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Kick Grilling Season Off Right with These Grill-Prep Tips

A man cleaning a gas grill.
Arina P Habich/Shutterstock

It’s finally time to pull out the grill and get ready for a season of charred steaks and juicy burgers! Before you throw anything on those flames, though, be sure to follow these steps to get your grill ready for action.

When you first break out your grill, you might notice some leftover gunk and grime from last year, or even some bugs that have been staying there for the winter. That’s why inspecting and cleaning your grill is a necessary seasonal chore.

Whether you stored that firebox away in pristine condition, or can’t remember what state you left your grates in, we’ll walk you through getting it ready for summer.

Inspect & Clean Your Grill

A Cuisinart grill brush sitting on a stainless steel grill.

The first thing to do is safely move your grill from its storage location to a solid surface, like the driveway, so you can give it a good wash. Check the inside for bugs or critters that have turned it into their winter home. You’ll have to evict them.

You’ll also want to inspect the grates and ensure they aren’t rusting, flaking, or chipping away. The rust and chipped coating will affect your food taste and can potentially cause health problems or injury if swallowed.

Next, it’s time to give the inside a good cleaning and start the season off fresh. You can follow these steps to clean both a gas or charcoal grill.

You’ll want to also clean the flame tamers, which are those little tents that cover the burner tubes below the grates. Use a grill brush to scrape away any thick residue, then wash each flame tamer with soapy water.

Using the grill brush, clean the burner tubes in an up-and-down motion (not side to side) to avoid clogging the little holes. Clean the inside of the grill using a putty knife to remove any thick gunk that’s accumulated.

Also, remove the bottom tray, and throw away any scraped debris. Then, clean the tray with warm soapy water and a sponge. Do the same with the grease pan.

The outside of a grill is typically constructed of a combination of stainless, painted, and enameled steel. If you’re cleaning a stainless-steel grill, be sure to use a nonabrasive stainless-steel cleaner, along with a microfiber cloth.

If you’re cleaning a painted or enameled grill, just use warm soapy water and a microfiber cloth. Allow your grill to dry in the sun.

Check Your Fuel

A young boy checking the propane tank on a grill.

If you have a gas grill, you’ll want to check the fuel lines to ensure they’re working properly and aren’t leaking. Luckily, propane has a pretty distinct smell. Sometimes, the odor alone will tell you if something isn’t right.

Follow these steps to check the fuel line:

  • Grab a bowl of warm soapy water and a basting or pastry brush.
  • Make sure the propane tank is full, and turn on the valve.
  • Slowly brush the soapy water over the hose and its connections.
  • If there’s a leak, you’ll notice little bubbles forming.

You’ll also want to make sure you have a full propane tank for the start of the season. There’s nothing worse than getting ready to grill your first meal only to find you don’t have any fuel. If you have a charcoal grill, just make sure you have plenty of fresh briquets or lump charcoal, as well as fire starter cubes.

Upgrade Your Grilling Tools & Find New Recipes

A group of people making shish kebabs over a charcoal grill.

Now that your grill is starting to really shine, you’ll want to make sure you have all the tools you need for a successful season of grilling everything under the sun.

From loose bristles on your cleaning brush to old wonky thermometers, there are a lot of things you might need to replace. After all, you don’t want to discover mid-cookout that those old skewers have finally gone kaput.

Once you’ve gathered all your accessories and your grill is back in mint condition, it’s time to wreck that gorgeous shine with a bunch of burgers and saucy baby back ribs. If you want to keep those grates clean a bit longer, though, there are plenty of delicious foil-friendly recipes that can help with that.

And if you think that the grill is mainly meant for meat-eaters, we’ll have to prove you wrong with these delicious veggie and pescetarian recipes. There’s so much you can make on a grill. Sometimes, the best meals come from just experimenting with flavors you love, so try something new this year!

It can take a bit of elbow grease to get your grill ready for the new season. So, pick a warm, sunny day, follow these steps, and it’ll be shining again in no time. Then, all that’s left to do is celebrate with the year’s first cookout!

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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