How to Clean your Barbecue Grill

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My husband is the “barbecue king” and we grill our food a lot.

There is nothing better than great food cooked outdoors with friends and family. The downside is the barbecue grill can get really dirty.

Barbecue grates are notorious for having burned-on yucky build up, especially if barbecue sauce or other seasoning is used when cooking. Because of this, I recommend you clean the barbecue grill twice.

Some people only clean their grills prior to cooking, or don’t clean them at all! Believe me, you want to clean the grill grates! If you don’t clean them, over time residue will accumulate and cause your food to stick – then the char you worked so hard to get just right – tears off.

It’s a big deal to me to keep the grill super clean, and not just because I’m picky.

We clean our grill before and after barbecuing. You get good results cleaning the grate after because the grill is hot which makes scrapping gunk off much easier.

We give the barbecue a quick clean before just to make sure it’s as clean as it can be before putting the meat on to cook.

Why Keep your Grill Clean

  • It’s much easier to clean if you do a quick clean right after using the barbecue.
  • Your food will taste better.
  • A clean grate will help to give your food the cool char lines (just like the picture).
  • Food debris stuck to the grate will mold and spoil and can cause illness.
  • The black char that sticks to the grate contain toxins that cause cancer.

Wire Brushes

Do NOT use a wire brush to clean your grill.

A lady emailed me the other day to say that she had swallowed a bristle, and despite 6 operations the little wire was still lodged in her throat.

If the brush is rusty, old, poorly made, the grate isn’t thoroughly inspected and wiped off after cleaning – or even just a random occurrence, the wire bristles can become dislodged, stick to the grate and can then end up on the food you eat. Needless to say, if the wire bristle is swallowed it can cause a very serious injury! Update: It looks like the CDC doesn’t recommend wire brushes to clean your grill either.

Alternatives to Wire Brushes

Use a sturdy metal scraper, a paint scraper or putty knife that you dedicate for grill cleaning instead.

I have personally used the CharGone BBQ Grill Cleaner. It’s contoured to fit the grill bars so you can scrape rods up to 5/16″ diameter and ’A’-shaped bars while the grill is cool.

It’ll do the same job – with maybe just a little more effort on the sides of the grate. But then you won’t need to be concerned about accidentally swallowing any stray wire bristles!

Scraping the Grill Clean

To get food residue off the barbecue grill a good scraper will be your best friend.

We turn the grill on high after the food is removed to help burn off any residue. You can do this either before or right after you have cleaned the still-warm grill.

It turns any remaining bits to ash which can be later wiped away. If you are using charcoal and don’t have that kind of temperature control, just put the lid on after removing the food to help dislodge the build up before trying to clean it after it’s cooled down.

Soaking Away Hard to Remove Residue

If you are still having problems cleaning your grill after scraping off the leftover food take the grate out of the grill and soak it in hot soapy water.

This will help moisten any stubborn food particles that would not otherwise come off.

This method is also good to clean the underside of the barbecue grate that are hard to reach while the grate is still inside the barbecue grill.

Cleaning the Grill with Vinegar

Another tip to stay green when cleaning your barbecue grill is to use a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water.

Many people already use a vinegar/water solution to clean around the house and you will enjoy a similar experience when using the solution to clean your barbecue.

All you have to do is spray on the solution, let it soak for a few minutes and then scrub off the residue.

Cleaning the Grill with Oven Cleaner

If you want to go all out in cleaning your barbecue grill (or perhaps it has been quite a while since your barbecue has had any attention paid to it?) using an oven cleaner will take care of a dirty grill, period.

The oven cleaner will get into all the nooks and crannies of the barbecue grill and do a great job getting the barbecue grill clean. (Think of how well oven cleaner works in the oven).

Put the grates on a piece of cardboard, put on your eye protection, spray the oven cleaner, and scrub the grill with a plastic bristle brush. Rinse thoroughly and completely before barbecuing food on it.

You could leave the grill on the barbecue but make sure you don’t spray oven cleaner on anything other than the barbecue grill so as not to damage any part of the ignition system or the burners.

As you can see, there are many ways to clean up a dirty barbecue grill fast.

From a simple scraper, green cleaners to more heavy duty oven cleaners. You can clean the grates easily.

But the best part of cleaning your barbecue grill is having a great time in the backyard with good friends, family and great tasting food.

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