The Single Best Thing You Can Do for Your Grill Grates at the End of the Summer

published Sep 4, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

When grilling season is over, it’s tempting to throw a cover over your grill and call it good enough. Why not just wait until spring to clean it or, you know, just let the fire burn off the crud the next time you cook? Turns out, there are lots of reasons (sometimes furry) why you shouldn’t wait. In fact, cleaning your grill — especially the grates! — before putting it to bed for the winter is the number-one thing to do if you want to keep it cooking for many years to come. 

First of all, pests looking for a sheltered place to nest for the winter are more likely to get attracted to your grill and all the leftover bits of savory goodness in the nooks and crannies. The last thing you want is a rodent nest in your grill box, or creatures gnawing away on your fuel lines. 

Not only that, but there’s another kind of fuzzy nightmare that can greet you come springtime: All that grease and food left in the grill through the winter provides prime growing conditions for mold when the temps aren’t below freezing. Not exactly ideal for a cooking surface!

Credit: Joe Lingeman

And, finally, food residue can trap moisture and promote rust and corrosion, shortening the life of your grill and its grates. 

In a nutshell, if you don’t clean your grill (and those grimy grates) for the winter, you might as well throw a handful of cash on the fire. Luckily, it’s not hard or expensive to give your gas or charcoal grill a good cleaning. Plus, you can use this time to identify anything broken or damaged that might need replacing before grilling season resumes. And if you’re shopping for grill parts and accessories in winter instead of summer, you’re more likely to get good deals. That way, when it comes around to the next season, you’ll be all set when you get a hankering for hosting barbecue night!

More on Cleaning Your Grill

The best way to clean those greasy, grimy grates? We have two highly effective options for you to choose from!

1. Oven Cleaner

Kitchn’s Lifestyle Director, Lisa Freedman, used oven cleaner at the start of the summer and now she says she’ll never use anything else ever again. She suggests using it at the start of the season and, yes, at the end. Just be sure to give the grates one last wash when you’re done to rinse off any lingering chemicals.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

2. Dawn Dish Soap + Baking Soda

If you’re not a fan of oven cleaner (it’s not for everyone!), you’ll be happy to know that this soap-and-baking-soda combo won our official cleaning showdown, outperforming other DIY remedies. Just mix up a paste of Dawn dish soap and baking soda. Apply the paste to the grates, making sure to get in all the nooks and crannies, and let the grates soak for at least 30 minutes. Then scrub, wash, and rinse.

Read more: We Tried 4 Methods for Cleaning Impossibly Dirty Grill Grates — And We’re Still Blown Away by the Winner

How do you store your grill after summer? Tell us in the comments below.