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How to clean a barbecue grill: Ditch the dirt, grease and bacteria

How to clean a barbecue grill: A man cleans a grill with a wire brush
(Image credit: Getty)

Summer is nearly upon us, so now is the time to break out your barbecue and get it primed for a full season of tasty backyard cookouts. The first step is learning how to clean a barbecue grill properly (and quickly), so that you can move on to the fun part: cooking and eating all those juicy burgers, sausages and more. Even the best gas grills need a hand when it comes to cleaning and staying in good condition, and here we have a raft of hacks and tips to help you clean a barbecue grill easily.

Why do you need to clean it? Well, when you grill meat, fish and other foods it produces carbon deposits on the grates, hood, flavorizing bars and burner tubes. Not only do these deposits look unappetizing, they can harbor all sorts of nasty bacteria. Leave them to build up for too long and they’ll eventually cause your outdoor cooker to heat unevenly. So, now you know the ‘why’, let’s look at how to clean a barbecue grill effectively… 

How to clean barbecue grill grease and burners 

Step one
Remove the large dirt particles from your barbecue. Before you really begin thoroughly cleaning your grill, start off by turning the grill on for five to ten minutes so that any food debris is warm and easier to remove. Once you’ve turned off your grill and it’s cooled slightly, take a scraper (not a plastic one - a metal spatula is ideal) and gently push off any large food clumps or burned-on stains. 

It’s best to start at the top and work your way down so that dirt doesn’t fall where you’ve just cleaned. Be careful not to scratch too deeply during this step as you don’t want to remove any non-stick coatings the grill may have. It’s also important to remember that this step is just to remove large pieces of dirt, not every stain.

How to clean a barbecue grill without much effort: A person spritzes cleaning fluid onto a barbecue grill

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to cleaning the burners, brush the dirt off in the same direction as your burner holes to avoid getting even more dirt into them. If your burner has round holes, a toothpick or flossing stick is good for reaching inside.

How to clean the barbecue grill racks 

Step two
Take any removable racks out of your barbecue grill so that you can give them a good clean. It’s important to avoid using harsh chemical and strong cleansers on the racks, although it might seem like a handy shortcut. 

Instead, opt for a homemade cleaning solution such as water, baking soda and white vinegar, or dishwashing liquid. Failing that, some racks will even be suitable to pop into your dishwasher on the pot or pan setting. 

How to clean your barbecue grill drawer and grease pan

Step three
Gas grills are normally fitted with a handy drawer beneath the burners. This drawer is there to collect any debris and ash so that you can easily empty it out and wipe down the drawer. For the grease pan, this can be a messy job so be careful not to splash any grease over yourself. 

Once you’ve emptied the drawer and grease pan, take a ball of fine steel wool and a little bit of your gentle cleaning solution to give the inside of the gas grill lid and sides a wipe down. 

How to clean a barbecue grill: A group of friends gather around a bbq grill being used to cook sausages and corn

(Image credit: Getty)

How to keep your barbecue grill cleaner for longer

After deep cleaning your gas grill it’s unlikely you’re going to want to do it again anytime soon. Instead, help prevent future build up by trying out these easy techniques.

Steam clean your grill after using it 
Take a tin of water and place it on your grill for up to 30 minutes. The water will create a whole lot of steam and loosen any grime and grease that is clinging to the grill. This makes keeping on top of dirt a lot easier.

Line the debris drawer with tin foil  
The handy drawer beneath your burners is great for collecting cooking residues but it can be a real pain to clean. Save yourself a job and line the drawer with tin foil so that when it comes to cleaning time, you simply gather the foil up and place the entire thing in the trash. 

Use an onion on the grates 
We know this sounds strange but it is a proven tip for cleaning a barbecue grill. The acidity in an onion is a great natural cleanser for grates. The acidic properties will break down oils and grease making it easier to clean.