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Here’s The Best Way To Clean Your Barbecue Grill

cleaning your bbq grill - collage: scrubbing a grill rack over the kitchen sink; dirty grill rack; clean grill rack

How To Clean BBQ Grates (Of Any Size!)

I never needed to know how to clean a BBQ grill until 2015, which is when I bought myself a nice little Weber gas grill. (Neither my husband’s massive pellet smoker nor his large charcoal grill had proven particularly useful when I wanted to grill up something quick for dinner, which happens frequently during the summers!)

But my little Weber grill was more popular than I anticipated, and soon my son Erik was using it as frequently as I was! Needless to say, my shiny new grill didn’t stay that way for long, and all too soon its grill grates disappearing beneath a thick layer of greasy buildup.

The need to clean and maintain that little grill led me to discover the best way to clean BBQ grills, both large and small! And that’s exactly what you’ll learn here in this post.

Of the two grill cleaning hacks in this post, the first is best for small grills (like my trusty Weber grill), while the second is best for larger grills with heavy grill grates. No matter what kind of BBQ grill you have at home, these methods will help you get it cleaned up and ready for grilling season!

How To Clean Barbecue Grills

cleaning your bbq grill - top photo: grill rack with lots of black crunchy stuff stuck to it; bottom photo: clean grill rack

Method #1 – For Smaller Grills

Author’s Note: This method requires you to put the grill grate in your oven, making it perfect for smaller gas and charcoal grills. If you have a larger grill with grates that are too big to fit in an oven, skip to Method #2 to learn the best way to clean a large BBQ grill.

You’ll need:

cleaning your bbq grill - setting the kitchen oven to 500 degrees

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 500 F, then place your grill grate(s) directly onto the oven racks. Close the oven and set a timer for one hour.

cleaning your bbq grill - putting a dirty grill rack in the oven

It’s going to get a bit smoky in your kitchen during this period, so it’s a good idea to open up a few windows. (I also find it helpful to point a fan towards an open window or door to help direct the smoke outside.)

cleaning your bbq grill - scrubbing the grill rack at the kitchen sink after it comes out of the oven

Once the timer goes off, turn off the oven and wait until the grill grate is cool enough to handle. Then take the grate either to your sink or outside somewhere and use your grill brush to remove the loosened grease and grime.

After brushing the gunk off, scrub the grate with some soapy water to cut through the remaining grease. Pat it dry with an old towel, replace the grate in your grill, and you’re done!

cleaning your bbq grill - before and after photos of a large bbq grill rack - top photo dirty grill, bottom photo clean grill

Method #2 – For Large Grills

You’ll need:

cleaning your bbq grill - pressing the start button a big bbq grill

Directions:

Start by turning all of the burners on your grill to High, then shut the lid and allow the grill to heat up for 15 minutes or so. Next, turn off the burners and shut off the propane.

cleaning your bbq grill - dibbing a grill brush in soapy water in a bucket

Dip your grill brush into a container of soapy water and start scrubbing the grates. Preheating the grates should make it easier to dislodge the more stubborn bits of gunk.

cleaning your bbq grill - scrubbing grill with grill brush and soapy water

Continue scrubbing the grates with soapy water until you’re satisfied, then allow the grates to cool enough that you can handle them comfortably. Dampen an old towel and use it to wipe off any remaining greasy or soapy residue, and you’re done!

2 Bonus Tips For A Clean Grill

1. Brush After Each Use

Your grill will stay much cleaner over time if scrub the grates with your grill brush after each use. You don’t even have to use soap or water—the brush alone will make a big difference!

2. Go Beyond The Grates

Once your grill grates are clean, why not go a step further and clean the burners and cook box too? Learn how it’s done by watching this informative video on Home Depot’s YouTube channel.

Do you have any tips or tricks for keeping your grill clean?

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Homekeeping Tips

  • I take my grates spray with straight ammonia place into a large garbage care not to tear sack, spray again, tie sack. Walk away for couple hours or overnight. Remove from sack wipe/brush off or rinse with water gunk stays in bag, then clean with soapy water, rinse, dry Taah dah I do the sam with my oven racks. Easy and quick.

