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Get Your Grill Ready for Summer

For some of us, Memorial Day means the start of grilling season. Before you can start flipping burgers, though, you'll need to make sure your grill is ready for business. We asked Kevin Kolman, Weber’s grilling expert (and a man who has 30 grills in his backyard), how to get your grill in tip-top shape.

Senior Digital Food Editor

Do I really need to clean my grill?

Yes, indeed, Kevin says. If you don’t prepare your grill, “you’ll have more schmutz, and that will mean you won't get the same performance.” He explains that a cleaner grill makes for better airflow. When the grill is grimy, energy is absorbed into the debris.

What You Need:

Rubber gloves


Clean rags

Terry cloth

Mild glass cleaner

Stainless-steel cleaner

Stainless-steel grill brush

Paint scraper

Wear rubber gloves “because of grease and debris inside the grill,” advises Kevin. He also says, "It’s important to use the right tools so you don't damage your grill.” Read on for the whats, whys, and hows of grill maintenance.

What to Do for a Gas Grill:

“Start with the exterior, with the lid and the bowl,” Kevin counsels. “If they look neglected, clean them.” Use warm soapy water and a sponge, and dry with a rag. If there are any grease and smoke stains on the exterior, use a non-lint terry cloth and glass cleaner to remove them.

Many gas grills have stainless-steel tables; Kevin recommends using a stainless-steel cleaner, “and be sure to use microfiber or terry towel -- do not use paper towel; some can scratch stainless. Always follow the grain of stainless to avoid scratches.”

Then open the lid and take out the flavorizer bars and grates. Brush them with a stainless-steel grill brush and wipe clean with a rag. “Next, examine the burner tubes: If they have debris on them, use your stainless-steel brush. Brush up and down or side to side, depending on the direction of the burners -- if your burners go north-south, then brush side-to-side.” Put the flavorizer bars and the grates back in.

If you didn’t clean the bottom tray after you finished grilling last summer, remove the bottom tray and empty it into a trash can. Use a paint scraper to remove any remaining debris. Put the flavorizer bars and grill back. Close the lid and turn the grill on to high for 15 to 20 minutes. This will burn off any debris that can cause food to stick. Kevin advises doing this high-heat cleaning not just as spring cleaning but on a regular basis: “It helps reduce the amount of flare-ups,” he says. “Think of it like turning your oven on to self clean.”

What to Do for a Charcoal Grill:

“Start with the exterior: the lid and the bowl” Kevin counsels. “If they look neglected, clean them.” Use warm, soapy water and a sponge, and dry with a rag. If there are any grease and smoke stains on the exterior, use a non-lint terry cloth and glass cleaner to remove them.

Next look at the inside of the lid: If you grill a lot, it’s likely the inside will be peeling. “And that’s not peeling paint, ” Kevin warns. “It's carbonized grease.” Tackle this buildup with a stainless-steel brush made for grill surfaces -- that way, you know it won’t scratch. And follow up with a sponge and warm soapy water, then rinse.

Then, still using the stainless-steel brush with warm, soapy water, move on to cleaning the cooking grate. “The grate can be tough to clean if it has baked-on debris." Kevin says.

After that, remove the cooking grate and the charcoal grate to tackle the inside of the kettle grill. If your grill has a blade system to clean the bottom of the bowl, use that to remove debris. If it doesn’t or it can’t remove all of the debris, use a small paint scraper. 

If you happen to have left your grill covered for the winter, good for you! If you left it covered with the damper open (Kevin admits he’s done this), then the charcoal and ash in the grill will have mixed with water that got inside, and it has likely created a block of debris; use the paint scraper to tackle that. Follow up with a sponge and warm, soapy water, rinse, and dry.

Once you're done, Kevin says you're ready to “pop the grates back in and close the lid -- and you're set for another summer of grilling.”  

Now get grilling! Check out our recipes.