Is your grill *slightly* grimy? Does the thought of cooking on your dirty grill send you running to the Daily Taco? It may be time to clean your grill. We're here to help!
Keep it Clean
Charcoal and gas grills require slightly different cleaning methods to keep them in top working condition.
Grill Cleanup Kit
Keep these materials near your grill for quick and easy cleanup:
Brass wire grill brush
Soap-embedded, fine steel wool pads (0-000 grade)
Mild dish soap
Sponge or dishcloth
1" putty knife (for gas grills)
Fitted foil catch pan liner (gas grills)
Every Time You Grill
After the coals have died out, brush off any loose particles on the warm cooking grate with a brass grill brush or a handful of crumpled aluminum foil. For more thorough cleaning, use a wet, soapy, fine steel wool pad and only slight pressure. Rinse thoroughly and dry.
If you're having problems keeping your charcoals lit, ashes may be your problem. As ashes collect, they can obstruct the air flow coming through the bottom vents, limiting the oxygen reaching the flames. They may also hold moisture, rusting your grill before its time. Clean out the ashes every time you grill--but make sure the coals are completely extinguished and the ashes cold before your remove them.
Every time you use a gas grill, you should turn the grill on high to burn off the cooking residue on the grates. Wait until the smoke stops, then brush the cooking grates with a brass wire grill brush.
When You Have To...
Have you ever noticed that flaking black stuff on the inside of your grill lid? That's not paint, that's the grease from your food. Burning off this residue every time you grill will let you simply brush most of it off. Warm, soapy water and a sponge or dishcloth will keep your grill sparkling clean.
If even that's not enough, a soapy, fine steel wool pad will be. Just be careful not to scratch the finish on the inside of the lid if it is porcelain.
Catch As Catch Can
Regularly changing the liner protects your grill from animals, who might be tempted to use your grill as a really big food bowl.
Remove smoke stains from the grill lid with a soapy, fine steel wool pad and a very light touch. Clean the warming racks and control panel with a soapy, fine steel wool pad. Rinse thoroughly.
Clean up grease drippings on the outside of the endcaps and cookbox as soon as possible with a mild, soapy water. Rinse thoroughly. Don't use a strong or lemon-based cleaner--these can ruin the pain finish on the endcaps and cookbox.
To clean the bottom tray, remove the cool (not hot) bottom tray from under the grill and place it over a trash can. Use a 1" putty knife or other straight, flat object to scrape the inside. Push the residue out through the bottom hole into the trash can. For a cleaner tray, use a soapy, fine steel wool pad--and don't scratch the porcelain finish.
Cast Iron Cooking
To maintain the searing/grilling performance of your cast iron grates, as well as their longevity, some special care is required. As with any cast-iron cooking tool, the most important thing is that they are seasoned properly.
Before using, wash the grate thoroughly with a mild dishwashing liquid to remove the protective wax coating applied for shipping. Rinse with hot water and dry completely with a soft cloth or paper towel. Never allow to drain dry or wash in a dishwasher!
Use a solid vegetable oil for the initial seasoning. Spread a thin coating over the entire surface, including all corners, with a paper towel. Do not use salted fats such as butter or margarine.
If your grates are for a charcoal grill, arrange coals in the grill. Place cooking grate in grill with the lid on. Allow grill to heat grate for an hour or so. Close vents to extinguish the coals, leaving grate in grill until it is cool.
For a gas grill cast-iron grate, preheat your grill for 10 minutes and place grates in grill. Turn burners to medium and close the lid. Allow grill to heat grates for an hour or so, then turn all burners off. Leave the grates in barbecue until they cool off.
Your cast-iron cooking grates are now ready to use.
To keep your cast-iron grates from rusting, reseason them frequently, particularly if they're new. If rust occurs, clean with a steel brush. Reseason them as above.
Cast-Iron Grate Maintenance
Every time you grill, leave the cooking residues on the grates to keep a protective coating on the iron. Then do a burn-off just before you grill. Brush off charred residues with a steel brush rather than a brass one.
The more you use your cast-iron grates, the easier the maintenance will be. If you store your grates for extended periods of time, grease very lightly with vegetable shortening, then wipe dry with a paper towel. Store in a dry place. Using these tips can help you keep your grill ready for years of summer service.