  • A note of caution on the grill brushes, the wire bristles can get caught on the rack and stick in your meat that is being cooked. This happened to me several years ago. Thank goodness I felt the wire when I bit into the meat and didn’t swallow it. I threw the wire brush away. It’s not worth the risk of swallowing a piece of wire or it hanging in you throat and ending up in ER. Thanks…

  • Just a note, saying you are cleaning something “Without Chemicals” is untrue. If you are using water, you are using a chemical, dihydrogen monoxide. If you are using Dawn dish soap, you are using, in part: propylene glycol, cyclohexandiamine, polyacetate, and protease. There’s no getting around chemicals. They are the building blocks of everything. I understand what you mean, but the language isn’t correct.

  • I personally find the foil method much easier & quicker. After you are done grilling place a sheet of foil shiny side down over the grates. I cover the grates completely. You don’t need to seal it down, just lay it on top. Turn the grill to high for about 15 minutes. Turn the grill and let it cool. The ash just brushes off and you have a clean grill. I did this when I grilled pineapple that was coated in brown Sugar and cinnamon. I had a carmelized mess and once finished it was as clean as could be.

  • I always look forward to your ideas and this one IS a good one, but I found one the other day on Dr Oz…cleaning your grill with a cut onion…saw it demo’d on the show and I works…just take an onion and slice in half …rub each cut half over your grill grates…works great!!!

  • FYI- DO NOT USE STEEL WIRE SCRUB BUSHES made for grill cleaning!! There are countless numbers of people rushed to hospitals needing surgery because of them!! They should be taken off the store shelves. I have thrown all mine away!! Even a brand new one with the tag still attached!

    Danger of grill brushes identified
    Date:
    March 28, 2012
    Source:
    Lifespan
    Summary:
    Physicians have identified a number of cases of accidental ingestion of wire grill brush bristles that required endoscopic or surgical removal.
    Rhode Island Hospital physicians identified six cases of accidental ingestion of wire grill brush bristles that required endoscopic or surgical removal. The paper calls attention to the need for the public and physicians to be aware of this potential danger. It is published in the American Journal of Roentgenology and is now available online in advance of print.

    David Grand, M.D., a radiologist in the diagnostic imaging department at Rhode Island Hospital, is the lead author of the paper. Grand explains that six patients were identified within an 18-month period who presented to the emergency department within 24 hours of ingesting grilled meat. Their symptoms were odynophagia (painful swallowing in the mouth or esophagus) or abdominal pain.

    In all cases, a careful history revealed the patients had consumed meat cooked on a grill that was cleaned with a wire brush immediately prior to cooking. Of the patients, three presented with odynophagia as a primary symptom. Two underwent radiography of the neck, which revealed a metallic foreign body [the bristles], while one patient had a computed tomography (CT) scan that identified and localized the bristles within the neck. In all three patients the wires were identified and removed.

    The remaining three patients presented with abdominal pain and underwent CT scans. In two patients, the wire perforated the small intestine and in the third, the wire perforated through the stomach and into the liver, and was surrounded by a large hepatic abscess. Surgery was performed in all three patients.

    Grand says, “Although foreign body ingestion is not a rare complaint in an emergency department, it is striking that in only 18 months we identified six separate episodes of wire bristle ingestion after eating grilled meat. The public should be aware of this potential danger.”

    Grand adds, “It is also important for physicians to be aware of this danger and pay close attention to clinical history. In patients presenting with odynophagia, plain radiography may identify the wire bristle; however, CT is helpful for anatomic localization. For patients presenting with abdominal pain, CT is recommended and oral contrast should not be used as it can obscure the foreign body, in this case, wire bristles.”

  • Chinese restaurants clean their wok by burning it over their high pressure stove until it’s red hot. Everything falls off it and it’s bright and shiny again.

  • I have always been able to keep my grills clean by starting my gas grill or my charcoal grill and letting the grills heat up and brush the grills with my wire brush. Works every time. No soap or water just heat and brush. Another way is upon completion of bbq brush the grill with wire brush. Since I am a lttle OCD these methods work for me. Thank you for your tip, i may have to use it some day. Love all your Ideas.

  • I clean my grill before and after each use, before use I heat it up, then I get a bowl of water, a stainless steel scrubber and a pair of tongs, I let it heat up then scrub it with the stainless steel scrubby using the tongs, then after I use it, before turning it off (it’s a propane fired grill) I use the same method on the hot grill, it steams up and cleans off the food… I’m not a clean freak by any means, but I want the surface where my food is cooking to be clean, and I don’t want to leave anything to attract unwanted critters….

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