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Outdoor Living

Your grill season checklist

  • 876_houzz_Grill-1.jpg

     (Inspired Garden Design/Houzz)

  • 876_houzz_Grill-2.jpg

     (Brett Zamore Design/Houzz)

  • 876_houzz_Grill-3.jpg

     (New Eco Landscapes/Houzz)

Whether you enjoy slow-cooked barbecue on a Sunday afternoon or firing up the grill for quick weeknight dinners, having a properly equipped space and well-maintained grill makes backyard cooking more of a joy. These tools, cleaning tasks and tips will help make grilling more convenient and fun this year.

RELATED: 14 Ways to Make Your Grill Setup Better

Everyday Grill Maintenance

  • Before cooking, preheat grill and use grill brush to scrape grates.
  • Wipe up spills as soon as they happen.
  • If you have a charcoal grill, wait until grill is completely cool before disposing of ashes.
  • Once grill is cool, cover with a grill cover between uses.

Cleaning and Grill Maintenance Tools

  • Grill cover
  • Grill brush
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Ashcan and scoop for charcoal grills

Tip: Get the right grill brush. Choose a grill brush with brass bristles if you have a grill with stainless steel grates, but choose one with stainless steel bristles if your grill has cast iron grates. And be sure to check your grill brush regularly for loose bristles. If bristles begin to loosen, it’s time for a new brush; you don’t want any bristles ending up in your next dinner.

RELATED: Find the Perfect Grill Accessories on Houzz

Essential Tools for Cooking on the Grill

  • Fuel
  • Chimney starter for charcoal grills
  • Heavy-duty oven mitts
  • Tongs
  • Grilling spatula
  • Instant-read meat thermometer
  • Foil and paper towels
  • Outdoor garbage can
  • Fire extinguisher, just in case

Tip: Add night lighting. Cooking in the dark is bound to result in over- or underdone food and is no fun for the grillmaster. Instead of relying on a headlamp or flashlight, why not splurge on grill-zone lighting? Choose overhead lighting, a grill-side task light or a combination of the two.

RELATED: Revamp Your Outdoor Entertaining With New Lighting

How to Deep Clean a Gas Grill

  • Make sure gas is turned off and disconnect propane tank.
  • Scrape the grates using grill brush.
  • Remove the grates and scrape underside using grill brush.
  • Remove burner protectors (also called barrier or flame tamer) and wash in a bucket of soapy water.
  • Using grill brush, scrape off all visible buildup from inside grill box, including burners.
  • Examine burners; if any holes are clogged with grease, poke them clear using a paper clip.
  • Slide out removable bottom tray and empty contents.
  • Replace bottom tray, burner protectors and grates.
  • Wash exterior with warm, soapy water and dry with a clean cloth.
  • Inspect fuel line for holes and cracks. If you find any, you will need to purchase a replacement part.

How to Deep Clean a Charcoal Grill

  • Remove old (cool) ashes to a noncombustible container, like a galvanized steel garbage can earmarked for this purpose.
  • Remove grates and scrub interior of grill well with grill brush.
  • Wash exterior of grill with warm, soapy water. Rinse with clean water and dry with a clean cloth.
  • Light a charcoal fire, replace grill grates and allow to heat, then scrape grates with grill brush.

Tip: Allow ample time for ashes to cool. Ashes that collect in the bottom of the grill can stay hot after a fire for up to two days, so be sure to allow plenty of time for cooling before you clean them out. And when you do tackle the chore, use a metal scoop.

Tip: Don’t use water to clean your ceramic grill. Ceramic grills (such as the Big Green Egg pictured here) must be kept dry inside, so never clean the interior with water. These grills are designed to be “self-cleaning,” according to the manufacturer, so all you need to do is close the lid and vents after cooking, and the residual heat will burn off any residue. Then scrub the cooking grid with a grill brush, and you’re good to go.

Nice Extras for the Outdoor Chef

  • Basting brush
  • Grill basket for small veggies
  • Reusable metal skewers
  • Pizza stone
  • Grill apron
  • Lightweight platters to hold food as it comes off the grill
  • Salt and pepper grinders
  • Bottle opener