Extend the life of your grill and make great food every time with these tips

By Megan Soll
July 01, 2020
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We love summer, especially since it means grilling season. Since we’ve all been largely homebound during the past few months, chances are you unwrapped your grill after the long winter and realized it needed a little TLC before cooking those burgers. Thankfully a stiff wire brush, a little bit of dish soap, and some elbow grease can go a long way. 

Credit: Imagesines / Getty Images

If you’re looking for those beautiful grill marks, and want to avoid having your tender fish or perfectly seared burger stick to the grates, you must regularly clean and season your grill. We’ve broken down all the elements of getting your grill to near-perfect condition and keeping it that way all summer long. Read on for our tips for how to clean your grill.

How to Regularly Clean Your Grill

During the height of grilling season, it’s important to clean your grill after every use. That means cleaning food particles off the grates as well as cleaning the grill brush or scraper itself. Depending on the style of grill you have, the regular maintenance required might vary. To clean a gas grill, you should empty the drip pan every time. For charcoal grills, be sure to brush out the bricks and ash after it cools to prevent buildup blocking the grill vents or causing flare up issues.

After cooking, always be sure to:

  • Heat the grill on high setting for at least 15 minutes to carbonize any food fragments
  • While it’s hot, scrape off all food remnants from the grates using a metal scraper, wood scraper, or grill brush to scrub from every angle
  • Finish by mopping the grates with a paper towel soaked in canola oil using tongs (crucial to season the grates, prevent sticking next time around, and ward off any rust)

Tools You Need for Regular Cleaning

Wire Brush

Credit: Amazon

You’ll need a sturdy brush with a long handle for cleaning grill grates without overheating your hands (a pit mitt is a good idea in this instance, if you don’t own one already). This option from Kona is a new favorite among barbecue and grilling fanatics, and the circular triple layered wires are bristle free and perfect for stainless steel grates on charcoal or gas grills, as well as porcelain and cast iron. If you don’t have a brush, you can also use a ball of aluminum foil and tongs to do the scraping.

Kona Bristle Free BBQ Grill Brush, $22 at amazon.com

Nylon Grill Brush

Credit: Amazon

For ceramic, porcelain, and cast iron grates, a nylon grill brush is a more gentle option that won’t crack or scrape the surfaces, or leave any metal bristles behind. Use it on cooled grates to get off any excess food or residue. This one from Char Broil is one of the best on the market.

Char-Broil Grill Cleaner, $8 at amazon.com

Wood Scraper

Credit: Amazon

Another tool to avoid the problem of wire bristles, a hardwood scraper is a durable option that will go easy on the surfaces inside the grill while still scraping the excess residue. The wooden paddle will also gradually sear to create grooves that fit your grill exactly, making cleanup even faster and easier.

Woody Nub Grill Scraper, from $25 at amazon.com

Tongs

Credit: Target

You likely have tongs on hand already if you’re a regular griller, but just in case: the stainless steel option is always best. Nylon tipped versions won’t hold up in high heat situations, and that especially applies for cleaning. We love OXO’s classic locking set.

OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Stainless-Steel Locking Tongs, $14 at amazon.com

Specialized Grill Scrapers

Credit: Amazon

Sometimes the brushes don’t quite do the trick, especially if you’ve been grilling for weeks or are working with a communal grill that hasn’t seen much love in the way of cleaning. These grill scrapers will do the trick for all grate sizes, and can wrap around underneath to really catch all the residue.

Primo Grate Cleaning Bar, $29 at bbqguys.com

Sage Owl Barbecue Grill Scraper (Set of 2), $22 at amazon.com

Steam Cleaning Grill Brush

Credit: Amazon

If you’re ready to upgrade from scrapers and steel wood, this steamer tool is the way to go. The powerful jet of steam blasts grime and grease, and you don’t even need to preheat the grill. Even better when summer is at its hottest and you want to get the job done and enjoy the afternoon or evening at home. It’s eco-friendly, with no chemicals or cleaning sprays required.

Sienna Appliances Grilltastic Steam Cleaning BBQ Grill Brush, $120 at amazon.com