How to Clean Grill Grates


Barbecued food is an excellent way to eat right. Add in the right sauce, ingredients, and distance from the charcoal, and you have a great meal fit for the whole family.

But when that grill gets dirty, serving healthy food is hard. Every good chef needs to know how to clean their grill grates.

If you do not know how to clean your grill grates, just take a few minutes and read my article. It has the information you need to know to get the job done right.

How to Clean Grill Grates

There are many ways and easy-to-do methods that help you get your grill grates relatively clean. Most are not as effective as you may think. Being thorough and using the right tools and cleaning supplies is the only way to clean dirty grill grates.

Step #1: Know What Your Grill Grates are Made From

All grill grates are not the same, nor are they made from the same materials. Here is a shortlist of the types of materials used to create grill grates:

  1. Porcelain – The porcelain is coated over metal so you have to be careful not to chip or break that cover. If you do, you can ruin the metal underneath.
  2. Cast iron – Probably the strongest and oldest metal used to create grill grates. This material can take a cleaning beating and stay in top shape for a long time.
  3. Stainless-steel – They are the Marilyn Monroe of grill grates. They look good, have fine features, and they age well if taken care of.

To see the difference between the porcelain and stainless steel grill grates, watch this YouTube video.

Step #2: Know the Tools You Can Use

There are a variety of tools that you can use and most are very easy to get. Some people crumple up aluminum foil and hold that ball with a pair of tongs as they scrape away.

Others use onion, and don’t laugh as the acidic nature of the onion will breakdown the grease without damaging the grate.

Then there is the traditional grill stone which probably works best with cast iron than the other grill grate construction materials. Also, a nylon scouring pad will work on some surfaces.

The key to cleaning your grill grate is to match up the cleaning tool with the type of metal or ceramic used to create it.

Step #3: Know the Right Method to Use

Everyone thinks they know or have the right method, but not all methods work the same on all grill surfaces nor are they very effective. Here are some better methods you can try or probably already use.

The Burn Off

This is the easiest method of all as you do not have a lot of work to do. First, you turn up the heat and burn the leftover grease and other food items off. Then take your brush and scrape the grill clean. You only need to have the heat on high for about 15 minutes. If you have a stainless steel grill then cover the grill in aluminum.

The Grill Stone

This takes more effort as you have to scrub the grill until you have it clean manually. You have a lot of back and forth movement and when you are done you can clean the mess with a little water and a soft cloth.

The Soap & Water Method

Before you do the burn off option, scrub the grates down with hot soapy water. Do a light scrubbing first, to remove loose particles and grease. Then soak the grill in the hot water for about an hour. Place the grill grates back on your barbecue and do the burn off option. While the grates are warm, you can use your brush again to make sure they are clean.

Vinegar Solution

All you have to do is mix 2 cups of water with 2 cups of vinegar and mix. Then place the solution in a spray bottle. After that is done, spray the grates and let the vinegar and water mixture sit for about 10 minutes. Once that time period is over, use your brush to get the grate clean. No rinsing is needed.

The Grill Spray

If you prefer using chemicals, then there are a lot of top grill spray cleaners that will handle the dirty job and make your grilling life easier. Just follow the instructions on the can to make sure you are doing the task right.

Honorable Mention – The Onion Method

you may have laughed earlier when this method was mentioned but it can be effective, especially when you do not want to damage the grill with a wire grill brush. Watch this YouTube video to see how it is done.

If you do not have half an onion leftover from your cookout, just cut one in half and put your barbecue fork into it. Just don’t let the prongs go all the way through the onion.

Next, move the onion back and forth along the grill grates, using the cut side of the onion. Those acidic enzymes found in onions should make short work of the leftover grease, etc. Plus, it is not abrasive as some cleaning methods can be.

When you are done, and the coals of your barbecue are still warm, toss the onion into the coals and let them take care of the onion.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning your grill can be a time-consuming task depending on how dirty you let it get. But with these top cleaning methods that dirt should disappear very quickly and get those grill grates ready for your next barbecue.

Also, you will need a little patience as it does take time to clean these grates. Especially when you are trying to be thorough.

Once you are done, you will know that every item you cook on those grill grates will be safe to eat and fit for a king. Find the right method and tools for your grill grates to get the job done right.

Bobby Johnson

When he's not writing about barbecue, you can find Bobby smoking meat for friends and family. He's been a backyard pitmaster for roughly half his life, and has worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands-on guide to teach them BBQ, but that's what Bobby hopes to do with Electric Smoker HQ. He wants to help people create amazing food that they can be proud of.