It seems a lot of people think the “clean” feature found on a lot of outdoor barbecue grills is a total self-cleaning option. Guess what? It’s not. Check out our 12 tips for how to clean a grill, and keep your grill working safely and deliciously so you can enjoy your outdoor barbecues.
How to clean a grill as you go
Setting your grill to “clean” will heat it up so it burns off all the food particles, but there’s more that than to keeping a grill truly clean. Proper cleaning is essential to keeping your grill working safely and lasting a long time without repairs – not to mention making your food taste great. And it’s not hard to do at all.
Once a grill is clean, it’s pretty easy to keep it that way. If you haven’t been cleaning yours in the past, or you’ve bought one from someone and aren’t sure how they kept it, you’ll need to scroll on down to the section on heavy duty cleaning. But I’m going to start with all the quick, easy things you can do to keep a clean grill clean.
There are a few things you can do while you’re cooking or immediately after.
- Before grilling, spray a non-stick cooking spray like Pam on your grates to minimize food particles sticking. This will save you time on cleaning.
- While the coals are still hot (after you’ve finished cooking) use a grill brush to scrape off the food particles so they can burn up in the coals (or briquettes) below. Or, if you have the “clean” feature, you can run that at this point.
- Take the grate off and wipe it down (while it’s still warm) with warm soapy water, vinegar or a de-greaser like Dawn. If it’s already cooled off, you may need to grab a Brillo pad and scrub a little.
- Use a wire brush and soapy water to clean out the ash and residue from the inside surfaces of the grill.
- If it’s a gas grill, the briquettes and lava rocks should be brushed off, or the metal flame shield should be washed with warm soapy water (or vinegar, or Dawn).
- Tip: to protect it from rusting, you can coat the inside surfaces and grate with a cooking oil or spray after every cleaning.
- Put the grate back on and let the whole thing air dry.
- Next time you grill, give it five extra minutes to heat to make sure any residue from your cleaner has burned off.
How to clean a grill that’s filthy
If you’ve let your grill go for a while and it’s needs a deep down cleaning, here’s what you need to do:
- Fire up the dirty grill when you’re getting ready to cook.
- After about five minutes, the old food will have been cooked off by the high heat.
- When the grill’s about two minutes away from being hot enough to cook your food, use a wire brush to remove any cooked on particles of food.
- Once the grill’s ready to cook, put on some good quality gloves, stick a half onion or orange on a long cooking fork and push it along every bit of the grates. The natural astringents in the orange or onion clean the grates, flavors the food nicely and helps keep it from sticking.
Originally published June 13. 2012