Be sure to follow these grill cleaning routines all summer.

Use a wire brush on the grates after every use. If you barbecue more than once a week then thouroughly clean the grates every 2 months. And once a year or more, give your grill the full 12 step cleaning shown below to keep the food tasting its best and make your barbeque last longer.


Spring is the ideal time to get your grill ready for the busy season of cooking outside.  It is important to give your grill a deep cleaning each year, even if you wiped it down before putting it away for the winter.

The same process that gives your burgers the delicious char marks also creates carbon deposits on every surface of your grill.  The grates, firebox, flavouring bars, burner tubes if you have a gas grill and the hood.

Those carbon deposits don’t just look bad, the grease and sugary sauces can stick to them and cause bacteria to build up.  Excessive carbon buildup can also cause the grill to heat unevenly, not get to full temperature, and shorten the life of the gas burner tubes.

Cooking outdoors at the cottage is one of the best ways to spend time with family.  Becoming an expert grill cleaner is also extra important when you are closer to nature so that you do not attract any unwanted wildlife to your cabin.

clean barbeque barbecue in 12 steps

12 Step Grill Cleaning Process

The cleaning procedure described here is essentially the same for gas or charcoal grills. Charcoal grills will just have fewer parts to deal with.

1. Get your Supplies Together

When you go shopping for grill cleaning supplies you will find all kinds of different cleaners and tools, but from our experience, and for this tutorial, this is what you will need:
1. a long-handled wire barbeque brush
2. a wire bottle brush
3. plastic putty knife
3. wet-dry vacuum
4. washtub large enough to hold grates
5. grease-cutting dish soap like Dawn
6. cleaning vinegar
7. baking soda
8. long rubber gloves
9. scrubbing sponges
10. large kitchen sponge
11 larger microfiber towels
12 stainless steel cleaner

2. Burn off any Food

To clean your gas grill, start up the grill, close the hood, and let it come to full temperature. Wait at least 30 minutes for the extreme temperature to burn off any stuck-on food or grease.

Open the lid and dip your wire brush into a bucket of warm, soapy water and scrub off all the carbon from the grates.

Then turn off the gas, and disconnect and remove the propane tank. Let the grill cool completely.

For a charcoal grill, first, dump the old charcoal briquettes into a metal container. Then, scrape away any caked-on charcoal dust and debris with your wire barbeque brush.

3. Soak The Grates

Once the grill is cool, remove all the grates and flavor bars and totally submerge them into a tub of warm, soapy water, and let them soak for at least 30 minutes.

Remove anything else from the grill that you can easily take off, such as burner-control knobs, warming racks, and grease trays.

The burner tubes on most gas grills are removable, too. Just look for the single screw or cotter pin on one end of each tube.

4. Scrape out the Firebox

With the grill grates and flavor bars removed, the inside of the barbeque, called the firebox, is exposed and ready to be cleaned.

Start by putting an empty bucket underneath the firebox, directly below the grease tray opening, to catch anything that might come out.

Use a plastic putty knife to scrape off any caked-on gunk from inside the firebox.

5. Vacuum

Use a wet/dry vacuum to collect any remaining loose debris.

Then scrub the firebox with soapy water and a scrubbing sponge.

Once the firebox is clean, rinse it out with a garden hose.

6. Clean the Grates

After the grates and panels have soaked, take them out and scrub them with the wire brush.

For really stubborn gunk, mix a paste of white vinegar and baking soda and apply it directly to the worst caked-on food bits then scrub with the scrubbing sponge.

Rinse all surfaces clean, making sure to thoroughly dry cast-iron grates to avoid rusting.

7. Touch up Porcelain

This is the time to inspect any porcelain grates or porcelain barbecue housing for chips, which may eventually lead to rust.

Repair any chips with porcelain touch-up paint.

8. Clean the Burners

Inspect your burners for signs of corrosion or for anything blocking the row of flame-emitting holes.

Burner tubes are inviting spots for spiders to lay eggs if your grill goes unused for a while. Take a wire brush and brush back and forth across the row of holes.

Then use your wire bottle brush to clean out the inside of each tube.

9. Wash the Outside

Empty the bucket of dirty water, then refill it with clean water and a few squirts of dish soap. Now scrub down the entire outside of the grill using a large kitchen sponge. 

Be aware that steel wool, metal sponges, and coarse scouring pads can cause scratches, so avoid using them on finished surfaces.

After washing the outside of the grill, use super-absorbent microfiber towels to wipe down and dry all surfaces.

10. Polish The Steel

Stainless steel cleaner works great as a final touch, but it’s not designed to remove heavy buildup or baked-on gunk.

When cleaning stainless steel, wait for an overcast day; the hot sun can make it hard to remove streaks from stainless steel surfaces. 

Spray on the cleaner, wait a few minutes, then wipe it off with a clean, dry cloth.

If you don’t have stainless steel cleaner, try using undiluted white vinegar. Unlike stainless steel polish, vinegar is also effective for cleaning stainless steel surfaces.

11. Reassemble your Barbeque

Once the grill is sparkling clean and thoroughly dry, reassemble all the parts you removed, taking care to fix the burner tubes back into place in proper position with cotter pins or screws.

Finally, rub any cast-iron grill grates with a light coating of vegetable oil.

12. Test it Out

Finally, reconnect the propane tank, close the hood, and fire up the grill. Let it heat for at least 15 minutes, then turn it off.

This initial firing will help burn off any cleaning residue, season the cast-iron grates, and serve as confirmation that you reassembled everything properly.


How To Thoroughly Clean the Grates

The part of the grill or barbecue where you actually place the food to cook is called a grate.

1.  Wait until the grate cools completely.
2.  Spray it with oven or grill cleaner and put it in a garbage bag to sit overnight.
3. The next day, use the scraper and a garden hose to give the grate a good scrub.
4.  Dry the grate thoroughly to prevent rust.


Show off your expert Grill Cleaner Skills

Cleaning a grill properly is more than just scraping off leftover grease and food. It’s also a chance to take a closer look under the lid and make sure that everything is working properly.

At the cottage, it is especially important to keep your grill clean so that you do not attract animals.

A clean, well-kept grill is healthier, safer, looks great, and simply just works better.

Now that you have a nice clean barbeque, the only thing left to do is invite over a few friends and test it out.

If you enjoyed this article please check out some of our other Cabin articles.