How to clean barbecue grill grates

Cleaning a barbecue grill grate
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Knowing how to clean barbecue grill grates is essential to give your grill a long life and to help keep your food cooked thoroughly. Whether you have a charcoal grill or a gas grill, a dirty grill grate can stop your grill from heating up properly which can lead to your food being cooked unevenly. 

Cleaning a grill grate is a relatively straightforward process and you'll notice a huge difference in food quality after cleaning. Once you have done a proper deep clean it is important to maintain it, so we have included some information and top tips on how to keep barbecue grill grates clean. 

If you are looking to upgrade your old barbecue for a new, shiny model be sure to check out our guides to the best gas grills and the best infrared grills.

How to clean barbecue grill grates

Cleaning barbecue grill grates is a relatively easy process and it is definitely worth the effort. By following the steps below you will notice a huge difference in the quality of your food and the efficiency of your grill. 

1. Ensure that the grill is turned off

It is important to stay safe when cleaning your grill grates. Make sure that your grill is turned off and completely cool. 

2. Remove the grill grate

If your grill grate is still hot use oven mittens or tongs to remove it safely. 

3. Scrape off any residue

Use a stiff-bristled brush or a ball of aluminium foil to scrape off any crust or residue from between the grill grates. 

4. Soak the grill grates

Soak the grill grates in warm soapy water. For best results, you should leave them for 20-30 minutes. 

5. Scrub the grate

After the grates have been adequately soaked, give them a scrub with a brush or a sponge to get as much dirt off as possible. Without soaking this step is difficult so be sure to soak it again if necessary. 

6. Rinse the grill grate

Make sure any soapy residue is completely gone by giving the grill grate a good rinse. 

7. Dry the grill grate

To prevent rust or tarnish make sure the grill grate is completely dry before replacing it

8. Reassemble your grill and heat up the grate

Place your grates back onto the grill and heat them up. This will help to dry them and will also help to remove any remaining residue. 

Top tips for keeping barbecue grill grates clean

What the expert says...

Mike Norton, Trade and Projects Director at Magnet Trade says "Vinegar doesn’t just come in handy for summer salad dressings. Pour two cups of white vinegar into a spray bottle and give the grill a generous spray. The acetic acid in the vinegar will break down any stubborn grease making it easier to wipe later. Wait for a few minutes and then scrub with crumpled-up aluminum foil. Do remember that vinegar can be flammable so take care when spraying on hot surfaces. "

There are a few easy steps you can take to prevent the amount of dirt that builds up on your barbecue grill grates. These top tips will also significantly reduce the amount of cleaning that you need to do. 

Preheat and post-heat your grill

Before use, preheat your grill to burn off any food particles from previous uses. After you have finished cooking, close the lid and heat up the grill again to remove any residual food particles. 

Oil your grates

Before placing food on the grill, oil the grates to create a non-stick surface. Use a high smoke point oil like vegetable oil or canola oil and apply it to the grates using a brush or a folded paper towel. This will prevent food from sticking and make the cleaning process easier afterward. 

Clean spills as soon as they happen

If any spills occur, be sure to clean them sooner rather than later. The longer dirt is on your grill the drier it will get and the harder it will be to clean. 

Store your grill properly

When not in use, cover your grill with a waterproof grill cover to protect it from dust, dirt, and weather elements. This will help keep your grill grates clean and prevent rust or deterioration

Make use of a grill mat or aluminum foil

A grill mat or a layer of aluminum foil will reduce the amount of food that comes into contact with your grill. This will greatly reduce the amount of food that sticks to it and will help to keep it clean in the long run. 

Monib Zahdeh

Monib is a writer for Top Ten Reviews. He has a degree in journalism and over four years of experience in the home and garden industry as a Digital Content Specialist for the made-to-measure marketplace Britannia Rose. When he is not reading or writing, Monib enjoys cooking, going on walks, and visiting different historical sites.  

With contributions from