If you own a grill that has a stainless steel BBQ grill, or even a cast iron grilling surface, then you’ll need to know how to clean it so that you can continue to cook on a clean and smooth surface for many years to come.
Cleaning a grill is just as important as the preparation you put into cooking on one, and if you’ve made an investment in a quality grill then you’ll definitely want to keep that investment in top condition.
With some simple tips, some practice, and the right tools and accessories, you can ensure that your grill is protected and ready for the summer, year after year.
What You Will Need Before Cleaning an Iron or Stainless Steel Barbecue Grill
The best BBQ cleaning techniques will be essential, but they’ll be of no use if you don’t have the right tools. The most essential tool for cleaning your steel BBQ grill will be a quality brush. There are two different options that you can go for here.
The first option would be to use a stiff metal brush. This is the most abrasive cleaning tool, but may damage the finish of your steel BBQ grill if it has a porcelain or chromed finish.
The second option is a specialized bristle-free barbecue grill brush. A brush of this type will typically use stainless steel wire wrapped loosely around a steel core.
Looking at these two options, the second one is obviously the better of the two. A wire type brush is ideal because there are no sharp ends, which means that you won’t damage the surface of your grill.
Whether your grill is a propane or charcoal type with a steel BBQ grill, or even if it’s an infrared type grill with a ceramic surface, a steel wire brush will be able to get the job done.
In addition to a quality brush, you’ll also need a cleaning solution to get the harshest food particles, charred debris, and grease off of your steel BBQ grill. It’s important to avoid harsh chemical cleaners. Not only can these damage the surface areas of your grill, they can leave residual chemicals that will later burn and contaminate the food that you cook.
A citrus based cleaner is the ideal option, because a cleaner of this type will typically be non-toxic, and won’t use any dangerous chemicals that leave residue behind.
CitruSafe Grill Cleaning Spray is a good choice, and it’s made from natural ingredients that are non-corrosive and non-toxic, making it the ideal option for your steel BBQ grill.
In addition to a quality brush and a mild cleaning solution, you’ll also need some clean water, rags, and paper towels for wiping down any surfaces. When you’re prepared, you can move on to the cleaning job.
Steps for Cleaning an Iron or Stainless Steel Barbecue Grill
When you consider your home stovetop, you would barely go between cooking sessions without giving it a quick wipe down. When grime starts to build up, you would then give your stove a more thorough clean. It is strange that we pay so much care to our indoor cooking appliances, but not often the outdoor ones.
BBQ grills are often seen as robust and not in need of regular maintenance, but the reality is that you’ll need to clean often if you want to get the longest life out of your grill. If you’ve invested hundreds or even thousands of dollars in an outdoor grill setup, then cleaning is something that you should not cut corners with.
So, How Often Should You Clean Your Grill?
The answer is that you’ll need to clean your grill after every time it is used. This will ensure that any protective coating on the grill stays intact, there won’t be any chance of rust developing, and your grill will look great. Regular cleaning also ensures that your grill is safe and clean, with no risk of food contamination.
Even though the heat from the grill will kill off the majority of the bacteria on the surface, you still wouldn’t want to cook on something that isn’t regularly cleaned. You wouldn’t do that in your kitchen, so there’s no reason to do it outside.
Clean Your Stainless Steel Barbecue Grill Grates After Every use
The steel grates on your grill will need to be cleaned after every use, even if they look to be in good order. Cleaning will remove any grease or buildup that is hard to see, and it will ensure that the cooking surface is ready to go when you next use your grill.
Cleaning the grate is the time when you will use your cleaning brush. It’s best to do this while the grill is still warm, because this will ensure that any food or liquid doesn’t have the chance to harden and stick to the grill. Simply take your brush and run it along the grates until they are completely clean of debris.
If you have any particularly difficult areas to clean, then you can apply a spray-on cleaning solution, such as the CitruSafe cleaner that has been mentioned earlier in this guide. You can use a rag or a cooking glove to secure the warm grate while you’re cleaning.
Once you’re satisfied that any hardened debris has been removed, then you can finish off by wiping the grill with paper towels, or with a clean rag. The grate can then be removed to clean the inside of your grill.
Extra Step for an Iron Grilling Surface
If your grill uses iron instead of steel BBQ grill grates, then you’ll need to also take time to season the surface. All of your cleaning steps will be the same, but you’ll need to finish off the job by wiping a liberal amount of olive oil over the grates with a paper towel.
