Tips for Cleaning Your Grill

Regular maintenance will keep your barbecue in good shape for a long time, and it will help the food taste its best.

Posted by Cris Carl | May 06, 2010
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The weather is warming up, so it's time to get ready for barbecue season and tasty fun with friends and family. Clean your grill so it's ready to go ... and keep it clean all season. Read our easy grill cleaning tricks and safety tips.

Good Reasons to Clean Your Grill

While some homeowners think cleaning your grill is a waste of time because the high heat will destroy bacteria and burn off encrusted food the next time you use it, that's not exactly true. Some bacteria will remain on the grill, together with potentially carcinogenic residue and (blecchh!) burnt grease left over from your last barbecue session.

Cooking on a clean grill also cuts down excess smoke and the possibility of dangerous flare-ups. And like most household tools, your grill will stay in good shape longer with regular maintenance.

Grill Cleaning – Safely

  1. Always handle hot grills (as well as coals and ashes, if any) with care, to avoid scorching yourself or causing a fire.

  2. Be careful with wire grill cleaning brushes, whose bristles can break off and lodge in someone’s throat! If you must use a wire brush, choose a good quality model and replace it when it starts to wear. Or try one of the alternatives.

  3. Empty the grill’s grease collection tray as required to avoid the possibility of a grease fire. Never dump grease down a sink or toilet, as it can clog drains. Instead, pour it into an empty tin can and allow to harden before putting it in the garbage.

The Right Grill Cleaning Tools

The cleaning process differs slightly depending on the type of grill you own. No matter what, clean the grill each time you use it. To make the job easier, tackle cleaning shortly after use.

Tools you'll need:

  • safe grill cleaning tool, such as a wooden scraper or a pumice-like cleaning block
  • protective gloves
  • rags
  • warm soapy water
  • newspaper to lay the grill on to dry

Lightly spray the grate with oil after cleaning to prevent rust and make the next cleanup a little easier. Thorough cleanings only need to be done once or twice a month, unless you use your grill daily.

Charcoal Grills

The average charcoal grill is easier to clean than a gas grill since there aren't as many parts and no propane to worry about.

Once you have finished cooking, but before the coals cool, use a scraper to remove encrusted food from the grate. Before starting up the next time, scoop out any remaining ash. At least once a month, wash the entire grill with baking soda or another mild abrasive.

Gas Grills

Cleaning a gas grill is essentially the same as a charcoal grill, except you have more parts to clean and you must remember to disengage the gas before you start.

Among the important tips for cleaning your grill, here's a surprise: The knob on your grill labeled "clean" does not actually clean your grill. The "clean" knob is intended to allow the user to pre-heat the grill before cleaning, which makes the job easier. The heat loosens or burns off encrusted food and warms residual grease.

Once you have scraped and cleaned your grate, remove layers of lava rock/briquettes and the metal plates. Clean all of the pieces with warm soapy water. Allow them to dry and replace in sequence. Hook up your propane again, remembering to check for cracks in the connector line. Heat the grill up to burn off any soapy residue.

Stainless Steel Grills

All of the same rules apply for stainless steel grills, except for the maintenance of the exterior. Here are the most important tips for cleaning a grill made of stainless steel:

  • Never use an abrasive cleaner
  • Be aware that excessively high heat discolors stainless steel
  • Acidic sauces and marinades will corrode metals
  • Moisture is your enemy -- cover your grill

Enjoy Your Outdoor Space

Keeping a clean grill will provide you extended years of enjoyment and tastier, healthier food for you and your guests. If you're planning to be outdoors a lot this summer, make sure your backyard is at its best. Hire a landscaper to get your lawn and hardscape into beautiful summery shape.

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