Grill cleaning and regular maintenance are two of the most important (and frequently overlooked!) aspects of the grilling experience, but there are a few reasons to give your grill the love it deserves.
The grill is often the centerpiece of the patio. It’s the machinery that enables you to entertain guests, prepare mouth-watering meals, and create memories that last long after the flames die down.
If looks alone are not enough incentive to keep your grill clean, allow me to appeal to your wallet! You invested in your cook box and spent your hard-earned cash on it.
So throw on your gloves, grab your wire brush, and protect that investment! Your grill will reward you for it.
The Importance Of Cleaning Your Grill Regularly
Why is gas grill cleaning so important?
Frequent grill maintenance can more than double the lifespan of your grill.
I frequently read grill reviews written by frustrated consumers who complain that their burners, tubes, and cast iron grates rusted out after only a season or two.
While it is true that some gas and charcoal grills are better manufactured than others, the simple fact is that even the most inexpensive grills will last for years if they are cared for properly.
So protect your investment, save your burners and grates, continue producing those Instagram-worthy sear marks, and get rid of those ugly (and unhealthy) carbon deposits!
How To Clean A Gas Grill
You should give your gas grill a deep clean at the start of every new season, and while I’m going to focus on that process below, I want to tell you about the simple steps I’ve incorporated into my grilling regimen.
It’s quick and straightforward and, once you do it a few times, it becomes just another part of the grilling process – one that will make your annual deep cleaning much more manageable!
The Quick Clean
1. Gather your supplies: You only need a sponge, rag, and a wire brush for the quick clean. I gather these items and dampen my sponge with hot soapy water while my food cooks.
2. Turn off your grill: You want to remove grate buildup and grease splatters before they harden, so you can start your quick clean immediately after you turn off the gas and pull your food.
3. Pull and plate your food: After I pull and plate my food, I start cleaning. I can complete the quick clean in under a minute, so I finish long before my food has time to rest fully rest.
4. Scrape the grates: It’s time to start cleaning the grill grates. Don’t allow charred gristle or patches of grease to cement in those hard-to-reach corners.
5. Wipe down: Next, grab your damp sponge and give your hood, side tables, knobs, and the control face a quick wipe down with a sponge. Now dry it off with a rag.
6. Don’t forget the grill cover: After you’ve enjoyed your meal and given your grill ample time to cool, always throw on your grill cover, regardless of the season or climate. An inexpensive grill cover will ensure that your grill lasts.
If you need a little help, check out the Kona 360 Clean stainless Steel Grill Brush. This tool enables you to reach those seemingly unreachable nooks and crannies effortlessly.
The Deep Clean
It’s time to prime your grill for another season of cooking. An annual deep cleaning rids your grill of pesky carbon build-up and grease, extends the life of your burners and tubes, and ensures that you grill up excellent tasting food every time. So let’s get started!
Before you start on your deep grill cleaning, you’re going to need a few essential tools:
- Wire brush – Long-handled
- Putty knife
- Five-gallon buckets (3)
- Shop vacuum
- Grease-cutting dish soap
- Kitchen sponge – Large
- Scrub pad – Low-Grit
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
- Household kitchen cleaning gloves
- Cleaning cloths
If you have a stainless steel grill, you may want to invest in this inexpensive Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner Kit. This handy cleaner is fingerprint resistant and allows you to remove grease, residue, and watermarks effortlessly.
How To Clean The Inside Of A Gas Grill
Save time and a little elbow grease by starting with the inside of your grill. You’re going to loosen loads of carbon and ash when you scrape and spray the inside with a hose.
In the process, you’re going to stir up dust that’s going to gather on the outside of your grill. There’s no sense in cleaning the exterior twice, so start with everything under the lid.
1. Heat your grill: To clean the inside of your grill, fire it up, close the lid, and allow it to reach peak temperature. I usually wait about a half-hour, which is plenty of time to loosen up charred bits of food particles and hardened grease.
2. Gather your supplies: While you wait, gather your supplies and fill two five-gallon buckets with hot water and a healthy amount of grease-cutting dish soap.
3. Disconnect the gas line: Next, turn off the grill (don’t skip this step!), disconnect the propane tank, and place an empty bucket beneath the grease trap.
4: Start with the grates: Next, grab your wire brush, dip it into the soapy water, and scrub those carbon-caked grates! I start the first round of washing with my grates still inside of the grill. You’ll remove the grates to clean the underside in the next step.
5. Remove the grates and additional parts: Once you’ve removed as much carbon as you can with your long-handled wire brush and your grates are cool enough to handle with bare hands, remove the grates and flavorizer bars and drop them into a tub of hot, soapy water.
Make sure to submerge the grill grates and allow them to soak for 30 minutes.
6. Remove additional hardware and soak it: While you wait, remove as much hardware from your grill as you can. I always remove the burner knobs, warming rack, grease tray, and burner tubes.
Rather than rely on your memory, I suggest taking a photo of the inside of your grill box, so you know exactly where every piece goes when it’s time to reassemble.
Once you’ve removed the extra hardware, drop that into another five-gallon bucket filled with hot, soapy water and allow the pieces to soak.
7. Vacuum and scrape: While the extra hardware and grill grates soak, grab your vacuum and suck up any loose pieces of carbon and debris. Use your putty knife to scrape off stubborn residue and vacuum those up as well.
8. Hose down the inside of your grill: Once the firebox is clean, grab your hose and give the inside of the firebox a good spray. The extra water should flow out of the grease catchment system and into your empty bucket.
