How to Clean and Maintain Your Barbecue

After months of sitting tarped and unused, summer is here, and it’s time to get your barbecue ready for the grilling season.

After every use, you likely brush your grill clean and close it up until it’s time for another cookout. It’s important to give your grill a thorough cleaning from time to time to make sure it’s working its best and is a clean and healthy environment for cooking. The beautiful grill marks you get on a well-seared steak are produced by the same process that leaves carbon deposits throughout your entire barbecue. These carbon deposits don’t just leave your grill looking used and dirty but are the perfect environment for grease to stick and collect bacteria. Additionally, carbon buildup can cause your grill to work improperly by not heating evenly, not reaching full temperatures, and causing the burner tubes to fail.

Giving your barbeque a regular, full clean is a simple process that will help it cook better and last longer.

Getting Started

Whether you’re cleaning a gas or charcoal grill, the process is the same. You’ll find fewer parts to tend to with a charcoal grill.

The number one tool you’ll need for cleaning your grill is elbow grease. Beyond that, you’ll need:

  • A long-handled wire brush
  • Gloves
  • Dish soap
  • Two large buckets
  • Disposable rags and sponges
  • Vinegar and baking soda

You can also check the aisles of your hardware store for a grill-safe cleaner. It’s best to avoid the use of harsh chemicals for cleaning your grill as these can leave residue on your grill that will transfer to your food when cooking.

Step 1: Heat and Clean the Grates

Turn on your grill to its highest setting and let it heat to full temperature. With soapy water on your brush, scrub as much of the char from your grates as you can. Once you’ve done your best to clean the grates, turn the barbeque off and let it cool completely. If you’re using a gas grill, disconnect your propane tank. If you’re using a charcoal grill, dump the coals out and allow your grill to cool.

Step 2: Get it Soaking

Once your grill is completely cooled, remove anything from the grill you can take off without tools, starting with the grates, burner tubes and flavourizer bars. Place the items into a bucket of hot soapy water and allow them to soak. You’ll also want to remove the knobs, the grease tray and any other items that need a wash.

Step 3: Start From the Top

While your removable parts are soaking, you can begin scrubbing the interior of your grill. Start with the hood or lid to remove the buildup from grease and smoke. Protect your heating elements by loosely covering them with foil and use your wire brush to clean out the tops and sides of your barbecue.

Step 4: Get out the Grit

Place your second bucket under the grease tray to catch any debris. If you have a wet/dry vacuum you use outside, this is the easiest way to get the loose debris out of the firebox. After you’ve removed the loose material, use your soapy water and wire brush to loosen any caked-on grit. Once your firebox is cleaned, give it a good rinse with your hose.

Step 5: Wash, Rinse and Replace

It’s now time to scrub and rinse the items you’ve had soaking. Give everything a thorough wash. Use your vinegar and baking soda to create a paste for cleaning any really stubborn gunk. When you’re rinsing everything clean, this is a prime opportunity to inspect each item before returning them to your grill. Check your burners to make sure nothing if blocking the flame holes. Inspect grates for rust or erosion. Replace all interior items to the grill as you found them. 

Final Touches

With a fresh bucket of soap water, wash down the exterior of your grill, from top to wheels. Be sure to use a soft sponge or cloth to prevent scratches. Once your grill is clean and dry, give it a final polish with stainless steel cleaner. Finally, reconnect your propane tank and fire up the grill to burn off any left-over residue from the soap.

Don’t forget to refill that propane tank now that your grill is ready to go for your next backyard cookout!