Does Your Gas Grill Flare Up or Heat Unevenly? Here’s How to Clean It to Make It Like New

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Does your grill heat unevenly, have spots that light on fire, or just not work the way you want it to? It probably needs a good cleaning. A thorough cleaning not only extends the life of your grill, it’ll cook your food better and cleaner, getting rid of all burnt up food, bugs, leaves and whatever else may be in your grill. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Clean the grates with high heat

[Photography: Saqib Shafi]

[Photography: Saqib Shafi]

Grates are the point of contact for your food. That’s why need to be as clean as possible at all times to avoid off flavors in your meal. Before using chemicals and cleaners, let heat do the work.

How? Blast each burner to high, close the lid, and let the grates get ultra hot, about five to ten minutes. Turn off the burners, then scrape as much gunk as you can with a grill brush or large crumple of heavy duty aluminum foil, carefully flipping each grate with tongs to get the other side. If your grates still have gunk on them, let them cool and wash them in warm soapy water and then an oven or grill cleaner. If your grates are totally rusted and worn out, replace them with ones that fit your grill model.

With enough heat and elbow grease you should see a significant difference in the cleanliness of your grates.

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 Warning: Be sure to clean grates thoroughly of any wire bristles that may have come off your brush and onto your grates.

Step 2: Clean the burner covers

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Gas grills have angled covers over their burners. These ceramic plates are what cook your food by providing radiant heat in the air like an oven and by heating up your grill’s grates for direct contact. They also protect the flames from food and fat that falls through the grates. Since these covers get so much food on them, they’re probably very dirty and cause smoke and flareups. They need to be cleaned.

How? With the grates removed, remove the burner covers and carefully scrape them clean of burnt-on food. If they’re in good condition, they can then be hand washed or chemically treated. If they’re rusty, which they usually are, replace them with ones that fit your grill. They’re usually cheap.

Step 3: Remove and clean the burners

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Even though there are protector bars over them, burners in a gas grill can get food on them and close the holes that the flame needs to come out of. This is what causes poor performance across various zones of your grill. A thorough cleaning of each burner and its holes can help.

How? If possible, remove each burner and clean off any residue stuck on them. Using a sharp pointed object, poke each hole to clear any that are covered with food. If the burners are rusted or falling apart, replace them with the right ones for your model. They’re a bit pricey, but a replacement will be like giving new life to your grill.

Step 4: Clean the inside of the grill

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This is where the dirtiest work comes in. The inside floor of your grill will be filled with loads of food, leaves, bugs, and God knows what else. This stuff has to come out.

How? Using a thin metal spatula or paint scraper, scrape all of the burnt food and gunk along the sides, ledges, and corners of your grill until it falls to the bottom of the grill. If needed, wash the insides with soapy water or chemical grill cleaner.

Step 5: Empty the catch tray

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If your grill has it, there is a catch tray underneath the burners. This is where all that stuff you scraped off fell on to. It’s time to get rid of it once and for all

How? Scrape out all the grease and whatever else in the tray into a plastic garbage bag and toss it out.

Step 6: Clean the grill’s exterior

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Now that your grill’s inside is spotless, clean the exterior. Not only does an exterior cleaning make your grill look good, its also an indicator. The next time your grill’s exterior is dirty again, that’s probably a sign that it’s time to clean the inside, again.

How? Clean the hood, handles, and undersides of the grill with a spray hose and a sponge of soap. If there are grease stains that don’t come out, use a chemical grill or oven cleaner and wash it off with water afterward.

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When it’s all done, throw away your bag of greasy gunk, put your grill back together, and light it up. Your grill will now burn clean blue flames, have no flareups, and cook your food cleaner, faster, and better. Just in time for a summer of great grilling.