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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

How to Clean the Exterior of Your Stainless Steel Grill



When purchasing a stainless steel grill, one of the major factors you consider is the aesthetics. Nobody wants a grill that they can’t be proud to show off when they have guests over.

A beautiful grill does so much more than just look nice on the back porch. It makes you want to go outside and put the grill to use. Cooking a meal on a gorgeous grill enhances the presentation of the food, making it feel like your dinner will taste that much better.

A good grill is a shiny one

The shinier the stainless steel grill, the more you'll use it. Learn how to keep yours sparkling!
The shinier the grill, the more you’ll use it. Learn how to keep yours sparkling!

Gorgeous grills are the reason you love going outside and cooking (second to the taste of the food of course), and nothing looks better than a shiny brand new stainless steel grill. NOTHING. (I have a thing for grills.)

The problem, of course, is that stainless steel seems to attract dirt and grime more than any other surface. Grease stains appear at times when you didn’t even know grease was present. Well, today, I am going to show you how to properly clean your grill and keep it looking spectacular through an entire summer’s worth of use.

Gather your supplies

You will need a few supplies before you start:

  • Degreaser
  • Spray bottle
  • Wet towel
  • No-scratch scrub sponge
  • Microfiber cloth
  • 3M stainless steel cleaner and polisher
3M Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish, 21 oz Aerosol

This 3M product is the best on Amazon for cleaning and polishing stainless steel.

View on Amazon

Now that we’ve got the supplies, let’s go over the steps.

How to clean the exterior of your grill

  1. Spray the grill with the degreaser
  2. Use the sponge to cut through the grease and dirt (you can use the side with the scrubby if necessary)
  3. Wipe off the cleaner with your wet towel (you may need to do this twice, depending on how much spray you used)
  4. Spray 3M stainless steel cleaner and polisher on the grill
  5. Wipe the spray off with the microfiber cloth
  6. Repeat the steps as needed

Following these six steps will help you to keep your grill looking brand new no matter how many times you use it. But, as self-explanatory as the steps may seem, there are some guidelines you should follow when cleaning the exterior of your grill.

Step 1

First, you do not want to begin the cleaning process immediately after you barbecue. Spraying your cleaner while the grill is still hot will only cause the liquid to evaporate, and you will be left with a layer of film from the chemicals.

Once the grill is cold and you spray the solvent, allow it to sit for a couple of minutes. This gives the cleaning solution time to cut through the grime that builds up during the cooking process and makes it easier for you to remove it.

This is the best degreaser at Amazon.

Citra Solv Food, 32 Ounce, Colorless, 32 Ounce

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Citra Solv Food, 32 Ounce, Colorless

Check out my post on
the best grilling pan for your BBQ.

Step 2

Use your sponge to wipe the dirt away. This is the most important part of cleaning your grill, so make sure you do it properly. When cleaning stainless steel you never want to scrub against the grain, doing so will scratch the surface and leave hideous marks on the grill – and the whole reason we are cleaning it in the first place is to keep it beautiful.

You can use the scrubby side of the sponge if necessary. Even though you’re using a no-scratch sponge, still make sure to go with the grain and not to put too much pressure on it while scrubbing.

Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Scrub Sponges, Lasts 50% Longer than the Leading National Value Brand, 9 Scrub Sponges

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Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Scrub Sponges

Step 3

Utopia Kitchen Flour Sack Dish Towels, 12 Pack Cotton Kitchen Towels - 28 x 28 Inches

Now that you have loosened up all the dirt and grease, you are ready to wipe down the grill. This won’t be the last time you wipe down the grill so don’t be worried if you still see some smudging or streaks.

View on Amazon

Utopia Kitchen Flour Sack Dish Towels

I like these flour sack towels from Amazon for wiping down my grill.

It is possible that you will have to rinse the towel and wipe again if you are unable to get all the solvent off.

Step 4

OK, you’ve removed the grime. Now it’s time to make your grill shine. Spray on the 3M stainless steel cleaner and polisher or a comparable product. 3M is the most recommended, but I also like Bar Keepers Friend for the finishing touch. This step helps return that show-room shine to your grill.

Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser Premixed Formula | 13 Oz | (2 Pack)

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Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser Premixed Formula

Burgers just look better on a clean grill.
Burgers just look better on a clean grill.

I’ve got the best BBQ appetizers for your clean grill.

Step 5

After you’ve applied the polish, wipe it away with the microfiber cloth.

It is essential that you use a microfiber cloth here if you want to maintain the beautiful shine that stainless steel is known for. A regular towel will leave smudges. Don’t worry, it it won’t harm the surface, so if a cotton towel is all you have then go ahead and use it.

Best Microfiber Cleaning Cloths – Pack of 50 Towels

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Best Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

This 50 pack of microfiber cloths from Amazon means you’ll never run out.
(Well, not for a long time.)

Step 6

Of course, you can’t always get everything perfect in one shot. If you notice that you still have dirt build up or grease stains on the exterior of your grill, go ahead and repeat steps 1 -5. It really shouldn’t take more than two attempts, as long as you are keeping up with your cleaning regimen.

Here’s the best way to cook salmon on the grill.

Wrap – Up

The most important thing to remember is to clean your grill before it gets out of control. I’m not saying you have to run out and clean your grill 30 minutes after cooking, every single time you uses it. That would probably make you never want to grill! But if you take the time to clean every fourth or fifth use, you’ll keep your grill beautiful and clean.

Additional Resources

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Alexis DeAnda

Alexis DeAnda is a food fanatic, library card user, and cast iron hunter, in that order. She has been cooking for anyone that will taste it ever since her mom let her make doughnuts on Saturday mornings at the age of 7.

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