brushes.
As with a normal burn-off to clean your grill grates, turn all burners to high and close your lid. Let your burners go for at least 20 minutes, just to be sure the mold has been killed. Allow the grill to cool, then go through the entire deep-cleaning process described above. Once everything is back inside the grill, perform another burn-off for about 20 more minutes.