5 Ways to Clean Your Charcoal Grill
Keep your charcoal grill in top form by knowing a variety of ways to clean it.
Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.
Warmer days mean that barbecue season is almost upon us. Before you fire up your grill, it’s a good idea to review how to clean it. Each of the following techniques can be used to clean a charcoal grill.
For safety’s sake, always make sure your grill is completely cooled before you start cleaning. (As an added precaution, also take the time to review how to avoid major grilling safety mistakes.)
Watch this video to learn about a one-time-use cardboard grill that’ll be the talk of your next picnic or tailgate party.
1. The Hack
Good news: You don’t need a grill brush or any other special tools to clean your charcoal grill. Simply ball up a sheet of sturdy aluminum foil and use it to scrub your grill grates. Once you clean the grates, sweep out any debris in the bottom of the grill. Empty the ash catcher if you have one. (Always check your ash catcher before you grill to make sure it’s not at capacity.) You can use a putty knife to dislodge any stubborn gunk.
2. The Traditional Way (With a Twist)
Gather hot water, dish detergent and a heavy-duty Magic Eraser sponge. Mix the hot water and dish detergent. Then dip the eraser sponge into the solution and use it to scrub the grates. Many people never think to use an eraser sponge, which has an abrasive surface that makes grates clean and shiny. As a final step, you can dip a towel into the soapy water solution and use it to clean off the rest of the grill.
3. The High-Tech Way
If you’re a fan of robot vacuums, then you’ll love the Grillbot Automatic Grill-Cleaning Robot. The battery-operated grill cleaner does all the work for you with a simple push of a button. The robot features three rotating brushes that scrape off the gunk on your grates. You can set the robot’s cleaning time from a 10-minute speed clean to a 30-minute deep clean. It beeps when it’s done, but you’ll know because it’s pretty loud while it’s working. If you’re into tech tools, make sure to check out these 10 high-tech grilling tools.
4. The Deep Clean
For a heavy-duty clean, first remove the grill grates and any ashes from the bottom of the grill and ash catcher. Next, spray oven cleaner on the grates and on the inside of the grill. While the cleaner penetrates, mix up some warm water and dish detergent. Use a rag or paper towel to clean the exterior of the grill. Use the same solution to clean off the grill grates and the inside of the grill. When finished, use clean water to rinse off the entire grill before wiping everything dry.
This DIY fold-up grill table is fun to make and extremely handy.
5. The Preventative Way
Cleaning your grates before each grill session can help cut back on the number of deep cleans you’ll have to do each season. An easy way to do this is to run a high-quality grill brush along the grates each time before cooking. Next, make sure to preheat your grill—doing so will help prevent food from sticking to the grates. Another step that helps keep food from sticking to the grates is to oil the grates. Simply dip a wadded-up paper towel into cooking oil, then use tongs to slide it along the hot grates.
Here’s our take on the great debate: charcoal vs. gas grills.