9. Pull your grates and repeat the scrubbing process: After your grates have sufficiently soaked, remove them from your bucket and give them a second vigorous scrub with your wire brush. If there is still any residual gunk on them, mix up a paste using vinegar and baking soda, apply, and allow it to set. Now repeat the scrubbing process and rinse.
Now switch to your light-grit scrub pad and repeat the process with the extra hardware you removed.
And that’s it! Now reassemble your grill.
How To Clean The Outside Of A Gas Grill
The inside of your grill looks good as new. Now it’s time to close the hood and polish up the outside of your unit. This process can be completed in just a few minutes, and the result is well worth the effort.
1. Grab your supplies: I like to start the exterior clean with a fresh bucket of soapy water and a clean kitchen sponge.
2. Wipe down the exterior: Wipe the outside of your grill, paying close attention to the hood, control face, and side tables. If you have a cabinet, this is a good time to wipe that down too.
You don’t want to scratch your grill, so never use steel wool, coarse sponges, or scouring pads, especially if you have a stainless steel grill.
3. Dry off your grill: After you’ve scrubbed the exterior, dry everything off with your cotton rags and reconnect your propane tank.
How To Clean A Flat Top Grill
If you’re a flat top griller, the cleaning process is going to look a little different.
The conventional way to degrease grills is by using dish soap and a large kitchen sponge – but if your grill surface has a lot of extra buildup, you may need to get a little creative.
Here are a few common ways to clean a flat top grill using household items:
Vinegar and Water
To start, turn on your grill. While it heats, prepare a 50-50 mix of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Once your grill is hot, spray the surface and use a grill brush to scrape the surface.
After you repeat this process two or three times, the debris should solidify into gunk that should easily scrape off.
If you need a little extra oomph to clean your flat top grill, use only vinegar – and do not dilute it.
Lemon Juice and Water
If vinegar and water don’t cut it, create a new mixture from lemon juice concentrate and water. The combination should be ⅓ lemon juice and ⅔ water. Repeat the process, just as you did with vinegar.
Lemon and soda water
When plain tap water isn’t enough, create a 50-50 mixture of lemon juice concentrate and carbonated water.
Heat your grill top, spray the mixture on, allow it to heat for five minutes to loosen food particles, and then scrub the surface with a scouring pad.
The raw onion approach
Here’s a less conventional, though highly effective and non-toxic, cleaning method:
Grab a large raw onion, cut it in half, and scrub the flat top grill with it. Do this using a wide circular motion and watch the gunk disappear.
Finishing your flat top grill cleaning process
Once you finish scrubbing the flat top surface, use a paper towel or a clean cotton rag to wipe off any extra liquid.
Now it’s time to season the top. Seasoning your flat top grill will ensure that it doesn’t rust – it also rids the surface of lingering flavors that you don’t want.
To season, turn the grill on high for at least ten minutes.
Next, apply a healthy amount of oil to the surface and spread it out using a fresh piece of paper towel.
Guide a paper towel around the surface using a pair of tongs.
When the oil appears to burn off the surface, repeat the process two or three times more. And that’s it!
Here is a good video describing how to clean a flat top grill
How Often Should You Clean A Gas Grill?
I recommend giving your grill a quick clean every time you use it.
Scraping down your grates and wiping down the control face, end tables, and hood after every use only takes minutes, but the payoff is significant.
Quick cleans keep your grill healthy – and reduce the effort you’ll put in during your annual deep cleaning.
Deep cleanings are a bit more rigorous, so I tackle this job twice annually. At the very least, I recommend that you do a thorough cleaning once a year, before the start of a heavy-use grill season.
Grill Maintenance Tips
There’s nothing more frustrating than low temperatures, uneven heat distribution, and rusted-out burners and tubes – especially when it happens on a relatively new grill. The good news is that you can avoid this frustration – and prolong your grill’s lifespan – by sticking to a regular maintenance schedule.
Here are a few easy ways to keep your grill in tip-top shape.
Wipe the outside of your grill every time you use it
If you’re using a porcelain-coated lid, use a glass cleaner. For stainless-steel lids, use a stainless-steel cleaner and a microfiber cloth – and remember to always buff with the grain.
Repeat this process on your side tables too. If your tables are plastic, use warm soapy water instead. Your grill with thank you for it later!
Don’t neglect the cook box
You can reduce the time it takes to perform your annual deep cleaning by giving your cook box a bi-weekly light cleaning.
To do this, simply remove the grates, grab your stainless steel brush, and remove as much excess grease and debris as you can without removing any of the components. Now pull out your vacuum and finish up the job.
Burn off the unwanted residue
To burn off excess grill gunk, turn your burners on high, close the lid, and allow it to heat up for about 15 minutes. Once your grill reaches peak temperature, grab that grill brush and give the grates a good, even scrape.
Another cheap and easy way to extend the life of your grates is to purchase an inexpensive BBQ grill mat. This keeps food from sticking, cuts down on cleanup, prolongs the life of your burners and tubes, and still enables you to achieve those class sear marks for which you’re famous.
The deep grill cleaning process may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be – especially if you incorporate a few cleaning practices into your regular grilling regimen.
To start, always burn off unwanted grit, scrape your grates, try using a grilling mat (no more aluminum foil!), and finish every grilling session by wiping down the exterior and covering the unit.
If you want to achieve even heat distribution, consistently deliver awesome tasting food, and protect your investment, one of the best things you can do is properly clean your gas grill.
I hope you found my how to clean a BBQ-grill guide useful.
Happy grilling season!
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Chris JohnsChris Johns is the founder of Rock's Barbecue® and has been an avid barbecue fan for over 20 years. His mission is to make grilling and smoking the best food possible easy for everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people with grilling, smoking, and barbecue recipe recommendations.
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