In an ideal world, we would use the grill all year long and keep it in tip top shape at all times. In this world, however, the way we treat our barbeque pit is often less than ideal. Whether it is due to the pace of modern life or the natural human inclination towards socializing while grilling instead of stopping to clean and maintain our equipment, most of us need to perform a thorough rehabilitation on our pits once a year.
The first step is to knock off any loose debris or rust (ouch!) mechanically, with steel wool or a grill brush. Generally this is limited to the cooking surface and any drip prone areas. The black crust that develops on the inside of the hood and the overall grill box is harmless and adds character to your grill. Take out the grates and any removable baffles or “flavorizer bars” and inspect them. Pay similar attention to the burners on a gas grill and the ash collection area of a charcoal grill. Be on the lookout for any new tenants that might need eviction, like ants or wasps. Run the burners on gas grills and ensure that they work well with consistent flames and even pressure. Think about airflow; are there any obstructions to the vents and do they open and close properly?
If your grill is mobile, kneel down and clean the wheels if necessary. A hot pit with a bum leg is dangerous, so repair or replace any casters that are bad. Most grill manufacturers offer replacement parts either directly or through a third party. You can usually find this information on the brand’s website or you can call a dealer and ask them to order it for you.
Now close up your grill and take a look at the outside. Stainless steel cleaner or any surface cleaner will do wonders for an old grill. Remember that this is a broad daylight operation! Just as frying food can coat your kitchen in a fine layer of grease, your barbecue grill will accumulate quite an impressive layer of gunk inside and out. If you don’t have a decade’s worth of neglect to repair it shouldn’t take much more than elbow grease and a general purpose cleaner to restore your pit to near-showroom shiny.
The actual cooking surfaces and removable accessories probably need a deep clean as well. At this point some people like to take these inside and run them through the oven’s self clean cycle or spray them down with oven cleaner. These methods certainly work, though they can turn an outside job into a dirty kitchen as well. Another way is to reassemble the grill and then crank it up to its hottest setting long enough to burn away any lingering gunk. Then the still hot grill needs to be carefully cleaned with a long handled grill brush and then again with an oil-dampened towel and tongs. Sometimes grates can acquire truly hard-set buildup that requires more work to dislodge. In these cases the best solution is the pumice stone and ten minutes hard work. The soft stone conforms to the shape of the surface it is scraped against and removes essentially any remaining buildup.
After all your hard work, make sure to maximize its usefulness by properly stowing your grill with a properly fitting cover. You will be surprised how much more fun grilling can be if your tools are ready to go when the mood strikes. Get your grill in top condition and it will reward you with tastier food and more fun while you cook!
About the Author
August Bering V, “Augie” to his friends, is President of Bering’s Hardware in Houston, TX. Bering’s is well known for a broad range of carefully selected home goods such as housekeeping products to grilling products and accessories, and red carpet service that has delighted customers for generations since 1940. From your bridal registry, decorating your first home, to your first baby registry, Bering’s has special gifts for special occasions and the right tools for the right job. Augie enjoys spending time with his family and friends, grilling and cooking, playing hard outside, traveling, design, art, live music, and spending as much time as he can with his family.