Summer is the time of year when everyone gets together with friends and family for cookouts, barbecues, and other outdoor events. If you haven’t taken care of your grill correctly leading up to this season, you won’t be able to enjoy grilling as much as you could. It’s one thing to break in your grill when you first buy it. It’s another to keep grill cleaning and maintenance top of mind year round.
This guide is packed with cleaning tips for maintaining your charcoal or gas grill so you can enjoy some tasty dishes with your loved ones this season—and for many seasons to come.
Maintenance Before You Grill
Before you fire up your grill, there are a few things you should do to prep:
1. Clean the Outside of the Grill
Before using your grill, make sure the outside of it is clean to ensure no exterior debris contaminates the food. Below is how to clean your grill’s exterior no matter what material it’s made from:
- Dust off the surface of your grill with a Char-Broil bristle brush before wiping it with dish soap and warm water.
- If you own a stainless steel grill, you may want to polish the surface for a smooth finish. To do this, clean the lid and side tables using a steel cleaner & polish aerosol. Alternately, you could use white vinegar and paper towels.
- For grills made from porcelain, use glass cleaner.
2. Clean the Inside of the Grill
Keeping the interior of your grill clean can help prevent your freshly grilled dishes from tasting of char or residue from previously cooked foods.
How to Clean a Charcoal Grill
- Remove the grill grates and clean the ashes from the ash catcher. If your grill doesn’t have an ash catcher, scoop out the ashes and dispose of them properly.
- Clean the charcoal grills with a wire brush and a spray-on oven cleaner.
- Wait for the oven cleaner to loosen the residue on the grates before wiping them with a paper towel.
Pro tip: If you don’t have a grill brush, crumple a large sheet of aluminum foil as an alternative.
How to Clean a Gas Grill
- Start by lighting your burners on high for 15 minutes (max) to let any leftover grease burn off.
- Turn the gas off and let the grill cool down. It is easier to scrub residue from the grates and burners using a nylon grill brush or wire brush. Then use warm, soapy water to rinse clean.
- If your grill has a drip pan, wash it off to remove the food bits it catches while you’re grilling.
- Pour water along the gas line and the connecting tank. Then, turn on the propane. If you see bubbles forming on the connecting line, either tighten the connection or replace the line with a brand new one to avoid leaks.
3. Don’t Forget Grate Care Before Cooking on Your Freshly Cleaned Grill
Food sticks onto your grill grates if you don’t coat them with vegetable or cooking oil. To do this, pour the oil on a towel and use tongs to rub it all over the grill.
Maintenance After You Grill
When you’re finished whipping up your favorite foods, take the time to properly clean your grill so that it’s in top shape when you’re ready to use it again.
4. Get Rid of Tough-to-Remove Residue
Even if you coated your grates in vegetable oil, there’s still a chance some food will stick. Below are steps on how to get rid of residue after using your grill:
- You can typically remove food debris with a scraper.
- If the food residue is stuck on the cooking surface despite scraping, soak the surface in soapy water first before continuing to scrape.
- For excessively dirty grills where scraping doesn’t seem to work, use a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda on the grime build-up. Once soaked, rinse the area with warm water to wash residue away.
5. Store Your Grill & Gas Tank Properly
Once you’re done with grilling, you need to store the gas tank (for gas grill owners) and the grill properly for future use. Here’s how to do it:
Gas Tank Storage
- You want to disconnect the propane tank from your propane grill first to avoid accidents while moving.
- When storing your gas tank, we recommend a dry and ventilated area, preferably in the garage, but outside your home. Keeping a gas tank indoors can be a fire hazard.
Gas Grill Storage
- You want to prevent the grill lid from accidentally opening, which could damage the inside of your grill or cause harm to others. You can avoid this by locking or taping the grill lid shut.
- It’s recommended to use a waterproof cover to protect your grill. This not only prevents your grill from rain but also protects it from scratches and cosmetic damages.
- Choosing where to store your grill can greatly impact how long your grill lasts. Similar to your gas tank, opt for dry, cool areas in the garage to prevent your grill from rusting and to keep it safe from the elements.
If you have budget and space to spare, you could opt for something like a climate-controlled backyard shed by LP. You can store your gas tank and grill inside during the winter months and fetch them out from the unit for use to keep them looking brand new.
Regular Grill Cleaning & Maintenance Can Extend the Life of Your Grill
Observing proper charcoal or gas grill maintenance can help you make the most out of summer. When you give your trusty old grill the tender loving care it deserves, you’re setting up your friends and family for years of safe, enjoyable grilling