As you prep for your Memorial Day weekend BBQs, make sure the grill is clean!

FIRST, keep in mind that not all grills are created equal. Read your owner's manual for specific guidelines and cleaning instructions. Most are available online at the grill manufacturer’s website. Take their advice above anything you read here.

- Make sure you clean the grill after each use. No matter what type of grill you have, routine cleaning is the key to maintaining it. Clean grills work better, last longer and won't leave a bad taste on food.

- The best time to clean a grill is right after food is removed, because the cooler you let your grill get, the more time you're giving stuck-on food and grease to harden. Heat makes it easier to remove food particles, so get it while it’s hot.

- Use protection. After each use, place a grill cover over your cleaned, cooled grill, and if you can, store it in a sheltered area. This is especially important during the off season to help prevent mechanical failures, rust, and dirt buildup.

Cleaning Your Grill

- Cooking grates: Clean them after each use and again lightly before using again. Here's how to do it quickly and easily:

  1. If your grill has cooled, close the top (if you have one) and turn up the heat for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Use the back end of a stiff wire brush to scrape off cooked-on remains.
  3. Use the brush side to remove all remaining particles and grease.
  4. Put out the flame and allow grill to cool.
  5. Coat grates with cooking spray or a paper towel and cooking oil to prevent future buildup.

- Charcoal grills: These are generally lower maintenance, but ashes make charcoal grills more inclined to rust. After each use, and after the grill has fully cooled, remove grates and clear your ash catcher; or remove ashes using a garden trowel or large spoon. Then use your wire brush to sweep out any remains.

Extend the longevity of your grill with a thorough preseason cleaning. Remove each detachable piece, and clean individual parts with warm, soapy water and a wire brush. Let cooking grates soak for 15 to 30 minutes before scrubbing. Heat grill completely (for 15 minutes or so) to burn off any remaining soap residue before using.

- Propane or gas grills: These grills sometimes have a misleading “clean” knob or a “self-clean” setting, but these settings will burn off only some stuck-on food. If your grill does have a setting like this, use it to preheat before cleaning grates as detailed above.

Lift the grate and gently clean the barriers above the burners (the barriers could be ceramic briquettes, lava rocks or metal plates). If ceramic or rock, use a soft cloth, because these surfaces are more delicate than metal. Use your wire brush to clean metal plates.

The Deep Clean:

  1. Place the grates in a large plastic bag, such as a garbage bag.
  2. Stir together one cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda.
  3. Pour this solution on the racks.
  4. Close the bag and leave it overnight.
  5. Rinse the gunk, which should now be loosened, off in the kitchen sink or with a garden hose.


If you have any tips we missed, leave a comment below!

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