Clean your grill after every use, and deep-clean it semi-annually.

I love grilling up a hearty meal for my family when the weather is nice, but I don’t always enjoy cleaning up the oily, charred mess afterward. Fortunately, I’ve discovered a variety of tips and tricks over the years to make the cleanup process quick and virtually painless. As a general rule of thumb, you should clean your grill lightly after each use and then perform a deep-clean and overall assessment of the grill’s condition semi-annually. Cleaning your barbecue grill not only keeps it clean and hygienic, but it also creates a better cooking environment free of leftover food residue.

Cleaning Your Grill After Each Use

Lightly cleaning your barbecue grill after each use is essential to kill bad bacteria and create a healthy cooking space. What you don’t want to do is simply spray the inside of your grill with oven cleaner. Oven cleaner contains harsh chemicals that can leave a residue that affects the taste and smell of future meals. Chemical-based cleaners can also damage the painted or stainless steel finish of your grill. In addition, the noxious fumes emitted from such chemical cleaners should be avoided.

If possible, clean your grill while it’s still warm, as all food particles will still be slightly soft and easier to remove. Once your food has been removed from the grill, take a clean barbecue brush and gently scrape off the larger pieces of food residue.

If the grill is not warm when you clean it, fill an old baking tray or tin with water. Place it over one of the burners and turn it on to a low heat to produce a slow boil. Close the lid of the grill. After five to ten minutes, open the lid and clean the grill. The steam will have loosened any stuck-on food residue and char.

When the grill grates are no longer hot to the touch but are still warm, use soapy water to clean the grates and exterior of the grill. A mild dish soap mixed with warm water is best. Simply dip your rag into the soapy solution and wipe down the grill.

Deep-Cleaning Your Grill Semi-Annually

Deep-cleaning your barbecue grill will require a little more time and elbow grease. Grease and grime has likely built up over the months, especially if you aren’t stringent with your grill-cleaning habits.

To get your grill ready for barbecue season, you’ll want to use a non-abrasive sponge or nylon brush to scrub crud from the burners, grates, and interior surfaces. Next, wash these surfaces with a soapy water mixture using mild dish detergent. Once clean, rinse the surfaces clean and dry thoroughly.

You can also use a soapy water mixture to clean the exterior of the grill. Using a rag, simply wipe the exterior surfaces clean, then dry thoroughly. If you notice any missing spots of paint, use a high-heat spray paint to touch up areas that do not come into contact with food.

If you own a gas grill, you’ll want to check it for safety at least twice a year. One way to check for leaks is to coat the valves, hoses, and regulator with soapy water. Then, turn on the propane tank to pressurize the system. The appearance of bubbles may indicate escaping gas.

If you’re putting your grill away for the winter, remember to shut off the tank, slip the gas tubes off of the gas lines, and unfasten the burner. Wrap the burner unit in a plastic bag to prevent insects from nesting in the gas tubes. When your grill is not in use, you’ll want to keep the lid closed and the grill covered with a heavy-duty, weatherproof grill cover.