How to Give Your Grill an End-of-Season Cleaning, According to Our Expert
Plus, find out whether or not you need to store it indoors if you don't intend to grill during the fall and winter.
Have you had enough of BBQ chicken and grilled corn? Are you ready to move on to fall favorites? While barbecue fanatics will advocate for year-round grilling, you may choose to pack it up once the weather starts to turn, and that's especially true if you have a summer house or know that you never cook outdoors during the colder months. According to Elizabeth Karmel, "Grill Girl" and author of Taming the Flame ($13.49, amazon.com), if you're not going to use your grill for four to six months, it's essential that you give it a good cleaning. As for whether or not it needs to be stored indoors, Karmel says that grills are made to withstand to the elements, so there's no need to put yours a garage or shed. That said, there's no harm in it—in fact, doing so will keep it dry and prevent it from rusting, so it's worth considering if you have the space.
So, how do you clean your grill at the end of the season? First and foremost, regardless of the type of grill you have, you should be cleaning it regularly during grill season, says Karmel. She recommends cleaning the grates twice—once before grilling and once after—to prevent the bigger job of cleaning a very dirty grill filled with residue when you are done using it and ready to pack it up.
How to Clean Gas Grills at the End of Summer
For a gas grill, the first step, especially if you've used the grill a lot, is to put the burners on high for 35-45 minutes with the lid down. Says Karmel, "Like cleaning your oven, when there's a white gray ash you know it's done." The goal is to get it as clean as you can because, "If you don't, any food left on the grates can get moldy and any fat will go rancid." Scour food grates briskly with a brass-bristled grill brush while the cooking grates are still hot. She also recommends checking the drip pans. "Most gas grills have two drip pans, a large one that catches food, and a smaller, disposable one below it that catches grease and can be fitted with a disposable foil liner," says Karmel. The most common mistake people make, she adds, is not checking the drip pans. Be sure to clean them thoroughly before packing up the grill.
How to Clean Charcoal Grills at the End of Summer
Karmel says to give a charcoal grill a good scrubbing with soap and warm water: "Think about it like cleaning your broiler pan. Use warm, soapy water and a sponge with a rough side." But you don't want to get too vigorous and abrasive, she explains, because you don't want to strip off the seasoning. Once it's good and clean, rinse the grill several times to make sure the soap is off, let it dry in the sun, and then wheel it inside or simply cover it. The grates typically need to be replaced after about five seasons of use.