Grill Cleaning FAQs: How to Clean a Grill Like a Pro

Let’s be honest: cleaning your grill is the worst part of grilling. It may be annoying to do after you’ve finished grilling, but it’s necessary.

If you prefer to put off cleaning your grill, it can seem like an especially daunting task once weeks (or months) of grease and food debris have built up. Sound familiar? If so, you may be questioning what to do to clean your grill, what order to do it in, and how often you should be doing it.

In this post, we will explore all of your most frequently asked grill cleaning questions, from general questions like “how to clean an old grill” and “how often should I clean my grill”, to more specific questions like “how to clean gas grill burners” and “can I clean my grill with a potato”?

Jump to your question

General Grill Cleaning Questions

From how to clean an old BBQ to how to clean a grill that is rusty, here are answers to your most commonly asked general grill questions:

How to clean an old BBQ

Whether you have acquired an old BBQ or just haven’t taken care of your own, cleaning an old grill isn’t that hard—it just requires a few extra steps. If you can, follow the grill manufacturer’s cleaning instructions if you have them. If not, you’ll need:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Dish soap
  • Nylon grill brushes
  • Putty knife
  • Rags, paper towels, and/or scouring sponges
  • Two buckets
  • Soap and water
  • White vinegar and salt
  • Specialized cleaners for your grill if you need them (i.e. seasoning oil for cast iron or stainless steel cleaner)
  • Elbow grease

With your supplies assembled, you can start to clean your grill.

  1. Heat your grill up to full temperature and leave it for 15-20 minutes to singe off any stuck-on food and grease. While the grill is still hot, dip the grill brush into warm, soapy water and scrub the grates.
  2. Turn off the gas, disconnect and remove the gas tank, and let the grill cool completely.
  3. When the grill has cooled completely, remove the cooking grates and set them aside. If they’re still grimy after your first scrub, soak them in a tub of warm, soapy water for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Remove any other component from the grill that can be easily removed. This makes it easier to clean each piece, as well as the bottom of your grill.
  5. Place a bucket under the grease tray opening and use a plastic putty knife to scrape off any stuck-on gunk from inside your grill.
  6. Scrub the grill grates with a non-metal grill brush on both sides, using a paste of white vinegar and salt to spot-treat any especially difficult to clean bits. Clean the burners, heat plates, and any other elements you removed as well using warm soapy water. Keep reading for detailed instructions on how to clean your gas grill grates and how to clean gas grill burners.
  7. Look closely at the grates, burners, and heat plates for signs of corrosion or deterioration. If you find any holes, rust, or other serious deterioration, it’s time to replace that part.
  8. Inspect the burner tubes for blockages and clean the inside of them with a venturi brush—spiders like to make nests in burner tubes, especially if your grill hasn’t been used in awhile.
  9. Rinse and wipe everything down. Refresh your bucket of water and add a few squirts of fresh dish soap. Scrub down the entire grill with a large kitchen sponge and dry everything with a microfiber towel. Be sure to clean the inside of the lid as well—over time, smoke vapor and grease will form carbon deposits on the inside of the lid.
  10. Reassemble your grill.
  11. Rub the clean grill grates with a light coating of vegetable oil, reconnect the propane tank, and fire up the grill with a closed hood for at least 15 minutes, then turn it off. This will burn off any cleaning residue, re-season the grates, and confirm that you’ve reassembled everything properly.

How often should I clean my grill?

You should clean your grill with a brush before and after each use. If you’re an avid griller who uses their grill year-round, it’s recommended that you give it a deep clean twice a year. If you grill only seasonally, you should deep clean it a minimum of once per year.

Do you need to clean a BBQ after every use?

Yes, you do need to clean your BBQ after every use. You don’t have to scrub your whole grill every time you use it, but it is recommended that you at least clean your barbecue grates after each use. Use a brush to remove any food particles, then leave the burners on for 5 minutes to burn off excess grease. The rest of your grill can be cleaned on a routine but less frequent basis.

How to clean a BBQ after winter

Cleaning your grill to get it ready for grilling season is important, especially if you didn’t do the best job prepping it for winter storage (no judgment). Clean your BBQ after its winter slumber by following these steps:

  1. Scrub the cooking grates, heat plates, and warming racks with a grill brush, then wash with warm, soapy water.
  2. Allow them to dry thoroughly and apply a coating of vegetable oil to your cooking grates to create a non-stick surface.
  3. Remove the grease tray and wash with warm, soapy water.
  4. Wipe down the inside of the grill cabinet to remove any food particles or other debris.
  5. Rinse the outside of your grill with a solution of vinegar and water. For tougher spots, use a specially designed grill cleaning solution.

