The best way to clean grill grates

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Learn how to clean grill grates properly. If you follow these guidelines, your grilled food will taste better and be safer—perfect timing for burger and brat season! 

It’s time to fire up the grill. Whether a seasoned griller or a novice to outdoor cooking, all grillers should know how to clean grill grates properly. Dirty grills are not only hazardous to your health, but they can also alter the flavor of your food and lengthen the time it takes to cook!  

We’ve provided four simple ways to remove even the toughest grime to avoid carcinogens (and bad-tasting burgers and dogs). While you’re at it, read up on how to prepare your grill for grilling season. 

Before Beginning Cleaning Grill Grates 

Ascertain the material composition of your grill grates: porcelain, cast iron, or stainless steel. The material used to construct the grates determines how and what products you use to clean your grill grates. Before you begin scrubbing, keep these tips in mind. 

  • Porcelain grates are resistant to rust as long as the finish is intact. To clean, opt for a softer-bristled or nylon brush over rougher metal or wire brushes. 
  • Grates made of cast iron are rigid, which means they can withstand those stiff wire brushes. They do, however, rust quickly, which is why we recommend rubbing the grates with vegetable or canola oil after cleaning. 
  • Grates made of stainless steel are durable and require less special maintenance than porcelain or cast-iron grates. However, this does not preclude them from rusting. Dry the grates completely before cleaning to prevent rust. 

Select the Appropriate Tools for Cleaning Grill Grates 

While some grillers prefer to use a traditional grill brush, many are unaware that wire grill brushes can be somewhat dangerous. Bristles made of wire are infamous for snapping off and falling into your food. Many people have also accidentally ingested these bristles without realizing it. If you’re looking for a more secure tool, we’ve got plenty of other grill cleaning ideas you can try right now. 

  • Aluminum Foil: Gather a handful of aluminum foil, roll it up, and hold it in place with grill tongs while you scrub. Even better, you can reuse the aluminum foil from your favorite foil packet recipes. 
  • Nylon Scouring Pad: Bring a nylon scouring pad from your kitchen to the grill for quick and easy cleanup. 
  • Grill Stone: Gently rub back and forth across your grill grates with this pumice-like grill stone. Then, using a soft cloth or water, wipe the area clean. It’s that simple. 
  • Onion: Although it may seem strange, you can clean your grill with half an onion. Spear the onion with a barbecue fork and scrub the grates clean with the cut side. Acidic enzymes will dissolve grease without being excessively abrasive. And if you’re cooking over charcoal, you can discard the onion by throwing it into the coals. 

4 Simple Methods for Cleaning Grill Grates 

1. Burn off 

Grill grates can be cleaned quickly and easily using this method. Begone, grill grime! 

  • After grilling, blast your burners on high with the lid off (or shuffle the coals around if using a charcoal grill) to burn off any remaining food or grease. 
  • After 15 minutes, brush the grates clean with your grill brush (or another suitable tool). 

2. Use Hot, Soapy Water to Clean 

We recommend cleaning your grill grates every month with hot, soapy water along with the burn off method. This way, you can ensure that any buildup on your grates is obliterated. Additionally, this method kills two birds with one stone: it cleans and sanitizes the grates simultaneously. 

  • Scrub your grates lightly. 
  • Soak for an hour in soapy water and then rinse. 
  • Replace the grates on the grill, close the lid, and preheat it. 

  • Once warmed, use your grill brush to clean any remaining residue from the grates. 

3. Use Vinegar or a Grill Spray  

While we prefer to clean our grill grates with soapy water, others prefer vinegar or a grill spray. This trick also works. 

  • In a spray bottle, combine two cups of water and two cups of vinegar. 
  • The mixture should be sprayed onto the grill grates. Allow sitting for ten minutes. 

  • After ten minutes, brush your grates clean with a grill brush—there is no need to rinse. 

*Note: If using a grill spray, adhere to the manufacturer’s directions on the bottle. 

4. Steam-Clean 

Cleaning your grill with steam is always an option. This method requires only water and a sponge. 

  • Bring your grill to a temperature of 600°F and then turn it off. 

  • Arrange a tin of water on the grates, such as a large vegetable or a small coffee can. 
  • Cover and steam for 30 minutes. 
  • To loosen the build-up, scrub with a silicone sponge. 

