How To Prepare Your Grill After Winter

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey

With the dawn of spring comes so many activities we know and love. There is the start of a new gardening season, time spent in nature, and all sorts of backyard enjoyment. One of the most iconic backyard activities is barbecuing. But after a long winter spent outside, the odds are your grill needs some attention. In fact, it is important that you take steps to clean and prepare your grill thoroughly once winter ends.

To prepare your grill after winter, gather hot water, dish soap, stainless steel cleaner, clean rags and a wire brush. Cover the ground with cardboard or a tarp. Remove the grill grates, begin cleaning with the grill lid, and then scrape and scrub the interior. Carefully clean the heat components, and then wipe the area clean. Use stainless steel cleaner, and then season the grill grate with cooking oil.

Preparing your grill after winter is crucial for several reasons. Not only does it preserve the grill and increase its longevity (and a good grill isn’t cheap), but it can even help the grill work better. In turn, the food will taste better and cook more evenly. In order to ensure your grill is working at its peak ability, follow the step-by-step guide below to clean and prepare your grill.

Do You Need To Clean Your Grill Every Spring?

If you are eager to use your grill as soon as the snow melts and winter disappears, you might wonder if you really need to spend time cleaning it. After all, if you cover your grill in the winter, doesn’t that mean it should be good to go? While covering your grill and taking steps to mitigate damage over the winter are significant steps in preventative maintenance, you still need to clean and prepare your grill every spring.

The fact is, a lot can happen in several months. Also, while you might have covered your grill, and maybe even cleaned it well before covering it, this does not mean it will be in the same condition you left it in. Grills are made mostly of metal. Metal is susceptible to corrosion, especially when left out in the natural elements. This means a thorough wipe-down will ensure all rust and grime are removed.

Furthermore, it is important you get your grill cleaned and seasoned. A well-seasoned grill means you are creating an ideal surface for the meat and veggies you plan to cook throughout the season. Take the time each spring to clean and prepare your grill to ensure your barbecue items are perfectly cooked.

What You Need To Clean Your Grill After Winter

The good news, is cleaning and preparing your grill is rather straightforward. It does not involve any process that is too complicated. You should not have trouble doing this task on your own. In fact, you might even have most of the materials needed already in your home. The list of materials you need to prepare and clean your grill are listed below.

  • Hot Water
  • Dish Soap
  • Disposable Rags Or Paper Towels
  • Grill Spatula Or Scraping Tool
  • Grill Brush
  • Steel Wool
  • Stainless Steel Cleaner 
  • Sandpaper
  • Tarp Or Cardboard (To Avoid Making A Mess)

10 Steps To Prepare Your Grill After Winter

Step One: Gather Materials And Prepare The Area

Your first step is to get organized. Gather all the materials listed above, or whatever variety of cleaning tools you have selected. Next, spread out a tarp or cardboard around the grill. Grease, rust, and soot leave stains and are very difficult to remove. So, make sure you protect the ground around you to save lots of time on cleanup.

Step Two: Inspect And Clean The Lid

It is best to clean from the top down, so any falling debris gets collected last. Begin lightly scraping away any filth or flaky remnants on the inside of the grill lid. Once you finish scraping, use cloth or paper towels and dish soap liquid to wash and wipe the area clean.

Step Three: Take Off Grill Grates

Next, you need to remove the grill grates from the grill. In most cases, they should come off with ease. Take the grate (or grates if there are multiple) and lay them down on the tarp or cardboard. You will clean these separately in a later step.

Step Four: Scrape And Scrub Grill Interior

When you are cleaning stainless steel, it is important to use the right tools. Only use a brush that is designed for stainless steel. Too coarse a wire brush and you can damage the metal.

After scraping the interior, use a wet towel to wipe up the buildup. Then use a drying tool to wipe the area clean.

Pro Tip: For stubborn buildup, you can use a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar. Spray or soak the area, wait one hour, and then try to remove the buildup.

Step Five: Carefully Clean Burners And Other Heat Components

Next, you will want to take some time to clean the heating elements. This is often the most important part of the cleaning process. Sometimes burners get caked in filth, and some of the burner elements can even get partially blocked. This can greatly affect the way the grill cooks.

To clean the burners, carefully use a wire brush on areas with buildup. Use a vinegar solution in stubborn areas. If there are any blockages in the heating element, you can use a paperclip or safety pin to loosen up these blockages.

Once the grime is lifted, use a clean towel to wipe it all away.

Step Six: Scrape And Clean Out The Grease Pan

Remove the grease pan, or “catch pan” as it is often called. Give it a rub with the wire brush or steel wool. Once the grease and grime are removed, wipe it clean and return it to the grill. You should empty your grease pan throughout the season, as it will tend to fill up the more you use your grill.

Step Seven: Scrape, Sand, And Shine Grill Grates

Now it is time to thoroughly clean your grill grates. These can really get caked with burnt matter over time, especially when you grill lots of meats. Use the grill brush, steel wool, and even sandpaper to remove all this burnt material from the metal.

Not only does this process make for a clean surface and help remove light scratches from the stainless steel, it also increases the lifespan of these grill grates. Keeping them clean helps them to resist corrosion.

Step Eight: Shine The Surface With Stainless Steel Cleaner

Now that the grill is clear of dirt and grime, you can shine it up. Use a stainless steel cleaner on the steel to shine it up. This will not only make it shine but will help prevent premature rusting.

Step Nine: Check the Fuel Tank And Fuel Line

Now that the grill is clean, you should make sure the fuel and fuel line are in working order. Before turning on the fuel to make sure the gas grill works, you can first check for a leak.

To check for a leak, apply some of the soapy water to the fuel line. Turn on the fuel (not on the grill itself just on the fuel source). If you don’t see any suds bubbling, then your line should be safe. If you hear a hiss or notice bubbles, then you probably have a small fuel leak. You will need to replace the fuel line if this is the case.

Step Ten: Reassemble, And Oil Up The Grill Grates

Now you can reassemble the grill and fire it up. Once the grill is back together again, light it. Allow a minute to pass so the grill can burn off any residue. Look at the burners and make sure they are firing out properly.

Lastly, you need to season the grill grates. Use a paper towel and vegetable oil to oil up the entire grill surface. This will get rid of any burnt flavor, and help prevent food items from sticking to the grill.

Summing Up How To Prepare Your Grill After Winter

After a long winter, you are most likely eager to start grilling again. But before you fire up the grill and start cooking, you first need to clean and prepare the grill. To begin, you should cover the surrounding ground with a tarp or cardboard to minimize mess.

Next, remove the grill grates and start cleaning the interior starting with the grill lid. Use a steel brush, steel wool, and sandpaper that is meant for use on stainless steel. Clean the grill grate, and check the fuel lines before reassembling the grill. Once reassembled, season the grill grates, fire up the grill, and enjoy.

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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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