Every winter, as the snow piles up around my house, I spend about five minutes every morning staring out the back door at my grill. Maybe I actually miss the warm months and the grill reminds me of those days of cooking outdoors with a cold beer in hand. Either way, my grill has been good to me over the years but it didn’t dawn on me until recently that I actually treat it like crap when I’m not using it.
So, I did some research on how to clean a grill for winter and why it’s important.
Why Clean Your Grill Before Winter?
Leaving grease and food residue in the grill over the winter traps moisture. The moisture promote the development of corrosion and oxidation. Cleaning out the grill before putting it away for the winter will help reduce the chances of corrosion or oxidation and prolong the life of the grill. So unless you’re interested in dropping a couple hundred dollars every spring on a new grill, spending 15 minutes cleaning it in the fall is a wise move.
The two biggest enemies to your grill in the winter months are animals and mold. Wildlife, especially mice and squirrels, might decide that your unused grill is the perfect place to make a nice home for the winter and protection from the cold and snow. Plus, leftover bits of grilled foods make for an almost endless supply of food.
The same conditions that can make a grill attractive to critters also make it an ideal environment for mold to grow. The last weeks of fall and first couple weeks of spring create temperatures conducive to mold creation. Mold feeds off organic matter and any leftover food and grease inside the grill are perfect for feasting.
If your grill is going to remain outside over the winter, it’s even more important to clean out the inside, because both issues can be avoided with a little preparation and elbow grease. So grab a good pair of grill gloves and let’s start cleaning.
How To Clean A Grill For Winter
For gas and electric grills, use a strong grill brush to brush the grates, the flavorizer bars and burners. Clean and scrape all the interior surfaces with a putty knife and push all the loose gunk into the slide-out grease tray and into the disposable drip pan. Empty the disposable drip pan and it wouldn’t hurt to run it through the dishwasher.
For charcoal grills, make sure to brush the cooking and charcoal grates clean. After that, scrape the interior surfaces with a putty knife and push all of the loose food and grease into the ash catcher then empty the ash catcher.
Storing The Grill
Most grills don’t need to be brought inside for the winter but it’s never a bad idea if you’ve got the space in the garage. NEVER store a propane tank indoors. If you have a grill that runs on propane, leave the tank outside. If you are going to leave your grill outside all winter, a strong grill cover will protect it until it’s time to fire it up again in the spring.
If you happen to find mold, or a mouse family, in your grill next spring, it’s fine. Just clean everything out by scraping off all of the surfaces and let the grill run on high for about 15 minutes to burn off any other offenses.
This year, I’m going to clean and protect my grill from the harsh winter. I might even give it my son’s room.