How to clean a charcoal grill?

The first thing that comes to your mind when you think of grilling is the authentic charred grilled food. And one of the most traditional ways of doing it is a charcoal grill. As the charcoal grill actually uses the charcoal, to give the smoky charred flavour to the meat. Also, using a charcoal grill gives you a sense of pride. Because only the best of grillers can exhibit the level of expertise in grilling food in it. Especially when you are holding a get-together. If you have the skills, why not show it off, right?

But probably the most complicated thing in a charcoal grill is to clean. As the charcoal grill really burns during the process, unlike the other type of grills. And getting it off from everywhere can be a task. Also, you need to clean it properly and maintain it for it to last long. So to solve your worries, we have brought this article for you. This provides a pretty great insight into the process of how to clean a charcoal grill. 

How to clean a charcoal grill?

Further, we have all the required materials and steps you need to follow to clean a charcoal grill. Always follow these steps in this same way for a proper cleanup.

Materials needed

These are things you will need to clean a charcoal grill:

The homemade cleaning solution contains:

  • 1 ½ cups white vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 ½ tsps baking soda

Mix these and pour it into a spray bottle. As the spray bottle will help you in spraying the whole grill.

Light Cleaning a charcoal grill

So light clean a charcoal grill every time you use it. And this prevents a lot of buildups at the end of the season. And you will not be left with a grill that will take hours and hours to deep clean it. After every one of your cooking sessions, take the wired long handle brush. Scrub off the residue left on the grates. And always do it when the grill is still hot. As the heat loosens the residue. You do this after every session because you will have a clean grill to start with next time. And remember to remove the bristles of the brush if left off on the grates.

Deep Cleaning a charcoal grill

We can dub the deep cleaning of a charcoal grill as the actual cleaning of the grill. But you do not have to do it every time you use the grill. Only deep cleaning it once a year is enough. We have described henceforth all the steps.

Cleaning the grates

First, you need to clean the grates of your charcoal grill. We also have an article on how to clean a BBQ grill with an oven cleaner. And that will describe the process in detail. Here, we describe it briefly:

Always make sure the grill is still hot and remember to wear gloves. Take your wired brush and scrub your grates. This removes the solid crud on the grates.

If you do not have a wired brush, you can make a DIY tool. Take an aluminium foil, roll it up into a ball. And use a tong to hold it while you scrub the grates with it.

  • Then you can spray it with the oven cleaner or the homemade solution. And cover all the parts of the grates thoroughly.
  • Let the cleaner sit in for 20 – 30 minutes to let it work.
  • Then take a paper towel and wipe down your grates.
  • After that, detach the grates from the grill and take it out.
  • Mix the liquid detergent and water together. And clean your grates with that with the help of a cleaning rag. Rinse it with clean water after washing it with detergent water.
  • Always remember to towel dry it after you have rinsed it. As this reduces the chances of oxidation.

Cleaning the interior of the grill

After you have cleaned the grates, you will need to clean the entire interior of the grill. Before following the steps, take a bucket of water, add a good amount of liquid detergent and keep it ready. And follow these mentioned steps:

  • First, you must remove the ash pan from the grill if your grill has one. And also do it after every cooking session because the burnt coal and ashes can block the vents.
  • After you have removed the ashes from the pan, you can wash it. Take the wired brush, dip it in detergent and water mixture and clean the pan. Rinse it with normal water after that.
  • Then take a scraping tool and try to scrap off the gunk of the walls of the grill. And try to scrape off as much as you can.
  • Next you take the metal spatula and scoop out the ashes and charcoal debris at the bottom of the pan. Also, you can easily take out the scrapped off gunk. And do it until you are rid of most of them.
  • After that you need to spray the oven cleaner or the homemade solution on the inside. You should only do it if there is stubborn residue left behind.
  • And then let the cleaner sit for 20-30 minutes.
  • When the time is up, take your wired brush and scrub the entire grill. If there are corners you can’t reach, use a steel wool instead of the brush. 
  • After the scrubbing, rinse the whole grill with running water.
  • Then you must take a scrubbing pad and the detergent water solution. And clean the whole grill again with the solution. Rinse after you are done.

Cleaning the exterior of the grill

Then you need to clean the exterior of the grill, which you can do in two ways:

  • First, you can simply clean the exterior with the detergent solution. So dip the scrubbing pad in the solution and lightly scrub the whole exterior of the grill. And rinse the whole grill completely when you are done.
  • Second way is to use a grill exterior cleaner. And many people prefer cleaning with it because it is very gentle on it and cleans well. So just spray the entire exterior with cleaner. And take a clean rag and wipe it down.
  • Reassembling the grill

Although not really a part of the cleaning, you must reassemble the grill after you are done with everything.

  • First, make sure all the parts of the grill are dry. And do not leave everything to air dry. Because air-drying can lead to the oxidation of parts of the grill.
  • Then put the ash pan back into its place.
  • Finally, put back the grates into place.
  • Also, if you are doing it at the beginning of the grilling season, oil the grates. Just put a bit of vegetable oil on a paper towel and coat the grates with it. You can also use a cooking oil spray on the grates directly. Oiling the grates will help your food from sticking on it.

After all of this, you are finally done with your deep cleaning process.


Why should I clean a charcoal grill?

It is very important to clean your grill and maintain it properly for it to last long. And also give excellent results. 

While grilling, there is a lot of residue buildup on the grates. And it includes burnt food, grease residue and carbon. Especially in the charcoal grill, which literally burns coal to cook food. Grilling food without cleaning the grates ruins the taste.

Also, if you do not clean the lid of the grill, it gets heavy and can also flake off on the food. Also, ashes and debris block your air vents when you haven’t cleaned them out in a while.

Should I clean the charcoal grill after every use?

Yes, we recommend light cleaning the grill after every use. So just empty the ash pan and scrub off the residue on your grates after every cooking session. But deep cleaning of the grill is needed only once or twice a year, depending on how much you use it.

Is a grill cleaner toxic?

A grill cleaner might contain some caustic and hazardous chemical substances. So we always recommend that after you have used it, you thoroughly wash the grill. And you must do this with the help of a detergent water solution.

Can I use something else instead of a wired brush?

If you do not have a wired brush, you can substitute it with an aluminum foil. Yes, you heard it right, an aluminium foil. Crumple up the foil and hold it with tongs to use it as a brush.

Can I clean a charcoal grill with vinegar?

Yes, vinegar is a great alternative for the chemical cleaners. But it works best when you mix it with other substances. So take 1 ½ cups vinegar, 1 ½ cups water, and 1 ½ tsps baking soda and mix them together. And keep the solution in a spray bottle and use it as a degreasing cleaner spray.


We have finally reached the end of the article. And we are pretty sure you now know how to expertly clean a charcoal grill. The only thing you need to do is follow all the steps diligently.

We also have an article on how to clean a gas grill which will help you if you have a gas grill.

Visit our website Cookinggearlab for articles on the kitchen and cooking gadgets and general how-tos.

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