A clean stainless steel grill with a leather apron hanging from the front

How to Clean a Dirty BBQ Grill and Why You Really Should

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Should you clean your barbecue grill? The short answer is yes. But for years, my husband and I argued over this.

In his view, a dirty barbecue grill was like a well-used, seasoned cast iron pan. I maintained that cooking on a dirty grill was dangerous and gross, period. But, as with many of our arguments, I’m right. (Doesn’t every wife claim that?)

Risks of a Using a Dirty Grill

Harmful particulates: When layers of grease inside the grill or on the grates get fiery hot, they produce harmful substances that linger on the food.

Increased fire risk: Every year, firefighters see a spike of calls in the summer because of home grill fires. Over one-fourth of the grills involved had not been cleaned.

Propane issues: Clogged nozzles can lead to dangerous pressure buildup, while rusty fittings can leak propane into the air around the grill.

How to Clean a Dirty Grill

Three parts of your grill need routine cleaning. Clean the grates after every use, then clean it inside and out at the start and end of every grilling season.

Clean The Grill Grates

To clean very dirty BBQ grill grates, slide them into a garbage bag and spray them all over with oven cleaner, then let them sit overnight. The next day, use a scraper and garden hose, and the gunk should slide right off. Dry them well.

Clean The Grill’s Interior

Clean your dirty grill’s interior with hot, soapy water and a nylon scrubbing pad. To remove stubborn grime, apply a paste of baking soda and water. Give it 15 minutes to loosen grime, then spray it with vinegar. Scrub again once the fizzing stops then rinse well and towel it dry.

Clean The Grill’s Exterior

Use warm, soapy water and a microfiber cloth to clean your grill’s exterior. For stubborn spots, dip a damp cloth in baking soda then gently rub, or use Bar Keeper’s Friend. Rinse well and buff dry, following the grain for stainless steel grills.

Extra Care for Propane Grills

Dirty propane grills need a couple of extra steps once you’ve finished cleaning them inside and out. First, poke a paper clip into the gas nozzles to clear them. Then, cover the propane line with a thin layer of soapy water.

Air bubbles show leaks, so you’ll need to replace the line before using your grill. Also, check the expiration date on your propane tank.

Keeping it Clean

To keep your grill clean, scrape the grates immediately after use, then let your grill cool and put a cover on it. Always remove the cover and inspect the interior of your grill before lighting it, because squirrels and bees love to make their home inside grills, clean or not.

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