How to Get Your Grill Ready for Summer

Brush off the winter dust, and give your grill a thorough cleaning before the first cookout of the season.

Grilling season is officially getting started. That means that now is the time to be sure your grill is in ideal shape to serve you well all summer long. So while you are in spring cleaning mode, give your grill a good going-over to spiffy it up after its winter storage. Here is the best way to get your grill in shape for the cooking to come this summer.

1. Get the right tools for the job.

To properly clean your grill, you will need some gear. A wire brush and some scrubby sponges will help with the crusty bits. A dishwashing soap with de-greasing properties, like Dawn, will work on the icky stuff, and for stubborn areas that are really caked on, a paste of baking soda and white vinegar will help.

A small bowl of warm soapy water and a larger bucket of clean water nearby will also be needed. Some rubber gloves would not be amiss, especially if you have sensitive skin. And if your grill has a stainless-steel exterior, a spray-on stainless cleaner will help polish it up.

2. Check any connections.

If your grill is gas or propane, or has an electric or battery-operated starter, check all the hoses, connections, and other technical components to be sure they are all undamaged. If you have a propane unit, check the tank to see how full it is, and change out any batteries for fresh.

3. Start with fire.

The intense heat of fire in your grill helps to burn off debris; hopefully you already know this from keeping it clean between uses. Light your grill, or fill with charcoal, close the lid and let it heat as hot as you can for at least 30 minutes.

Use your grill brush to first scrape any major gunk or ash from the grates. Then, dip your grill brush's wires into the bowl of warm soapy water and hit the grates again, finishing with the brush dipped in clean water. Repeat in sections until every part of the grill grate is clean.

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Leave the grill open, and let cool completely. Once fully cooled, disconnect the gas or propane lines, or empty the charcoal out. If there is any chance the coals might not be fully extinguished, be sure you are putting them into a metal bucket or dump them into a bucket of water. Any leftover debris can be scraped with a putty knife or brushed off.

4. Then a bath.

Any removable pieces like grill grates, grease traps, warming grates, flavor bars, knobs, or other accessories should be removed and soaked in a bucket of warm soapy water for at least 30 minutes. While they are soaking, use a handheld vacuum to remove any loose debris from the firebox. Rinse the grill with a hose or wipe down with wet cloths.

The removable pieces can now get a good scrubbing. Once clean, set to the side to dry completely. Give the exterior of the grill a really good clean as well, using your scrubby sponges, and the baking soda paste if you have seriously carbonized areas.

If it is a stainless-steel grill, give the outside a polish with your stainless cleaner. Once the interior pieces are dry, reassemble your grill, reconnecting any gas or propane lines.

5. Fire it up again.

Light your grill or set up another small batch of charcoal, and let heat for 15 minutes. Then give one last brush of the grates with your wire brush and use a paper towel soaked in a neutral high-smoke-point oil (like safflower or peanut oil) to brush the grates while they are hot. Let the grill cool completely, and you are ready for cooking.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

For optimal performance, as well as maintaining the best condition of your grill, you should perform this cleaning a minimum of every six months. For those of us who live in an area where weather limits us to six to eight months of use, consider doing a deep clean about halfway through your grilling season.

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