How to Winterize Your Natural Gas Grill

As grilling season comes to an end, don’t leave your natural gas grill out in the cold. Food remnants from barbecues past can become a holiday feast for unwanted pests and critters – and you don’t want to find surprise guests in your grill when the weather warms up again.

Before you cover your gas grill for its winter break, make sure your grill is clean and the natural gas valve is shut off. Once spring rolls around, you’ll be ready to cook with gas in no time. Here’s how to clean your gas grill for winter: 

What You’ll Need:

  • A spray bottle, water, white vinegar, baking soda, a long-handled grill brush, a stiff wire brush, a putty knife, cleaning rags or paper towels, a container for ashes and debris, garden hose, and vinyl or dishwashing gloves.

Cleaning Solution:

  • Mix 1 ½ cups of white vinegar with 1 ½ cups of water, then add 1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda. Note – the solution will bubble! 
  • Once mixed, pour the solution into your spray bottle. If you don’t have these ingredients at home, a combination of water and dish detergent will suffice. 

Let’s get cooking – or, in this case, cleaning: 

1. Hot, Then Cold: Run your grill on high with the lid closed for 15 minutes to loosen up food debris for easier cleaning. Turn off all burners and locate the natural gas shut-off valve, which may be behind or beneath the grill. Turn the valve to the closed position by rotating it a quarter turn perpendicular to the pipe, forming a “T.” Open the lid and allow the grill to cool completely before moving on to Step 2.

2. Scrape Off the Scraps: To clean your gas grill grates, use the long-handled grill brush to scrape off any leftover bits of food and grease. Then, use your cleaning solution and rag to wipe down the grates before removing them from the grill. 

3. Hoist the Heat Plates: Remove any items covering the burners, like briquettes or heat plates. Shake off any remaining ash or debris into your container, and then cleanse the items with your cleaning solution. 

4. Brush the Burners: Use the stiff wire brush to remove any grease and other debris from the burners. Look for any burner holes that are covered or clogged, and brush from side to side to prevent debris from being pushed into the ports. Then, wipe down the burner valves with your cleaning solution. If you’re able to remove the burners completely, use a garden hose to run water through the valves. This will flush out any leftover debris that can cause uneven heating and hot spots. 

5. Deep Clean the Cook Box: Now that the cook box is empty, scoop out any leftover debris from your grill and scrape off any caked-on food or grease with your putty knife. Wipe down the cook box with a damp cloth or wash out the interior with a garden hose (depending on your grill’s drainage system). 

6. Empty the Collection Bin: Dispose of any waste in the collection bin beneath your grill. If there is any grease, let it harden before disposing of it in the trash – not down the drain. 

7. Finishing Touches: Use your cleaning solution and rag to wipe down the outside of your grill. Vinegar is safe to use for stainless steel, but stainless-steel cleaning solution can also be used. Reassemble your grill by placing the burners back in place, followed by the briquettes or heat plates, then the grates.

8. Prepare for Winter: Coat the grates with cooking oil to repel moisture and prevent rust from forming during the winter. Check to make sure the gas shut-off valve is still in the off position. Inspect for cracks, scratches, or damaged parts, and contact a professional to repair or replace any damages now to prevent an unwelcome surprise next spring. 

9. Store Until Spring: Cover your grill to help protect it from the elements. Inspect for pests occasionally during the colder months.

Now that you’ve completed each of these steps, you can rest assured that your grill will be well protected this winter – and ready-to-go in the spring! 

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