Plus, why and how often you should buff it up.
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For many of us, summer is synonymous with grilling. What isn’t always inherent in that: cleaning said grill. This decrustifying process may not be fun, but it is important, says Kevin Kolman, resident grill master at Weber Grill.

“If you upkeep your grill throughout the summer,” says Kolman, “the performance will be better” and the food will cook—and thus taste—better, too. Here, Kolman shares advice on how often you should clean your gas grill and exactly what to do when it’s time for a scrubbing.

When Should You Clean Your Gas Grill?

How often you clean your grill depends on how much you use it. In general, a once a month scrub-down of the grates, bars, and grease management system is a good idea, says Kolman.

If you notice your grill isn’t heating up as high as usual—say, it struggles to get over 500 F—that may be a telltale sign it’s overdue for a cleaning.

“Too much grease and schmutz in the grill can hinder the effectiveness of the grill and the quality of the food you’re cooking,” says Kolman. [We should note here: Too much is the key word. “You don’t want to completely clean off the schmutz because it can add flavor,” says Kolman. But because a hefty build-up of grease can hamper the airflow inside a grill, make sure your cleaning leaves just a light layer of barbecue drippings.]

How to Remove Food Residue From Grates

Start by tackling the grates.“It’s good practice to burn off any food residue left on your grill by turning all your burners to high for 15 minutes before grilling,” says Kolman. As your grill heats up, he explains, all food remnants will transform into ash. From there, you can easily brush them off using a stainless steel bristle brush. And speaking of the brush, for the highest quality clean, “I recommend getting a brand new one every year,” says Kolman. Set a calendar reminder to go brush shopping at the end or beginning of every summer.

How to Clean Your Grill's Catch Pan

“Always keep the bottom tray and grease catch pan of your gas grill clean and free of debris,” advises Kolman. “This not only prevents dangerous grease fires, it deters visits from unwanted critters.” To do so, remove the bottom tray beneath the grill and set it above a large trash can. Then, gently scrape the inside of the grill with a putty knife, and push all resulting debris through the bottom. To deep clean the tray, use warm, soapy water and a fine steel wool pad, says Kolman. You should also check the catch pan liner monthly and replace it when needed.

How to Clean Your Grill's Cook Box

“Cleaning a cook box may seem tricky, but it’s very simple and can have a big impact on the way your grill performs,” says Kolman. Wait until your grill has cooled completely and then remove the cooking grates and flavorizer bars (more on that below). Grab a stainless steel grill brush and brush all extra grease and debris from inside the cook box into the bottom tray. Once done, discard the crust.

How to Clear out Your Grill's Burner Tubes

Any buildup in the burner tubes can restrict gas flow and may prevent the burners from lighting properly (if at all), explains Kolman. To clear out any grime, brush the portholes with a stainless steel wire brush in an up-and-down motion. Do not brush lengthwise across the ports—this will just push debris from one hole to another, he advises.

How to Clean the Heat Distribution System

Many grills (especially Weber grills) contain heat distribution systems like flavorizer bars to help prevent flare-up, explains Kolman. Just like the rest of the grill, these bars can get gunky over time, so it’s a good idea to regularly brush them with a grill brush or scrape them with a putty knife. Then, wipe them with a rag and warm soapy water.

Rinse the Warming Racks and Grill Baskets
Remove smoke stains and debris from your warming racks and grill baskets with soap and a fine steel wool pad. “Rub the racks gently and then rinse them thoroughly before re-inserting into the grill,” says Kolman.

How to Clean the Outside of Your Grill

Wipe the outside of the grill lid with a towel and cleaner, says Kolman. If you have a porcelain-coated lid, use a glass cleaner and paper towel. If you have a stainless steel lid, you’ll need more specialized materials. “Some paper towels have bits of cardboard in them and these can scratch the surface of stainless steel,” Kolman explains. Instead, use a microfiber towel, special stainless steel cleaner and buff with (not against) the grain of the stainless.

Do the same with your side tables. If they are stainless steel, use a microfiber towel and stainless steel cleaner. “If your tables are made of thermoset plastic, use a mild dish detergent and warm water instead,” recommends Kolman.

And one word of advice with the cleaner: “Be patient,” says Kolman. “Let the cleaner sit for 5 to 10 minutes [before scrubbing]. That will make the cleaning process much easier.”