The olive oil helps to seal the iron (which is highly porous), and will prevent rust that can develop in-between cooking sessions. Olive oil seasoning also helps to make your grill surface resistant to sticking.
Disposing of Ash and Coals if You Have a Charcoal Grill
With the iron or steel BBQ grill grate removed, you’ll now have access to the inside of your barbeque.
If you use a traditional charcoal barbecue, then make sure you remove any excess coal and debris at this stage. You may need to wait longer for the coal to be completely extinguished and cooled, which can take up to 48 hours depending on the size of your grill.
Once the coals are cooled, you can wrap them in aluminum foil and dispose of them with your regular garbage collection.
Another way you can dispose of charcoal and ash is to use it as fertilizer. As long as the charcoal you use is additive free, it can be mixed with the soil in your garden to provide a potassium carbonate boost that will help your plants to grow.
Cleaning the Interior of Your Grill
Cleaning the interior of the grill is a simple matter of removing excess debris with paper towels, and wiping up any grease that has collected inside of the main chamber. If you are using a propane grill, then now is the right time to check your burners and ensure that there are no blockages in the burner holes.
You can use your wire brush to clean the burners, or you can use toothpicks or wooden skewers to remove any hardened debris that might be blocking a burner.
The inside of the grill is where much of the debris and grease will collect, so you’ll need to wipe down all of the interior surface using either a rag or paper towels. You can dampen your paper towels or rag with clean water, or for the easiest job, you can again use a citrus based cleaner that will help to loosen debris and cut through any of the grease that is there.
If you have a propane grill or even an electric grill, then you will be able to line the entire interior of your grill with aluminum foil. This will mean that your next cleaning is as simple as removing and discarding the foil.
If you have a charcoal grill, then you won’t be able to use foil as this would interfere with the ash catcher. However, the good news with a charcoal grill is that the coals and ash will absorb and collect much of the debris and grease residue.
When the interior of your grill is completely wiped down and clean, you can reattach the iron or steel BBQ grill plate, and you’ll be ready to cover your barbeque until your next cookout.
Cleaning the Outside Surfaces of Your Grill
Keeping your grill on the inside will help to protect it from grease buildup and even rust damage. While the grilling surface itself needs to be cleaned after every use, the outside surfaces of your grill can usually go for longer between cleaning sessions.
The best advice is to clean the exterior surfaces whenever you notice that they have become greasy, or whenever they appear to be otherwise unclean. Unlike the inside of your grill and on the grilling surface, you should not use a metal brush for this step.
This could damage the exterior surface, which will usually be coated in a porcelain enamel finish.
Instead, simply use a damp rag or paper towel, and thoroughly wipe down all of the exterior surface. If you’ve decided to purchase a citrus cleaning solution, then this is also safe to use on the outside of your grill, and it will help to make cleaning faster and easier.
Protecting Your Outdoor Grill from Damage
Cleaning your grill is an essential and relatively simple part of grill maintenance. After becoming familiar with the process, you’ll find that it only takes a few minutes to thoroughly clean your steel BBQ grill on the grill plate itself, and on all of the interior and outside surfaces.
Regular cleaning will prevent heavy buildup of food residue, grease and debris, and that is what will keep your cleaning times so short.
In addition to your regular cleaning, you should also take steps to ensure that your grill won’t become damaged by the elements.
The simplest way to do this is to store your grill inside, such as in a garden shed or in your garage. However, this won’t be possible or even practical for all grill owners, in which case a cover can be used instead.
If you’re purchasing a grill cover, make sure you choose one that is waterproof, and that has some kind of securing system that allows it to be attached to the bottom of your grill.
Some grills have elastic cords for wrapping around the legs of your grill, while others have a simple drawstring system to help keep the cover tight. A cover can protect your grill from water and it will also ensure that leaves, dirt, debris, and insects don’t find their way into your grill. For a small investment, a grill cover will provide a lot of value and could help to extend the overall lifetime of your grill.
There’s No Excuse for Not Keeping Your Barbecue Grill Clean
With the best tips and product recommendations, you now know the best way to maintain your grill with regular cleaning. Even when it seems inconvenient, make sure that you clean your grill after every use.
It will mean that you can get started quicker next time that you are cooking outdoors, and it will also help to protect your investment from rust and other deterioration or damage.