While you will still need to clean your grill before and after each barbecue thoroughly, you can simplify cleanup by pre-oiling your grill grates. Rub oil onto the grill gates using a paper towel.4.  

5. Baking Soda 

  • Sprinkle baking soda on the grill and combine some with water to make a paste.  
  • Scrub the grill with a sponge and scourer until all baking soda has been removed and the surface is sparkling. 

6. Beer 

Scrub a warm grill with newspaper or a wire brush after pouring half a bottle of beer. Your grill will quickly become gleaming. 

7. Hot Water & Foil 

Scrub a warm grill with newspaper or a wire brush after pouring half a bottle of beer. Your grill will quickly become gleaming. 

How to deep clean grill grates 

1. Coffee 

A strong cup of coffee will be required for caked-on grills.  

  • Prepare a batch of your preferred mud and place the grill in a washing tub.  
  • Pour enough coffee over the grill to submerge it completely.  
  • Allow it to sit until the coffee’s natural acids break down the fats and dried-on food. This process may take up to three hours, so sit back and enjoy a cup as well.  
  • Then scrub the grill clean with a scrubby sponge or pot cleaner. 

This technique is excellent for cleaning both sides of the grill and should be performed at least once per season. It makes no difference what type of coffee you use, but the stronger it is, the better. Arabica coffee is recommended for use, and it should be brewed on a drip machine using coffee grounds. 

*Note: Remember that you should not soak cast iron grill grates in coffee. This may hasten the rusting process. This method is most effective with porcelain or stainless-steel grates. 

2. Vinegar Revisiting  

You cannot beat the effectiveness of white vinegar and water in cleaning any grill.  

  • Place your grills in a plastic tub and fill them halfway with a 60/40 vinegar/water solution.  

  • Allow 5 minutes before scrubbing the remaining caked-on grill grate with a lemon.  
  • Almost anything will do, such as an onion, a lemon, or dried corn cobs.  

This method is particularly effective for quickly removing extremely gunked-up grates. 

Cleaning and Protecting the Remainder of Your Grill 

Your work is not yet complete. Don’t forget to clean the rest of your grill, as well as your grill tools and accessories, regularly. They are equally critical to keep sparkling clean. Consult our grill cleaning guide to ensure you haven’t overlooked anything while cleaning your grill from top to bottom. Oh, and between barbecues, protect your grill from rain and debris with a high-quality grill cover. 

Clean the base 

It is critical to clean out old ash and coals before resuming cooking. Empty them into a bucket and clean up any residue with damp kitchen towels. Then thoroughly clean it with warm, soapy water. – Garden Structures Direct 

Properly dispose of fat and oil. 

Scrape the cooled fats, oils, and grease into a container or newspaper before putting them in the trash can. ” The kitchen should be equipped with a “fat trap” or container for the collection of waste fats, oils, and grease from cooking.  

Numerous water utilities will provide you with a complimentary fat trap. Cooking oil should be combined with an absorbent material such as cat litter or coffee grounds and discarded in the trash. 

The best way to clean grill grates - FAQs

During the grilling season’s peak, it’s critical to clean your grill after each use. This includes cleaning food particles from the grates and the grill brush or scraper itself. Regular maintenance requirements will vary depending on the style of grill you own. 

Cleaning your grill grates will assist in preventing rust buildup and ensuring delicious food when grilling. You should scrape your grates after each use, but at least once a year, you should perform a deep cleanse. 

If you do not clean your grill, you risk contaminating fresh meats. Additionally, the leftover grease, fats, and meat pieces near the bottom of the grill will eventually smoke, imparting a new (or not so fresh) coating to your food. 

A grill with loose rust is not safe to use because the rust may adhere to the food; however, a grate with minor surface rust can be cleaned and treated to allow for continued use. While ingesting rust in one meal is unlikely to cause harm, continuous ingestion may be detrimental to the intestinal tract. 


Grills are a popular choice for cooking food at home. However, they can create quite a mess. In this article, we’ve provided you with some simple guidelines that should help keep your grill grates clean and functioning correctly, so you can cook all the delicious food you want.  

If you’re interested in learning more about grilling or want to hire us to help with your content creation efforts, please visit our website today! 

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