While it’s crucial to brush up on your grilled steak technique and ace your burger temperature, the most important step of the grilling process occurs after each time you use your grill. Stay with us here: Learning how to clean a grill makes it easier to achieve the fresh yet smoky flavors of your favorite grilled recipes. Additionally, everything you grill will be easier to flip and remove from the grates.
Read on for our Test Kitchen’s top tips for the best way to clean a grill, whether you’re on Team Charcoal or Team Gas. (And don’t miss these 19 pro tips for your best barbecue ever.)
How to Clean a Charcoal Grill
Prevent flare-ups and foods that stick by cleaning your grates after each time you light up your charcoal grill. Allow the coals to die down a bit before cleaning, but keep in mind that particles release easiest when the grate is still warm.
Slip on heat-resistant mitts like these Premium BBQ Gloves ($15.99, Amazon) for safety. Scrub steel racks with a long-handled, stainless-steel grill brush or bristle-free grill brush to avoid dangerous bristles in food.
Once the charcoal grill itself is cool, dump out the burned coals and dispose of them carefully. After the grate and grill are both fully cool, wash both using a mild soap and steel wool. Then allow all pieces to dry (or wipe dry with a towel) before topping the grill with the lid and storing away from the elements. (The drying portion of this grill-cleaning process is essential so you don’t have to learn how to clean a rusty grill!)
How to Clean a Gas Grill
After every use, the best way to clean a gas grill starts by cranking up the heat. Yes, really! Turn your grill on high for 10 to 15 minutes with the lid closed to burn off any extra bits. Turn off the grill and let it cool slightly. Loosen the residue from the grill rack with a stainless-steel grill brush. Again, this not only prevents sticking, but also helps to avoid flare-ups the next time you cook. (By the way, these grill temperature control tips will help you ace any barbecued meal you cook before cleaning.)
When the grill is completely cool, wipe the inside and outside surfaces of the grill with a soft cloth and warm, soapy water. If the grime is really caked on, remove the grates and soak them in buckets of soapy water for 15 minutes or more. Rinse with clean water and wipe the grates dry.
To clean a gas grill inside and out, grab a handheld vacuum or shop vacuum. Use a grill brush to dislodge the soot, then suck it up with the vacuum. Spray clean with a hose and wipe with a towel to dry.
How to Clean a Grill Without a Brush
No brush? No sweat. Try a long-handled metal spatula or grip a ball of foil with a pair of tongs and rub the grates. Either works well to clean a grill without a brush and still scrub the grates to make them grime-free.
What to Use to Clean a Grill
An all-in-one grill-cleaning kit makes it a cinch and can get you well on your way to mastering these tricks for the best way to clean a grill.
If you prefer to stock up on individual elements or just need a few cleaning tools to round out your barbecue tool kit, consider these items:
- Grill brush (we like this five-star GRILLART Grill Brush, $16.97, Amazon)
- Degreaser (such as Easy-Off Barbecue Grill Cleaner, $18.51 for 3, Amazon)
- Hand vacuum (try DEWALT’s Wet-Dry Vacuum ($129, Amazon) for a tool to clean a grill and your DIY project area)
- Stainless-steel polish to finish (to leave a pretty shine and help dry, snag Therapy’s Premium Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish with Microfiber Cloth, $14.97, Amazon)
With these tips, you're armed with the best way to clean a grill, no matter what tools you already have on hand. If you're going to be cooking up grilled recipes regularly, make life a bit easier and stock up on all the grill-cleaning tools. If you'll only pull out the grill a couple of times a year, stick to soapy water and our tips on cleaning your grill without a grill brush. We don't care how you clean your grill—just that you do it.