How to clean a BBQ grill: 6 ways to get rid of grease & gunk

After the BBQ fun comes something less fun: cleaning up! A Tasker can help you deep-clean your BBQ grill if DIY won't do the trick.

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Last updated in 30 June 2023

Hosting a backyard barbecue party is one of the best (and time-tested) ways to bring people together to share stories, laugh, and have memorable fun. But here's what many people dread about it: the after-party mess, especially the grease and gunk that build up on the BBQ grill.

Luckily, you don't have to scour the Internet to learn how to clean a BBQ. Just keep reading to see our best BBQ cleaning tips.

Degreasing a BBQ grill

Cleaning a BBQ is a straightforward process. Follow these steps:

  1. Open up the grill and remove all the parts. If you have a gas grill, make sure that you disconnect the gas before opening it up.
  2. Clean the trays.
  3. Clear the burner tubes (for a gas grill).
  4. Clean the interior before putting back the racks.
  5. Apply oil to the grill plates to keep them in good condition/
  6. Put fat absorber on the drip tray to collect fat and prevent fat fires.
  7. Clean the outside of the barbecue

Now that you know the basic steps to follow, check out these six hacks to keep your grill sparkling clean – using vinegar, steam, a grill brush, coffee, baking soda, or beer.

How to clean a BBQ grill with vinegar

Vinegar (especially white table vinegar) is commonly used for household cleaning, so it’s only right to ask if vinegar is great for cleaning your BBQ grill. The answer? It’s a yes, and here’s how to use it:

  1. Pour two cups of water and two cups of white vinegar into a spray bottle and shake to mix them.
  2. Spray the mixture on the grills and in areas covered with grease.
  3. Let the solution sit for about 10 minutes.
  4. Empty the water and white vinegar mixture into a bowl and refill the spray bottle with vinegar. Spray the vinegar on a piece of aluminium foil and use it to give the grills one last scrub.

You can use the water and white vinegar mixture to clean the outside of the grill. Clean the exterior of the BBQ with cotton cloth but don’t spray the mixture directly on the grill. Spray it on the cloth and work on the BBQ. Dip a cotton swab in the mixture and use it to clean the hard-to-reach places.

If your grill hasn’t been cleaned in a while and has started accumulating mould, applying vinegar is also a great way to clean mould off your BBQ grill. 

Deep cleaning a BBQ with vinegar

If your BBQ is choked in grime and grease, deep clean it with white vinegar and baking soda. Not only does this method clean grease off your grill, but it also keeps you from ending up with a rusty BBQ plate.

So, how to deep clean a BBQ grill with vinegar and baking soda?

Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Take out the grills and put them in a large plastic bag.
  2. Mix one cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda in a bowl.
  3. Pour the mixture on the grills inside the plastic bag and leave it overnight.
  4. Rinse the grills first thing in the morning to get rid of the loosened grease.

If this sounds like too much time and effort, no worries. You can DIY the regular cleaning and then leave the more complicated deep cleaning to a professional. Just make sure to read reviews and compare BBQ cleaning prices to make the most of your cleaning budget.

How to clean a BBQ with steam

Cleaning a BBQ with a household steam cleaner is easy and takes less time than removing the grills and scrubbing them by hand.

  1. Clear the steam from the steam cleaner by pushing the “steam” button down.
  2. Attach the grill brush to the steam nozzle. If your steam cleaner doesn’t have a steam brush add-on, you can use the grill brush in one hand and hold the steam cleaner with the other.
  3. Fill a measuring cup with 160ml of water and pour it into the water hole of the steam cleaner.
  4. Clear the charcoal and food remnants from the grill. If it’s a gas BBQ, disconnect it from the gas tank.
  5. Connect the steam cleaner to an electrical outlet. Once the steamer is ready, work on the grills, the walls, burners, and the top cover.
  6. Steam and scrub the grills to loosen the debris.
  7. Unplug the steamer after cleaning all areas of the grill.

How to clean a BBQ with a wire bristled grill brush

A brass bristled grill brush is perfect for cleaning a porcelain-coated grill rack. If you don’t have a grill brush, fold aluminium foil into a ball and use it to scrub the grill. Wash the racks with hot soapy water and a dishcloth after scrubbing to get rid of the food particles and grease.

