How to Clean Your BBQ Grill

Some gurus of grilling claim that leaving a well-used grill—as-is—contributes to the flavour, but a clean BBQ grill is a healthy grill. Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to clean your BBQ grill.

Greasy debris left to linger on a grill turns rancid. Insects and mold can gather inside a neglected grill. That’s not very appetizing. Give your BBQ a thorough cleaning at least once a year, twice if you use it regularly. A BBQ is an investment, and proper maintenance will prevent flare-ups and help it last longer.

You’ll need heat for some of the steps but remember to close off the valves and disconnect the tank or hose before removing any parts. Your BBQ’s manual will guide you through part removal.

Step-By-Step BBQ Grill Cleaning Tips:

  1. Gather your supplies
  2. Clean BBQ briquettes
  3. Clean BBQ grates
  4. Clean BBQ heat plates
  5. Clean inside the hood
  6. Keep the exterior looking like new

Gather your supplies

Before you clean your BBQ grill, make sure you have everything you’ll need to get the job done:

  • grill brush
  • cooking oil
  • soft cloth or brush for oil application
  • vacuum
  • toothpicks or paper clips
  • grilling gloves
  • paper or garbage bags
  • BBQ grill cleaner

Clean BBQ briquettes

Ceramic briquettes or lava rocks at the bottom of a gas grill are designed to last for years, but they can also gather everything from grease to mold. If they’re visibly moldy, throw them out and replace them. Mold spores are dangerous if inhaled.

The fix is pretty simple for greasy briquettes. Turn them over, so the grease is facing down and fire up the BBQ on high for 15 minutes. Any briquettes that come clean can stay. If they don’t, toss and replace them. You should also remove any briquettes or rocks that are cracked or broken.

Long Handle Dual Grill Brush

Long Handle Dual Grill Brush

Keep your grill from gathering build-up in between deep cleanings. This BBQ cleaning tool with a long, secure-grip handle by Blue Rhino works three ways. There’s a stainless steel wire brush on top, a scrubber pad on the bottom and a scraper in between.


Clean BBQ grates

Once again, heat is your friend. Turn the BBQ grill burners on high. For a charcoal grill, use double the usual amount of charcoal. Leave the grill on high for about 15 minutes to burn off any charred bits of food and built-up grease. Scrape the grates with a wire brush. Once all particles are removed, season with a light coating of cooking oil. A little oil applied before each cook (with a cloth or brush) will also help prevent build-up.

Pit Boss 12-inch Wire Grill Brush

Pit Boss 12-inch Wire Grill Brush

This wire grill brush by Pit Boss is designed for heavy-duty grill cleaning. Long wire bristles that wrap around the brush area are designed to help clean hard-to-reach places between your grates.



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Clean BBQ burners and heat plates

Heat plates distribute the heat evenly to the grill. They also catch whatever falls through. Once your BBQ has cooled, remove the plates and scrub them with a wire brush. Cracked plates should be replaced. If you have a charcoal grill, kiss your ash goodbye! Ash buildup affects performance and the taste of your food. Sweep, scrape and even vacuum out the ash. Left to collect, it can cause corrosion.

Great Value Round Toothpick

Great Value Round Toothpicks

Inspect the burners and free up any holes that have become clogged. A few Great Value toothpicks or a straightened paper clip should do the trick.


Clean inside the hood

The black scaly stuff trapped under the hood is produced by carbon build-up, soot, and other grilling residues. To remove this scaly built-up guck, first, cover the cooled-down grill with paper or a garbage bag to catch falling residue. Put on a pair of grill gloves, grab your wire brush and scrape off the flakes inside the hood that, if not removed, could end up on your food.

Backyard Grill Grilling Gloves

Backyard Grill Grilling Gloves

This grill glove by Backyard Grill is made of cotton with heat-resistant fibres. It features a non-slip silicone grip and can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. One size fits all.


Keep the exterior looking like new

Here is where the wire brush gets a rest! Wipe down the exterior with a damp cloth and then clean and polish with a good quality BBQ grill cleaner. Never use a cleaner that has an abrasive agent—and never use brushes or any other abrasive material to clean the exterior of your grill.

Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish with Trigger

Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner with Polish & Trigger

Harsh oven cleaners should never be used in—or on—your BBQ. Instead, use a product that specifically says it can be used on BBQs, like this cleaner by Weiman. It leaves a streak-free shine on your stainless-steel surface. This formula also leaves a protective barrier to help prevent future fingerprints and dust. Suitable for indoor and outdoor stainless-steel surfaces.

It’s a great time to give your BBQ a once-over. Make sure the lid closes properly to keep out mold-inducing moisture and critters. Check that other outside parts, such as wheels, are intact and working well. Remember to also clean the meat thermometer probe and other utensils and accessories.

In all, you’ll spend about an hour per season making sure your BBQ is clean, and all its pieces are ready to go. Regular maintenance will keep your BBQ looking good, and producing great-tasting food, for years to come.

See also: Best BBQ Brands at Walmart

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Lisa is the author of five books and counting. She’s also a versatile voice-artist and the former morning co-anchor at 680 News. She loves coffee, cheese and Twizzlers, but not at the same time. She believes the best part about working from home is talking on the phone to people who have no idea that she's still wearing her pajamas. Animal lover Lisa lives in Wallaceburg (about an hour west of London) with her husband and their senior rescue cat Miss Sugar. You can follow Lisa on Twitter @lisambrandt.