How to Clean a Charcoal Grill

removing the debris from a grill
Removing debris on Grill

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Over time, even the best of the best charcoal grills will build up with dirt, ash, and rust. It’s therefore highly essential that you clean your grill regularly to make sure that they function and cook properly.

If you use your grill frequently, make it an obligation to clean it at least twice after every grilling season. If you use it infrequently, one time is enough. Maintaining your grill will help it last longer and prevent food from sticking on the grate when preparing it.

If you don’t know how to clean a charcoal grill, then don’t worry because it’s very straightforward. While it’s not as simple as doing your daily chores, once you get used to it, it won’t be an issue. Just remember to keep in mind that the cleaner your grill is, the better your food will taste and the less rusty it will be.

How To Clean a Charcoal Grill

There are numerous ways to clean your charcoal grill effectively. However, it’s best that you avoid using toxic cleaning formulas. For instance, some cleaning detergents can effectively clean your grill but afterward impart an off-taste to your food. Here, we have a simple and effective cleaning procedure on how to can clean a charcoal grill.

1. Identify a suitable cleaning area 

As obvious as it sounds, it’s the very first step to cleaning your charcoal grill. What does an appropriate cleaning area look like? First, it should be clean to make sure that your hygienic levels are not comprised.

Second, the area should be away from your house and walking paths. Remember that you’ll be brushing off the dirt, rust, and ash and you don’t want the dirt tracked around your home or on the paths. The right cleaning area should be somewhere you don’t mind getting dirty.

2. Get the cleaning tools

Once you identify an appropriate cleaning ground, then go ahead and get the necessary cleaning tools. All the tools required for cleaning are readily available in your local hardware store or order from Amazon. They include:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Bristle brush
  • Grill or coarse cleaning brush
  • Plastic bags
  • Fork – optional
  • Warm water
  • Dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Drying or wiping rags

3. Disassemble the grill

grill cleaning with brush and solution
Cleaning grill grates

Now that you have everything you need to clean your grill, prepare it for washing. First, wear gloves to prevent your hands from spoiling and remove the grill grate (if possible). Using the grill brush, thoroughly brush the grate to get rid of any buildup of dirt or ash. For the cleanest grill, scrub off any persistent gunk or debris on the grate using a foil.

Remember to use moderate pressure when brushing your grill and grate to avoid wearing off your grill coating. Damaging the coating can void the manufacturer warranty while interfering with the grill’s fine cooking performance.

4. Clean the grill lid and bottom

Wipe-out any dirt or encrusted debris on the grill lid and bottom using a brush and use a putty knife to scrub off any solid persistent stuff such as food debris and burnt-on ash from the charcoal grate.

Sweep and collect the dirt into the plastic bag. Mix the warm water with enough soap. Wet the sponge or rag in the soapy water and wipe the outside of the lid and grill. Rinse the grill with plenty of water to ensure that the soapy water is thoroughly washed. It’s dangerous and can also alter the taste of your food.

Light the grill and allow it to heat for about 15 minutes and then turn it off. This helps to burn off any cleaning residuals.

5. Reassemble the grill 

When you are done with the cleanup, allow the grill to dry and then reassemble all the parts. Press the charcoal grate with your hand to make sure it’s sturdy. Check and see if everything is in place and if it’s well assembled. If everything is okay, then your charcoal grill is clean and ready to grill again.


  • To be safe, always use aluminum foil when grilling with a public grill. You never know who was there before you and what was grilled. Poke some holes in the aluminum foil before lighting the grill.
  • Clean your charcoal grill at least once a year and twice if you use it regularly.
  • Don’t use too much pressure to scrub off or chisel out any stuck-on or burnt-out ash and food debris. Otherwise, you could wear out the protective porcelain enamel coating of your grill.
  • Always shut the grill lid and vent after grilling so that the coal can burn off any food bits on the grate.
  • Always brush off the grate before and after grilling using a grill brush in order to remove any leftover food bits from the last grilling session (leftover burn-outs cause your food to stick when grilling). It’s better to do it when the grill is hot since the food bits loosen more easily. This practice will keep your grill safe and make the cleaning process easy.
  • Consider oiling the grate before grilling. Oiling prevents foods from sticking on the grade and allow for easy food flipping and turning. Apply the oil when the grill is hot.
  • Always check the manufacturer’s instructions about the grill before embarking on any cleaning.

Final Verdict

If you love your charcoal grill as much as you say you do, then you might want to keep it looking as clean as possible. Keeping your charcoal grill dirty is not only dangerous, but it also inhibits the performance of preparing tasty, appealing, appetizing, and juicy foods. Also, a dirty charcoal grill produces much smoke that alters the taste of the food. Who the heck loves smoky food? Definitely not us!

Moreover, maintaining your grill well serves you another purpose besides preparing delicious meals. It ensures that your grill is in an excellent working condition and will remain that way for longer, if not in its entire life.

After all, cleaning your charcoal grill doesn’t have to take forever. If you don’t know how to how to clean a charcoal grill, just follow the step by step instructions we have discussed above and your charcoal grill will look like new within no time.

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