It’s grilling season! Before you throw on those prime steaks and burgers, take the time to inspect and clean your grill so it works smoothly and safely.
Spring Grill Readiness Checklist
This is a general checklist for preparing and cleaning your grill in the spring. Consult your owner’s manual for specific care instructions for your model.
- Pre-Cleaning Steps
If your grill has been covered for some months or stored in a garage, check for insects or other pests that might have taken up residence. It’s also a favorite place for birds to build their nests.
Check the propane tank for any dents or punctures. Make sure it’s filled and turn it on (or connect and turn on the natural gas) to check fuel lines for leaks and cracks.
Use the soapy water test for leaks by mixing dish soap and water, then apply it to the hose and connection points with a brush or spray bottle. Look for bubbles that indicate a leak. Tighten the connections if you see any bubbles there, then run the soapy water test again. You may have to replace the line if bubbles reappear.
- Burn Off Organic Matter
Set each main burner to high, close the lid, and burn off all organic matter in your grill so everything is charred (takes about 15 minutes).
Turn off the grill and gas. When the grill has cooled down, but is still warm to the touch, brush the inside of the lid with a grill brush, letting debris fall to the grill bottom. Next, remove flakes from both sides of the grates, using the flat side of the brush or a scraper.
- Remove Internal Parts
Take out the grates. If there are any heat diffusers, such as metal burner shields, ceramic briquettes, or lava rocks and grates, brush them off, and remove them as well. Place the grates in hot soapy water and baking soda for several hours (or overnight if there’s time). Do the same with any metal burner shields or lava rock grates.
Inspect any type of heat diffuser you may be using when you remove them. Replace any of the following if:
- Metal burner shields have rusted-out holes.
- Lava rock or ceramic briquettes are crumbling, or accumulated grease isn’t burning off.
- Rock grates are warped, rusted, or don’t sit evenly.
Work on any other debris inside the grill until all of it is on the bottom of the grill box. Use a utility vacuum to remove the debris heap.
- Clean the Grill Interior
Clean the inside of the grill. Cover the burners with plastic wrap to protect them, then use dish soap and water, or a grill degreaser, to spray the inside. Allow it to soak for a while before scrubbing. When done, rinse thoroughly with water, or a water and vinegar mixture. Remove the plastic wrap.
- Clean the Grill Burners
Some burners are easy to remove. If so, remove them and rinse them with soapy water. However, if it’s hard to do, just take a damp sponge and wipe them down. You can also use a nylon or steel wire brush to gently brush outward from the center of the burner tube, moving the brush sideways so you don’t push debris into the holes.
Inspect the burners, looking for clogged flame ports and rust. If corrosion is collapsing the burners, you must replace them. Clean any obstructions with a toothpick or pipe cleaner.
Propane and natural gas grills attract spiders and bugs because of the gas odor. Their nests or webs can partially or fully block the venturi tubes.
If you think you have a nest or spider web blockage (e.g. reduced, or an orange flame), you’ll have to remove the affected burner or burners to expose the attached venturi tubes (refer to your manual) so you can clean them. There’s a special venturi brush for that, but some people use a pipe cleaner or plastic straw instead to insert into the tubes and twist to clear the spider webs and nests.
- Clean the Grates
Remember the grates and metal diffusers you’re soaking? Well, now it’s time to start scrubbing. For stainless steel metal diffusers and lava rock grates, use a grill brush, but for porcelain-coated metals use a nylon scrub pad so you don’t scratch it.
For the cooking grates, use a damp sponge or long-handled grill brush. To handle stubborn debris, brush with a paste of vinegar and baking soda. Rinse well, and thoroughly dry with a soft cloth, especially cast-iron grates.
Grill grates will rust after a few months of nonuse. Rusted metal is not an efficient heat conductor so it will cook food unevenly.
Regular soaking and scrubbing should get rid of surface rust on grates. For deeper rust, the following method works well:
- Take 1 cup of baking soda and add enough vinegar to create a paste.
- Use a sponge or scouring pad to apply the paste to the grates.
- Allow the paste to sit for about 20 minutes, then scrub the grates with a scouring pad until the rust is gone.
- You might need to apply the paste a number of times and use a grill brush for tough rust stains.
- Rinse well with water, and thoroughly dry.
- Clean the Stainless-Steel Exterior
When cleaning stainless steel, always follow the grain.
- For rust stains, take 1 cup baking soda, and add vinegar to make a paste.
- Apply the paste to rust spots using a sponge and leave it for 20-30 minutes.
- Scrub with warm water using a soft cloth or sponge, then rinse with warm water.
- For a regular cleaning, use a nonabrasive stainless-steel cleaner, and apply it with a microfiber cloth, or a soft, lint-free one.
- Alternatively, use vinegar and hot water, or mild dish soap and hot water. Rinse well, and dry with a soft clean cloth.
- For any left-over baked-on residue from last season, use a mild abrasive pad with your cleaner. Never use steel wool or metal brushes on stainless steel — it scratches easily.
- Clean the Grease Tray
Inspect the grease tray to make sure it’s not rusted through. Clean it with warm soapy water.
- Clean the Smoker Box
If you use a smoker box, clean it with a mild detergent in warm water. Inspect it for any rust holes and replace if needed.
- Clean Inside the Cabinet
Open the cabinet doors and clean the area under the grill. This is where you’ll find the grease tray with some models, so make sure to clean any grease spots using warm soapy water.
- Put Your Grill Back Together
Now that you’ve inspected and cleaned your grill, put everything back in place, and turn on the gas. You’re now ready to grill for the first time this season.
- Regular Grill Maintenance
It’s a good idea to spot clean your grill after every use to minimize the buildup of food debris and grease. You can either scrub the grates with water and a grill brush while the grill’s still hot (wear oven mitts) or wait until the grill’s cooled down.
Also do a quick wipe down of the grill exterior and the inside of the hood with vinegar and water, then rinse. Don’t forget to empty the grease tray and clean it with warm soapy water. Keeping your grill covered when not in use will protect it from the elements and make it easier to keep clean.
For maintenance and repair to all your major appliances, you can trust the pros at C&W Appliance Service. Call us at (855) 358-1496 for prompt and reliable service.