How to Clean Your Grill (And Keep it That Way)

Cooking and eating may be more fun, but don't neglect these steps to keep your grill in working order.

When the sun’s out and the warm weather is in full swing, odds are that your grill sees plenty of use. After you’re done making beautifully crusted steaks and charred corn on the cob, though, don’t forget to take care of your investment. Some easy cleaning habits will extend the lifetime of your grill and keep rust and grime at bay.

Clean the burner tubes

If you’ve got a propane grill and have never done this, odds are that your grill isn’t getting as hot as it could be. All you’ve got to do is remove the grates and burner tube covers, then scrub them with a brush to clear up the buildup of gunk that can block the flame output. If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s a video.

Scrape the grates

Invest in a sturdy wire brush and then heat your grill up to cook. Just before you put your food on, give the grates a thorough scrub to get rid of the leftover residue of charred food and grease. It’ll give you a clean surface and keeps your expensive steak from sticking to the grates.

Clear off stubborn residue

If there’s too much buildup on your grates to scour off easily, cover the grates with aluminum foil, shiny side down. Then light the grill and let it get as hot as possible. The aluminum foil focuses the heat onto the grates and brings them to an insanely high temperature to incinerate any especially resilient buildup, like putting your oven in self-cleaning mode. One the grates are superheated, take off the foil and scrub the grates. Any buildup should fall off easily.

Clean up your ash

We know, it’s a pain in the ass. But if you cook with charcoal, clear out the cooled ash each time you’re done grilling. If you let it build up, it can get wet on a rainy day and cement into a hard-to-get-rid-of sludge. Plus, it give you better airflow, which means hotter coals, for your next grilling session.

Wash removable parts

If you can easily remove any grimy parts of your grill, take them out and give them an aggressive wash with hot water and Dawn soap (or anything similarly grease-killing). It should clean off a lot of caked-on oil and residue. Just dry everything thoroughly once you’re finished, and maybe heat the grill once you’ve put them back just for good measure so that there’s no risk of rust.

Don’t forget the exterior

It’s probably a no-brainer, but make sure to give the outside of your grill a good cleaning, too. Use a towel and some heavy-duty all-purpose cleaner (we like Fantastik) to clean and disinfect all the surfaces, especially if there’s an attached counter for resting your food on.

Done cooking? Leave the grates dirty

Counter-intuitive, we know. But if you leave any stuck-on scraps of food and residue on your burners once you’re done, it’ll give the grates a layer of protection against rust until the next time you fire up the grill. So, scrub the grates clean just before you start cooking when the grates are hot, but leave them dirty once you’re done.

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