Do a thorough safety check before christening a new barbecue or firing a steak on old faithful. Charcoal and gas varieties both need more than a quick wipe-down before using.
Charcoal barbecues Clean-up for charcoal barbecues is minimal. Wash the kettle inside and out with warm soapy water, then follow these three easy steps:
- Clean food grate with a wire grill brush. Wash with warm soapy water and rinse. Brush grate with vegetable oil.
- Discard ashes from bottom of kettle. Fill with fresh charcoal just before using.
- Wash ash-catcher–it’s the small circular tray just below the kettle.
Gas grills There are a variety of styles of gas grills, but the clean-up is basically the same:
- Replace propane hose if there are any cracks or holes.
- Clean burner tubes–insects love to nest inside them, which often leads to ignition problems. Remove knobs and screws from control panel, then lift off panel. Pull out tubes and insert a pipe cleaner or long stiff wire brush to free any blockages.
- Clean food grate with a wire grill brush. Wash with warm soapy water and rinse. Oil grate. Wash warming rack.
- Scrape up and discard accumulated “gunk” from bottom tray. Clean or replace grease catcher. Never line barbecue with foil; grease can get trapped in creases and become a fire hazard.
- Replace any broken briquettes.
- Wash lid and outside with warm soapy water. Never use oven cleaners outside or inside a barbecue. They’re packed with industrial chemicals that may remove paint and taint food during cooking.
General maintenance tips
Get the most from your grill by treating it right:
Routinely check and clean your barbecue throughout the season.
Always clean the food grate after using and cover the barbecue once it’s cool with a heavy-duty cover to protect it from the elements.
Constantly remove ashes from charcoal kettles to prevent build-up of damp ashes that cause rust and restrict airflow.
Keep a watchful eye on gas grease trays–empty periodically.
Keep an extra propane tank on hand to avoid those last-minute dining emergencies!