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What is the Best Way to Clean Grill Grates? Fast and Efficient Methods (2022)

by Outdoor Cooking Pros May 07, 2021

What is the Best Way to Clean Grill Grates

Cleaning your grates is an important step to making them last longer. But the question is - is the cleaning process the SAME for all types of grates?

The BEST way to clean them actually depends on the TYPE of grates you have.

Don’t worry as our experts have prepared a COMPLETE guide on how to correctly and efficiently clean grills of any kind!

Best Way to Clean Grill Grates

Well-maintained and clean grates are the key to a sumptuous and well-cooked meal. Not only will you achieve perfect and DEFINED CHAR MARKS, but you’ll also be doing your grill a favor.

There are 3 regular cleaning methods you can try at home. We’ll also go over the safest and fastest deep cleaning method for stubborn greasy grates!

So, grab your grates, and let’s get cleaning!

Materials You’ll Need

  • Brush - check below which one is suitable for your grates (we also have grill brush recommendations)
  • Grease-cutting dish soap
  • Vegetable oil
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Paper towels or microfiber towel
  • Bucket or basin
  • Garbage bag
Materials You’ll Need

Tip: STEER CLEAR from using a wire grill brush. Not only can it damage your grates, but the grill brush bristles might also stick and transfer to your food - NOT a good combo!

See must-have grill cleaning tools here.


Cast-iron Grill Grates

Go for: wire or nylon cleaning brush

This is the toughest among the three, thus you can use a wire brush to scrub off the build-up in your grill grates. However, do NOT wash it off with water.

Once iron comes in contact with water, it becomes prone to RUSTING.

After grilling, let them cool then scrub off the dirt. Apply some vegetable or canola oil to protect the grates.

Porcelain Grates

Go for: nylon grill brush or soft-bristled pad

Porcelain Grates

In contrast to cast-iron grates, porcelain-coated ones are rust-resistant. However, it’s important that you use a nylon grill or soft-bristled pad in order to prevent scratching or chipping off the coating.

Once scratched, liquid may seep in which may cause further damage or cause them to rust.

Stainless Steel Grates

Go for: aluminum foil, nylon scouring pad

Stainless steel grates are tough and durable. However, there’s NO NEED for a ROUGH brush to scrape off the build-up on the cooking surface.

However, some dirt or food bits may cling on the sides or corners which makes them a bit difficult to remove.

The solution to this is to put the grates on HIGH  heat for 10 minutes then scrub it using crumpled aluminum foil. Use tongs to help you hold and control the foil.

Stainless Steel Grates

Finish off with light scrubbing using the nylon scouring pad.


Soaking your grates is an EFFICIENT method to clean your grates.

Not only will you be able to remove the food particles stuck on parts that are hard to reach, but this will also SANITIZE them from any bacteria or germs

  1. Grab the correct brush for your grates and do a light scrub.
  2. Fill a bucket or basin (or any container where your grates can fit) with water and add in a few drops of soap.
  3. Take the grilling parts and soak for 30 minutes to an hour.
  4. Rinse off the solution and put them over the grill.
  5. Remove any residue.
  6. Dry them off using a paper towel.


YES - you’ve read that right.

One method to remove stubborn dirt is by BURNING the grates.

Once the grates are hot enough, this softens the gunk, grime, or any leftover food and makes them easier to scrape off.

Turn the heat high for 10-15 minutes, and finally, clean the area using a foil or nylon pad.

This technique also prevents heavy brushing of the grates which might scratch or damage your grates.

Deep Cleaning

Stubborn buildup?

If you’re having a hard time removing stubborn food or grease - or BOTH! - deep cleaning grill grates might be your solution.

Deep Cleaning

It sounds daunting but it’s a SIMPLE process.

  1. To begin, mix 2 cups of vinegar and one cup of baking soda in a garbage bag.
  2. Put in your grates and seal the garbage bag with a rubber band.
  3. Leave and let them soak overnight.

 The following morning, voila!

This is the best way to clean grill grates. Food that was stuck should easily come off. If there are any residues left, these will come off with a light brushing.

Rinse the water and pat them dry using a paper towel or a microfiber towel.

When to Replace Your Grill Grates

There isn’t a definite lifespan for grates. It all depends on the use and how they're maintained.

You’ll know it’s time for a replacement when the metal seems corroded, flaking, cracked, or covered in rust.

In some cases, if the hardened grease or built-up barbecue sauce appears unsalvageable, you might have to consider replacing your grates.

When to Replace Your Grill Grates

Final cleaning tip: Also check and clean up the burner tubes of your gas grill from time to time! Here's how to clean your burner tubes. [1]

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Easiest Way to Clean Grill Grates?

The easiest approach to cleaning grill grates would be by burning them.

High heat softens the debris, which would make it easier for you to scrub off food debris. It would also prevent you from brushing the grates too hard which might scratch or damage your grates!

How Do I Make My Grill Grates Look New?

The trick to making them look new is applying a dab of oil after cleaning them.

A dab of vegetable or cooking oil will get the job done. DO NOT USE olive oil as this one heats up faster and becomes sticky.

Oil will not only make your grills non-stick but will also act as a seasoning agent for your next BBQ party!

You can also opt for a grill spray to finish them off with a shiny new look.

Another alternative would be rubbing a leftover onion on them. Not only does it help remove any dirt, the onion would also season the grill for next use!

What Is the Best Grill Grate Cleaner?

Water with soap is your safest option to clean your grill. Go for dish cleaning solutions that can cut through grease. You can also mix vinegar and baking soda for tougher grease or food debris.

DO NOT use toxic chemicals or solutions with heavy fragrance as it may stick to your grates and get transferred to your meats and vegetables.

We also have top store-bought grill cleaner recommendations.


There you have it! We hope this will get you ready for the grilling season.

This expert yet simple cleanup process would benefit your grill grates as well as your BBQ grill parties tremendously. Clean and scrub your grates after every use to avoid heavy and stubborn buildup in the future.

Check more of our guides below:

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