How to Clean an Outdoor Grill

A hand opening a red barbecue.

Summer is here, which means it’s time to get ready for backyard BBQs and dinner parties. But before you start throwing hamburgers on your grill grates, it’s important to give them—and the rest of your grill— a thorough cleaning. Removing last season’s food remnants will help your grill look and work better. The char every grill enthusiast loves in their food leaves behind carbon deposits that create breeding grounds for bacteria and prevent grills from heating evenly. With a thorough annual cleaning, you can maximize the longevity of your grill. Our simple guide on how to clean outdoor grills offers easy tips for getting your grill looking—and working—good as new.

Someone cleaning a dirty grill with a wipe.

Start by Collecting Necessary Cleaning Materials

Part of learning how to clean an outdoor grill is getting the proper cleaning tools. To clean your grill, you’ll need a long wire brush, large bucket, elbow grease and dish soap. It’s best to avoid using toxic cleaners, as they are absorbed into the grates and thus your food. If you suspect you are going to have a hard time getting out stains, you should also add vinegar and baking soda to your cleaning list, as they are extremely effective at removing residue.

Someone cleaning a grill with a sponge and some soapy water.

Harness Your Grill’s Heat to Burn Off any Stubborn Food Residue

When it comes to how to clean outdoor grills , one of the best tips is also the most simple – turn it on! In general, it’s a good idea to start your cleaning process by firing up the grill, closing the hood and letting it heat up to full temperature. Once your grill has reached its maximum temperature, leave it on for about 30 minutes. The intense heat will help singe off any stuck food or grease.

Soak All Your Grill Parts in Soapy Water

Once you have let your grill completely cool, soak its components in a soap and water. You can create a soapy solution using warm water and a drop or two of dish soap. Remove all grates, grease trays and warming racks from your grill and soak them for a minimum of 30 minutes. If your grill has a lot of stains and carbon deposits, you should soak all the parts for at least an hour.

Someone with a heat-resistant glove cleaning a hot grill with a metal brush.

Scrub Your Grill Parts with a Wire Brush

Do you have a grill that is caked in residue and are wondering how to clean outdoor grills with stubborn stains? Scrubbing your grill parts with a wire brush is one of the best ways to combat those grease stains and carbon deposits that don’t go away with a long soak.

Once your grill grates and panels have been soaked, you should scrub them with a wire brush. If there are still stubborn grease or food stains after scrubbing, you can try applying a past of white vinegar and baking soda. It’s also important to scrub down the exterior of your grill, which you can do using the same soapy solution you used for the internal grill parts. Once you’ve scrubbed every part of your grill, you should give it a thorough rinse. It’s essential to make sure all surfaces properly dry, especially any cast-iron grates.

Someone cleaning an outdoor range with a rag.

Top it Off with a Stainless Steel Cleaner

If you really want to get your grill looking good as new, you can apply a stainless steel cleaner to the exterior after rinsing. This can help further remove any stubborn stains on your grill’s exterior and return its shiny surface. If you choose to use a stainless steel cleaner, be sure to apply it on an overcast day, as the sun makes stainless steel grills prone to streaking.

A well-kept grill is essential for summer BBQs. Not only will a grill simply look better when well-maintained, but it will also heat evenly, providing delicious smoky food for summer nights. For additional outdoor living tips on how to clean outdoor grills and make the most of your patio this summer, follow us on Instagram or subscribe to our email list.