Before you get ready to throw that juicy steak on the grill, think long and hard: When was the last time you cleaned your grill? And we mean really cleaned it. Because if you just pulled the cover off only to discover the remains from last Labor Day’s fish fry, trust us, that’s not going to do anything for your steak. So, here’s the lowdown on doing a deep-clean to get your grill ready for its summer debut.
Cut through the grease Start by soaking the grates in warm, soapy water, preferably overnight. Once you have finished, rinse and place the grates back on the grill. Fire it up and let it burn hot for a bit before turning it off. While still hot, scrape the grates with a brush to get off any last crusty bits.
(Don’t have a brush? Grab one of our favorites, the Grill Daddy Steam Grill Brush, which can dispense a bit of water onto the grill, quickly turning into useful steam while you’re scraping.)
Once done, let the grate cool. Then, with some wadded-up paper towels, start oiling the grate down (use a cooking oil suitable for high heats — like canola or peanut oil).
Clean out the inside While the grates are soaking, empty out the bottom of the grill. Easy enough with a charcoal model — turn it upside down and dump the gunk in the garbage. For a gas grill, remove the burner tubes if easily done. In both cases, a fireplace shovel or putty knife will now come in handy for scraping out any residue. Then get out the shop vac and suck up any remaining ash.
And don’t neglect the easily removed grease traps underneath most gas grills.
Don’t forget the bottom Once you’ve got all the gunk out, put on some gloves (or not), soak a brush in some warm, soapy water, and apply elbow grease to the grill bottom.
Removable or not, those burner tubes can be cleaned, too. Use the wire brush and the shop vac and you should be good.
Look up The lid of your grill has soaked up plenty of fumes and grease, too. Be sure to apply some brushing here as well, with more of that elbow grease.
The final touch You’ve gone this far, why not spiff up the exterior of your grill? Gas grill knobs are usually removable, and you can soak these as well.
While they’re off, start cleaning the behind-the-knobs area and the rest of the exterior. Avoid coarse sponges or pads; paper or microfiber towels work best.
No abrasive cleaners, either. While a light spray of stainless-steel cleaner can work (spray, leave on for a few minutes, then wipe), you’re fine with another warm soapy water mixture. If you want to add a little shine, rub the exterior down with vinegar.
Get to grilling Now that things are sparkling, keep your grill in its best shape throughout grilling season by wire brushing after each cooking session, and then oiling it up again.
And the next time you grill that fish? Use a layer of aluminum foil on the grate, cook the fish on a cedar plank placed on the grill, or invest in a fish basket that goes right on the grill. Weber makes a solid basic model for less than $25, and it makes cleaning up a cinch.