How to Clean a Charcoal Grill in 3 Different Ways

Got a charcoal grill? Learn how to clean a charcoal grill in 3 different ways to prolong your grill’s lifespan.

Barbecue season is always something that you and your family looks forward to. The sizzling sound of meat being cooked on the grill and the smoky, delicious smell wafting all over the place instantly makes the mouth water. Plus, it is another chance to showcase your skills with your favorite charcoal grill.

Everyone knows that the secret to a good and successful cookout is delicious barbecue hot off the grill and the best way to achieve this is to have an efficient and clean grill. It is important that you use a clean charcoal grill whether it is your own private equipment or you are sharing a common grill in a public park.

Cooking food over direct heat or fire on a metal grate will definitely leave residue from the oil and seasoning put all over the meat. These substances, especially the sugar in them, end up getting charred and clings unto the grate. There is also the after effect of burning charcoal which not only leaves a ton of ashes but also blackens the interior of your grill with soot. Now, imagine all of those unwanted factors clinging to the food you are about to cook? Nasty!

Aside from sanitation and preserving the taste of food, here are other reasons you have to consider why you should keep your charcoal grill spic and span!

Reasons to Clean Your Charcoal Grill

  • Any grill, whether charcoal or gas, works best if they are clean. The grates will heat up faster and more evenly, providing you a very good cooking environment.
  • Charcoal grills will last longer if you clean them regularly. Food residue and other debris which are left to sit on the grill for too long will cause rusting and corrosion which will ruin the integrity of your grill’s material construct.
  • Sanitary precaution is important when eating because you do not want any rust or harmful substance such as carcinogens getting into your food. Bottomline, you do not want any germs or yucky stuff ruining your food and your health.
  • Using a dirty charcoal grill can be a fire hazard. Built up grease can cause fire which can burn your meat prematurely or cause even greater fire accidents.

How Often Should You Clean Your Charcoal Grill?

Your charcoal grill should receive a thorough and deep cleaning at least, once during barbecue season. If you use it often, then you should deep clean it not less than twice. But, it is also recommended if you give your grill grates a good scrub or cleaning before every use just to make sure there are no unwanted debris and this also helps lessen build ups in the future.

How to Clean a Charcoal Grill

You might be hesitant to give your charcoal grill a constant clean because you do not have the time or you think that it might be a monumental task. In truth, there are quick and easy ways on how to clean a charcoal grill and you will be surprised at how efficient you can be when it comes to performing the task.

Materials for Cleaning a Charcoal Grill

  • Grill Brush or Coarse Brush for Cleaning
  • Sponge
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Plastic Bags
  • Bristle Brush
  • Soap or Dish Detergent
  • Bucket
  • Paper Towel
  • Cooking Oil

How to Clean Your Charcoal Grill (3 DIFFERENT WAYS)

traditional way of cleaning charcoal using eraser sponge


One of the easiest and most convenient way to clean a charcoal grill is by traditional way. Here’s how it’s done.

Step 1: Gather hot water, dish detergent and an eraser sponge.

Step 2: Mix the hot water and dish detergent then dip the eraser sponge into the solution and use it to scrub the grill grates.

Step 3: Final step is to dip a towel into the soapy water solution and use it to clean off the rest of the grill.

Preventive Cleaning Process of cleaning charcoal grill


As mentioned, it will be to your advantage if you give your grill a regular light cleaning before every use. This will help lessen the need for deep cleaning in the future that is why you can refer to this process as preventive cleaning as it helps lessen build-ups and it does prevent your grill grate from getting too dirty.

Step 1: Use your grill brush and run it along your grill’s cooking grates before you start cooking.

Step 2: Preheat your grill after you have properly brushed your grate clean. This will make sure that food will not be sticking on it too much as you cook.

Step 3: Use oil to moisten the grates. Grab your paper towel, dip it in cooking oil then use your fire tongs to slide it along the preheated grates.

Deep cleaning process of cleaning charcoal grill


A deep and thorough cleaning of your charcoal grill will prevent any buildup of rust, carbon or ash in any part of your grill. This is required to keep your equipment in tip top shape so you can continue using it for a long time. The process takes a little bit of an extra scrubbing power but do not worry because it is nothing that will take too much of your time. You can also purchase commercial charcoal grill cleansers for easy cleaning.

Step 1: Gather your materials and place them near your grill.

Step 2: Start with removing the grate of your grill. If your grate is pretty messed up, it will help if you let it soak in warm water with detergent or dishwashing soap so you can loosen the residue or stuck debris. This will make it easier for you to scrub off later.

Step 3: While your grate is soaking away, take your brush and begin sweeping (or scooping) any debris or ash residue you can find in the bottom of your grill. You also have to check if your grill has an ash catcher so you can empty it.

Step 4: Use your bristle brush and begin scraping any peeling you might spot on the inside of your grill’s kettle or body. These black stuff are usually carbon flakes or stuck grease that has been burnt. Sweep through the inside of your grill one more time until it is empty of any residue.

Step 5: Grab your sponge, some soapy water and begin cleaning the inside and outside of your grill. Do not forget to include the lid as well as the handles.

Step 6: Rinse your grill thoroughly with clean water.

Step 7: Make sure you let your grill dry properly. Use your clean cloth or rags and wipe off any excess water in every space of your grill. This is very important because you do not want rust forming in places where water might have been left to pool or gather.

Step 8: While your grill is drying off, turn your attention to the grate that you have left soaking. By this time, whatever residue or build up that has clung to the metal lines would be loose enough to scrub off or even wipe off. Using the same soapy solution, scrub your grates lightly to get rid of any gunk or burnt oil on it. Try not to scratch too much to keep your grate in tip top shape.

Step 9: Wash the grate with warm water and make sure that you thoroughly clean off whatever soapy substance that might get left behind. You do not want your food tasting of soap!

Step 10: Wipe your grates dry. Again, do not let it sit wet for a period of time because it will be prone to rust build-up.

Step 11: Once you are sure that all parts of your grill is nicely cleaned and dry, you can start putting it back together.

Now, you are ready to cook good, flavorful food without worrying about it tasting different or becoming a health hazard!

Extra Tips on Cleaning Your Charcoal Grill

  • Regularly check your grill’s ash catcher. You have to ensure that it is not full every time you are cooking or using your barbecue.
  • Do not forget to pre-brush or pre-oil your grates before cooking. For cast iron grills, it helps if you regularly season your grate with oil to keep it from rusting and make it stick proof.
  • Clean your grates after you cook. It is important that you give your grill grate a quick brushing after every cleaning just to keep it clean and prevent any build up in the future.
  • If you do not have any scrub or bristle brush, you can simply use aluminum foil found in your kitchen. Ball it up or scrunch it and use it to scrub off any stuck substance or residue in your grill grate.


Always remember that your charcoal grill is an investment and a source of more delicious feasts in the future. Keeping it clean and in tip top shape should be one of your priorities so you can continue enjoying barbecue season for a long, long time.

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