The weather is warming up, so it's time to get ready for barbeque season and tasty fun with friends and family. Here are some tips for cleaning your grill so it's ready to go, and how to keep it clean all season. 

While some people think you can continue to cook on your grill without cleaning it because the high heat will kill off bacteria and burn off encrusted food, that's not exactly true. For those who aren't big fans of cleaning projects, there are some tips for cleaning your grill that will make the chore easier. Food will taste better if you are not cooking on old grease and food waste. Having a clean grill also cuts down on excess smoke.

Cleaning tools

The cleaning process differs slightly depending on the type of grill you have. But no matter what, you need to clean the grill each time you use it. To make the job easier, clean after use. Some prefer to "burn off" the old food particles before cooking; however, allowing old food and grease to remain on your grate will shorten its life.

Tools you'll need include a stiff wire brush, most of which are made for the job with a scraper attached to the end. You'll also need rags, warm soapy water and newspaper to lay the grill on to dry. It always helps to lightly spray the grate once you are done cleaning to make the next cleaning easier. Thorough cleanings only need to be done once or twice a month, unless you use your grill daily.

Charcoal grills

The average charcoal grill is a bit easier to clean than a gas grill because there aren't as many parts, and there's no propane to worry about.

Once you have finished cooking, but before the coals cool, use a stiff wire brush and scraper to remove encrusted food from the grate. Before starting up the next time, scoop out any remaining ash. At least once a month, wash the entire grill with baking soda or another mild abrasive.

Gas grills

Cleaning a gas grill is essentially the same as a charcoal grill, except you have more parts to clean and you must remember to disengage the gas when cleaning. There are many styles of gas grill.

Among the important tips for cleaning your grill, here's a surprise: The knob on your grill labeled "clean" does not actually clean your grill. The "clean" knob is intended to allow the user to pre-heat the grill before cleaning, which makes the job easier. The heat loosens or burns off encrusted food and warms residual grease.

Once you have scraped and cleaned your grate, remove layers of lava rock/briquettes and the metal plates. Clean all of the pieces with warm soapy water. Allow them to dry and replace in sequence. Hook up your propane again, remembering to check for cracks in the connector line. The last of the tips for cleaning your grill is to heat it up to burn off any soapy residue.

Stainless steel

All of the same rules apply for stainless steel grills, except for the maintenance of the exterior. The most important tips for cleaning a stainless steel grill are:

  • Never use an abrasive cleaner on it
  • Be aware that excessive high heat discolors stainless steel
  • Acidic sauces and marinades will corrode metals
  • Moisture is your enemy — cover your grill
Keeping a clean grill will provide you extended years of enjoyment and tastier food for you and your guests this summer.

Cris Carl originally wrote this story for It is reprinted with permission here.