Cleaning a barbecue grill

I have a cheap charcoal barbecue, with a cheap thin circular grill that’s made of stainless steel, I guess. You know the kind I mean? I get a new one each summer, and use it once a week, on average, for burgers, steak, et al.

My question is how well to clean the grill between uses. An awful lot of fat and who-knows-what-else gets cooked on to it, and it’s not fun to scrub with steel wool until it all comes off. I’d like to just give it the barest wipe with a tough brush (the kind they make specifically for barbecues) and then just not worry about the rest of the yuck, and figure that the heat will kill the baddies next time we use it.

But that grosses me out, to just leave the grill with grease all over it, and pretend that the heat of the coals will really disinfect it. Or maybe the heat of the coals really does disinfect it. Does anyone know, or have any other relevant advice?

If you are able to have open flames in your area, then they can be a very effective way of cleaning the grid, melting most of the congealed grease off, after which a cursory scrub with the brush is sufficient to remove the rest. In South Africa, where there are not the restrictions on smoke-producing fires that there are here in London, we barbeque over coals produced by burning wood - and while the wood is burning, we put the grid in the flames, after which it is pretty much ready for use…


Try a piece of tin foil over the open flame…works for me.

I don’t replace my grill each year.

I clean the “grill” by placing it over the flames each time I build a fire - I then use a metal spatula to scrape off the “stuff”

I don’t shoot for a sprakly clean finish.

Doing it each time keeps the crap down.

I use a propane barbecue, and I use the tinfoil trick as well.

After I’m done cueing, I crank both burners on high and place a chunk of tin foil (shiny side down) on the grill and close the lid.

I leave it for 10 minutes and remove the tinfoil. I only have to lightly scrape the gripp will a wire brush and it comes out clean as a whistle!


Hopefully i am not producing some type of harmfull gasses but i have a self cleaning oven. I just pop my grill in there and Presto!
P.S. Don’t forget to wash away the ashes.

I too just heat it up and scrape the bits off with a wire brush before each use.

Not gross, and perfectly easy.

If you try to scrape it until it’s shiny, you may end up scratching off the coating used on some cheaper grills, thus alowing rust to enter the picture. Rust is bad. Better to eat the baked on carbon, or at least let it touch your food.

My experience on the Straight Dope Boards suggests that whenever anyone raises a question that is even remotely health-related, he immediately gets about 37 million responses along the lines of “Whoa! This is some serious stuff you’re dealing with! Don’t take chances on the half-assed advice you’ll get here, but rather get thyself to an expensive specialist pronto!!!”

So I had really expected the responses here to be a debate on how long the grill needs to sit in the flame to successfully extinguish are the little germy guys. I am truly amazed at the concensus which seems to care more about a good-looking grill than an antiseptic one. I guess my mommy did an overly good job of making me afraid of the germs?

I’m sorry I can’t find a link to any proof (I’ll look some more if there is interest), but there was a study done at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that showed that cooking meat directly on a dirty grill introduced carcinogens to the people who ate it. However, simply marinating the meat for as little as 15 minutes reduced the levels of carcinogens almost completely.

Of course, that doesn’t help much with other diseases…

Well, yes I marinate my steaks (usually overnite) in citrus juice (usually lemon), with garlic and maybe some Lea & Perrins or whatever’s handy.

I was never shooting for the carcinogens though - just looking to improve the steak a little.

Easy Off oven cleaner works great.

Then again, all I do is scrape the grill clean. The heat is enough to sterilize it.

If you want to clean it for storage or for sale, spray the grills with oven cleaner, put in a plastic garbage bag and leave it for several hours. Then hose it off.