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Last Updated: 
July 10, 2022

Best Ways of How to Prepare and Clean A BBQ Grill

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So you've finally taken the plunge and are going to host a party in which involves delicious BBQ grilled food that will take center stage. Here's our tips on how to clean a BBQ grill.

Perhaps it's been in storage all winter in the back of your shed, or under the cover on the side of the house. And most likely you didn't clean it super well before you packed it away for the winter, or you're staying at an AirBnB, vacation rental, or maybe it's just gotten a little gross from sitting out in the elements in the backyard while it waited for the upcoming main event.

How do you clean a BBQ grill?

Before you just fire the grill up and start cooking, it's a really good idea to give your grill a good deep cleaning, safety check, and preparation a couple of days before the party to ensure a smashing success, and great tasting food. Here's how to do it.

As a general rule, you don't need to "deep clean" your grill after every single use, but when you're going to have a party, or your grill has been in prolonged storage, you certainly should give it a deep clean to make sure that it's running safely, efficiently, and you won't have any unexpected towering incredibly stinky and smoky inferno grease fires that your neighbors call 911 about.

Your grill should fall into one or two categories, either a gas grill (propane or natural gas) or a kettle grill (charcoal, or wood/pellet fired). As a guideline, you should always refer to your grill manufacturer's instructions first, but if you don't have those handy, just follow our suggestions here.

How to Clean a BBQ Grill:

Equipment Needed:

yellow gloves on blue clothes hanger

Step 1: Preparation 

Gather up your cleaning supplies, and move your grill to an area where greasy or soapy water won't discolor or damage what it's sitting on. Gloves are always recommended as this isn't going to be a particularly tidy job. Also, grab your cell phone and take a quick video or a few pictures of all of the interior and exterior appearance of your grill. You'll thank me for this later.

Step 2: Safety First !!!  

Make sure that your propane tank valve is turned off, then disconnect the supply hose from the tank. If your gas grill runs on natural gas, turn off the valve and disconnect the supply hose from the grill. Never use any cleaning chemicals that you wouldn't use on your dishes! Remember that heavy-duty industrial de-greaser (often used in auto body shops) should NEVER be used on any food contact surface! It is caustic and can make you very sick when heat is applied, or it comes in contact with your food.

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Step 3: Give It a Thorough Wipe Down 

Before your big backyard BBQ party starts, you will want to give the exterior and interior of your BBQ grill a good wipe down with hot soapy water (a bit of Dawn dishwashing liquid works great!). This will remove any build up of dust, grease, food residue or other icky stuff that may have come to roost inside your grill since you last used it. In the case of a gas grill, don't forget to pull out the grease drip collection tray, underliner tray, ceramic briquettes, or lava rock, and the V-shaped metal flame shields (sometimes known as flavor shields) that go over the top of the gas grill burners.

Warning: Avoid using citrus scented, or Palmolive dishwashing liquid. The residual "flavor" left behind of these soaps take forever to burn off, and leave quite the nasty flavor behind on your food.

In the case of a kettle grill, scrub the grills and also the rotating vent mechanisms. Check inside the lid for any peeling or flaking black stuff (this is carbon and grease build-up) and scrape this off with your putty knife. Take extra care to get all of it off, because no one wants this in their food later!

If you see that the paint is beginning to peel inside your grill, now is the time to get out the Rutland Hi-Temp BBQ Paint to repaint the interior of the grill. Always follow manufacturers instructions on how best to do this for your grill.

Step 4: Grill Grate Cleaning 

Most grills will have one of two types of grill grates: either a stainless steel grate or a porcelain enamel-coated grate. You will want to utilize a stiff-bristled steel grill brush for the stainless types of grill. You will always want to use a softer bristled copper or other type of material brush for the enamel coated grill grates, as you don't want to scrape off the enamel coating off.

Whenever you're choosing a grill grate brush, always read the manufacturer's instructions and brush packaging to ensure that you are getting the right type of brush for your type of grill material.

grill cleaning pumace stone

For Stainless Steel Grate Owners Only:

You can certainly use a special grill stone (normally made from natural pumice) that will do wonders for getting in between the grill grates to help get those hard to reach areas clean. These bricks are super easy to use, and can be reused many times. Note, do not use these on your enamel grates! Stainless grates and grill stones only please!

Step 5: Check for Uninvited Guests 

Spiders love to make their homes inside gas burners and tubing. These spiders and their webs can not only block up gas tubes so that your grill doesn't heat evenly, but their webs can also catch fire underneath the grill, causing possible damage to the igniter or gas delivery hoses! Clean out any uninvited visitors or excess debris with a pipe cleaner.

The other uninvited guests that seem to want to frequent a BBQ party are bees, wasps, and yellow jackets. These little stingers especially love the aroma and flavor of meat and grease. Any food residue leftover in the grill will entice these pests to make their appearance, and sometimes even a build new hive inside your grill.

kettle grill

Step 6: Re-Assembly 

After everything has been given a good wipe, scrape, or scrub... it's time to put things back together. Remember those pictures you took at the beginning of this little adventure? If you're a bit forgetful, you now can refer back to those as to what parts go where! This is also a great opportunity after reassembling everything to take some more for a before and after comparison of what a great job you did cleaning your BBQ grill. Don't forget to reattach your gas lines, and then check for leaks with some soapy water (refer to manufacturer's instructions).

Here's a great video on how to test your Gas grill for leaks.
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Step 7: Fire it up!  

After all of your hard work, there's just one final step to make sure that your grill is clean and food ready. Gas grill owners will want to fire the grill up and run it on high for at least 10-15 minutes. Charcoal or wood grill users, 8-10 briquettes or a small pile of kindling will do the trick. This last step is super important for a couple of reasons.

If you've inadvertently left any soap residue anywhere, it will burn off and not leave soapy flavors behind. More importantly, heating the interior of the BBQ grill will completely dry out any remaining moisture that may be left. Excess moisture inside the grill will lead to premature rusting of parts that can cause your grill to fail and to be potentially dangerous.

Once you're all done following these few simple steps, your grill will be all fresh and clean and ready for your big day. Whenever you're having a party, always remember to have a backup tank of propane, or an extra bag of charcoal or supply of wood or pellets on hand. There's nothing more disastrous than a quarter-cooked piece of meat, and a bunch of hungry people standing around waiting because the grill had an inadequate supply of fuel on hand.

Your grill is now clean and ready to go for when your AWG Private Chef arrives to prepare that mouth watering custom created BBQ menu for you & your guests.


Check out our other recipes, tips & tricks for Easy, Effortless, Entertaining from AWG Private Chefs! 

About the Author:

Certified Master Chef Sean Andrade is Executive Chef/Owner of AWG Private Chefs, named the #1 Private Chef company in California. Chef Sean has worked in the restaurant and hospitality industries worldwide for more than 25 years. His company AWG Private Chefs offers highly custom-tailored, private chef dining experiences, and event catering in over 30 countries around the globe.

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