Follow our 15 step deep cleaning guide, plus our 5 step routine maintenance tips!
Ah, summer. ‘Tis the season of the grill. Dust it off, bust it out, load up on propane and prepare to luxuriate in outdoor cooking over the open (sort of) fire, just like dads everywhere intended.
But you don’t have to be a loafer wearing, middle aged, balding dude to grill. Nor do you need to be tailgating. Or even carnivorous! Grills are for everyone. From suburban backyards to fifth floor walk up balconies to car camping sites across the nation. Let your inner pit master shine, relishing in that sweet satisfaction of diamond marks seared flawlessly into your food.
But hold up. With great grilling comes great responsibility. It’s essential to keep your gas grill clean, out of respect for yourself, your food and the guests at your BBQ. A little routine maintenance goes a long way with your grill. There are some basic deep cleaning guidelines you ought to follow to kick off and close out each grilling season (or as dad would say, ‘Grilling season never ends!’) and also some simple, regular cleaning to be done at the end of each use. That’s right: every time you use the grill, you should clean it afterwards. Not cleaning your grill is like never cleaning your pots and pans.
So before you go carving into that perfectly charred steak (the steak needs to rest anyway) or adding garnishes to your black bean burger, tend to the grill. It’ll just take a second and will be so worth it in the long run. Grills are like showers in that sense: It’s best to clean them right after using, while they’re still warm.
Okay, let’s set the scene: It’s an unseasonably warm day in late April and you’ve already prematurely busted out your flip flops, so why not grill some burgers? First, follow our semi annual deep cleaning grill guidelines to get started.
Mix a solution of distilled water and a few drops of Dawn Dish Soap in a bucket (do this while the grill is preheating so that it’s ready to go). Dip your long handled stiff wire brush into the solution and then, applying some pressure, scrub the grill grates in a back-to-front motion. Careful not to lean over the grill too much while you’re doing this, because the water combined with the hot grill grates ought to create some significant steam.
Once the grate has cooled, wipe it off with a clean, wet rag to remove any soap residue or bristles that may have fallen off of the brush.
Remove the grate and scrub the underneath of it, repeating Step 2-3.
Take out the metal plates that cover the burners on the inside of the grill. Scrub them with the scouring pad dipped in the soapy water and then wipe clean with wet rag to remove soap residue.
Using a sponge and water, wipe down the actual burners. You don’t need to necessarily remove the burners to clean them, just be mindful to wipe the underneath of them as best you can. Be gentle with the burners.
If there are any visible clogs in the burner holes, you can use a toothpick to dislodge any grit that may be stuck in there. You can also scrub them gently with a toothbrush.
Most grills have removable pans in the bottom, so you can pull them out and use your metal spatula or grill scraper to remove grease build up or drippings. If the pan doesn’t pull out from your grill, you can scrape any debris out through the grease hole and catch them with a trash bag. Empty the drip pan and wash out grease with soapy water.
Use your soapy sponge to wipe out the interior bottom of the grill. If you haven’t done routine grill cleaning in the past, this part is probably a bit overwhelming because you’ve got a lifetime of burnt food scraps down there. We know it’s not fun and you’re probably pretty sooty at this point, but look at it like this: Going forward, this job will not be as bad. And, hey, those food scraps probably tasted really good like three years ago when you made them.
Check beneath the grill lid. You can use a combination of your grill scraper, scouring pad and an Extra Durable Mr Clean Magic Eraser (which is great for cleaning greasy residue off of ovens, so it’s also perfect for this particular chore) to get the inside of the grill lid clean.
Put the grill back together. Replace your burner covers, grill grates and removable pan.
Hook propane back up (or simply turn it back on). Let the grill heat on high for another 15 minutes or so to burn off any remaining soapy residue.
Once the grate has cooled down again, using your long handled tongs, grip a ball of paper towel and use it to apply vegetable oil to your freshly cleaned grill grates. The oil should prevent future food from sticking to the grates too much.
When the grill is fully cooled off, wipe down the entire exterior with soapy water using your sponge or scouring pad, depending how dirty it is. But seriously, make sure it’s cooled first. Wipe everything from the lid to the side panels and the legs. Rinse off any soapy residue with clean water.
Use a stainless steel or glass cleaner to wipe down the exterior of your grill, giving it a sleek and polished finish.
Boom: Ready to grill! And your food will taste better knowing just how clean your grill is. No, really it will actually taste better because all those little burnt scraps of ancient meals won’t be catching on fire and polluting your dinner with their (way too) smokey fumes. But not so fast! Keep reading to be sure your grill stays sexy throughout the summertime.
Oil it up. Use a pair of long handled tongs and paper towel to apply vegetable oil to your grill grates before each use. (See Step 13 from our Deep Cleaning Guide.) The oil will prevent food from sticking to the grates too much. Be sure to apply the oil once the grates are hot.
After each use, while the grates are still hot, use your long handled stiff wire brush to scrape off any residual food. It’s like brushing your teeth, if your teeth were made of metal and your toothbrush was extremely abrasive.
Torch food drippings between uses. If you’re using your grill regularly, once a week you should turn it on high and leave it on for about 15 minutes to burn off any residual food build up, grease and grime.
Invest in a grill cover. The reasoning behind this should be obvious, but the less your grill is exposed to weather, the better. Also grill covers might prevent hypothetical wasps or birds from nesting in your grill between uses.
Safety first. Occasionally check your fuel line for leaks by liberally applying soapy water to all of the propane connectors, valves and line with a sponge or wet rag. Fire up the grill and check for any little bubbles forming in the soap suds. If you see bubbles forming, you may have a gas leak and should replace the problem area, whether it be the hose, valves or connectors.
Now, as long as you work the last five tips into your grilling routine, you’re golden. And so are those ears of corn you’ve been grilled. Nom nom nom. Enjoy the fruits of your labor, and be sure to follow our Semiannual Gas Grill Deep Cleaning Guide again at the end of your grilling season before storing it away for the winter.
Note: If you’re storing your grill outside, it’s okay to leave the propane connected but OFF. If your grill is inside, like in a garage or enclosed patio, best to disconnect the gas entirely when not in use.