Real Simple Home Cleaning Charcoal Grill Maintenance Checklist Charcoal Grill Maintenance Checklist A few simple steps will keep your barbecue grill in top condition. For gas grill maintenance tips, click here. Advertisement Save FB Tweet More Pinterest Email Send Text Message Print Charcoal grill Credit: iStock When the Season Begins Checklist Remove any ashes. If any remain from last season, dispose of them in a noncombustible container. Clean the grate. Before you have your first cookout, light a fire and heat the grate for about 30 minutes. Then scrape it with a long-handled stiff-wire grill brush to remove any leftover bits of food. If you don't have a grill brush, use a ball of crumpled foil held in long-handled tongs. Wash the grill. Wash the outside of the lid and firebox with warm, soapy water; use a steel-wool soap pad for stubborn interior stains. Rinse and dry. Stock charcoal. Start the season right with an ample supply of charcoal (the amount will vary depending on how often you grill). Every Time You Grill Checklist Check the charcoal supply. Make a note of your coal inventory so you can restock it, if need be, before you barbecue next. Clean the grate. Preheat the grill. When it's hot, brush the grate with a long-handled stiff-wire grill brush. If you don't have a grill brush, use a ball of crumpled foil held in long-handled tongs. Repeat when you're finished cooking. Oil the grate. Prevent food from sticking to the grill: Fold a paper towel into a small pad, dip it in a bowl of vegetable or olive oil, and, using long-handled tongs, rub it over the bars of the grate. Do this carefully to prevent oil from dripping onto the coals. You can also oil the grate with some bacon or steak fat. Repeat when you're finished cooking; the oil helps prevent rusting. A little residual grease is good—it helps give grilled food smoky flavor. When the Season Ends Checklist Remove the ashes. Make sure all ashes are cool, then dispose of them in a noncombustible container. Cover the grill. Don't wash the grill or grate until the start of next season. Leaving the grease on until spring will help prevent the metal from rusting.