By Melanie Fincher

Keep your grill at its best.

Summer has come to an end, and if you've put your grill to good use these past few months, it probably shows. But all the summer cookouts and backyard memories were worth it— that is, until it's time to deep clean your grill. Though cleaning your grill can seem daunting, the occasional deep clean will keep things running smoothly. Whether you're planning to grill well into the fall, or you're looking to hang up your grilling apron until next summer, taking the time to clean your grill on occasion will not only prevent bacteria from harboring in your grill, it will also improve the taste of your food. Learn step-by-step how to clean both a gas and a charcoal grill.

Photo by Paula

How Often Should You Clean Your Grill?

For both gas and charcoal grills, use a wire brush to clean the grates of your grill after each use while the grates are still hot. The heat will help to loosen the residue, and make it easier on you when it comes time for a deep clean. As for a deep clean, cleaning your grill about once a month is enough to keep it running safely. Outdoor grills are exposed to a lot, so cleaning your grill doesn't necessarily mean making it look shiny and new again (although we're going to try and get it as close as possible). What's most important is that it performs effectively and safely. If you notice your grill is struggling to heat as high as usual, that might mean it's time for a deep clean.

How to Clean a Gas Grill

Gas grills are all about convenience. Don't worry about waiting for the charcoal to ignite—simply turn it on when you're ready to start grilling. But without proper maintenance, gas grills can be a safety hazard. After every use, you should empty the grease collection tray to avoid grease fires. Keep your gas grill in top condition with this step-by-step cleaning process.

Photo by Getty Images

Here's What You'll Need:

  • Grill brush
  • Bucket of water
  • Dish soap
  • Damp cloth
  • Vegetable oil
  • Paper towels
  • Dry cloths
  • Empty bucket
  • Garden hose
  • Stainless steel cleaner (if using a stainless steel grill)
  • Microfiber cloth

Instructions:

  1. Start by preheating the grill on high heat for about 15 minutes to loosen residue.
  2. Turn off the gas supply.
  3. Fill a bucket with water and dish soap. Dunk the grill brush in the soapy water.
  4. Clean the grates with the wet grill brush. The steam from the brush will help loosen the residue.
  5. Allow the grates to cool completely.
  6. Use a damp cloth to remove any remaining residue on the grates.
  7. Pour vegetable oil onto a folded paper towel and rub the grates with it to prevent food from sticking during future use.
  8. Remove the heat deflectors covering the burners. Use the grill brush and soapy water mix to clean them. Use a dry cloth to wipe them dry.
  9. Remove the burners and use the grill brush and soapy water mix to clean them. Brush across the ports to remove any blockages. Run water through the burner valve to unclog them using either a hose or faucet. Use a dry cloth to wipe them dry.
  10. Remove the propane tank from underneath the cook box and place an empty bucket in its place. Clean the cook box and the interior of the lid using the grill brush and warm soapy water. Use the bucket to catch the dirty water as you clean. Rinse the area clean using a garden hose.
  11. Dry the interior of the grill using a dry cloth.
  12. Remove the grease collection tray and scrape out any residue into the trash. Clean using warm soapy water and dry with a dry cloth.
  13. Wipe down the outside of the grill. If the exterior is stainless steel, use a stainless steel cleaner and microfiber cloths to clean. Ceramic, porcelain, and painted steel can be cleaned with soapy water.
  14. Return the removable parts back to the grill. Use a grill cover to protect your outdoor grill from the elements when not in use.

How to Clean a Charcoal Grill

Charcoal grills tend to be more affordable and more portable than gas grills, making them a very popular choice. Not to mention they give you that distinct smoky flavor from the charcoal. But they tend to get dirtier than gas grills, as they collect ash debris with each use. It's important to empty the ash catcher after each use. Keep your charcoal grill free of ash and rust buildup with this step-by-step cleaning routine.

Photo by Getty Images

Here's What You'll Need:

  • Grill brush
  • Ball of aluminum foil held with tongs (optional)
  • Dish soap
  • Bucket of water
  • Dry cloth
  • Vegetable oil

Instructions:

  1. Remove the grate if possible.
  2. Clean the grill grate using a grill brush or a ball of aluminum foil held with long-handled tongs. Dip the brush or aluminum in a bucket of soapy water and scrub.
  3. Wipe any debris out of the bottom of the grill, and empty the ash catcher.
  4. Use a putty scraper to remove any peeling black residue (typically carbon flakes or grease).
  5. Clean the inside of the cook box and lid using a grill brush and soapy water.
  6. Put the grate back into place.
  7. Clean the grill exterior using soap and water. Towel dry.
  8. Apply a coating of oil to the grates by pouring vegetable oil onto a folded paper towel. Rub the oil onto the grates.
  9. Between uses, keep your grill protected with a grill cover.
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