Like any tool, your outdoor grill needs care and maintenance. All of our grills use charcoal, so these tips are geared toward the charcoal grill. However, many are more broadly useful. In general there are three times you’ll clean your grill : grilling prep before your cooking session, grill maintenance afterwards, and at the end of the season before you put the grill away. This guide outlines all three sessions, and many more details.
Supplies and Equipment
Here’s what you’ll need to keep your grill clean and cared for:
For everyday grilling:
- Steel bristled grill brush with scraper
- Cotton rags (not anything that could melt)
- One rag tied into a cylinder
- A bowl or dish just big enough for that cylinder
- Long tongs
- Vegetable oil
- Dish soap
For end-of-season grill maintenance you’ll need all of these plus:
- A stiff nylon brush
- A tarp or grill cover
Keep reading to find out how and why we use these items to care for our charcoal grill!
Before You Start: Grilling Prep
Just before cooking is the time to pay attention to the grill grates. Preheat the grill by opening the vent or vents and raising the temperature to at least 400 if not more, for about ten minutes. This dries out and carbonizes any debris on the grates, making it easier to remove. Then scrub the grates with your steel bristle brush to get off all the gunk. A charcoal grill is great for this, as it all falls into the fuel and burns up.
Last but not least, use the tongs to dip the rolled-up rag into the oil and rub the grates down with oil. Don’t worry if it smokes! Besides greasing the grates for this cooking session, this practice seasons them like a cast iron pan, making them increasingly nonstick and rust resistant.
Afterwards: Grill Maintenance
Of course, first enjoy your food! Meanwhile, let your grill cool down to warm before trying to clean it up. The surfaces will be hot and the debris sticky, hindering your efforts.
When you and the grill are both ready, use a rag to wipe drips from the outside. Also, wipe out the inside of the lid to prevent greasy ash buildup there. Finally, empty the ash drawer into a flameproof container, and you’re done till your next grill session!
Put Your Charcoal Grill to Bed
Putting your charcoal grill away for the season is mostly an extended session of grilling prep plus grill maintenance. Because the grates will be cold you’ll need a steel wool pad to knock off any crud. However, do oil them again anyway as a protective measure.
Also, get rid of as much ash as you can, including wiping it out. Ash plus fat and water can produce basic soap, which isn’t great for the metal. Once you’ve emptied and wiped out the ash catcher, secure your hard work by covering the charcoal grill with a tarp. Water itself can be corrosive and destructive in freeze-that cycles.
Then tuck your grill away and start planning next year’s grilling sessions, while you regularly read our blog for ideas and tips!