Since your grill serves you so well, shouldn’t you return the favor?
Maintenance of any type of equipment you’re planning to utilize for cooking purposes should be cleaned often.
Especially your outdoor grill.
So whether you fire up the grates every week or twice a year, a thorough spring cleaning is necessary for safe and tasty cooking.
Go grab your sponge and soapy water, because I’ll be taking you through several ways of cleaning your grill.
If it’s electric, gas, charcoal or pellet, look no further than this article.
Click to jump straight to each topic:
Why Is It So Essential To Clean My Grill?
We’re all familiar with germs – you know those tiny particles that have the sinister ability to make us sick for days.
Usually, we’re taught the basics of keeping bacteria at bay during kindergarten. So I’ll keep this section short.
Whether you’re using your grill every day or once a month, it’s easy sometimes to forget just how important a thorough clean is.
If you took the fast track after your last BBQ party and left the grates filled with burnt food residue, it’s likely to come back and haunt you.
This burnt debris is no joke. It actually contains harmful amino acids and chemicals.
When you leave bits from your hamburger patty or slow-cooked ribs on the grates, the next time you’re cooking, these pieces will burn further. This, in turn, triggers a reaction which could cause an array of health problems.
So, needless to say, it’s essential to remember to scrape off the grates—both before and after cooking.
Germs and health issues aside, a charred grill is also a major fire hazard waiting to happen.
All the grease which drips onto the grease tray could start a fire. It occurs as the grease in the pan reaches its maximum temperature and therefore explodes, leaving you with a burnt grill.
Because of this risk, you should prep your station with tools to put out a grease fire. Always keep a few items, such as baking soda, salt and a fire extinguisher near your grill.
You should never throw water or flour on a grease fire as this could cause an even worse flare-up. Instead, look for ways to smother the flames. Baking soda is an excellent tool as it prevents oxygen from getting through.
But to prevent all of this from occurring, remember to check the grease tray often. Empty it as soon as it begins to build up and, of course, keep the grates clean to prevent debris from dripping down.
How Often Should I Clean My Grill?
Ideally, you should clean your grill after every use.
This doesn’t mean a thorough wash, but at least scrape the leftovers off the grates. And, if you’re using a charcoal grill, empty the coals, so it’s ready for the next use.
The best time to scrape the grates is right after you’ve finished grilling – while they’re still hot. This way, food residue hasn’t had time to settle yet and is therefore easier to remove.
How often you should give your grill an out-and-out cleanse depends on how often you grill and which kind of grill you’re using. For charcoal grills, it’s generally once a month that you should give it a good clean out. Whereas for gas and pellets, it’s more of an annual event.
But in saying this, if you’re grilling on a daily basis throughout the year, you should try to do this more than once a year.
How To Clean Your Grill
Now that we’re aware of the importance of cleaning and how often, it’s time to move on to the how-to.
How you’ll clean your grill is not the same for every type.
So below you’ll find short guides on how to clean your specific grill – whether it’s charcoal or pellet, electric or propane gas.
How To Clean Your Gas Grill
- Disconnect the gas and remove the grates: begin by closing the tap on the gas bottle to avoid any gas leaks. Then separate the gas from the grill. Prepare a bucket with soap and water and put the grates in the bucket to soak
- Remove the inside components and scrape off debris: take out the burners and heat diffusers (if your grill is so equipped) so you can access the inside. Take a spatula or any flat tool and begin to scrape off any residue, fat or soot
- Clean the burner tubes: the burner tubes are where the gas comes through and is lit on fire. Over time, these become especially prone to blockage by soot. You can see this when the flame is less apparent and appears orange, as opposed to blue
- Use a hard brush and move it side to side, along the tube. Try to avoid running it up and down, as this may lead to further blockage. Finish off by rinsing it with a steady flow of water from either your tap or garden hose. This will ensure all the last bits of soot come out
- Leave them out to dryfor a while before proceeding to the next step
- Reassemble and switch on: put everything back in its place and turn on the grill as high as possible. Place the grates back and let them heat up
- Scrape the grates: switch off the gas and, with a hard-bristle brush, clean the grates while they’re hot. However, if you’re using a nylon brush, wait until it has cooled down
- Prep for your next cookout: once the grill has cooled, apply some oil to the grates. This will help prevent future buildup
How To Clean Your Electric Grill
- Scrape the grates: get your electric grill heated and leave it to cool down just enough so it’s touchable. Proceed to scrape the residue off the grates. But do it gently. These are usually non-stick, so if you use too much force, you can cause damage
- Wipe with a wet sponge: grab a sponge and soak it in some water. Gently wipe the grates to remove fat and oil, and let excess fluid fall into the drip pan below. A little tip is to line the drip pan with a sheet of foil so it’s easy to clean up when all is done
- Clean the electric parts: you can place these parts in a small water bath with some soap. Leave them to soak before rinsing and then hand-dry
- Hand-dry the grill: make sure to dry all the parts before assembling to prevent rust or interference with electricity
How To Clean Your Charoal Grill
- Empty the ash pan: before you do anything with your charcoal grill, make sure you remove all ash. If any water was to drip onto it, the result would be a cement-like mush – almost impossible to get rid of
- For most grills, there should be a small handle underneath which you can pull from side to side in order to release the ashes from the bottom. If your grill doesn’t have a catcher or bucket for the leftovers, make sure you place one beneath
- Remove all the ashes. If there’s much left, you can take a vacuum to suck out the stubborn dust. Take a scraper or spatula and remove the harder pieces of residue
- Clean the grates: remove them and place in some soapy water. Let them soak for a while to loosen hard residue. Then take a grill brush with hard bristles, and brush up and down along the grates
- Wipe down the lid:get your sponge or cloth and with some water and soap, wipe the outside of the cover clean
- Heat some coals in your chimney starter: take a small number of coals, about half a chimney’s worth, and get them started. Place them at the bottom of your grill and replace the grates. Let the grill heat up
- Oil and finish: when the grill has cooled a bit (it should be warm, not hot), brush some oil onto the grates. And then your charcoal grill should be clean
How To Clean Your Pellet Grill
- Unplug and cool down: for your safety, make sure it’s not attached to electricity and isn’t scorching hot
- Empty the pellet holder: make sure it’s empty before you begin. Water can ruin the pellets
- Clean out the ash: pull the cleanout knob to clean out the ash. Proceed with removing all parts such as grates, drip tray and heat diffuser. Use a flat scraper and remove all hard pieces of grease or debris. Grab a vacuum to clean the rest of the ashes and take a garden hose to remove the last
- Clean the drip tray and grates: take the flat scraper and remove the oil and grease from the plate. Use a hard brush to clean the grates
- Replace everything: put everything back in its place. However, make sure the pellet hopper is dry before you apply any pellets. Wait 24 hours before firing up your grill to make sure everything is dry
Having a clean grill is essential for proper cooking.
Dirt and debris are not only hazards to your health, but also for the well-being of your grill.
By keeping your grill clean, you’re ensuring that it will stay with you for another season of grilling parties and good food.