Before you get started cleaning a long-neglected grill, think about how best to keep from making a bigger mess. First, protect the surrounding area with cardboard or a tarp. Next, consider wearing old clothes or a long apron to protect against grease stains. It’s also a great idea to wear protective gloves while grill cleaning.
Before the scrubbing begins, mix up a solution of equal parts water and vinegar and soak especially grimey parts. You’ll save time and a lot of elbow grease.
First, run the burners on high for 15 minutes to eliminate any larger pieces of cooked-on food residue. Next, soak grates in vinegar mixture, then follow with a good cleaning in warm, soapy water and a wire-bristled brush. (Replace any rusted grates.) After the grates are clean, coat them with vegetable oil, and place in an oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit to cure. This will reduce the amount of food that sticks during future cookouts.
Look over the burners for damage or holes, and replace defective ones immediately. In addition, inspect any tubing for holes, cracks, or leaks by running soapy water through them. Also examine the interior for any small critters or bugs. As you’re cleaning, pay attention to the grease trap, using a citrus-based cleanser to remove grease.
With a charcoal grill, carefully remove all ashes and used and unused charcoal once it has cooled.
Controls and tanks
Finally, examine the temperature gauge to ensure it’s accurate. Tighten any loose valves or knobs, and clean off any debris or grease from the ignition areas. As you run water through the tubes, check the valves and propane tank connections (Bubbles mean gas leaks). Replace any hoses, valves, or tanks that show damage, then fill your tanks so they’re ready for your next cookout. Don’t forget to periodically change the battery on a gas grill’s auto starter.
Final tips on grill cleaning
Wipe down the outside, polish stainless exterior as needed, and wipe down the interior. Grill brushes should be replaced every season to avoid loose bristles from being ingested while eating grilled food, causing serious esophageal and gastric problems.
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