One of the most important parts of grilling is cleaning and maintenance. Now that summer is here many of us will be firing up our outdoor grill, have you cleaned yours yet? In order to get your outdoor grill ready for great barbecues this season, check out these helpful tips to make sure your grill fires up and runs perfectly every time.
Things to note…
Not all outdoor grills are created equal. Always read your owner’s manual for specific guidelines and cleaning instructions. Most are available online at the grill manufacture’s website.
Keep it hot. The best time to clean an outdoor grill is right after food is removed, the cooler you allow your grill to get, the more time you’re giving stuck-on food and grease to harden.
Use protection. After each use, place a grill cover over your outdoor grill or store in a sheltered area. This is especially important during the off-season to help prevent mechanical failures, rusting and dirt buildup.
Time to clean…
Gas Grill Interior
Step #1: Check the flame tamers. These directly cover the burners and are also called heat tents and vaporizer bars. To clean, simply brush off debris with a wire brush. Do not put oil on flame tamers after cleaning.
Step #2: Burners should be checked when flame tamers are removed. Clogged burners can lead to uneven cooking. Scrub burners with a dry wire brush, giving attention to the burner port area (the jets where the gas comes out) to remove any food residue or grease. Ceramic burners are delicate and need to be cleaned carefully. Turn ceramic burners on for 10 minutes to burn off excess grease and food debris. With the burner off, use tweezers to remove any large food debris.
Step #3: Routine brushing of the cooking grates with a dry wire brush or grill stone prevents food and bacteria buildup. Burners must be off before cleaning! If using a grill stone, no water is required — the stone will remove residue. After you have cleaned the cooking grates, spray them with cooking oil.
Step #4: Before you start your gas grill, take a moment to inspect the fuel line for cracks. Monthly, perform a more thorough inspection. Brush soapy water along the connections. If bubbles form your gas is leaking, tighten your connections or replace the line.
Step #5: Clean the venture tubes. Venturies are the tubes that mix air and gas and feed to the burners. They need to be clear to work properly. The tubes make good homes for spiders and insects during the off-season. Even a small blockage can become a fire hazard. Remove the entire burner/tube assembly and clean with soapy water. Clean the holes with a wire brush or paper. Replace when dry and ensure the venture tube is properly aligned with the gas valve.
Step #6: Check propane levels on the gauge atop the tank. If you don’t have a gauge, pour warm water down the side of the tank and follow it with your hand. The place where the water temperature starts to feel cold is your fuel level.
Step #7: Check the ignition system for a spark. No spark? Check that the pressure regulators are tight on the tank and you can try manual ignition using a grill lighter or maintaining a safe distance from the flame. If that works, check the batteries, in your ignition switch and clean or replace the electrodes. Your owner’s manual will show you how.
Charcoal Grill Interior
Step #1: Clean the inside of the bowl with two easy steps. First, clean excess debris and ash out with your brush. Second, clean any leftover residue with a mild dish soap and steel wool pad – for best results make sure you have both, not just one or the other.
Step #2: The cooking grates can be cleaned before or after cooking. Simply preheat the grill by opening all the vents and keeping the grill at a high temperature for 10-15 minutes. Then use a stainless steel bristle brush to remove any excess debris left on the grates. This is important because any residue left on the cooking grate could cause food to stick during future grilling.
Step #3: Get ride of the ash. After the grill has fully cooled, remove grates and clear your ash catcher, or remove ashes using a garden trowel or large spoon. Then use the wire brush to sweep out any remains. If your grill has an ash catcher remove it and discard all the ash from the pan before replacing.
Grill surfaces come in different materials and require different cleaning methods for each.
• Porcelain-Coated Steel Lids: These grills are fragile and can crack or break easily, so treat them like you would glass. Clean with a mild dishwasher soap and water. Dry with a microfiber rag or paper towels. To polish, use window cleaner.
• Powder-Coated Steel Lids: Clean with mild dishwashing soap and water. Dry with a microfiber towel or paper towels. Do not use stainless-steel polish on what might be a ‘stainless look,’ as this will damage the finish.
• Stainless-Steel Lids: Clean with soapy water fist to remove any grease and grime. For stubborn, baked-on particles or discoloring, use a sponge and scrub with the grain of the stainless-steel. Going against the grain will damage the appearance of the grill. Afterward, rinse with warm water to remove all soap. Dry with a clean cloth or rag. Once the lid is dry, polish with a stainless-steel cleaner or wipe.
• Painted Lids: These can be refinished using high-temperature paint. Use sandpaper and a scraper to remove any corrosion and wash the surface thoroughly with soap and water. Once dry, paint the surface according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
• If your outdoor grill sits on pavement, place a tarp or a grill mat underneath it to catch debris, grease and food.
• Give your grill a thorough cleaning at least twice a year. If you grill frequently, a good rule of thumb is every 5 to 10 uses. Not cleaning a dirty grill can shorten its lifespan.
• Never place a grill in a garage, breezeway, carport or under any flammable surface.
• Always store LP containers upright in a secure position and never store them in your car.
• Keep kids and pets away from a hot grill, just as you would a hot stove.
• Always light your grill with the lid open.