There’s something about warm weather that makes the outdoors and cooking go hand-in-hand. But before you take the lid off and fire up the grill, you should give it a thorough cleaning first. After all, good grilling is clean grilling, and the first cleaning at the beginning of the season is the most important one.
Step 1: Grates
The grates are one of the most important parts of the grill because it’s the only thing preventing your food from directly touching the heat source. Have dirty grates, and your food will taste dirty, too. But take the time to clean them thoroughly and correctly, and you’ll be one step closer to being crowned Master Chef of your neighborhood.
Start by removing them entirely and letting them soak in warn, soapy water for 15 minutes. This allows the water to work its magic by softening up caked-on crud, making the cleaning process a lot easier. Once they’ve had a good soak, take a wire brush to them and really scrub. Your goal is to get every single thing off that’s been hibernating there over winter, so you’ll need a bit of elbow grease.
Step 2: Heat Source
Most grills are either charcoal or gas, so we’ll take a look at how to clean both the proper way.
The great thing about charcoal grills is all you have to do is give it a quick clean each time you use it and you’re good to go, including just brushing out the ash. However, after it’s been sitting for the entire winter, you’ll have to be a little more thorough. Hopefully, you took out any bricks or wood before packing it up, as they’ll need to come out anyway.
Next, scrub out all the other gunk until it’s crystal clean and then wash with soapy water. Not only is this a necessary step in getting it ready, but it’ll make post-grill cleans a lot easier. Lastly, you may want to touch up any spots with paint, but make sure it’s clearly marked as “grill safe”.
Gas grills have a “clean” knob; ignore this. What the “clean” setting is good for is preheating the grill so when you actually get to cleaning it, the job’s a lot easier. Your grill should also have a barrier above the burners in the form of metal plates, lava rock, or briquettes. This area should be well scrubbed, too, for the same reasons listed in the charcoal grill section.
Step 3: The Rest of the Grill
Make sure it’s not possible for your grill to heat up (mostly a concern with having an “on” gas grill) and take the rest of the parts out, again soaking them in warm, soapy water to loosen up the grit. While the parts are soaking, inspect the rest of the grill for the following:
Once you’ve got all the parts cleaned and free of soap, re-assemble your grill back together. You can pat it dry, but it’s just as easy to let it air-dry, too. The only thing to keep in mind is let it heat completely before you cook on it, just in case you missed rinsing off a soapy spot or two.