If you still can’t get all the dirt out, substitute the hot soapy water with a household cleaner. Buy a household cleaner that is good for your barbecue.

If your grill has stainless steel grates, you will notice stubborn carbon stains that will not come off with regular brushing. Use a wire brush and household cleaner to clean the stains.

How to clean a BBQ with coffee

Having some coffee in the morning is the best way to start your day off right, but did you know that you can use this beverage to clean your BBQ?

Coffee is good on your grill grates – the acidic nature of coffee loosens the grease on mildly dirty grills. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Brew some coffee, and pour it into a basin.
  2. Soak the grill grates, grilling utensils, and oven burners in the coffee and let them sit for one hour. 
  3. Scrub and rinse with warm water and your grill grates should be sparkling.

How to clean a BBQ with baking soda

Take out the grates and sprinkle some baking soda on them. Work on the grills using a scouring pad until they sparkle. You can also dip the scouring pad into some baking soda and scrub the racks until they’re clean. Rinse them off with warm water and your BBQ is spotless and ready for the next grill party.

How to clean a BBQ with beer

  • Warm the grill and pour half a bottle of beer on the grates. Scrub with a wire brush or scrubber.
  • Clean the base. If you have a traditional grill, remove the leftover charcoal and ash before cleaning. Save the charcoal for future use and empty the ash into a bucket for disposal. Clean the base with warm soapy water.
  • Scrub the outside. Turn your attention to the outside of the grill after cleaning the inside. You can use stainless steel wipes to clean the outside or hot soapy water.
  • Heat the grill. Once you complete cleaning, heat the BBQ for about 20 minutes to burn off all the cleaning agents that might affect the taste of your food.
  • Don’t forget the rust. You should watch out for rust if you’re using a cast iron grill. The rust can eat through the iron and cut short the life of your grill. Don’t allow rust to build up by trying one of these cleaning options:
    • Baking Soda Paste – Make a thick paste of baking soda and apply on the areas with rust build-up. Let the solution sit for about two hours then clean the paste using a scrubber.
    • Vinegar – Apply white vinegar to the rusty surface and scrub with steel wool at full strength. Keep scrubbing until there’s no more rust.
    • Salt Paste – If you’re struggling to get all the rust out, mix kosher salt and water to make a thick paste. Apply the solution to the stubborn rust and scrub away. Once you clean the top layers of the rust, switch to the less abrasive baking soda paste.
  • Prevent future build-up. Certain practices prevent the build-up of dirt and grease from forming. 
  • One effective method is to apply cooking oil on the grill before you start cooking.  Onions are also great for quick cleaning before using the grill.

If your barbecue grill is not too meat-intensive or it’s not caked in grease and grime, you can clean it using onions. Cut an onion in two and stick it with a fork. Rub the moist side of the onion on the hot grills to clean the dirt and grime. The onion releases moisture that breaks down stubborn grease and dirt.

When to call the professionals

Cleaning a BBQ is not the most exciting task to do, but if you plan on cooking on the grill, you must get it cleaned. If you cannot DIY, you can hire a barbecue cleaner to get the job done. There are reliable BBQ cleaners near you who will scrub your BBQ and leave it in the best steak-grilling condition.

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FAQs on How to Clean a BBQ Grill

Scrub your grill with a wire brush or balled up aluminum foil immediately after use. For tough cleaning, use chemical-free agents like vinegar and baking soda to remove grease and resides.

You should clean the BBQ after every use. Close the lid and preheat the grill for about 20 minutes and brush the grates with a stainless-steel brush. If you use a charcoal grill, you should clean it at least once every two grilling sessions.

Soak your BBQ grill overnight in a muxture of one cup vinegar and half a cup of baking soda. The solution should remove most of the grease and prep your grill for the final rinse.

Soak your grill in either soapy water or a vinegar & baking soda solution for a few hours or overnight. After that, scrub with a wire brush until you’ve scraped off all residues.

It’s generally unsafe to put your BBQ grills in a dishwasher – both for your dishwasher and your BBQ. And while some dishwasher manufacturers say that it can be done, you still need to manually scrape off the gunk before letting the dishwasher do its job.

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