How to clean grill grates

Discover how to clean grill grates so that you are BBQ-ready this weekend

Grill grates
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you are considering firing up the outdoor grill this weekend, it's likely you'll need to know how to clean grill grates. A thorough grill and grill grate cleaning may feel daunting so we've asked an expert, breaking the chore down for you into four simple steps while providing tips to help you get the best results with the least amount of effort.   

Whether you're investing in the best grill or best gas grill now and want to keep it in tip top condition, or are dragging a bespoiled barbecue out of the garden shed, if grilling is part of your spring/summer routine, find out how to clean grill grates for the weeks ahead.

How to clean grill grates

With top tips from Sabrina Fierman, director of high-end New York-based cleaning agency Little Elves, we tell you how to clean grill grates below.

1. Burn off the gunk

If there is a lot of build-up on the grills, turn on the gas, cover the grill and burn off the build-up. You can let it go on high heat for 20-30 minutes. While you are waiting for this, gather all your tools, including wire brush, gloves (optional), liquid dish soap, a five gallon bucket, cotton rags, and newspaper. A bottle brush is also helpful. 

2. Brush off the grill gunk

After burning off excess, brush the grills with the steel brush to remove the carbon.  Turn off gas, disconnect and remove propane tank. Let cool completely. 

3. Remove all removable parts

This includes the grills, flavorizer bars, removable knobs, grease pan, warming racks, etc. Even the burner tubes can be removed which will allow for easy access and cleaning of the interior. I like to place old newspapers on the ground where I will place the parts for protection and easy clean-up. 

4. Place the racks in soapy water in the bucket

Then start work on the inside of the fire box. Place another bucket under the grease tray opening to catch water and debris. Start with scrapping off any caked-on gunk.  Remove large pieces and let the rest drain down with the soapy water you use to wash down the interior. Rinse thoroughly.

5. Remove the soaking grates

Scrub down the grill grates with your wire brush and soapy water. You can also use a paste of vinegar and baking soda for stubborn build up. Rinse and let dry thoroughly. Inspect the burners for corrosion, using your wire brush pass over the tubes and use a bottle brush for the interiors. Turn over the water in the bucket with fresh water and soap. With a sponge, clean the exterior of your grill, then the knobs, warming racks, and last the grease tray. Rinse and dry with clean cotton rags or absorbent microfiber cloths.

6. Put your grill back together

Apply a light coating of vegetable oil to the grill racks.  Reconnect your gas tank, fire up the grill and let burn for 15 minutes to ensure that everything is well-connected and the grates are seasoned. During these 15 minutes, clean up your work area.

Lastly, admire your work and feel accomplished.

What is the easiest way to clean your grill grates?

'A brilliant product to try is the Carbona Oven Rack & Grill Cleaner for a straight-forward clean,' says Sabrina. You can buy it at Amazon.

For a do-it-yourself and more eco-friendly option, Sabrina adds: 'Use a large 5 gallon bucket or extra large plastic wash basin. Use a mixture of dish soap and water, and a durable brush. Apply a paste of baking soda and vinegar to stubborn areas. Let it sit, then scrub.'

How do I make my grill grates look new?

After cleaning, apply a thin coat of vegetable oil to protect the grills for fresh and healthy cook-ups, suggests Sabrina.

Contributing Editor

Ruth Doherty is an experienced digital writer and editor specializing in interiors, travel and lifestyle. With 20 years of writing for national sites under her belt, she’s worked for the likes of, Standard, Ideal Home, Stylist and Marie Claire as well as Homes & Gardens.