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Get Up in Your Grill (and Clean It!)

When it comes to spring cleaning, I’m a little… lazy (there, I said it). I’m more likely to do the bare minimum than any sort of deep dive. I know the outdoor grill has been sitting there, unused, ALL WINTER, but do I really need to clean it before firing it back up again?  It’s all heat and flame, the dirt and bad stuff just burns away! And what doesn’t burn away only adds to the flavour! Right?

If you are an outdoor cuisine aficionado, or a safety-conscious grown-up, you may be shaking your head sadly at me. That’s because you already know what I learned recently: a proper spring cleaning and inspection is essential for keeping safe, preserving taste, and protecting the life of your grill.

Father and son grilling over an outdoor barbeque

If you’re new to BBQing (or, like me, new to cleaning one), the best place to start is by consulting the care and maintenance section of your manufacturer’s manual for how to clean your particular model.

Be warned: cleaning your grill can get messy. Try and set aside a dedicated time that’s not an hour before the backyard birthday party you’re hosting (when you’ve already changed into your good shorts). Get all the supplies on hand before you start. Laying down a drop cloth or tarp over your nice deck isn’t a bad idea either.

Depending on your grill, you’ll need:

  • A scraper - preferably one of those solid wood ones designed especially for BBQ grates - metal bristle brushes can cause serious health issues!
  • A big bucket of warm and soapy water (dish soap), and some clean water for rinsing (or a nearby hose)
  • Something for washing down your grates, like a tough sponge or sturdy brush
  • Another scraping tool like a spatula (for the grill’s interior) and something to scoop out debris
  • A paperclip or small tool
  • Cleaning product for stainless steel
  • Some clean, dry rags or paper towel
  • A hand-held vacuum or hose attachment
  • Vegetable oil or shortening to season your grates

The areas you want to cover in your cleaning are:

Grates: Scrape any build-up off the tops with your scraping tool, and check the undersides for grease deposits. Lift them out and soak them in the bucket of soapy water then scrub them down. (If they are the porcelain-coated kind, don’t soak, just wash and dry). Rinse and wipe the grates down, and put them aside to dry completely. 

While your grates are drying, you can move onto the:

Burners (gas grills): Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for the removal and reattachment of the burners and heat tents. Scrape off any junk and debris and give them a once over to make sure no burner holes are clogged - you can use a paper clip or small tool to clear them. If your grill doesn’t have a spider guard (many older grills do not), you can clean the burners and burner tubes with a venturi pipe brush or wire.

Interior: While your burners are removed, scrape down the sides and bottom of your grill, scoop out any debris, and wipe down the inside of the lid. Empty the ash catcher (charcoal grills) and your grill’s catch pans. Wash them out in soapy water and replace the aluminum foil if you’ve lined your catchers. A quick vacuum will clear out any spider webs or dried leaves in and around your grill and the connection to your propane tank.

Once your grates are completely dry, rub them down with a little bit of vegetable oil or shortening and place them back in.

Exterior: For stainless steel exteriors, use a dedicated stainless-steel cleaner and sponge to get the best, gleaming result. Use soapy water on the side surfaces, and anywhere else, and dry completely with clean rags.

Inspect your fuel hose and connections for rot, kinks or leaks, and tighten any loose bolts in and around your grill. Check the ignition wires and batteries (if you have an electric ignition). Fire up your grill, one burner at a time, and make sure it’s all running smoothly (or light it up and let it burn for 10 minutes or so before putting any food on).

Once your grill is clean and ready for action, be sure you’ve got enough fuel for the next long weekend! Stock up with an extra 16lb/8kg tank at your local Petro-Canada and avoid that mid-cookout panic when you run out of propane. You can easily exchange your empty tank for a full, certified propane tank, or buy a new one at one of our locations. And for folks who are Petro-Points members (and if you’re not, why not?), you can get 3x the Petro-Points when you exchange or purchase a propane tank at any participating Petro-Canada location – offer ends August 8, 2022.

For further advice on grill safety and maintenance, including how to use soapy water to check your tubes and connections for leaks, check out these guidelines.

Steaks? Corn on the cob? Hot dogs? Veggie kabobs? What are you most looking forward to throwing on your outdoor grill? Let us know in the comments section and have a great grilling season!

~  Paul D.


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Alexandra Le May

Thanks for the reminder and the great intel!

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