Summer is grilling season, but a poorly maintained gas or charcoal grill can affect the flavor of your food and put your family’s health at risk.
According to Craig Anderson, the grill cleaning expert at Appliance Analyst, it’s essential to deep-clean your grill at least once or twice a year. Ensure your grill is in tip-top shape with these helpful tips on how to clean a gas grill and how to clean a charcoal grill.
READ THE MANUAL
The manufacturer of your gas grill or charcoal grill may recommend specific cleaning methods or products and tell you what not to do.
REMOVE THE COVER
Wash the cover and dry it well to avoid mold growth.
PREHEAT THE GAS GRILL
To make the job easier, turn up the heat for a few minutes to loosen pesky food particles and soften the grease. You can pre-heat the charcoal grill in your oven to achieve the same benefits.
CLEAN THE COOKING GRATES
While grates are still warm but cool enough to touch, remove them for cleaning.
Use a stiff wire brush to remove debris. “If you don’t have these tools on hand, don’t worry — you can also use a ball of aluminum foil instead,” Anderson says. “This will also do the job without scratching your grill.”
HOW TO CLEAN A CHARCOAL GRILL WITHOUT A WIRE BRUSH - THESE TIPS WORK GAS GRILL, TOO
Those concerned about scratches can try a nylon bristle brush.
An overnight soak can remove stubborn stains. Add a cup of ammonia to a gallon of warm water and let the grates sit. Or use a mixture of dishwashing soap and water.
Cast-iron grates benefit from a coating of cooking oil. Not only does the application season the grates, but it helps to keep them from rusting, says Joonas Jokiniemi, founder of Grill Smoke Love.
Always protect cast-iron grates from rain and humidity,” he adds. “The best way is to use a grill cover or store the grill indoors in a dry storage room.”
Note: Avoid using toxic solutions when you clean your gas grill or charcoal grill. Chemical cleaners can leave a residue that may taint the food you’re grilling.
CHECK THE GAS GRILL BURNERS
Keeping your gas grill burners well-maintained is essential if you want perfectly grilled proteins. To get started, turn off the gas and disconnect the propane tank or natural gas line.
Remove the grates and grab your grill brush—a toothbrush can help you reach tight spaces. Use both to clean your burners thoroughly.
Next, reassemble your gas grill and test the burners. If they’re not working perfectly after cleaning, don’t hesitate to contact the manufacturer or a repair service for assistance.
INSPECT THE IGNITION SYSTEM OF YOUR GAS GRILL
Look for loose wires or connections and replace any components.
Clear the gas port holes
Over winter, a pest may have sought refuge in your gas grill, and leaves and other debris can collect in hard-to-see nooks. Both can clog the ports can affect the grill’s function, says Michael Hollander, president of BBQ Depot.
“When they clog, gas is forced through the remaining ports, eventually causing stress cracks,” he explains.
Hollander recommends using a small drill bit to clean the holes surrounding the burner.
CLEAN THE DRIP PAN OR GREASE TRAY OF YOUR GAS GRILL
A neglected drip pan is a breeding ground for bacteria. Empty and scrub the pan often, and line it with aluminum foil to make the next cleanup a breeze.
Empty the catcher on charcoal grills to prevent buildup.
WIPE DOWN THE GAS GRILL OR CHARCOAL GRILL'S EXTERIOR AND THE HOOD'S INTERIOR
Depending on the grill’s condition, a damp cloth might remove dirt and grease. For stubborn stains, mix four parts water and one part white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray, rinse and dry.
Or, mix equal parts baking soda and water to create a scrubbing paste. But use caution on stainless steel surfaces—and wipe with the grain.
LUBRICATE THE HINGES
Over time, grill hinges can get stiff. Use a food-grade lubricant to extend their lifespan.
PRACTICE ROUTINE MAINTENANCE
Staying on top of your gas grill or charcoal grill’s maintenance will make your life easier.
- After each use, use a grill brush or scraper to remove food debris or residue from the grates. Then, heat the grill on high for a few minutes, then use the brush or scraper to scrub away the grime.
- Next, spray vegetable oil on the grate to prevent food from sticking during the next grilling session.
- Empty the grease pan or dispose of ashes.
- Store your gas or charcoal grill in a dry place and use a cover to protect against dust and other debris.
That’s all it takes to ensure your grill is ready to produce the next mouthwatering meal.