BBQ 101: Cleaning Your Grill Like a Pro

Grilling, Barbecue, Grill, Food, Summer

BBQ 101: Cleaning Your Grill Like a Pro

Did you know that regularly cleaning your grill extends its life? While a deep clean isn’t necessary after each use, there are no benefits to having a dirty grill.

Leftover grease, sauces and salt can damage the metal pieces of the grill, create a fire hazard, and sometimes, it can even produce mold – creating a health hazard.

Knowing what to clean and when to clean will help you maintain your grill for many seasons to come.

After Every Cook

Grill grates should be cleaned after every cook. This keeps mold, grease, and carbon build-up off of the cooking surface – keeping that junk off of your food.

  1. Build Heat – on a gas grill, turn the burners to high at the end of every cook with the lid closed. If you have a charcoal grill, burn charcoal while the grill lid is closed and allow the flames to burn.
  2. Let it burn – Let the grill heat up for 15 – 20 minutes, any remaining food and/or residue should turn to ash and leftover grease will burn off.
  3. Scrub a Dub – After leftover grime has turned to ash, use a grill brush to scrub until all particles are removed and the grates are clean.
  4. Lather it up – Once grates have been scrubbed clean, apply a thin coat of oil to the grates with a brush or cloth. Utilize an oil with a high smoke point, like grape seed oil. Lathering your grates will prevent corrosion and stop food from sticking to the grates.

Once ash/charcoal is fully cooled, don’t forget to empty leftover ash or charcoal into a metal or non-combustible bucket once you are finished cleaning the grill. Never use a plastic or cloth bucket.

Every Few Cooks

It’s easy to put the inside of your grill on the back burner. After 3-4 cooks you should break the grill down to clean hard to reach places.

Gas Grill

  1. Remove and clean grates, flame tamers, and burner coverings with a grill brush.
  2. Inspect burners for cracks and ensure tubes are debris free.
  3. If a port is clogged, use a toothpick to clear the obstruction.
  4. Use warm soapy water to clean the inside of the grill.

Charcoal Grill

  1. Remove the charcoal tray and empty any remaining charcoal that may be left over from your last cook.
  2. Scoop out the remaining ash with an ash tool.
  3. Use a wire grill brush to push any remaining ash residue into the ash catcher.
  4. Remove the ash catcher and dump it out.
  5. Use warm soapy water to clean the inside of the grill, along with any pieces you have removed (ash catcher, charcoal tray, etc.).

Seasonal Clean

Hood Build-Up

Over time, carbon, soot and other by-products will start to build up on the hood of your grill. If left to fester, these scaly flakes can fall off while you’re cooking and tamper your food.

Use a pair of grill gloves with a wire grill brush to scrub this pesky buildup off of the hood of the grill. Avoid using cleaners like oven cleaners; instead, utilize products like Carbon-Off to easily remove the build-up. Use a shop vac or the grill’s ash pan to remove all debris once you’re finished.


The sight of mold inside of your grill might tempt you to take it to the curb, but your grill can recover from mold if you clean it properly. Mold is caused by excess moisture inside of the grill combined with grease.

Never use cleaners or brushes when handling mold as this will release the spores into the air – which can lead to illness. Heat is the best way to kill mold:

  1. Discard anything that could retain mold. If you’re using a charcoal grill, make sure to remove any charcoal that may still be inside the grill from your previous cooks.
  2. If you’re using a gas grill, turn all burners to high. If you’re using charcoal, burn a chimney starter of charcoal with the grill’s lid closed. Close the lid and let it burn for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Once the grill cools down, and the mold has been burned, use a wire brush to clean everything in the grill.
  4. Remove the inside parts of the grill and scrub with soap and water.
  5. After cleaning, put everything back in the grill and turn the burners on for 20 more minutes on high to burn off any remaining mold, debris, water, or residue.

Grill Exterior

While the exterior of your grill might not pose a fire or health hazard, it’s rather easy to maintain the appearance of your grill.

Remove dust, dirt, and grime from the exterior of your grill by wiping it down with a damp cloth. Then use a product like Magic Stainless Steel Cleaner to keep the stainless shiny and create a protective coating that repels dirt, water, and fingerprints.

Never use an abrasive brush on the exterior of your grill. Polish the exterior with grill cleaner. If you accidentally scratch your grill, use Scratch-B-Gone.

A clean grill is a happy grill. Not only will your food taste better, your grill will last longer and the chances of experiencing a fire will decrease dramatically.

Now that your grill is clean & pristine, make sure you grill safely, every time!

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Amy Casey
Social Media & Communications Specialist
Amy joined Rockford Mutual in January of 2017 with an Associates Degree in Marketing. Amy has a great understanding of insurance in general as she has obtained her Associate in General Insurance designation.