Preparing and Cleaning Your Grill for the Winter

Preparing and Cleaning Your Outdoor Grill for the Winter

After the days of summer have faded and the autumn leaves have fallen, you may start thinking about prepping your outdoor grill for its winter rest. Thorough cleansing, and preventative maintenance will ensure better tasting food, and many happy and worry-free spring and summer revivals of barbecued meals with family and friends. 

Cleaning Will Stop Pests, Mold, Corrosion and Oxidation 


Wildlife, especially mice, often find their way into an outdoor grill in the cold weather. Any leftover bits of food will keep them coming back for more. The lid provides a great roof to protect them from the elements, so a pristinely clean grill with a cover should prevent these critters from calling this place their winter home.

Keep It Dry!

Corrosion & Oxidation

Leaving grease and food residue in the grill over the winter can trap moisture which can promote the development of corrosion and oxidation. Cleaning your grill before any lengthy period of time when it won’t be used will help reduce the chances that corrosion or oxidation will develop on the grill components. 


While mold rarely has a chance to form at temperatures below freezing, the last weeks of Fall and the first weeks of Spring tend to be somewhat moisture-laden, which is the perfect condition for mold to grow. Mold feeds and grows on organic matter, so the inside of a dirty grill is the perfect place for mold to flourish. Cleaning your grill before putting it away for the winter and wiping it down again periodically will keep mold and pests away.

Cleaning your Gas Grill

You should always refer to your owner’s manual for tips and instructions for your particular model of propane or gas-powered grill, but here are some general how-to’s.

Items you may need:

Stiff wire brush
Dish soap
Clean cloth
Sponges, scouring pads
Grill scraper
Vegetable oil
Stainless Steel cleaner (for stainless steel grills)
A bin to deposit grease

  • Heat up the grill for 15 to 20 minutes on high heat with the lid down, and then turn off the grill. If your grill is especially crusty or dirty, you can heat it for 35 to 45 minutes. This ensures that bacteria and mold is burned off and any food particles will turn to ash.
  • Turn the gas or propane off. 
  • Wait for the grates to cool down and scour the grates with a stiff wire brush dipped in soapy water.
  • Soak them in a tub of soapy water to remove any remaining debris. Then dry off with a clean cloth. Then set them aside.

Do a Quick Inspection

Gas grills are very safe but proper maintenance is important to avert fires. 

  • Inspect all hoses. Brittleness, cracking, holes and tears are danger signs. Also check for kinks and sharp bends.
  • Some cracks are too small to see. Use water and liquid detergent in equal measure. Apply the solution with a soft bristled brush or spray bottle to a closed valve where it connects to the gas valve. Turn the gas on slowly. You may have a gas leak if bubbles appear. Tighten up the tank connections.
  • Important! Turn off the gas supply valve if you see any of the above. Call an expert to repair your grill before storing it away.

Take Out Any Removable Parts

After the grill has completely cooled down, remove the flavorizer bars, burner assemblies and drip tray(s). Refer to your owner’s manual, if needed.

Clean the Inside Lid and Sides and Bottom

  • Now that all removable items have been taken out, scrape down any debris on the inside of your grill lid with a grill scraper. You may see flakes come loose. This is simply carbonized grease and smoke. 
  • Now remove grease and buildup from the bottom of the grill. Use a scraper. Then scrub with a scouring pad and soapy water. 

Clean the Flavorizer Bars (also called Heat Diffusers or Metal Plates)

The flavorizer bars are a very important part of your grill and should be cleaned frequently. They help spread heat evenly and stop drippings from falling onto the burners.

  • Remove the bars from the grill. Scrub both sides with a scouring pad and soapy water and wipe off with a cloth.

Clean the Burners

Usually, a gentle wipe down with a sponge and soapy water should be enough. 

  • Check the burner holes to make sure they aren’t clogged.
  • If you see any clogged holes, use a toothpick to remove any dirt and grime.

Clean the Drip Pan(s) and Reassemble

These pans are usually coated with a thick layer of grease. 

  • Use a scraper to take out the grease and dump it into a bin.
  • Then immerse in warm clean soapy water and wipe down with a clean cloth. 
  • Reassemble your grill referring to your manual if needed.

Fire Up Your Grill

To make sure all soapy residue and water are burned off, ignite the burners on high for several minutes. After the grill is cool, spray a small amount of vegetable oil on the grates to ensure rust free grates.

Clean and Polish the Exterior

Now that you’ve done all the hard work, this part is easy. Use a sponge and clean, soapy water to gently wash the outside of your grill.

  • Pay attention to small grooves and knobs. Grime gets stuck here.
  • Never use an abrasive cleaning tool. It will scratch the surface.
  • Use a garden hose to rinse off.
  • Use a stainless-steel cleaner to polish up a stainless steel exterior.

Storing your Grill – Where Should I Put It?

A garage is generally a safe place to store your grill. However, you must leave the propane tank outside.

  • If you prefer to leave your grill outside, it’s a good idea to store it in an area with some protection such as a porch. It’s also wise to cover your grill with a good quality cover. 
  • Never store your grill in a grassy area. Moisture collects here and it’s a natural habitat for insects and small animals.

Should You Cover Your Grill?

This has been a hotly debated topic because a cover can attract moisture as well as keep it out. If you decide to cover your grill, it’s wise to purchase a good quality cover. These types include vents and are made of breathable materials. Inexpensive covers may trap moisture in your grill and cause corrosion.

  • Remove the cover every couple of weeks. Wipe down the grill to let moisture evaporate. 

Let the cover dry out if it’s damp before replacing it.

Propane Tanks

  • Never store a propane tank inside your home, garage, or other enclosed space. If you bring the grill into the garage or a shed, leave the tank outside and cover it. If you leave the grill outside, keep the tank connected and shut it off. Cover the grill as usual.
  • Remove the ignition battery from the electric starter then safely discard it. Securely reseal the empty battery compartment.
  • If you have a hard-lined gas grill, shut off the gas at as many points as possible such as under the grill and, if possible, at the fuel source.

For repair and maintenance to all your major appliances, call the experts at C&W Appliance Service at (855) 358-1496 or submit our online service request form.


For the very best in appliance repair and maintenance, you can count on C&W Appliance Service.