Grillin’ up the good eats is a great way to put the summer feel into your food year round. But it can also be a bit messy and hard to clean up if the grease and juices from your meats have charred on to the grates or caked up in the drip tray (which is very hazardous!! Stay tuned for tip #7.).
We thought it would be helpful to put together a few tips to keep your grill in tip top shape for flavor, for safety, and to help make it last through as many seasons as you plan to use it. After all, keeping your grill clean and happy prevents disaster — ruined dinner, bad flavors, no one wants to come over for BBQ’s, house fires, etc.– from happening. Read on, my friend.
TIP #1: CHECK FOR GAS LEAKS
Fairly important first tip. Gas leaks can be very hazardous! In order to check to see if your grill has a leak, mix a bit of water with some dish soap and generously apply it to the gas line and all of its connections. Make sure the gas is on when you do this. If there are any leaks, the escaping gas will cause the soapy water to bubble up. That is where your leaks are. If you notice bubbles, shut off the gas, remove the hose and get it replaced before you plan on firing up the grill again. Your local hardware store should carry the sizes you may need. Or you can Gas hoses & connections.
Since the gas lines are made from rubber, which tends to get brittle and crack over time, replacing them every 4 years is normal and good practice. It is also good practice to check for any gas leaks at least once a month.
TIP #2: PROTECT YOUR GRILL
With a fitted grill cover, of course! You probably grill outdoors maybe in the sun, in wind, or sometimes rain, or maybe even, dare we think it, …snow! All of those elements can be damaging to the quality of your grill. If the quality is jeopardized, your stainless steel beauty may not last as long as you’d like.
Most grill covers can be added on at the time of your grill purchase straight from the manufacturer. They will usually be made to fit to the brand or style of grill. Heavy duty canvas or vinyl covers will protect your grill the best in most of the elements. These fitted covers also have a layer of felt underneath so there won’t be any scratches or marks made by the protective layer. If you didn’t have the chance to purchase your cover when you had your eyes on the prize (the grill, duh), but you’re ready to invest in one now, find your grill-specific covers here.
TIP #3: REGULAR CLEANING IS A MUST
Every three months to be exact. For a deep cleaning, that is. But it is always a good idea to do a light cleaning after every use which includes using a grill brush to scrape off any excess grime that may have built up during cooking. After you’re done using the grill, turn all the burners on high for about 15 minutes. This should burn off whatever may be left over after scraping. And don’t forget to wipe down the exterior as well. There are stainless steel polishes and wipes on the market to keep the outside gleaming like new. If you have a big bucket or tub, fill it with warm, soapy water to toss in the pieces of your grill for soaking.
TIP #4: CLEAN THE GRATES, TOPS AND UNDERS
Once the grill has cooled, the grates will be safe to handle. A good scrub down with the grill brush is a good start. But did you know that cleaning the under side of the grates is just as important? Grease and grime and gunk can all build up on that side of the grate as well and we may not always see it. Keeping the gunk junk to a minimum lowers the risk of flare ups and fire causes. So flip that bad boy over and give the under side a good scrub with the grill brush. Then add the grates to the soaking tub party!
TIP #5: CLEAN THE BURNER COVERS & CERAMIC BRIQUETTES
Burner covers have one job and one job only- to protect the burners (which are situated underneath) from any food or drippings during grilling. Bust out that handy grill brush you’ve been using and give those burner covers a scrub too. If you have ceramic briquettes in your grill, those are probably pretty crusty too. Flip those over and turn the grill on high for about 15 minutes. After the grill has cooled, flip your briquette trays back over and they should be ready for their next use. The burner covers however, earned an invite to the soaking party. Add them to the bucket.
TIP #6: CLEAN AND CHECK THE BURNERS
Obviously, these things get pretty hot since they are the major heat source for your grill. Try not to do the cleaning or removing of any part of your grill, especially the burners, until the grill has cooled completely. (Not waiting until the pieces of your grill have cooled can result in injury. Don’t be that guy, or gal, with gauze-wrapped burned & crispy appendages.)
To remove the burners for cleaning, gently lift the burners up and away from the gas valve. Brush off any crusties and check the ports for build-up. If the ports need cleaning, use a stiff wire, straightened paper clip, or something similar, to unclog the holes. While you’re at it, check for any damage to the burners. If there is no damage, add those burners to the tub for soaking, too.
TIP #7: THROW OUT THE GUNK, GET READY TO GET SUDSY
At the very innermost part of the grill cavity, there is a drip tray. The tray that catches, well, you know, the drippings. The greasy bits of the meats and oily parts of the sauces that you want to cook out of your food all go to this tray. This part of your grill should be cleaned out after each grilling session. But during the heavy duty cleaning, this should absolutely be included as one of the items that need a good bit of elbow grease! Pun intended. Also, SUPER IMPORTANT: a dirty, never-been-cleaned drip tray is the most flammable part of your grill! You definitely DO NOT want your tray to catch fire. It will do irreversible damage to the entire grill, not to mention it can do additional harm to your yard, house, etc., if it ignites.
Remove the tray from its location on your grill and scrape all the yuck out of it into a trash bag. Throw it into the soak tub and get to scrubbin’. Each piece of the grill can be washed down with a kitchen sponge. The ones with a scrubbing pad on one side will work best. After the pieces are all shiny and sparkling again, it is best to rinse and let them air dry.
After they are all dry, you can reassemble the pieces back into your grill so you’ll be ready for your next outdoor culinary masterpiece! Now get to grillin’!
Share any of your maintenance tips and go-to cleaning products in the comments! Happy ‘Cue-ing from Wholesale Patio Store