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If you’ve decided you don’t want to brave the weather to grill during the winter months, then it’s time to bid farewell to your grilling equipment and accessories until spring. The questions I’m most often asked about this topic are always the same. How to prepare my grill for winter? And where to store my grill in the winter? The second question is of particular interest to those who don’t have a garage or those who don’t have enough space in their garage for grill storage.
I’ll cover both of these topics in this blog and tell you upfront that a little of your time now will return at least double that amount of time savings when you get the grill back out in the spring. Cleaning your grill before storing it in a dry, weather-resistant place is essential to starting the spring grilling season on a high note.
Winter Clean Up
It may be tempting to roll your grill up next to the house after the last great cookout of the season without cleaning it, maybe throw a cover on it and call it a day. Resist that temptation. You and your grill will be happier if you make the effort to give it a good cleaning before storing it in a weather-resistant space for the season.
Cleaning your grill doesn’t require anything fancy to get the job done. Invest in a simple wire cleaning brush, a green Scotch Brite pad, and some grill cleaning spray. This is the best I’ve found for that, and I can’t tell you how many messages I receive on social media asking me how my grill grates are always so clean. If you’re super particular like I am, I also recommend these grill cleaning stones for your grill’s grates, they work amazingly well.
Cleaning your ceramic grill is about as easy as it gets because the grill will essentially do all the work for you. Heat your grill to 700-750 degrees and leave it running at that temperature for two to three hours. (This is basically the same principle used in self-cleaning ovens.) Once the grill has burned this hot for a few hours, any build-up from previous cooks will be reduced to ash. Allow the grill to cool down and then wipe the ash away with a damp cloth and vacuum out any remaining ash in the bottom of your grill. Wipe down all metal surfaces with a thin layer of vegetable oil to prevent rusting. It doesn’t get much easier.
Typical Charcoal or Gas Grill
Because these grills aren’t designed (generally speaking) for the extreme temperatures that a ceramic grill is, it takes a little more elbow grease to get these grills ready for hibernation. Try taking all of the removable metal parts to include cooking grates, charcoal grates, flavorizor bars, heat deflectors, etc. out of the grill. Spray them down thoroughly with the grill cleaning spray and let parts sit for about an hour. When parts are removed, spray down the inside of the grill (don’t forget the lid) with the grill cleaning spray.
After putting on some rubber gloves use your scotch bright pad to clean all your parts. For anything extra stubborn try using a bit more of the grill cleaning spray and some steel wool pads to get rid of any leftover debris. Rinse all your parts and dry thoroughly before coating with a very light coat of vegetable oil to prevent rusting.
The best part of winter-prep cleaning? Your grill is now ready to use the second the weather warms up!
Your Grill is Clean, Now What?
If you live in warmer desert climates, your grill should be fine to leave outside during the winter, just use an appropriate cover. If, however, you live somewhere with snow, sleet, or ice in the forecast, I highly recommend moving your grill out of the elements. Your garage is the logical place but if it’s anything like my garage was before I “took it back” there’s likely no room for a grill. Especially in the wintertime when parking the car inside the garage is preferable, and garage real estate is at a real premium.
When I decided to take my garage back, it involved getting a storage unit for all things I don’t use on a weekly basis. I chose Extra Space Storage for a few reasons. They have facilities all over, so I was able to find one less than 2 miles from my house. They offer climate-controlled units that are great for things like charcoal. (I like to stock up on charcoal when it goes on sale at the end of the season.) However, damp charcoal doesn’t burn well, even if you take pains to dry it out. Charcoal that was exposed to moisture becomes a challenge to light and will not get as hot as charcoal that’s never been damp. So, not only do I not have space for 25 bags of charcoal in my garage, the humidity really takes a toll on it. The units at Extra Space Storage are extremely secure with video surveillance, they are clean and well lit. Click here to find a location near you—you can literally rent your unit online and the keys will be waiting for you when you show up to drop off your grill.
So, when you’re done with cleaning your grill for the winter, consider the short-term investment of a storage unit to store your grill, charcoal, tailgating equipment, etc.
Invest some time in prepping your grill and accessories for winter storage and you’ll be happy to unpack them in the spring. A little care now will save time later and make for an easy start to the next grilling season.
If you’re interested in grilling throughout the season, check out my post on grilling in the cold.