Read more:

How to clean grease off the outside of your grill

Cleaning grease off the outside of your grill is easy. All you need is a soft rag, soap, hot water or vinegar, or a special, material-specific grill cleaner if you have it.

Wet the grill with water and soap or spray it with cleaner, then scrub it clean using your rag. If it’s really caked with grease, you may need to let it soak for 10 minutes to make removing the grease easier. Rinse and repeat as needed. Make sure the grill is bone-dry before putting the cover on or putting the grill into storage.

How to clean a stainless steel grill

Clean your stainless steel grill with a soft rag and stainless steel grill cleaner. Avoid abrasive materials which can leave scratches, and make sure you rub the cleaner in the direction of the metal’s grain to reduce the appearance of streaks.

How to clean the inside of a grill

Clean the inside of your grill by first disassembling the grill. Spray the lid and firebox with the cleaning agent of your choosing. Allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes, or longer if it has been a while since you cleaned it out. Scrub it using the bristle brush or scouring pad of your choosing. Allow the grill to dry completely, then reassemble your grill and turn it on to test that it has been reassembled correctly.

How to clean a barbecue grill that is rusty

To clean your rusty barbecue grill, disassemble the grill to access rusty components and spray with your cleaner of choice—either a water and vinegar mixture, stainless steel cleaner, or an all-natural grill cleaner. Let that sit for a few minutes and scrub away the rust with a scrubbing brush, then clean the area with soapy water and rinse.

Read more:

Troubleshooting Guide: Rusty BBQ Grill

Questions About Cleaning Materials

Short on cleaning supplies? Considering an alternative cleaning material? Can these unusual cleaning agents be used? In this section of our grill cleaning FAQ, we take a look at different cleaning materials.

Cleaning your grill with a potato

While a potato can’t clean a grill like an onion or ball of tinfoil can, it can help to make a clean grill non-stick. Start by heating your grill. When the grill is up to temperature, rub a raw potato cut in halves or quarters on the grill grates. The starch in the potatoes will create a non-stick surface on the grates.

Can I clean a BBQ grill with Coke?

The rumors are true—Coca Cola can remove rust! All you have to do is soak your grates in the Coke for about 20 minutes and then scrub them clean with soapy water. However, this is one of the more expensive methods for cleaning your grates, so unless you have a bunch of spare Coke laying around, you may want to consider using some of the cheaper cleaning options instead.

How to clean a BBQ grill with vinegar

Vinegar is an acid, which is what makes it such a good cleaning agent. Typically when using it to clean things such as your grill, you will need to combine it with water to dilute it, as well as salt to make a scrubbing paste, or sometimes baking soda.

GRILL SPOT TIP: When combining vinegar with baking soda you have to act quickly—it’s only effective as long as it is fizzing. Once it has stopped fizzing, the baking soda base and acidic vinegar have canceled each other out and basically (haha) created water. In most cases you are better off using these powerful cleaning agents separately.

To use vinegar to clean your grill, decant 2 cups of white vinegar and 2 cups of water into a spray bottle, or mix the vinegar into a paste with salt for scrubbing. Spray or rub it on your grill, allow it to sit for 10 minutes, then use a nylon bristle brush or rag to rub your grill clean.

Questions About Grill Grates

Grill grates are one of the most routinely cleaned parts of the grill, so it makes sense you would have a lot of questions about them. Here are the answers you need:

How to clean BBQ grill grates

To clean BBQ grill grates, start by preheating your grill to remove any stubborn food particles, then use a bristle brush to clean the grates. For persistent food or grease residue, employ a mixture of warm water and dish soap. Check out our article for special cleaning instructions for various grill grate materials.

Read more:

How To Clean Your Grill’s Cooking Grates & When to Replace Them

How often to clean grill grates

Grill grates should always be cleaned after every use. Cleaning after every cookout will prevent the build-up of food and grease, keep away bugs and pests, and ensure that your grill is good to go next time you’re ready to fire it up.

How to clean stainless steel grill grates

To clean stainless steel cooking grates, grab some aluminum foil and cover the top of the grates, then let the grill preheat for 15 minutes to burn off any remaining food. Once that’s done, scrub the grates with a grill brush and rub them with vegetable oil to re-season.

