Clean and Maintain Your Grill

Cooking on the grill is one of the best parts of warm weather. Learn how to clean and maintain it properly, so you get the best from your grill year-round.

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Cleaning Gas or Charcoal Grills

There is much debate as to which type of grill cooks better: Charcoal or gas. One thing that they have in common is that they are not difficult to clean. To maintain a gas or charcoal grill you will need a wire brush or grill stone, rags or paper towels, cooking oil and some cleaning supplies.

Cleaning the Grates

Routine brushing of the cooking grates prevents food and bacteria buildup. Wire brushes and grill stones are generally used to clean off the surfaces.

  • Charcoal Grills - clean surface when the grill is still hot. Use a grill brush that dispenses water to steam cleans the grates. If your brush does not have that feature a little water sprinkled onto the brush before brushing the grates produces the same effect.
  • Gas Grills - burners MUST BE OFF before cleaning! If using a grill stone, no water is required the stone will remove residue. If your cooking grates are damaged, using a grill brush may cause some of the bristles to dislodge. Replace your cooking grates. Check your grill brush to make sure that bristles are in good condition and are not coming out.

After you have cleaned the cooking grates, spray them with cooking oil.

  • Chrome wire grates - coat with vegetable oil after cleaning to prevent rust.
  • Cast iron grates - must be coated with a vegetable oil after cleaning to prevent rust.
  • Porcelain-coated steel rods and Porcelain-coated cast iron - no coating required unless porcelain is missing. Coating prior to cooking will help prevent food from sticking.
Caution

Always replace your grill brush if you have any concerns about the bristles.

Routine Maintenance

Gas Grills

  • Flame tamers - check the flame tamers (also called heat tents and vaporizer bars) to make sure they’re clear of any cooking debris and in good condition. These directly cover the burners. Debris can be scraped off. Do not put oil on flame tamers after cleaning.
  • Tube, u-shape, flat and cast burners - should be checked when flame tamers are removed. Clogged burners can lead to uneven cooking and premature burner failure. Burners can be cleaned with a wire brush. Attention should be given to the burner port area (the holes where the gas comes out) making sure that they are clean of any food residue or grease.

  • Infrared and rotisserie burners - are a little different. Ceramic burners are delicate and need to be treated cleaned carefully. After cooking is complete, turn ceramic burners on for 10 minutes to burn off excess grease and food debris. Use tweezers (burner must be off) to remove any large food debris.  
  • Grease cups - Be sure to clean on a regular basis. Grease is highly flammable and can easily catch fire. Overflowing grease can also stain deck surfaces.

Charcoal Grills

  • Remove all charcoal and ash after each use.
  • Be sure coals are no longer hot.
  • Clean ash catchers.
  • Scrape the bed of the grill with a wire brush. Keeping the bed of your grill clean will cut down on excess smoke and bad flavors.  

Semi-Annual Cleaning

Scrap ashes out of grill.

Several times throughout the year, it's smart to dismantle your grill and give it an extensive cleaning. If you have a gas grill, disconnect the propane tank before beginning the process. Then, soak the grates in soapy water or grill grate cleaner and scrub. Stubborn deposits may require a brush or steel wool.

Flame tamers and burners can be cleaned at this time too. Use a putty knife to scrape the bottom of the firebox and remove any cooking debris and grease. This will help your grill cook more evenly and reduce the potential for grease fires from accumulated grease. After all the components have been cleaned, dried and reassembled, turn on the grill and let it run for 10 minutes on high. This will allow any residual cleaning supplies to burn off.

It's also a good idea to check the chassis for rust. Rust easily comes off with a stiff wire brush or a steel wool pad. Rust areas can be painted with rust preventative paint to further preserve your grill. The joints, connectors and fasteners should also be inspected to ensure they aren't corroding. And re-tightening fasteners, replacing grill appendages (wheels, knobs and handles) and checking hinges is a good idea.

Good to Know

High temp paints should be used for any areas that get hot.

Cleaning Your Grill Exterior

Wash exterior of grill.

Grill surfaces are made out of different materials and require different cleaning methods.

  • Porcelain-coated steel lids - are fragile and should be treated similar to glass. Clean with a mild dishwashing soap and water. Dry with microfiber rags or paper towels. To polish, use window cleaner.
  • Powder-coated steel lids - clean with a mild dishwashing soap and water. Dry with micro fiber towels or paper towels. Do not use stainless steel polish on what might be a “stainless look,” this will damage the finish.
  • Stainless steel lids - clean with hot soapy water first to remove any grease and grime. For stubborn, baked on deposits 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.) Afterwards, rinse with warm water to make sure all soap is removed and then dry with a clean cloth or rag. Once the lid is dry, polish with a stainless steel cleaner or wipe.

Tips on Maintaining Your Grill

To keep your grill in tip-top shape, follow these tips:

Tip 1

Since most grills are left exposed to the great outdoors, you should always cover your grill. Grill covers are available in all shapes and sizes.

Tip 2

If your grill sits on pavement, place a tarp or a grill matt underneath it to catch debris, grease and food.


Tip 3

Replacing your grill parts is important. Read and keep your instruction manual and warranty. The instruction manual will explain how to order replacement parts.


Tip 4

Give your grill a thorough cleaning at least twice a year. Or if you grill frequently, a good rule of thumb is every five to 10 uses. Not cleaning a dirty grill can shorten the life of the grill.


Tip 5

Clean the venturi 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, paper clip or small piece of wire. Replace when dry and ensure the venturi tube is properly aligned with the gas valve.


Tip 6

Never place a grill in a garage, breezeway, and carport or under any surface that is flammable. Keep your grill at least 10 feet from the house.


Tip 7

When storing LP containers, always store upright in a secure position. And never store them in your car.

 

Caution

Make sure the venturi is in place either by sight or with your fingers. Not having the venture tube placed over the gas valve can be dangerous if the grill is lit.