Charcoal grill maintenance is important for taste and safety reasons. A clean and well-maintained grill will last many years. Rancid grease or a dirty grate can ruin a good steak on the grill.
- Brass and/or stainless steel wire grill brush
- Soap-embedded, fine steel wool pads (0 to 000 grade)
- Mild dish soap
- Sponge or dishrag
Grilling Season Begins
- Remove any ashes. If any remain from last season, dispose of them in a noncombustible container. Hose down the grill to get rid of residual ash. Ashes and water together create a caustic substance (lye) which will eat up your grill.
- Clean the grate. Before you have your first cookout, light a fire and heat the grate for about 30 minutes. Then scrape it with a long-handled stiff-wire grill brush to remove any leftover bits of food. If you don't have a grill brush, use a ball of crumpled foil held in long-handled tongs.
- Wash the grill. Wash the outside of the lid and firebox with warm, soapy water; use a steel-wool soap pad for stubborn interior stains. Rinse and dry. Check with the grill instruction manual for any special coatings that may need a different cleaner.
- Stock charcoal. Start the season right with an ample supply of charcoal (the amount will vary depending on how often you grill).
- Perform maintenance. Make sure all the screws are tight, the vents turn properly, the handles are tight, and the wheels are stable.
Every Time You Grill
- Check the charcoal supply. Make a note of your coal inventory so you can restock it, if necessary, before you barbecue next.
- Remove any ashes - Ashes and water together create a caustic substance which will erode your grill. After the ashes are cool, remove them; then hose down the grill.
- Clean the grate. It is best to clean the grate while it is warm, after grilling. If you forget, clean the grate after you preheat the grill. When it's hot, brush the grate with a long-handled stiff-wire grill brush. If you don't have a grill brush, use a ball of crumpled foil held in long-handled tongs. If a more thorough cleaning is called for, use wet soapy fine steel wool pads with only slight pressure. Rinse thoroughly and dry.
- Oil the grate. Prevent food from sticking to the grill: When the grate is hot, fold a paper towel into a small pad, dip it in a bowl of vegetable or olive oil. Using long-handled tongs, rub it over the bars of the grate. Do this carefully to prevent oil from dripping onto the coals. Repeat when you’re finished cooking. The oil helps prevent rusting. Do NOT use an aerosol spray as it may ignite.
Clean as necessary
- Clean the inside of the grill and lid and bowl - When finished grilling, replace the lid while the fire dies and the coals cool -- doing so allows cooking residue to simply burn off. A quick pass with a wire brush will finish the job.
- To get the grill sparkling clean - Use hot water and a soapy sponge or rag to further clean the inside of the grill of soot and dirt.
- Clean the outside of the grill - A clean soapy rag is all that's needed to wipe down the outside of the grill.
- Oven cleaner can sometimes be handy when cleaning really tough, baked on dirty grill grates, but keep in mind that oven cleaner is not friendly to painted surfaces, so if your grill has an enamel coating on the outside (or inside) or on the grates themselves keep the oven cleaner away. Always consult your grill's instructions before using oven cleaner.
Grilling Season Ends
- Thoroughly clean the grill.
- Remove the ashes. Make sure all ashes are cool, then dispose of them in a noncombustible container.
- Cover the grill or keep it in a sheltered area. Keeping a grill protected from the elements is the easiest way to preserve it. Covers should have a cloth inner lining to draw moisture away from the metal. A simple plastic sheet holds moisture in, creating a humid environment around the grill, which can lead to rusting. Use a canvas, cloth, or vinyl cover that fits the grill appropriately. Keep in mind that UV rays beak down cheaper, generic covers.