Last weekend I took on a job that turned out to be pretty easy but took longer than expected. We haven’t cleaned our BBQ grill… I don’t think ever, to be honest. They were cleaned a couple times before we got the handy down BBQ but it was still overdue. So with my experience and research, I am here to show you the best way to clean a BBQ grill.
Before you get started
Before you start to clean a BBQ grill, I have a few important things to share.
We have a Broil King Baron grill that uses cast-iron grates. Cast-iron works best with regular maintenance and are typically more involved than other grate types. The following steps are more specific to cast-iron setups and may not necessarily be the best if you don’t have a cast-iron grill.
The first thing I suggest you do before cleaning a BBQ grill is to take pictures of how everything is assembled. Some BBQs only allow the grates and heat shields to go one way, but if you have one like ours, it’s easy to put them on the other way. That being said, some grills are designed to be reversible so it is best to consult your BBQ manual.
The best way to clean a BBQ grill requires some supplies that you likely already have:
- Plastic scraper
- Warm water
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
- Nylon scrub brushes or sponges
- Shop vacuum or cordless vacuum
- Clean rags or towels
- Avocado or canola oil
Step 1: Initial preparation to clean a BBQ grill
I suggest running your BBQ on high for 10-15 minutes to make it easier to remove any leftover food particles. Scrub your grill grates down with your grill brush. It doesn’t need to be perfect but the more you get off now, the easier it will be going through the following steps. Afterwards, I highly suggest you double-check that your gas/propane source is completely shutoff. The last thing you want is to nudge your dials while cleaning the BBQ and be surprised by the burners turning on.
After your initial scrub, wait for the BBQ to cool down completely. Next you want to remove the grill grates. The first one might be a bit awkward to get out but the others will be easy to lift up. Scrub the BBQ from top-down, including the inside of the lid with a plastic scraper. You don’t want to use something too abrasive as you can permanently damage the lid and around the grate areas. Starting from the top will allow debris to fall down into the bottom tray for easier cleanup.
After scrubbing everything inside, you can remove the heat shields and place them with your grill grates. Once those are removed, you will have access to your BBQ burners. If you notice little lines/slits on the burners, make sure to use your nylon brush/sponge in the same direction. This will prevent debris from getting forced into those slits, decreasing your heating performance. Finish up by using your brush/sponge around the bottom of the BBQ and use your vacuum to suck up the collected debris.
Step 2: Deep clean of the BBQ
We are going to be using the classic combination of vinegar and baking soda to clean everything. I used a big bin to soak the grates and shields in a 50/50 solution of warm water and white vinegar. I was shocked to see the solution go from completely transparent to this murky mess.
After letting them soak for 5-10 minutes, I poured in some baking soda until I got a decent amount of bubbling. Once the bubbling stopped (another 5-10 minutes), I started scrubbing them down one more time to remove as much rust and caked-on food as possible. Once I scrubbed all the soaking pieces, I did a quick rinse on them with the hose. I noticed a big difference right away on how much cleaner they were. To prevent instant rusting, I wipe them down with a clean rag.
If your bottom tray is a tin tray, feel free to just replace it. Cleaning it will be quite tough and likely not worth the effort. But if you have a porcelain tray like we do, feel free to soak it with the grates and scrub it down with some paper towel.
Step 3: After cleaning your BBQ grates
If you took pictures like I suggested, this part should be pretty easy. Put everything back where you found it, and we are going to fire up the grill again!
Step 4: Prevention/Seasoning
To prevent your cast-iron grill grates from rusting and collecting food particles, we need to do a couple more steps.
Firstly, turn your propane/gas source back on and turn your BBQ burners on high. Let it heat up to about 450 degrees Fahrenheit to allow any moisture to burn off the grates. Cast-iron and leftover water do not mix well and will cause rusting right away. I left it to heat up for about 15-20 minutes. Then, let it cool down to about 350 degrees and apply avocado or canola oil to the entire surface of the grates. To prevent burning, pour oil in a dish and soak it with a piece of paper towel. Use a pair of tongs to brush the paper towel on your grates. Turn the grill back up to hold a temperature of about 400 degrees and let the oil bake into the grates for about 30 minutes.
And that’s it! You have officially learned how to clean a BBQ grill.