The smell of burgers is in the air, which can mean only one thing: outdoor grilling season has arrived. But before you fire up the barbecue, you’ll need to make sure your grill is up to snuff for the first cook of the season. We’re covering how to give your grill a tune-up before firing it up this summer, plus we look at some must-have items for every grill master’s toolkit.
Related: BBQ Grills Buyer’s Guide
Grill Supplies You’ll Need:
Step 1: Inspect From Top to Bottom
If your grill has been sitting cold for months, it’s important to give it a once-over to ensure all parts are in safe, working order. There are professional companies that will perform this service for you, but you can easily save yourself a couple of hundred dollars by doing it yourself.
Start by checking for signs of rust, especially if your barbecue has been stored outdoors all winter. Corrosion could mean it’s time to replace your unit. Then, check for any bugs or pests that might have found shelter from the weather inside your grill.
You’ll also need to check the fuel line on gas or propane grills. Once you’ve done a visual check for any cracks, try the soapy water test, which involves placing soapy water on the fuel line and connections. The presence of bubbles while the fuel is running means you should either tighten your connections or replace the line.
Step 2: Clean the Burners
When cleaning your grill, it’s best to start from the inside out, so things are clean as you put them back together. Start by removing the grates and cleaning the flame tamers — located just above the burners — with a wire brush. If you don’t yet own a wire brush, you might consider these options:
- Kona Safe Ceramic Coated Nylon Grill Cleaning Brush – Sale Price: $21.20 | Reg. Price: $29.99. This brush from Wayfair has excellent reviews and is on sale for 29% off.
- Expert Grill Grill Brush – Reg. Price: $4.88. Alternatively, this option from Walmart also gets the job done and for less than $5.
Next, clean the burners, including the ports. The burner ports are the little holes along your grill’s burner unit. They can get clogged with grease, insects, dirt and other gunk, so giving them a once over helps ensure you have an even flame for cooking. For smaller clogs, a toothpick should do the trick, but for more stubborn buildup, use a small drill bit to clear debris.
You can spray water through the burner tube using your garden hose, or use a wire bottle brush to clean the inside. Ensure the burner units are completely dry before reinstalling. This is also the perfect time to remove and clean the grease pan with soapy water.
If you use a charcoal grill, empty all ashes and unburned charcoal from the bowl and ash catcher before giving the interior a good brushing to remove any buildup.
Step 3: Clean the Grates
Whether your grates are rusty or still have buildup from last season, it’s important to start the season off with a clean slate. For gas grills, you can simply run the unit on high for about 15 minutes in order to burn off any debris before scrubbing it away with a grill brush.
Avoid stainless steel brushes as they may leave behind tiny metal bristles that could get in your food. Instead, consider products like these:
- Safe Scrape™ Grill Cleaning Paddle – Reg. Price: $14.99. Get 20% off this hardwood grill scraper from Bed Bath & Beyond when you sign up for a Beyond+ membership.
- The Grate Scrape – Reg. Price: Starting at $19.99. Currently, you can get this scraper with free personalization using promo code THANKSDAD.
- Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Grill Scrubber – Reg. Price: $4.99. We also like this affordable option for cleaning both charcoal and gas grills.
Or, save yourself some money and use items you already have around the house — like an onion or crumpled-up tinfoil — to keep your grates looking spotless.
For especially gunky grates, you can use a pre-made grate cleaner, or soak them overnight in a 2:1 mixture of vinegar and baking soda, before rinsing in the morning. Cleaning your grates regularly throughout the season and keeping them well oiled will help prevent rust and prevent food from sticking.
Step 4: Clean the Exterior
Use a brass-bristle brush or soft cloth and soapy water to give the exterior a good wash; then rinse with water. While soap and water is safe for cleaning most grills, you can get a deeper clean with other products.
A stainless steel cleaner works great on stainless steel lids while a regular old window cleaner works for porcelain-coated steel lids.
- Therapy Premium Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish – Sale Price: $14.95 | Reg. Price: $19.95. We like this option for stainless steel, and it’s currently 25% off on Amazon.
Once the exterior is cleaned, you can reassemble your barbecue. Be sure to test it out with an initial heat up, and don’t forget to oil your grates before first use. A silicone basting brush is good for the task.
- Weber Silicone Basting Grill Brush – Reg. Price: $11.99. For less than $12, you can get a basting brush from a well-known brand like Weber.
Step 5: Upgrade Your Tools
If you’ve left your tools outside over the winter or used them a lot during the previous season, it might be time for an upgrade. Rust, damage and general wear are all signs it’s time to buy new tools.
A good spatula and a solid pair of tongs are key — and often cost less in a barbecue tool set than buying them individually.
Check out these BBQ tool deals before you buy:
- BBQ Grill Tool Set – Sale Price: $24.99 | Reg. Price: $34.99. You’d be hard-pressed to beat the price on this tool set from Walmart, which is currently $10 off its regular price.
- Home Complete BBQ Grilling Tool Set – Sale Price: $22.99 | Reg. Price: $49.99. This set from Wayfair is a real bargain at 54% off.
- Cuisinart Wooden Handle Tool Set – Sale Price: $29.09 | Reg. Price: $39.99. Right now you can save 27% on this 13-piece grilling set on Amazon.
Other fun grilling accessories you may want to consider to really up your grilling game include:
- Charcoal Companion® Non-Stick Mesh Grill Bag – Reg. Price: $13.74
- Royal Oak Cedar Grilling Planks (2 pack) – Reg. Price: $9.98
- Weber Instant Read Thermometer – Sale Price: $12.99 | Reg. Price: $15.99
- Just Grillin’ Barbecue Caddy – Reg. Price: $19.99. Beyond+ members can save 20%.
And finally, don’t forget to protect your grill from the elements with a barbecue cover. A small investment in a cover (especially if you’ve just dropped big bucks on a decent grill) will help keep your barbecue looking new for years to come.
- Wayfair Basics BBQ Grill Cover – Reg. Price: $31.39. This grill cover fits grills up to 67 inches.