man washing charcoal grill with power washer

How To Clean A Charcoal Grill?

The charcoal grill is a classic choice for outdoor cooking, offering an authentic smoky flavor and satisfying sizzle that’s hard to beat. However, as any grill master knows, cleaning the grill can be a daunting task, particularly when dealing with stubborn ash and rust buildup.

To ensure your grill stays in top condition and continues to deliver mouth-watering meals, it’s crucial to clean it regularly – ideally once or twice per grilling season.

In this article, I’ll share my expert tips for cleaning charcoal grills, covering everything from basic maintenance to deep cleaning techniques.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to keep your grill functioning at its best and impress your guests with perfectly grilled delights every time.

How To Clean Charcoal Grill Exterior?

Charcoal grills come in a variety of designs and styles, but they all share a few key parts that need regular cleaning to ensure optimal performance. Whether your grill has a hinged lid or a standard roofing attached to the grill station, these steps will help you get the exterior of your grill looking like new.

  1. Start with the top: Before tackling the bottom of the grill, it’s best to clean the top portion first. This will prevent any debris or ash from falling onto the freshly cleaned bottom. Use a soft-bristled brush or a damp cloth to gently wipe away any loose dirt or dust from the lid and handle.
  2. Remove carbon buildup: To remove any stubborn carbon buildup on the inside of the lid or walls, use a putty knife or metal scraper to scrape away the debris. Be careful not to scratch the surface, as this can cause rusting.
  3. Degrease the surface: Once the carbon buildup has been removed, spray the exterior of the grill with a degreaser or a mixture of detergent and water. Let it soak for a few minutes to break down any grease or food residue.
  4. Rinse and dry: After letting the degreaser soak in, rinse the exterior of the grill thoroughly with a hose or a bucket of clean water. Use a clean rag to dry the surface and remove any remaining dirt or debris.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to keep the exterior of your charcoal grill looking clean and well-maintained, and ensure that it functions at its best for many grilling seasons to come.

How To Clean Charcoal Grill Interior?

Next, you should clean the inside of the grill.

  1. After removing the debris off the lid and grill grates into the bottom of the charcoal grill, use a plastic scraper to knock off the heap of carbon mass inside the grill and its sidewall.
  2. If your charcoal grill has an easy-clean system hole in its bottom, push the debris outside using that hole.
  3. Remove the left-out charcoals and place them in a removable bowl to eliminate the larger portion of charcoal ash. If there is an ash catcher, empty it.
  4. Use a scraper or brush to remove the intense buildup on the sidewalls of your grill.
  5. Spray the degreaser on the grill when scraping all the mass of carbon and grease.
  6. Scrub on the surface of the whole bottom area with steel wool and rinse it all off with a hosepipe.
  7. Keep the wet grates, lid, and grill bottom dry in an open space, and wipe the moisture away with a rag.
  8. Check the grill for any remaining moisture, as it can cause rust on the grill surface. If you find any moisture, wipe it off with a clean rag.

How To Clean Charcoal Grill Grates?

It is important to learn how to clean the grill grates with a deep cleaning method.

Deep cleaning the grates of your charcoal grill is an essential task before and after any grilling plan for maintaining the freshness of your grilled foods.

Therefore, follow these tips to deep clean your BBQ grates:

  1. Remove the grates – Start by removing the grates from the grill station and placing them on a steady surface. It is best to wait until the grates are cool enough to handle with your bare hands. You can use heat-resistant gloves or a pair of tongs to remove the grates if they are still hot.
  2. Scrape the debris – Use a metal scraper to scrape off the food residue, strong grease, and carbon mass on the grill grates. You can use a wire brush or a grill stone to scrub off the remaining stubborn dirt.
  3. Degrease the grates – To degrease the grill grates, you can either soak them in soapy water or spray a degreasing agent. Even water and dish soap will loosen the grease and carbon mass on the grates, making them easier to clean. Once you have applied the degreaser, leave it for a few minutes before scrubbing the grates with a bristle brush or aluminum foil.
  4. Rinse with water – After scraping all the dirt and debris off the charcoal grill, rinse it in clean water using a hosepipe or soak it in a large tub of water. Make sure you rinse off all the soap and degreaser from the grates to avoid any harmful chemicals getting into your food.
  5. Dry and wipe – Finally, keep the grates in an open place to dry them. It is essential to dry them completely before storing them to prevent rusting. You can use a clean rag to wipe off any remaining moisture on the grates. Once the grates are dry, you can reattach them to your charcoal grill.

Related reading: How To Clean Grill Grates?

