Let’s get grilling! Is it time for an outdoor grill tune-up? When you open your grill for the season, try these steps to get you ready for the season.

You should clean your gas grill every time you use it. Be sure that the grates are cleaned after each time you grill and brush off the sides and lid after every use. You should regularly lift out the cooking grate and clean off anything crusted above the burners (which might be lava rock, briquettes, or some variation of metal plates).

Once a year give your grill a good cleaning. This requires that you take portions of it apart. Start by disconnecting the gas and lift out the grill parts layer by layer. Once you get down to the burners, inspect them thoroughly. There shouldn’t be anything blocking the flow of gas. If the burner is clogged, it will give you uneven heat and make for poor grilling. If your grill uses lava rocks or ceramic briquettes, you need to check to make sure that they aren’t too heavily encrusted with cooked-on foods. If you notice that they are in bad shape, replace them to avoid bad tasting smoke that dirty rocks can produce.

With everything out of the grill, clean it completely with soapy water. If the paint is coming off, or if your grill is showing signs of rust, then you need to do some painting. Other than that, put everything back in, and check to make sure that all connections are good. Let the grill heat completely before you cook again to make sure that any leftover soap residue gets burned off.

1. To totally clean the grill, take out the grate and ashes and do a thorough rinse with a hose. A little elbow grease using steel wool and a bucket of hot soapy water will do wonders.

2. To clean the grates: after you grill, let the unit cool down a bit, but while it is still warm, take a stiff wire brush and clean off any remaining food. (Be sure to do this while the grate is still warm and not cooled and allowed to harden.) To avoid letting cast iron grates rust, brush on some oil with a paper towel occasionally to keep your grates in proper shape.

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