Charcoal grills are a bit sturdier than other types of grills with more delicate technology, such as pellet grills or electric smokers. Part of the appeal of charcoal grills is that everything is done manually, providing a classic barbecuing experience.
However, charcoal grills should also be regularly cleaned and maintained for optimal performance. Cleaning your grill regularly also makes it last longer, and your food will taste better as well.
There are several simple methods to clean a charcoal grill. Doing some regular light cleaning and deep cleaning from time to time can ensure your grill stays in excellent condition.
How Often Should You Clean Your Grill?
There isn’t an agreed frequency of cleaning sessions when it comes to grills. It all depends on how often you grill and for how long. You should remove food debris and excess grease from the cooktop after every grilling session and perform a deep clean of all the grill components every couple of weeks during the grilling season. It’s also a good idea to do a thorough cleaning at the start of the summer and before you put your grill away in long-term storage.
Essential Charcoal Grill Cleaning Supplies
The basic cleaning supplies you need to clean a charcoal grill are warm soapy water, cleaning gloves, a sponge, and a grill brush. There are different kinds of grill brushes, but a stiff wire brush or stainless steel brush is an excellent option for cleaning all the stuck-on food and grease.
If you don’t have a grill brush, a quick and straightforward option for cleaning grates is some aluminum foil. Crumple the aluminum foil into a ball and use the tongs to hold it.
Clean your grill right after a grilling session
The easiest way of keeping your grill in good condition is to clean it right after using it. It’s not necessary to clean the whole grill. You can just throw out the ash and leftover charcoal and clean the grates. It’s best to clean the grates when they are still a bit warm.
For this quick cleaning, you can clean the grates with a bit of soap and water using a grill brush. Once the grill is clean, use some oil and paper towels to oil the grates. Usually, the grates have to be preheated and oiled right before cooking to prevent food from sticking. However, oiling the grates right after grilling prevents rusting in the long run.
When the grill is completely cool
Every couple of weeks during grilling season, you could do a more thorough cleaning of the whole grill. This time, the grill should be completely cool since you will clean the inside of the grill and not only the grates.
Remove the cooking grates. If your model has a cooking grate and a charcoal grate, remove both. Scrape off any remaining ash and food from the grates. Since you are doing a more thorough cleaning, you can leave the grates soaking in soapy water for a couple of hours while cleaning the inside of the grill.
Remove any ash and pieces of food on the inside of the bowl with a grill brush. With a mixture of dishwashing soap and water, clean the inside of the bowl or firebox, depending on the model. Also, clean the lid since it tends to get dirty from grease spatter and soot over time. Once you are done, give the grates a good scrub and oil them with a paper towel.
Deep cleaning before grilling season
If your grill is still dirty from the previous grilling season, you’ll have to give the grill a deep cleaning before you can use it again. In this case, start a fire inside the grill. This can help remove accumulated leftover food and grease. Close the lid and leave the fire burning for about an hour.
After an hour, the fire should have cleansed the grates and the inside of bacteria. Then, wait until the grill has completely cooled off and thoroughly clean the inside of the grill and the lid using a brush, mild dishwashing soap, and water. Clean the grates as well.
If your grill hasn’t been used for several months and wasn’t cleaned before storage, you may need to use a commercial degreasing product to dissolve the layer of grime on the grates.
Other Simple Ways of Cleaning and Maintaining a Grill
A simple way of maintaining the appearance of your grill is using a grill cover. This protects the outside surface, especially if you keep it outside under harsh weather conditions. There are three simple tips you can use to maintain your grill in excellent condition.
Prevent your grill from getting dirty
Empty the ash bowl and clean the ash on the bottom of the grill as often as you can. Too much ash can prevent proper air circulation, which is essential for grilling and can make it harder to clean the grill.
Another simple way of keeping your grill in good condition is cleaning the lid every time you grill. Grease and moisture from food tend to bake into the inside of the lid. The oils and meat fats accumulate on the lid as carbonized grease.
It’s non-toxic but can drip back onto your food while grilling, so it should be regularly removed. Use a stainless steel wire brush or any other kind to remove all the carbonized grease that’s accumulated. Then was the interior of the lid with warm soapy water. A simple way of preventing the grease buildup on the lid is to wipe any excess moisture with a damp cloth every time you grill.
Use oven spray for deep cleaning
You can use oven spray on your charcoal grill to remove the toughest residue and dirt build-up. This is a great tip to apply at the end of the grilling season before storing your grill so it is clean for the next season.
Enjoy Cooking With Your Clean Grill
Cleaning your grill regularly keeps it in excellent condition. Many people dispose of their charcoal grill after a few years. However, a charcoal grill can last for up to 10 years when properly maintained. The main advantages of a charcoal grill are its sturdiness and durability, but failing to clean and maintain the grill can reduce its lifespan.