How To Clean A Charcoal Grill?

When grilling season comes around, it can be a lot of fun cooking up your favorite foods, but one part that nobody enjoys is the cleaning.

Learning how to clean a charcoal grill is an important part of ownership when it comes to these cookers, even if you only ever use the public grill down at your local park.

So, how do you clean a charcoal grill the right way?

Cleaning a charcoal grill takes time and patience, and a few key tools like bristle brush and plastic bags. It requires you to clean all parts like the lid, grates, top, and bottom, so there’s a system and process that should be followed. Depending on how often you use it, you might need to give it a clean more often than most.

Regardless of the type of charcoal grill you own or where you’re using one, you’ll never want to cook on one that’s unclean.

We can show you the easy steps require for cleaning them, what tools you need, and what else you should know about keeping your favorite cooker in the best condition.

What You Should Know About Cleaning a Charcoal Grill

Cleaning Charcoal Grill

Before you get started on the cleaning process, there are some things you need to know about charcoal grills that will make the job easier.

These can be serious investments but with the right amount of care and maintenance they’ll last for many grilling seasons, so keep these points in mind.

Clean once a season

Average grilling enthusiasts will need to perform a deep clean on their grill once a season. If using a public grill you should give it a clean regardless of when you think it was done last.

Check the ash catcher

The ash catcher of your grill has to be emptied every time you go to use it. Do a quick check before you start grilling and get into the habit.

Clean after grilling

When you finish using the grill, give them a quick brush with a dedicated grill brush. This will make it easier the next time you go to use it and reduce the amount of stuck on food.

Heat and brush first

When you turn on your grill ready to cook, let it heat up and then brush the grates with a piece of aluminum foil rolled up into a ball.

You can quickly scrub off bits of food stuck on when it’s heated and it’ll be a lot easier to remove.

Avoid cleaning agents

Cleaning a grill properly requires no cleaning agents or chemicals and they should never be applied.

When the grill is heated it can have an adverse reaction and be extremely dangerous to eat food that’s been in contact with it.

The Tools Needed for an In-Depth Clean of a Charcoal Grill

Brush For Grill Cleaning

Learning how to clean a charcoal grill is just as important as knowing what tools are required.

If you own a grill, it’s best to make a cleaning kit and keep it all together for this very reason, and any time it has to be cleaned you’ll know where to look.

For a deep clean of your charcoal grill, these are the basic supplies you need:

  • Bristle brush: A softer brush like an old toothbrush that can be used to get rid of grease buildup
  • Tough cleaning brush: A coarse cleaning brush that won’t damage the grill or grates when you use it
  • Plastic bags: To keep all of the waste and mess and collect old debris from the bottom of the grill without getting dirty
  • Aluminum foil: A cheap and easy way to scrub your grill without doing any damage to it
  • Mild detergent: Choose a gentle detergent to make a soapy water mixture for harsher stains

​The Step by Step Process

With all of your equipment in tow, it’s time to learn how to clean a charcoal grill.

This method will vary slightly depending on the make and model of the grill, and as always, you should check with the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding the correct cleaning process before you begin.

  • Take the grill grate and charcoal grates off and clean them separately using your coarse brush. Follow up with the ball of aluminum foil if any stubborn stains remain.
  • Put your hand inside of the plastic bag and scoop up any debris from the bottom of the grill, or sweep it out into a bag. Any remaining grease or carbon flakes can be scraped off and brushed with the soft brush.
  • Put all of the parts back together and close the lid, giving it a wipe down as needed. For public grills, you can put a layer of foil down on top if you want to avoid your food coming into contact with it, and then it’s ready to cook with.

Related Questions

Cleaning a charcoal grill takes time and effort, but it’s something that has to be done to keep the flavor and hygiene of the cooker.

We’ve answered some common questions about charcoal grills and their cleaning and maintenance so you can keep yours in top condition.

Can You Clean Grill Grates in Dishwasher?

Putting Grill Grate In Dishwasher

Some modern grill grates were designed to be dishwasher friendly but it depends on the make and model of your grill.

Usually, a grill with charcoal burnt on will need to be cleaned by hand to get rid of it, but you may want to follow it up with a dishwasher cleaning if allowed.

How Do You Clean an Electric Grill?

If using an electric grill, you may need to adjust the cleaning process somewhat due to the electronics inside of the device.

The grills and plates can usually be removed and cleaned as you would a charcoal grill, but all other parts will have to be wiped down separately to prevent damage.

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