Are grill grates dishwasher safe?

In general, your grill grates are not dishwasher safe. There are many reasons why:

  • Burnt-on residue is often tough for dishwashers to tackle, and the drying cycle can actually make it worse.
  • Any gunk that is removed runs the chance of clogging up the dishwasher.
  • The high heat of dishwashers can warp the grates, and those made of steel or cast iron might end up rusting. If you do run cast iron grates through the dishwasher, be sure to give them a thorough re-seasoning as soon as possible.

So to play it safe, keep your grill grates out of the dishwasher and wash them by hand instead.

Questions About Gas Grills

Gas grills are generally easier to clean than charcoal grills, but that doesn’t mean you can forgo routine maintenance and cleaning. Here are the answers to your most frequently asked gas grill cleaning queries:

How to clean gas grill burners/How to clean BBQ burner jets

To clean your gas grill burners, remove and set aside the grates, heat plates, and burners. Clean the burners using a venturi brush or bottle brush, scrubbing in an up-and-down motion. Use a wire brush or other needle-like object to remove any deposits or debris from each clogged port and restore normal gas flow. Finish by cleaning the burner elements with soapy water and a soft cloth, then drying and re-assembling the grill.

Read more:

Troubleshooting Guide: Rusted Grill Burners

How to clean inside of a gas grill

To clean the inside of a gas grill remove the cooking grates and any other easily detachable parts. Place a bucket under the grease tray opening and use a plastic putty knife to scrape off any stuck-on debris from the inside. You can also use a shop vac to remove any remaining debris. Scrub all components with warm water and dish soap, ensuring you clean the inside of the lid as well. Thoroughly dry all grill parts with a microfiber towel before reassembling.

How to clean a gas grill with minimal effort

Cleaning your grill isn’t the most fun, and we don’t blame you for looking for low-effort ways to keep your grill shining. The easiest way to clean your grill—if it isn’t too grimy—is using a spray bottle, water, vinegar, and a rag.

Add 2 cups each of white vinegar and water to a spray bottle and shake to mix. Spray the vinegar-water mixture onto the cooking grates and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then, fill a spray bottle with just vinegar, spray it onto a cotton cloth, and use the cloth to scrub the grates until they are clean. This method should work on grill grates that aren’t especially grimy, but if it doesn’t quite cut through the grease, follow our detailed directions.

Can you hose down a gas grill?

Yes, you can hose down a gas grill. Just make sure it dries completely before you put the grill cover back on.

More questions about cleaning your gas grill? Learn more about The Right Way To Clean Your Gas Grill and Why You Should Do It.

Questions About Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grills impart their own unique, smokey flavor on the foods they cook, and they deserve their own unique care when it comes to cleaning. Here are the answers to your most commonly asked questions about cleaning your charcoal grill:

How often to clean a charcoal grill

How often you should clean your charcoal grill depends on how often you use it. As a general rule, you should give your charcoal grill a quick clean after every use, as well as do a deep clean twice a year, at the beginning and end of every season.

Cleaning rusty charcoal grill grates

Use hot soapy water and a scrub brush, scouring sponge, or ball of aluminum foil to clean rusty grill grates and prevent rust buildup. Dry your grates with a microfiber towel to eliminate rust-causing moisture.

How to clean ash out of a charcoal grill

Pull out the ash catcher from the bottom of your grill and dump the contents into a garbage bin or container. A charcoal bowl cleaning kit makes it easy to sweep leftover ash and debris into your ash catcher, or you can do this by hand using a bristle brush or putty knife. Clean leftover residue with mild dish soap and steel wool.

How to clean a charcoal grill before cooking

To clean your charcoal grill before cooking, heat up your grill to burn off any food and grease residue, then scrape with a wire brush. To minimize cleanup, oil your grill grates before cooking so food doesn’t stick.

How to clean a charcoal grill after cooking

To clean a charcoal grill after cooking, use a wire grill brush to clean your grill after every use to remove food particles and prevent rust buildup.

Learn more about How To Clean a Charcoal Grill & How Often You Should Do It.


Whether you have a charcoal or a gas grill, a small portable grill or a large built-in, keeping your grill clean is one of the best things you can do to extend its longevity and ensure it serves up the best burgers you can make. With these frequently asked grill cleaning questions answered, you can clean your grill—and keep it clean all season long.

Got more questions about cleaning your grill? Browse these topics:

If you’re having grill problems, try our troubleshooting guide.