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3 Ways to Clean Your Barbecue Grills

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It’s springtime in Australia, and most barbecue owners would like to roast a steak or two on a warm Sunday. The not-so-fun part comes when it’s time to clean the barbecue after. Scrubbing off grease and charred food can be dreadful. Whether your barbecue grill is made of cast iron or stainless steel, you will have to get your hands dirty. Even porcelain-coated grills retain food debris.

So what’s the best way to clean your barbecue grill? To answer that question, we took advice from our pros and described the most efficient ways to clean a barbecue grill based on the material of the grates. It’s a 5-min read that could save an hour, so keep scrolling to learn the secret!

Table of contents:

Supplies you need to clean your barbecue grill

Here’s a short list of items that you’ll find invaluable when it comes to cleaning barbecue grills:

  • A pair of gloves – to keep those hands pretty;
  • Steel wool – to make scrubbing easier;
  • A couple of brushes – one wire and one regular grill brush;
  • Paper towels – soak up grease like no other;
  • A sponge – feel free to name it Bob;
  • Vinegar, soap and baking soda – a staple in any quality cleaning undertaking.

For easier reference, we’ve listed four variations of cleaning solutions:

  • Vinegar and water – 1 tbsp vinegar with 2-to-3 tbsps water;
  • Vinegar and baking soda – 2 tbsps vinegar and 1 tbsp baking soda;
  • Baking soda paste – 3 tbsps baking soda, 1 tbsp water, ½ or ¼ tbsp vinegar;
  • Soapy water solution – ½ tbsp liquid soap and 4 tbsps of warm water.

You can increase any solution’s volume as much as you need, as long as you keep the same proportions.

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How to clean cast iron grill grates

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Cast iron grills have a lot in common with Superman – they’re tough and can retain high levels of heat, so your steaks will roast juicy instead of dry. Unfortunately, much like Kryptonite, cast iron grills have a weakness, too – water. Since iron is prone to rust, you need to dry the grills thoroughly after washing them.

Other than that, it’s pretty straightforward – scrub until there’s nothing to scrub off, and don’t forget to season after. This method can clean any cast iron grills or griddle grills, including Weber.

Here’s the best step-by-step plan for cleaning barbecue grills:

  1. Prep some baking soda paste.
  2. Lay the grates on a flat surface.
  3. Apply the baking soda paste and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Start scrubbing the grates with your wire brush or steel wool.
  5. When you finish cleaning, wash off the grime with soapy water.
  6. Give it a good rinse, and use paper towels to soak all the water thoroughly. You shouldn’t leave any part of your grill grates moist.

Once you finish cleaning, you should season your grates. Seasoning your grates involves applying a protective coating. You can use vegetable oil for the job.

Since oil and water don’t mix, your cast iron grills will be protected from rust. Just don’t overdo it – a slim coat of oil is all your barbecue grills need. And it’s super simple – apply a small amount of vegetable oil to a paper towel and spread it on your clean cast iron grill.

How to remove rust from cast iron grill grates

In some cases, your barbecue’s grates might corrode. Removing rust from cast iron grates can work if it’s a surface problem. Any of the cleaning solutions we listed will do the trick. Simply apply the solution and use your wire brush. Once you’re done, give the grill grates a light cleaning run using the method above, and season them.

If the corrosion runs deep, you should replace the grill grate.

How to clean stainless steel grill grates

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Stainless steel is no stranger to scratches, so taking care of it would have to happen in a gentler manner than cast iron. When cleaning stainless steel grills, you can use any of our cheat list solutions, but it’s generally better to go with baking soda since it’s not acid-based. Alternatively, you can try to use heat to burn off food debris.

Here’s how to clean stainless steel grill grates:

  1. Apply your cleaning solution, and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Alternatively, heat your stainless steel grill grates until the food debris on them starts crumbling (you char it, so it comes off easier).
  3. Start scrubbing gently once the solution/paste sets or the heat loosens the burnt food (if you went for the heat method).
  4. Use warm soapy water to wash off the scrubbed grime.
  5. Use paper towels to dry and season with vegetable oil.
Keep the scrubbing motion in the same direction as the steel’s grain, and remember to do it gently.

How to clean rust off stainless steel barbecue

Contrary to popular belief, stainless steel is not 100% immune to rust. Of course, corrosion takes a bit longer than it would for cast iron, but the regular heating and cooling, combined with all the grease and burnt food, speed up the process.

Because stainless steel barbecues are prone to scratching and overall more sensitive than cast iron barbecues, you should use a specialised stainless steel cleaning product. Aside from that, we can provide you with some general rules about cleaning rust off stainless steel barbecues:

  • You should use a regular grill brush for any stainless steel grill grates because a wire brush will scratch your grates, which can worsen the corrosion.
  • Stay away from bleach.
  • If you use a degreaser – pick an alkaline one, not an acidic one.
  • Avoid chemicals like WD-40 – they work against rust, but would you like to use them on the grill you put your food on?

All in all, be gentle with your stainless steel barbecue – it deserves it, and your steaks will taste better, too.

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How to clean porcelain cooking grates

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Porcelain cooking grates aren’t made entirely of porcelain – they have cast iron, or stainless steel core.Тhe difference is that a cast iron core retains heat easier. When it comes to cleaning, however, a porcelain grill grate will be the easiest to clean of them all.

Food debris has a harder time adhering to porcelain, and even if it does, the heating method makes it deceptively easy to clean. The trick is to be extra careful – porcelain is brittle, and you wouldn’t want to damage your grates. Here’s how to clean porcelain grill grates efficiently:

  1. Heat the grates for a few minutes and then wait for them to cool down.
  2. Apply either a vinegar solution or soak in soapy water, then let rest for 30 minutes, up to an hour.
  3. Take the sponge and start rubbing.
  4. Once you’ve softened all the food particles, rinse with warm water.
Remember that baking soda has abrasive qualities, so for porcelain grill grates, you’d be best off avoiding it and using vinegar or soap.


  • Charring barbecue grates can make the scrubbing process easier.
  • Rub stainless steel in the direction of its grain.
  • Stainless steel and porcelain are gentle – don’t scratch them with metal brushes.
  • Consider professional barbecue cleaning if you don’t feel like cleaning the barbecue yourself.

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Do you think there’s a better approach to cleaning barbecue grill grates? Let us know in the comments section below!

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