Proper grill maintenance involves more than just scraping excess food or grease. It's about looking "under the hood" to spot any issues (before they become bigger issues). More importantly, it's about making sure the food you're serving to family and friends is safe and delicious.
Luckily, caring for natural gas grills and fireplaces is pretty simple. If it's been a while since you thoroughly cleaned yours, here's where to start.
Deep Cleaning Your Gas Grill
What you’ll need:
- A grill brush
- A bamboo skewer, toothpick, or paperclip
- A bucket of soapy water
- A bucket to catch debris
- A sponge (that you don't mind throwing away)
- A towel or rag
- Bottle brush or wire coat hanger
- Steel wool pads
- Wet-dry vac
- First, check the inside of your grill and wipe away any debris that may have collected while it was in storage. Cobwebs tend to flare up when they ignite, so keep an eye out for those.
- Let the grill run on high heat for 5 to 10 minutes. After the grill is hot, turn off the gas and scrape the grate with your brush to remove food particles.
- Once the grill is completely cool, you can remove the grates for an even deeper clean. Most people brush down their grates lightly before grilling, but occasionally they need to be cleaned with a bit more force to remove stubborn bits of food. Use the metal scraper on your brush, if necessary. Some people like to scrub the grates down with some soapy water to get them extra clean, while others prefer a brush-only approach to let the grill naturally "season."
- It may not have occurred to you to check inside the lid, but loose bits and splattered grease can collect there, too. While this part of the grill doesn't need as much attention, it's a good idea to scrape it down (after all, you don't want anything falling on your food).
- Now you'll want to check the burner tubes since clogs or corrosion inside the tubes can snuff out sections of the burner flame, preventing food from cooking evenly. With the gas or tank turned off, remove the cooking grates and heat deflector plates ("flame tamers"). Clean off any spills on the burner tubes with a wire brush, then clear any blocked holes using a toothpick, skewer, or the end of a paper clip. You can also remove the tubes and run a bottle brush or straightened wire coat hanger through the center to loosen any remaining debris.
- Grab your soapy water and sponge and give the heat deflector plates a nice scrub. You'll be surprised at the difference after all that grime comes off. If you've removed your burner tubes, you can wash those in the soapy water as well—or just use a damp sponge or cloth to wipe them clean. Make sure to thoroughly towel dry the tubes and gas ports before putting them back on the grill.
- Instead of dish soap, some prefer to use a homemade cleaning solution of water, vinegar, and baking soda. If you opt for this method, just spray the heat deflectors down with the solution and let them soak while you complete the next step. For an extra deep clean, wipe them down with steel wool after they've soaked for a few minutes.
- Because most grime ends up at the bottom of the grill, you'll want to spend some time there, too. Some of the char will be next to impossible to get off (even with soapy water), so you can just use your grill brush to remove the large pieces of debris. Some grills have removable bottom trays that slide right out, making this part of the job easier. Take your grill brush (or maybe a smaller brush) to clean the hard-to-reach areas on the sides. Scoop the debris into your bucket or use a wet-dry vac to remove it.
- Finally, give the outside of your grill a wipe-down using some cleaning solution and a paper towel. Don't use scouring pads on the outside of the grill, since those can leave scratch marks (especially on stainless steel). You can also wipe down the storage area underneath the grill.
- Heat the grill again on high for around 10 or 15 minutes to evaporate any remaining moisture or cleaning solution. Once it's cool, put the cover on. You're ready for another successful grilling season!
Pro Tips on Cleaning Your Gas Grill
When in doubt, check the manufacturer’s instructions. While there are many different methods of cleaning gas grills, make sure to follow the maintenance procedures listed in your instruction manual so you don't accidentally void your warranty.
Work from top to bottom. This way, as particles of debris fall into the grill, you only have to clean out the bottom once.
Don’t use harsh chemicals. After all, this is where you're going to be cooking your food. A grill brush and soapy water should work just fine; for stubborn bits, just use some steel wool.
Do a quick inspection. While you're cleaning and taking apart the grill, it's a good time to check your burners for rust marks or large holes (which could mean it's time to replace them).
It doesn’t have to look brand new. Even after you've deep cleaned the grill, it's not going to look like it just came out of the showroom. That's perfectly fine! If you clean it and maintain it regularly, you should expect many years of fun barbecues and great-tasting food.
How Often to Clean Your Gas Grill
The average person only needs to go through the deep cleaning steps described above 1 or 2 times per year, depending on how heavily you use your grill. For everyday cleaning purposes, treat it similarly to your kitchen stove. Experts recommend giving it a good scrub with your brush after each use.
Once per week, let the grill run on high for about 15 minutes to burn off excess grime.
Maintaining Your Gas Grill
Besides regular cleaning, there are a few things you should do to keep your grill in top condition and maximize its lifespan.
First of all, keep the grill covered when it's not in use. It may seem like a no-brainer, but this prevents it from rusting and helps keep it clean. If your grill isn't in a covered area, it's worth investing in a cover from the manufacturer.
You'll also want to check the gas line about once per month. This is easy: simply run some soapy water along the gas line and connections while the gas is turned on. If any bubbles form, that indicates a leak. You'll want to tighten the connection or replace the line.
When in Doubt, Contact a Professional
The gas grill maintenance steps above may feel intimidating. Fortunately, most manufacturers and contractors offer customer support and warranties to give you peace of mind. For gas grill troubleshooting (and to ensure you're cleaning it correctly), check your owner's manual or contact your manufacturer.
Now that you’re ready to give your gas grill or a good cleaning, what are you planning on cooking up?