Tools For Cleaning Your Charcoal Grill

There are some necessary tools for cleaning your charcoal grill. We have listed the tools in a list for your convenience:

  • Dish soap
  • Plastic Scraper: A plastic tool for knocking off the charcoal and grease buildups from the grill surface.
  • One-Inch Metal Scraper: A metal scraper for cleaning the stubborn carbon grease from the inside of your charcoal barbecue.
  • Bristle Brush: Bristle brush is used for brushing the remaining grease away from the grill grates.
  • Aluminum Foil: Aluminum foil is a safe alternative to a metal scraper to remove the grill grates’ food residues.
  • Hose Pipe: A regular garden pipe to clean the soap-soaked grill and its parts.
  • Rag/Clean Towel: A piece of cloth or fabric to wipe the moisture or water on the grill grates and other surfaces. Paper towel also can work.
  • Degreasing Spray: A cleaning agent is used to decrease the grease and carbon junk from the grill. The degreasing cleaner weakens the strong carbon buildups from your grill and helps you to clean them easily.

Charcoal Grill Cleaning Tips

Here are a few tips for cleaning your charcoal grill.

Caution While Cleaning

There are some steps that you need to follow while cleaning. Let’s see what they are.

Avoid Using Bare Hands

Wear gloves to ensure your hand’s safety from the heated grill, mold spores, and germs on the food residues from your previous grilling. If mold is in the grill, direct skin contact can cause skin sensitivity and itchiness.

Avoid Using Metal Scrubber

Try to avoid using metal scrubbers on your grill grates. Since they can break into many pieces, they can be mixed with food. In addition, swallowing these fragments can cause serious medical concerns.

Be Careful with Inflammable Tools and Objects

Be concerned while using an inflammatory degreaser and check for cylinder and ignited coals nearby. Please remove it from the nearby place where you will be applying it. It can cause a severe fire hazard if not taken into account.

Use Face Mask

If you are cleaning mold off a charcoal grill, make sure to use a mask for protection. The mold spores and charcoal dust float in the air when you are working on detailing your barbecue. It can get into your lungs and cause medical conditions you do not want. Therefore, be careful and use a mask.

Be Careful With Metal Bristle Brush

Do not use a metal scraper, scrubber, or bristle on the porcelain surface.

Charcoal Grill Maintenance Tips

Here are some precautions for not getting excessive grease and stubborn molds on the grill.

Clean After Using

After using your charcoal grill, clean it carefully to keep it grease-free. Suppose you keep it with grease and food residues after your BBQ night. It will gradually grow excessive debris on it. This ash of charcoal will block the windows for heating. It will create imbalanced heating on your grill and eventually degrade its grilling quality.

Use It a Few Times during Grilling Season

Have you ever counted how many times you have grilled foods and enjoyed grilling during a grilling season? It is usually more than once for maximum grill lovers.

However, grilling often but not cleaning the grill makes it unprepared and unhealthy for the next grilling. Due to the mass of carbon piling and grease on its surface, the grill becomes prone to mold. This mold and grease ultimately create rust in your grill.

Prevent Mold Forming

When a place or object lacks proper air and sunlight, any moisture in that place forms mold and increases it gradually. Similarly, when you keep your grill covered for a long time, the moisture from food residues and grease from grilled food creates a suitable ambiance for forming mold.

Therefore, it is necessary to clean the grill after using it once a month, even if you do not use it frequently, and keep it in an open area.

Related reading: How to Clean Mold Off Grill?

Unclog the Ventilator

There is a heat-passing ventilator or holes between the grill and its pit. After using a grill for a while, the ashes of charcoals clog in that area. So keep that area clean to keep your charcoal grill performing better.

Related reading: How To Clean Pellet Grill?

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should you clean your charcoal grill?

You should keep your charcoal grill clean to ensure the cleanliness and taste of grilled food intact. Food residues and grease from your previous cooking can ruin the taste of your freshly cooked foods.

How many times a year should you clean your charcoal grill?

Usually, it is better to clean your grill after every use. Nevertheless, you can clean your grills at the start and end of every grilling season. If you love grilling year-round, you can clean it once or twice a year.

What tools do you need to clean your charcoal grill?

You can use a few necessary tools to clean your charcoal grill, including a plastic scraper, one-inch metal scraper, grill brush, aluminum foil, hosepipe, degreasing agent, clean towel, etc.

How much time would it take to clean a charcoal grill?

The time you clean your charcoal grill depends on how you want to clean your grill. Usually, it takes 5 to 15 minutes to clean your charcoal grill. It takes 30 to 20 minutes to clean your grill for deep cleaning.


Grill lovers love to invest their passionate time and money in a decent grill. Be it a traditional komodo or modern charcoal grill. It will always keep an essential role in your grilling experience. Only using it for many years for grilling is worth the investment.

Cleaning your charcoal grill regularly keeps it running smoothly for a long time without any hassle. All you need to do is clean the grill segments properly with ideal tools and strategy. We hope that our insights on this article will assist you in cleaning your charcoal grill with ease and let you enjoy the best of juicy grilled cuisines!

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