I’m a charcoal grill kind of girl. I don’t so much mind the extra effort to manage the coals, and for some reason it just always tastes better to me, as if I’m camping or at a family picnic in a community pavilion. Much like gas grills, charcoal grills require a certain level of maintenance. It’s actually very much the same type of basic grill maintenance, and fortunately, it’s something you can easily do yourself to help make your product last a long time (and help keep your food tasting great, too). I’m getting hungry as I write this!
Tip #1: Clean the inside of the lid often.
Many store-bought grills are lined with a porcelain enamel. With age and wear, grease and smoke collect on the inside of the lid, and if it isn’t cleaned regularly, may begin to look like chipping paint. Even though it is just debris and not toxic, you can still manage this build-up by cleaning the inside of the lid with a mild, soap-and-water solution after every grilling session when the grill is still warm (but not hot!). It should wipe right off.
Tip #2: Clean the grate before cooking.
Much like with a gas grill, as the charcoal heats up the grilling grate, you can scrape loose debris leftover from your last cooking session using a stainless steel bristled brush. While warm, the residue will scrape away easily and leave you with a surface that your food is less likely to stick to. (Bonus tip about food sticking: This easy grill maintenance article on DIY Network also suggests that you use a little cooking spray, or rub the hot grill with an onion to prevent food from sticking while it cooks, but still be sure to clean the grate well before application.)
Tip #3: The inside bowl of your grill will need to be cleaned periodically too.
Clear it of all charcoal ash and use a a steel wool pad with soap and water to loosen any debris and bring it back to a shiny state.
Tip #4: Steam cleaners make all of this easy, too.
From cleaning the lid, to the bowl, to the debris-ridden grate, a good steam cleaning will help to keep your grill very clean. The hand steamer model I own has a steel head attachment, and it actually gets a lot of use on our oven. Since it’s useful at removing the heavy grease and grime that goes along with cooking, I’ve found that it’s nice to use on the grill too.
With these easy maintenance tips, your grill will remain in good condition and provide you with many great meals!
Still need more help? Here’s a helpful video from DIYNetwork.com that explains charcoal grill cleaning in-depth.