Grill maintenance isn’t hard or expensive, but it matters. Otherwise, your next grillin’ might be less than thrillin’. Why? A poorly maintained grill can lead to food sticking to grates, weak or uneven heating, sticky igniters, and more. Regularly maintaining your barbecue also helps keeps you, your family, and pets safe. Whether you only use a top-of-the-line gas grill or prefer an old-school charcoal kettle drum, here’s what you need to know to keep on cooking great barbecue:
Grill Maintenance for Gas Barbecues
- Disconnect gas line from tank for cleaning
- Check hose connecting gas to grill for signs of wear and tear
- Clean while grill is still warm
- Use warm soapy soft sponge for all stainless steel parts, including underside and top of lid, then rinse with garden hose
- Scrub grates with wire brush, water, and dish soap
- After cleaning, reconnect gas and turn on burners to burn off any soapy residue
- Check that flame color is mostly blue
- Coat grates with cooking or vegetable oil
Pro tip: Want to avoid having to clean drip pan after each use? Add new layer of heavy-duty foil to drip pan before each use.
Grill Maintenance for Charcoal Barbecues
- Use a stiff brush for cleaning grates
- Use a soft sponge for outside kettle to avoid scratching enamel
- Scrub grease buildup inside kettle with soapy steel wool pad, and wire brush, rinse well with garden hose
- Clean vents; clear blocked vents
- Check and tighten joints connecting kettle to legs
- Coat grates with cooking oil to season them
Pro tip: Always have a fitted BBQ cover for your kettle and keep it covered when not in use.
Yearly Gas Grill Maintenance
Thoroughly clean your grill at the beginning of each new season by following the applicable steps above. In addition, once per year you should also clean the burners on a gas grill.
- Turn on all of the burners and let the grill heat for at least 15 minutes to warm any leftover grease and food bits. This makes grill and grate easier to clean.
- Turn off the burners and disconnect the grill from gas line.
- Do not get burned. Wait for grill to cool to a warm temp, use a wire brush, and gently clean around the burners.
- Straighten a paper clip and use the end to scrap inside the burner holes to remove any potential blockages.
Pro tip: If you can easily remove the burners do so. Cleaning out the burner holes will be easier and you can more thoroughly clean the area.
When to Replace Your Grill
Regular barbecue grill maintenance also helps you detect signs that you need to replace your grill.
Replace the gas grill when you see:
- Rust around lid, hinges, or firebox
- A yellow flame upon ignition (the flame should always be mostly blue)
- Cracks in connector hose
- Regular igniter issues
Replace the charcoal grill when you see:
- Any signs of rust
- Enamel paint that starts flaking off
- Vents that don’t easily open or close, or are missing
- Wobbly legs (obviously, a wobbly grill is dangerous)