How To Clean Your Outdoor Grill In 8 Simple Steps

If you're planning an outdoor meal, the odds are good that it involves your barbecue grill. Interest in barbecuing and grilling is on the rise, according to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association, with more than 14 million grills sold in 2014 alone. And, it's no wonder; foods that are cooked on the grill have a deliciously smoky flavor and a nice, subtly crunchy char — what's not to love? The only downside to outdoor cooking and eating is cleaning the barbecue grill. Luckily, it's not difficult to do.

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One of the keys to easy clean-up is not letting grime build up in the first place. Cleaning your grill regularly can go a long way in making the process easier when it is time to give it a thorough scrub. Even if you don't have time to go through the full cleaning process each time you cook, quickly wiping down the grill grates with some crumpled up aluminum foil (you can even use a piece that you cooked with just ball it up so that the grease is on the inside) can loosen charred bits of food and make clean-up easier the next time around. 

Another way to maintain a clean grill and make clean-up easier is to oil the grill grates before you cook on them. Rubbing a light coating of cooking oil onto the grates before you heat them can help prevent food from sticking, burning, and building up. 

You can also cook food on your grill in aluminum foil packets, though you won't get any char and you'll have less smoky flavor. The advantage to cooking this way, however, is that little to no clean-up is necessary afterwards.

Though there are times when leaving a little bit of grease on the grates is good (it can help prevent rust and will add flavor to the food that you cook the next time around), there are also times when the build-up has to be cleaned off. When you do cook directly on the grates— leaving lots of smoky, blackened bits of char behind — there is a quick and simple way to restore your grill's sparkle. Just follow these easy steps to give your outdoor grill a thorough cleaning:

Make Sure the Grill Is Offgrill

If you have a gas grill, make sure that all of the dials are in the "off" position and that the propane tank is disconnected. If you have a charcoal , remove any old ashes and dispose of them.

Clean the Gratescrumpled aluminum foil

Using a long-handled grill brush or a ball of (which you can hold with a long-handled set of tongs), scrub the grates to loosen any debris.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal's Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.