Spring is officially here and that means it’s time for some spring cleaning! It also means grilling season is just around the corner, so make sure you remember to give that trusty grill of yours some attention too. Winter has a tendency to cause wear and tear on just about anything, and your grill is no exception. Get your grill cleaned up and running smoothly just in time for grilling season by following these simple Spring cleaning tips:
1. Check for Gas Leaks: Gas grills are wonderful for cooking, but they do require a little extra care and attention to maintain them properly. Some cracks or leaks are easy to identify, but to ensure your gas grill hasn’t sprung a dangerous leak and that everything’s working properly before you get grilling, brush your gas lines with soapy water and check for bubbles—which indicate a crack—when the gas is running. If you identify any leaks, tighten your connection or replace the line. Gas lines can also become brittle with age or if left exposed to the elements, so pay extra attention to this step if your grill was left outside over the winter.
2. Measure Your Fuel Level: Your plate will have to wait if your gas grill is low on propane, so think ahead by checking your fuel level before your first grilling session of the season. Having a spare tank is always a good idea just in case you have less in that first tank than you may have thought. Similarly, if you’re using a charcoal grill it’s always a good idea to have an extra bag or two of briquettes. There’s nothing worse than preparing your food for the grill, only to find out you don’t have enough fuel to cook it…
3. Clean the Inside of Your Grill: There’s no real way to avoid this one. If you’re cooking on the grill then there’s going to be some residual gunk left over inside. We recommend making some homemade cleaning solution by mixing one part water and one part distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. Open or remove the lid to the grill and thoroughly spray the inside. Replace the lid, let the solution soak in for an hour or so, and cooked-on residue and gunk should be broken up enough to easily wipe off when you’re done.
4. Brush, Brush, Brush: Make sure you’ve got a nice stainless-steel brush and scraper to clean the inside of the grill with. Brushing between uses is one of the best ways to ensure your grill stays in good condition. On the other hand, the actual supplies you’ll use to clean with vary based on what type of grill you’re working with and the part of the grill you’re cleaning (dish soap and water work for many grills; stainless steel cleaner is recommended for stainless steel exteriors; rotisserie style grill grates do best with just lemon juice and water). Make sure you haven’t left any bristles on your grill surface after giving it a thorough brushing.
5. Clean Out Tubes & Burners: Before using your gas grill this season you need to take some time to insect the tubes and burners. You can use a toothpick, pipe-cleaner, or paper clip works to unclog any build-up in your gas ports or tubes. Also, be sure to inspect the burner covers as well. If they show rust or are visibly brittle, then it’s probably a good idea to replace them. Just make sure that you’ve turned the gas off before inspecting anything!
6. Check Your Flame Color: Pay careful attention the type of flame your gas grill gives off. Be wary of an all-yellow flame on a gas grill, as it won’t be as effective as a blue flame with yellow tips. If you don’t see any blue in the flames then it probably means there’s not enough pressure coming from the gas tank. In contrast, if you happen to be using a charcoal grill you’ll want to wait for any flames to reside before adding your ingredients to the grill. Make sure that the vents on the charcoal grill are functional, as this is the primary mechanism that allows you to control the level of heat.
7. Kick Some Ash: A charcoal grill has a habit of collecting ash and chunks of briquettes. Before you start using yours for the season, scrape and empty any ash, including whatever’s in the ash catcher if you’ve got one. On the other hand, if you happen to be using a gas grill be sure to clean the grease trap. If you’re grease trap has gone missing make sure to replace it, you’ll be happy you did.
8. Oil Up: A light coating of oil or cooking spray helps to prevent rust and keeps food from sticking—making grill prep for the rest of the season a bit easier.