A Guide to Cleaning Your Charcoal Grill

Are you looking for a way to truly clean your charcoal grill?

Because these grills rely on charcoal to cook up those sizzling meals, they can get greasy and dirty very quickly.

You may feel that it’s just not possible to effectively clean your grill. What’s more, it may seem like a time-consuming task you just don’t want to add to your list of obligations.

charcoal grill


It’s important to keep your grill clean, however, for safety and performance reasons.

Read on for your complete guide to cleaning your charcoal grill the right way!


1. Make Sure You Have the Right Tool Kit

The first thing to take care of before you start cleaning your charcoal grill is your toolkit. You need a few cleaning supplies in order to keep your grill in pristine condition, but most of these are basic household items you may already have on hand.

The most important tool to have on hand is a grill brush. Brushes with tough bristles are the most effective at scraping away grease, ash, and other particles you don’t want in your food.

They also don’t decompose as you use them, like some sponges or rags.

Your charcoal grill may have come with its own grill brush. If not, you can easily purchase a solid brush online or through a local supplier. Opt for quality here rather than a lower price tag, as you’ll be using this brush frequently in the future.

In addition to a solid grill brush, make sure you have thick rubber cleaning gloves, plastic bags, a putty knife, dish soap and a basin, and aluminum foil.

You also want to clean your grill in a safe area. If you’re cleaning your backyard grill, clean it to the side of the yard or even at the foot of your driveway.

If you’re cleaning a grill you’ve taken camping, make sure you clean it away from any public areas, walking paths, or other sites that animals might visit.

2. Begin with the Grate

The first thing to tackle when cleaning your charcoal grill is the grate itself. This is the wire grating you set your food upon when grilling.

If you typically grill meat and other delicious BBQ recipes directly on the grate, you may notice a lot of grease, oil, and ash buildup here. Put on your rubber gloves before you touch your grill to avoid getting ash or grease all over your fingers and inside your home.

If you can detach the metal grate, make sure you do so. This will make it easier to grip and clean the residue from the grating.

Using your grill brush, scrub the wires of the grate evenly and with a mild amount of force. You can scrub them in such a way that residue falls into the grill bottom, which will make for an easier cleanup.

You don’t want to apply any soap to your brush at this point, as charcoal grills are a lot like cast iron skillets. They can absorb any substance and retain its flavor for an extended period of time.

Be thorough and take your time, as this is the most important part of grill cleaning. It is, after all, where you cook your food.

If you’re struggling to remove particles from the grate, use a ball of aluminum foil to make it easier.

3. Move on to the Grill Bottom and Lid

Once you’ve cleaned the grate of your grill, move on to the bottom.

The bottom of a grill will often have a lot of ash and other particles in it. Begin by sweeping this debris onto the ground, if you’re in an area that allows this, or into a plastic bag for disposal.

Your charcoal grill may have an ash collector, depending on the model. Make sure you empty this as well into the bag or a nearby garbage can.

It’s time for more scrubbing action once you’ve cleared the grill bottom of ash. Use your brush to once again clear any stubborn grease, black patches, and particles. If you have a putty knife, you can use that to gently remove any stubborn patches.

Wet down a rag or paper towel in your basin of soapy warm water and clean the inside of your grill’s lid. You’ll also want to rub down the outside of the lid.

This is an essential step as ash buildup can lead to safety hazards. Cleaning the grill bottom regularly can also prevent rust from accumulating.

4. Reassemble Carefully

Now that you’ve cleaned the ins and outs of your charcoal grill, it’s time to reassemble.

Typically this means sliding the grate back in place and setting the lid firmly on top (if you have a lid). If the grill has an ash collector, make sure you replace this securely.

5. Perform Minor Cleaning Between Grill Sessions

In order to maximize the function and lifespan of your charcoal grill, make sure you perform minor cleaning between grilling.

Always make sure the ash collector is emptied before you light up your grill. Use aluminum foil to wrap your food in if you’re cooking on a public grill.

Give your grate a quick brush before you start cooking food in order to remove any particle build-up and make cleaning easier in the future. You’ll also want to brush down the grate after you’ve cooked your meal.

If you’d like, you can apply nonstick oil to the grate if you’re cooking food directly on it. If you cover your grill, make sure you clean this with a soapy rag every now and then to minimize grease.

How to Clean Your Charcoal Grill

Cleaning your smoker regularly is essential. A clean grill will last longer, perform safely, and cook your food well.

While we recommend cleaning your grill between every grilling session, you should also do a thorough cleaning at least twice in a grilling season.

Make sure you use the right tools when you’re cleaning your grill and wear gloves so that you don’t get ash on your skin. If you’re cleaning a public grill, exercise caution about where you clean it.

At My Best Smoker, we provide grill lovers with the best advice on highest quality smokers on the market. Learn more about the brands we love so you can take your summertime grilling to the next level!

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