Skip to main content

Don’t skip this step for summer barbecues: How to clean your grill’s exterior

Know how to clean the outside of a grill so your burgers don't disappoint

Male chef grilling and barbequing in garden. Barbecue outdoor garden party. Handsome man preparing barbecue meat. Concept of eating and cooking outdoor during summer time.
Volodymyr / Adobe Stock

Even if you don’t like cooking, you’ll jump to man a grill to show off your barbeque skills. But what about the cleanup after? Scraping off the food is the easy part, but when was the last time you cleaned the rest of the grill? If you have no idea, to the point you aren’t sure if you ever have, put the tongs down and listen. Here’s how to clean the outside of a grill so it lasts more than a few summers.

How to clean the outside of a grill

A man cleaning grill grates with a wire brush.
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock

It doesn’t matter what kind of grill you have; you need to know how to clean the outside of it, and you actually need to do it.

What you’ll need

  • Dish soap (we love the classic blue Dawn)
  • Warm water
  • A bucket
  • A gentle sponge 
  • Soft cloth for drying
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar

Before you start cleaning

We just want it said — make sure your grill is completely cooled before you start cleaning it, just like you would wait for your car to cool down before you check any fluids. That’s step one. 

Other important things to do before scrubbing are to turn off the gas tank and double-check that the drip pan is empty. Safety first. Once your final checks are done, get started.

You will either like the way soap and warm water do the trick or be a baking powder type of person. Try them out and see which your grill likes better.

Soap and warm water

Like the commercials where they wash the ducks with dish soap, you’ll lather your grill. Get a bucket of warm water and add at least one teaspoon of dish soap, adding more as needed to get the best suds. Using the sponge or cloth, start at the top, then the sides, and then work down the grill. Rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth.

Baking soda

Another way to clean the outside of your grill is with baking soda. Add three parts baking soda to one part water to create a paste. Gently coat the grill with the paste, wait about 15 minutes, then give the grill a complete wipe down with a soft cloth. 

If your grill is really bad, add a splash of vinegar to the baking soda paste.

How to help keep the exterior of your grill clean

Charcoal offset smoker during backyard cookout
pr2is / Shutterstock

There are a few additional tips to get the most years out of your grill. The more love you show it, the longer it will be there for you to tackle hamburgers.

Pay attention to how often you use it

How much you use your grill will determine how often you should clean the outside of it. If you grill daily, no matter the weather, clean the outside of your grill every couple of weeks. If you grill a few times a week, scrub the outside every three to four weeks. If you use your grill only every so often, once a month is fine to keep it in top shape.

Use other tools to keep it clean

Investing in a grill cover is a must if you don’t want to clean your grill every time you use it, even if you store it in a garage. Dust is no one’s friend. And to keep the rust away, invest in a stainless-steel polish.

Even though summer is the season for barbeques, keeping your grill ready to feed the block all year round isn’t a bad idea. We want every click of the tongs to be as enjoyable as possible, and for everyone in the neighborhood to be jealous of your grill skills, not looking at how dirty your grill is.

Editors' Recommendations

Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
Healthy grilling ideas: These foods will have you feeling great all summer long
The best healthy grilling ideas from appertizers to desserts
healthy grilling ideas sweet potato fries and dips

The summer barbecue season is something of a trip. On one hand, there are messages — albeit toxic ones — about looking a certain way in a swimsuit (now would be a good time to remind everyone that every body is a swimsuit body). Conversely, summer soirees are often full of foods that don't quite make the cut on the relatively loose Mediterranean diet. Finding healthy grilling ideas can be a challenge.
"Summer BBQs can be tricky if you're trying to eat healthily," said Beata Rydyger, BSc, RHN, a registered nutritionist and contributor to HPVHUB. "Often, the foods are high in calories and heavily processed, with lots of sugar in sauces and snacks, as well sodium and preservatives."
To be clear, there's nothing wrong with having these foods if you want—whether you have them every once in a while or opt for them all summer. However, you may also have health and fitness goals and be looking for ways to enjoy yourself while maintaining what most dietitians and doctors would consider a "nutritious" diet. These healthy grilling ideas will satisfy your tastebuds and help you hit your personal goals.
Best healthy appetizers for a barbecue

A veggie plate is a no-brainer, but the dish may not be your cup of tea. Experts went beyond that tried and true suggestion and even shared dip strategies.
Fruit skewers
Throw some fruit on the grill beside the chicken and shrimp for an app that fits the BBQ bill while remaining nutritious.

Read more
Upgrade your next barbecue with elk, the healthy red meat you should be eating
First Light Farms is raising high-quality pasture-raised elk deliverable to your front door.
cooked elk with cup

First Light Farms elk backstrap. Marilynne Bell / First Light Farms

If you're looking for a red meat alternative to beef that's delicious and packed with nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids, protein-packed elk might be the answer. A great place to get pasture-raised elk delivered is First Light Farms. This New Zealand-based company raises 100% grass-fed wagyu, venison, and, most recently, elk, all deliverable to your front door. First Light Farms sent us several of their items to try, and we interviewed them to learn all about this must-try red meat.

Read more
Don’t make this super common mistake when chilling wine in an ice bucket
Chill your wine easily without the need for any expensive equipment.
Rose wine in ice bucket

When it comes to chilling wine, there are countless ways to get the job done. The market is saturated with products made specifically for cooling wine down to the perfect drinking temperature, from luxurious wine refrigerators to elegant marble wine chillers. We can almost guarantee that the passionate wine lover in your life probably has a pantry full of these fancy contraptions, each one more exciting (and expensive) than the last. After all, wine is an art and enjoying it at the correct temperature is an absolute must. At the end of the day, though, even with all the bells and whistles, it's hard to beat a good old-fashioned ice bath - especially when trying to cool down that wine in a hurry. But, as simple as this wine-chilling technique may be, it is possible to get it wrong. That's why we've collected a few tips and tricks for getting that wine chilled exactly right every time.
Order matters when chilling wine

While the more aesthetically pleasing option may be to fill your favorite wine chilling bucket with ice and simply nestle in your favorite bottle or two, this method is actually pretty ineffective when it comes to chilling wine in a pinch. By dumping ice into a container and plopping the wine on top, only the bottom half of the bottle will actually chill. It's important to fully cover your wine (or other beverage) bottles with ice so that the entire bottle has a chance to actually get cold. Do this by putting your bottle(s) in the bucket first, and then topping with ice - not the other way around. The more the bottle is covered with ice, the better. While this might not get you the sexiest photo shoot of your wine luxuriously resting in an ice bath, it's the better way to get the contents cold.
Use water and...salt?

Read more