Grilling remains one of the more popular options for outdoor cooking, in no small part because it allows for greater control. You also enjoy options, such as gas, pellet, or charcoal, that let you do things like fine-tune the flavor profile of your food. That probably explains why around 70 percent of adults in America own a grill.
Of course, many grills live outside all year. That exposure and the nature of grills themselves subject the components to a lot of stress. As such, grill owners need a working understanding of basic grill repair and cleaning to keep their grills in top form.
If your skills in that area don’t seem to get the job done, keep reading for five grill repair and cleaning tips to help you boost your grill game.
1. Regular Inspections
Regular inspections are one of the most important things you can do to preserve your grill. Keep an eye on spots underneath the grill that you don’t normally see to ensure there is no rust or corrosion at work.
You should also keep an eye out for pest activity. It’s in nobody’s best interest to discover that pests made a home in a grill after you turn it on.
You should also keep an eye on any connections, such as gas regulators, to ensure that they are securely connected. If you own a pellet grill, you must keep an eye on the mechanism that feeds the pellets into the grill.
If you’re not familiar with pellet grills, you can learn more on Own The Grill.
For propane grill owners, you must also check on the fuel line periodically. You can use a little soapy water in a spray bottle for that task. After you turn the propane on, spray the line with the bottle.
If there is a leak in the line, you will see small bubbles form around the leak. Replace any leaky line you find before you use the grill again.
2. Clean the Grates
In a lot of ways, the grates are the heart of the grill. After all, you rely on them to hold your food securely about the flames or coals. Of course, that also means that they accumulate detritus, such as:
- Food particles
You may feel an impulse to take a grill brush to those grates immediately after you finish cooking. Resist! Brushing the grill right after cooking simply ensures that you’ll get food bits stuck in your grill brush, probably for as long as you own the brush.
Instead, give the grill time to cool down or even wait until the next time you’re grilling. Let the grill reach a high heat, think in the 500 degrees Fahrenheit range, and then hit the grates with the brush.
The heat will cook off most of the particles and grease. That lets you simply knock it free.
Before you store the grill, you might want an even more serious cleaning of those grates. Hot water and soap will do the trick. Just give the grates a thorough rinse.
3. Empty the Grease Trap
Food and grease don’t just accumulate on the grill grate. As you cook, bits of food will drop through the grate. Fats and grease will also drop down through the grates as the meat cooks through.
Plus, you’ll also see ashes that mix with the grease or get caught on the food bits.
Almost every grill on the market has a dedicated grease trap. A lot of that food, grease, and ash will work its way down into the grease trap.
You don’t necessarily need to empty and clean the grease trap after every use of the grill. For example, if you just threw some hot dogs on the grill for a quick dinner, you shouldn’t see much in the grease trap.
You should, however, make a point to clean it out regularly. If you don’t, it can attract pests.
Don’t simply empty the trap, but clean it with soap and water to minimize the odds of attracting pests.
4. Clean the Interior
The interior of your grill will slowly and surely build up some residues. For example, you may see something that looks like white flakes on the inside of the grill. These flakes are typically some combination of carbon and grease.
While that kind of residue won’t generally interfere with the grill’s operation in the short term, it’s not something you want to leave in place for the long term.
You should make a point of, at least once a year, cleaning the grill’s interior. In most cases, a grill brush will take that residue off the grill’s interior walls. In a pinch or for especially tough spots, you can use a scraper for the job.
For gas grills, you should also clean the heat tents that sit over the burners. The accumulated grease, ash, and carbon can eventually damage those tents.
5. Exterior Cleaning and Storage
For most grills, cleaning the exterior only calls for some basic soapy water and a soft cloth or sponge. You can use the cloth or sponge to remove any dripping on the exterior and wipe away any dust, grime, or pollen that landed on it.
If you own a stainless steel grill, however, different rules apply. You should find a good stainless steel cleaner for the grill’s exterior. Follow the use guidelines provided on the product by the manufacturer.
You should invest in a grill cover to protect the grill between uses and during any kind of long-term storage.
You and Grill Repair and Cleaning
There are very good odds that you either own a grill or plan on owning a grill sometime in the future. For the most part, you can avoid the hassles of grill repair with good cleaning and maintenance practices.
Give your grill a thorough inspection a few times per year, especially before the year’s first use and prior to storage. Clean your grill grates and grease trap on a regular basis.
Clean the interior at least once annually. Clean the exterior on an as-needed basis.
Looking for grilling tips? Check out our Food section.