Below are some good general guidelines for keeping charcoal grills clean and well maintained. Before following these tips, check to make sure that your grill doesn't have any special coatings or paint that might get damaged by abrasive cleaning (in other words, check your grill's instructions for special situations, before cleaning).
You Will Need These Cleaning Supplies:
- Brass and/or stainless steel wire grill brush
- Soap-embedded, fine steel wool pads (0 to 000 grade)
- Mild dish soap
- Sponge or dishrag
Each Time You Grill:
- Clean the Grill Grate - Wait for the coals to die out before using a wire grill brush to clean the warm grill grate. Often times a light scrubbing with a wire grill brush is all that's necessary to ready the grate for its next use. If a more thorough cleaning is called for, use wet soapy fine steel wool pads with only slight pressure. Rinse thoroughly and dry.
- Remove Ashes - After the coals and ashes have COMPLETELY cooled (or before you grill the next time) remove the ashes from the bottom of your grill. Ash removal prevents airflow problems, which keeps your fire burning properly. Also, as ashes absorb moisture, keeping your grill free of them can prevent rusting. Wait at least 48 hours before removing ashes to make sure they are completely extinguished, or thoroughly soak them in water before disposing.
Clean As Necessary:
- Clean the inside of the grill and lid and bowl - When finished grilling, replace the lid while the fire dies and the coals cool -- doing so allows cooking residue to simply burn off. A quick pass with a wire brush will finish the job.
- To get the grill sparkling clean - Use hot water and a soapy sponge or rag to further clean the inside of the grill of soot and dirt.
- Clean the outside of the grill -- A clean soapy rag is all that's needed to wipe down the outside of the grill.
Oven cleaner can sometimes be handy when cleaning really tough, baked on dirty grill grates, but keep in mind that oven cleaner is not friendly to painted surfaces, so if your grill has an enamel coating on the outside (or inside) or on the grates themselves keep the oven cleaner away. Always consult your grill's instructions before using oven cleaner.