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How to Clean Your Outdoor Grill


Grilling After you cook a meal on your kitchen stovetop, you (hopefully) wipe up your mess. Your outdoor grill, like your stovetop, needs a little TLC after each use.

Here are some essential grill-care tips that will help your grill last longer… and your food taste better.

Store your grill in a dry place

I can’t tell you how many bedraggled grills I’ve seen that “live” outdoors year-round in the rainy, moldy Pacific Northwest. You’ll extend the life of your grill if you move it into a garage or shed or covered area when it’s not in use. At the very least, purchase a grill cover to protect it.

Great Grates

Grates can be buggers to clean, so lots of folks avoid cleaning them after every use.  But you should clean them after every grilling session.

  1. Allow your grill to cool down till it’s warm to the touch (before the gunk hardens).
  2. Remove the grates, and use a brass wire grill brush to loosen stubborn food particles.
  3. Wash the grates in warm, soapy water.
  4. To remove heavy-duty grime, spray on oven cleaner and let it sit until the grease is softened. Spray the inside of the grill with oven cleaner, too.
  5. Once the grease has loosened, wipe the oven cleaner off with paper towels or a sponge, and then wash with a mild detergent and water (you may need to apply gentle pressure with a wet, soapy fine steel wool pad). Sponge out with clear water and wipe dry.
  6. If you have a cast iron grate, get it nice and clean after every use, and then wipe on some vegetable oil with a paper towel to keep it from rusting.

Cleaning a Charcoal Grill

  1. Once your grill is completely cool, remove the grates and clean them as instructed above.
  2. Scoop out the ashes with a fireplace shovel or garden trowel and place them in a small galvanized trashcan with a lid. Brush out any remaining ash residue. If your grill has an ash catcher, empty that, too. It’s important to remove ashes because they absorb moisture, which could cause your grill to rust. A clean grill also ensures adequate airflow every time you grill.
  3. With a non-abrasive cloth, wipe down the outside of the grill and lid with a warm soap and water solution, and rinse with clear water.

Cleaning a Gas Grill

Some gas grills have a “clean” setting. Like a self-cleaning oven, it will burn up gunk that’s slipped into the grill, but you still need to wipe up the ashes from the burn-off.

  1. If your grill doesn’t have a self-cleaning function, turn it on high for 10-15 minutes with the lid closed to burn off excess food particles.
  2. Then turn off the grill and let it cool till it’s warm to the touch. Clean the grates as explained above, and clean off the barrier above the burners (metal plates, lava rock, or ceramic briquettes).
  3. For heavy-duty yearly cleaning, disconnect the gas and then lift out each grill part one at a time.
  4. Inspect the gas connection and burners to ensure nothing blocks the gas flow. Clean and/or replace parts as needed.
  5. Clean any ceramic briquettes or lava rocks (if your grill uses them) to get rid of acrid smoke smells.
  6. Wipe down every component with warm soapy water. Rinse with clear water and dry completely.
  7. After re-assembling your grill, let it heat up completely before using it to cook on so that any remaining soap residue burns off.

Rich's for the Home carries a full line of charcoal, gas, electric, and pellet grills and grill-cleaning accessories. Visit one of our five Seattle-area showrooms in Lynnwood, Bellevue, Southcenter, Tacoma, or Silverdale.