How to Clean Barbecue Grill Racks

Clean grill grates not only keep food from sticking, but they also let the flavor of whatever you are grilling develop without interference from the charred ghosts of past meals.

How to Clean Barbecue Grill Racks

Cleaning your grill is not just common-sense food hygiene. It also helps protect the grates and certainly makes your food taste better. Using a soft, nylon-bristled brush to clear away cooking debris after every use will help maintain a clean surface. Never use a metal-bristled brush to clean your grill because it will damage ceramic grill grates, and the bristles can shed off and get into your food, posing a health risk. A more thorough monthly cleaning takes a little time, but because grease sticks more stubbornly to itself than to anything else, the more often you clean your grill, the easier it is to get it sparkling and ready for your next cookout. The deep-clean method here is an annual cleaning before storing the grill for the season, though you may need to do it more often if you live in a climate where you can grill all year-round.


  1. Scrape any visible residue off of your grill grates with a grill block or a wooden scraper. Small metal grill scrapers are also available, but avoid using the bristled edge, because the fibers can shed.

  2. Brush

  3. Go over the grill grates again with a soft nylon brush to remove the debris from your scraping. You may need to clean out the brush by tapping it, bristles down, against a hard surface. If you are cleaning ceramic or stainless steel grill grates, you can also rinse the brush under running water. Don't use a wet brush on cast iron grates, because they rust easily.

  4. Soak

  5. Remove the grates from your grill and place them in the bottom of a large, clean plastic tub with a lid.

  6. Warning

    Do not place hot ceramic grates into water because this can cause them to crack. Let them cool completely beforehand.

  7. Mix a solution of 2 cups of vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda. If this is not enough to completely cover your grates, double the recipe until you have enough of the solution to completely cover the grates. Stir to dissolve the baking soda. Use more vinegar if you have to so that you have a liquid solution rather than a paste.

  8. Pour the baking soda and vinegar mixture over the grill grates and place the lid on the tub. Let the grates soak overnight.

  9. Brush

  10. Remove the tub's lid and lift the grill grates out. Brush the grates gently with a nylon-bristled brush.

  11. Rinse

  12. Rinse ceramic or stainless steel grates thoroughly in running water and pat them dry with a clean, lint-free dust cloth or shop towel. Do not rinse cast-iron grates in running water because that can make them rust. Wipe them down thoroughly with clean, barely damp dust cloths or shop towels.

  13. Spot-Clean

  14. If there is any food still caked on your grates, apply a bit of detergent formulated specifically for grill grates. Work at the stain with a nylon-bristled brush and then rinse off ceramic or stainless steel grates with water, or simply wipe down cast iron grates.

  15. Keep 'Em Clean

  16. Reinstall your grates on the grill. In the future, oil whatever food you are grilling instead of putting oil directly onto the grill grates to help keep them clean and in perfect working order.

About the Author

Brynne Chandler has been a freelance writer and lover of all things home-related for her entire adult life. Her passions include remodeling old houses, gardening and crafts of all kinds. Equally comfortable in an evening gown or overalls, she has been helping people learn how to make the most out of what’s on hand for almost a decade. Her work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Houston Chronicle online, among other places.