How To Clean a Charcoal Grill

How To Clean a Charcoal Grill

Whether you use a standard Weber kettle grill at home or plan to use the public grills at a park or campsite, charcoal grills do require some cleaning and maintenance to make sure they function well and cook your food properly. Here’s how to do it!


Closeup Park Charcoal Grill


If you own a charcoal grill, you should clean it at least once during the grilling season, or even twice if you grill often. You don’t want carbon or ash buildup in your grill, or rust buildup on the grill grates.


Cleaning a park grill.


Cleaning out public grills before you use them is also recommended since you don’t know who was there before you, what they made, and how long ago it was since the grill was last used.


What You Need

Grill brush or other cleaning brush
Aluminum foil
Paper or plastic bags
Bristle brush or putty knife (optional)



  1. Gather your cleaning supplies: You’ll need a grill brush, foil, paper or plastic bags, bristle brush or putty knife (optional), and fork.
  2. Clean the grill grate and the charcoal grate: Remove the grill grate and clean it with a grill brush or other coarse cleaning brush. Repeat with the charcoal grate on a kettle charcoal grill.
  3. Clean the bottom of the grill and the lid: Brush or wipe any debris out of the bottom of the grill (for a public grill, place a hand in a plastic or paper bag to sweep the debris out of the grill and into a second bag). If there is peeling black paint on the grill lid or bottom, use a bristle brush or putty knife to scrape off the carbon flakes. On kettle grills, wipe down the outside of the lid and grill with soapy water if desired.
  4. Clean out the ash catcher: Throw out any ashes and brush or wipe clean. (Public charcoal grills might not have an ash catcher.)
  5. Put the grill back together: Put all the parts of the grill back together; now you’re ready to grill! (If you’re using a public grill, you can line the grill grates with foil and poke some holes in it with a fork before lighting the grill.)

Important Notes on Maintaining Your Charcoal Grill

  • Check your ash catcher: Every time you grill, make sure the catcher is not full, and empty as needed.
  • Brush the grill grates before grilling: After you preheat the grill, brush the grate with a grill brush or wadded piece of foil to remove the burnt bits of food from the last grilling session. It’s easier to loosen the bits when the grates are hot.
  • Oil the grate: Oil the hot grates before grilling so food doesn’t stick.
  • Brush the grates after grilling: If you have time, brush the grates one more time after grilling.


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