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Grill Cleaning Tips and Tricks: How To Clean Grill Grates, Degrease & More

Warm weather means it's time to clean off those spatulas and get your BBQ ready for the summer. Whether you love smoking meats for hours on end or searing steaks quickly for dinner, you're going to need everything spotless. Learn how to clean grill grates, the cookbox, burner tubes and more.

But Why Scrub At All?

Some masters of the flame might contest that any leftover food and grease should simply burn off if you cook at a high enough temperature. Others still might say that all you really need to do is brush your grates once at the end of every barbecue. You might find those same folks need to replace their grills often. That's because the key to keeping any appliance alive for long is proper maintenance. With BBQs, that means you're going to need to use a bit of elbow grease—and get a little greasy in the process. Your barbecue will thank you, and you'll likely get a few more years of use out of it than you would otherwise. Learn how to clean grill grates, exteriors, interiors and even burner tubes below. Keep in mind that your barbecue's manual supersedes all advice given below. And if you're unable to or don't feel like doing the job yourself, Abt does offer barbecue scrubdowns too. Give us a call at 800-860-3577 to schedule yours!

Step 1: The Prep

Things You'll Need For Everyday Cleaning

  • Wire Grill Brush

Things You'll Need For A Deep Clean

  • Wire Grill Brush
  • Dishsoap
  • Bucket or Container Large Enough to Soak Your Individual Grates
  • Scouring Sponge, Hand Brush and Rags
  • Paper Towels
  • Empty Spray Bottle
  • Water
  • Heavy-Duty Rubber Gloves
  • Stiff, Wide Paintbrush or Whisk Broom and Dustpan
  • Stainless Steel Cleaner and Microfiber Cloth (If Your BBQ Is Stainless Steel)

What To Do After Every Cook

Zoomed In on Brushing Grill Grates

Pull Out That Brush

This is the one thing that absolutely every barbecuer needs. A stiff wire grill brush is a basic must-have, and that's because you'll use it after each cooking session.

Turn Up The Heat, Then Scrub

Not sure how to clean your grill grates? It's simple: when everything is still warm (but not blazingly hot), get out your brush and start scraping off any visible residue. It should fall beneath and down into the cookbox, drip tray or ash pile. If your brush has a scraper attached to it, use that scraper to help remove any stuck-on residue. Then head into the kitchen and enjoy your culinary creations.

For A Deep Clean: Make Sure To Do A Monthly or Quarterly Scrub and Soak

Deep Scrubbing Grill Grates

The Real Way: How To Clean Grill Grates

Not sure how to clean grill grates for gas or charcoal models? While wire grill brushes can do a lot, they can only go so far. A deeper scrub is required every month (or if you don't barbecue often, every few months) and especially right before you start yours up for the season. Make sure you have all the equipment required above, including dishsoap and a sponge.
    1. Make sure your barbecue is off, then scrape any remaining refuse from your last cooking session off the bars as you normally would.
    2. Fill your large bucket or container with hot water and dishsoap, enough to create a mix with generous suds.
    3. Let the grates soak within your bucket for one hour.
    4. Pull each grate out and lay on a sturdy surface like a table. Wash and scrub any stains and remains with your scouring sponge, hand brush and rags.
    5. Pat dry with paper towels and dry rags.

For Your Annual Deepest Clean: Degreasing and Renewing

Wiping Down the Exterior

Just because you know how to clean grill grates until they're spotless doesn't mean you're finished. Frequent barbecuers and even those who only occasionally cook outdoors will know that the exterior of your barbecue can lose its luster after a few months outside. Stainless steel as well as porcelain enamel will need a wipe down at least once a year. If your cooker, side tables and cabinetry is made of stainless steel, use a special cleaner to take care of visual stains and spots. Otherwise, mix 80% water and 20% dishsoap together in your spray bottle and spray as needed. Wipe away with dry paper towels or rags. If you're sick of seeing spots and blemishes on your lid, make sure you find the protective cover that's right for your backyard appliance.

Degreasing the Interior

Tip back your sparkling barbecue hood to reveal...the interior. If you're like most barbecuers, the interior will be a bigger task than the exterior. Whether you cook tomahawk steaks or veggie burgers, greases and fats will always spatter on top of the hood and drip beneath the grates. As part of your annual scrub, it's time to tackle these layers of grease and grime.
For the inner side of your lid, grab your spray bottle of dishsoap and water and coat the surface. If your stains are stronger or have been there for several seasons, add more dishsoap to your spray bottle. After five minutes, its time to grab your sponge and the grease away. NOTE: Be careful not to spray any burner tubes or fuel sources. If your cookbox is stainless steel, use a non-abrasive microfiber cloth instead of the sponge and wipe along the grain.
For the burner tubes on a gas-fueled model, you'll need to take your grill brush and very gently push any debris off the tubes. Move from side to side to ensure nothing falls into the burner tube. That'll clog up the gas flow and create problems further down the line. If your gas barbecue has v-shaped heat deflectors or flavor bars as well, take these out and give them a good scrub with soapy water before drying.
For the lower cookbox and sidewalls, you'll see lots of stuck-on drippings and burnt spots. This is where all drippings find their end unless they make it all the way to the drippings tray. It's a good idea to disconnect the gas line while scrubbing and spraying around the burners. Spray all non-burner surfaces with your soap and water mixture and let sit for fifteen minutes, then scrub gently with a hand brush and sponge. Stuck-on stains may need a longer soak or more attempts. Whisk any leftver debris into the drip tray.
When it comes to the grease tray, throw away any disposable liners. Make sure to remove any dry debris, then spray the tray with your soap and water mix. Scrub if necessary and let dry.

Make Maintenance Part of Your Schedule

While no one really wants to spend an hour doing annual maintenance, knowing how to clean your grill grates and scrub out the cookbox is key in safe operation. Getting this done in the spring leaves you ready to enjoy the rest of summer worry-free on the patio: throw barbecue bashes, have pool parties and invite everyone on the block over. You'll be able to feed them—and they won't be picking any weird gristle from their kebabs.

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