Your grill probably needs a good cleaning before summer. Here are some basic tips
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Your grill probably needs a good cleaning before summer. Here are some basic tips

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You love your grill and all the goodness that comes from it, but every so often, you need to give it some love in return. If your outdoor grill was stored over the winter, it will probably need some attention. Even if you grill year-round and do regular maintenance, your grill deserves a once-a-year cleaning. Keeping it clean is key to keeping it doing what it’s supposed to do: churn out some terrific eats. Here are some basic tips:

The tools you’ll need

  • Wire brush (see note), grill stones or wooden grill scrapers for cleaning grates
  • Paper towels, cleaning rags or sponges
  • Cleaning agents (ones designed for the grill or soap and water)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Putty knife

Note: Grilling expert Steven Raichlen writes in “Project Fire” (Workman, $22.95): “When choosing a wire grill brush, make sure the bristles are anchored in thick twisted wire.” He says these brushes reduce risk of shedding bristles that could end up in food.

Gas grills

Always check your grill manual for suggestions on proper care, tools to use and recommended cleaning products.

  • Exterior: For the outside of stainless-steel gas grills, you can use soap and water or a cleaner specified for stainless.
  • Heat plates: These cover the burner tubes. Scrub away any residue build-up or replace them.
  • Burner tubes: Over time, these can get clogged with food, drippings and even insects. Make sure the grill is off and cool. Run a wire grill brush up and down on the holes to remove any debris. If the tubes are clogged a lot (the heat will be uneven), you may need to remove them completely. If possible, run a thin wire brush through the inside to unclog the holes. Also inspect the burners, making sure there are no cracks that can cause uneven cooking. You can also replace them.
  • Lava rock or ceramic briquettes: Look for ones that are crumbling or have a lot of debris or grease on them; replace if necessary.
  • Interior: Scrape out any carbon buildup. Use a shop vacuum or sweep out the interior of the grill.
  • Drip pan: Clean out the grease drip pan.
  • Hoses: Check connector hoses, making sure they are not cracked or brittle. Check gas connections including LP tanks. The experts at weber.com recommend dabbing a mixture of dish soap and water on all connections. With the control knobs off, turn on the gas. If bubbles form, there is a leak and you shouldn’t use the grill. You will need to replace the tank or connections.
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Charcoal grills

Always check your grill manual for suggestions on proper care, tools to use and recommended cleaning products.

  • Grate: Give the grate a good cleaning with a wire brush both on top and underneath. Or buy a new grate. At lowes.com, a new grate for a 22-inch round kettle-style grill is $15.99.
  • Interior: The inside kettle of the grill will no doubt have some buildup of grilling or carbon residue. Scrape off the excess using a putty knife if necessary and give it a good scrubbing with a grill brush or with some mild dish soap and sponge.
  • Exterior: Wash the outside with soap and water.
  • Ash catcher: Clean out the ash catcher.
  • Vents: For the damper vents, Raichlen recommends lubricating them with WD-40 so they open and close easily.

Sources: Free Press research, weber.com, lowes.com.

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