Cookout season is just a few short weeks away, and if your gas or charcoal grill is still covered with the remnants of last year's cheeseburgers and Hawaiian chicken, now's the perfect time to give it a refresh as part of your spring cleaning routine. These speedy tips from the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab come from years of testing outdoor grills as well as the cleaners and tools you need to keep them working well (and your food tasting great).
These are the workhorses of your cooker and because they come in direct contact with your food, they need to be clean. Start by removing the cool grates and wiping or brushing off as much of the big, loose debris as you can with a mesh or nylon scrub pad or a brush. In a sink or large bucket, mix up a sudsy solution of a grease-cutting dish liquid, like Dawn, and hot water and place the grates in to soak. If they don’t completely fit in, immerse one half, soak, then flip it over to get the other side. After soaking 15 to 30 minutes, put on some rubber gloves (like GH Seal holder, Playtex) and scrub the grates clean with a sturdy grill brush or scrubbing pad. Take extra care with porcelain grates, because you don't want to damage them.
If the grates are really dirty, soak them a second time to help soften and remove more gunk without expending extra elbow grease. Or, try the new Sienna Grilltastic Grill Steam Cleaning System. Fill this electric scrubber with water, plug it in and in seconds the combination of the dishwasher-safe stainless steel brush head and hot steam will be blasting grease from your grates. (It cleaned our GH Test Kitchen grill so well, our recipe testers asked if they could keep it.) Finally, rinse the grates well and let them dry.
If scrubbing isn’t your thing, there's Carbona’s 2-in-1 Oven Rack and Grill Cleaner. This kit contains a large zip-top bag and a 16 oz. bottle of cleaner. Simply place your grates in the bag, pour in the liquid, seal the bag and shake gently so the cleaner coats the racks. Let it sit (away from children and pets) eight hours, or even overnight. Afterward, remove the racks from the bag, lightly scrub away any stubborn residue and rinse them well. In our GH Institute Cleaning Lab tests, even grates from a charcoal smoker came out clean with virtually no effort, thanks to this product.
With the grates removed, brush down the inside to clear out any loose particles that have collected in the bottom and around the sides. Scrape off any large peeling flakes of carbon and grease and if yours is a charcoal grill, empty the ash catcher. Don’t forget to clean the drip pan and grease cup in warm soapy water and line them with aluminum foil so they’ll be easier to clean next time.
Mix up another bath of warm sudsy dish liquid and water and wipe down the exterior, handle, side trays and any bottom doors with a sponge or cloth or use a grease-cutting all-purpose cleaner, like Mr. Clean Clean Freak Deep Cleaning Mist.
In our GH tests, it cut grease on contact, plus it cleans stainless steel without streaking. Rinse and wipe dry. Finally, light the grill to make sure that none of the burner holes are clogged and all the gas lines and tubes are well connected and in good condition.
During grilling season, here's our step-by-step instructions to keep your grill looking great:
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