Winterizing your grill

Protect your grill and grates from moisture and harsh conditions

Take these steps to prolong the life of your grill and the cast iron grates—particularly if you live in a climate where your grill may sit unused and is exposed to cold, wet environment. The steps below have been gathered from a variety of sources, but check your grill’s manual or the manufacturer’s website for their recommendations as well.

clean the grates

If you don’t do anything else, do this. Start the grill and get it to high temperature for a while, until any residual food burns off. This can take about 15-20 minutes. Once the grates are hot, use your grill brush and scrape anything left on the grates. (Refer to your grill manufacturer’s website for the best way to clean your grate’s material. Porcelain-coated and stainless steel grates can get scratched moreso than cast iron. it may be the same for aluminum, as well.) Some sources recommend oven cleaner to clean grates, but for ManGrates/raw cast iron, use the method below.

For cast iron grates: After scraping the grates with the brush, turn off the grill (or let the charcoal burn out) and while the grates are still a bit warm, take a rag and dip it in vegetable oil—avocado oil has the highest smoke point. Using tongs, rub the oiled cloth on the grates, periodically dipping it in more oil. The oil settles into the pores of the iron and will help inhibit rust from forming. 

If your area is very snowy and wet—and if you don’t plan to grill until spring—store the grates layered in towels or newspaper and place in plastic storage containers in the basement or garage.

Unhook the Propane tank

If you truly live in a cold weather area and won’t have a chance of a mild winter day, unhook the tank and make sure the valve is turned off. Open up one of the burners to bleed any trapped gas.

Clean the "flavorizer" Bars/Flame tamers

Too much crud and carbon build-up on these can impact proper heat distribution. Scrubbing with a wire brush and putty knife should be good. For deep cleaning (if you like to use a lot of heavy sauces while cooking, for example, which can become a thick, layered mess when hardened): Add 2 caps of ammonia to a 5-gallon bucket and fill it almost to the top with warm water. Let the bars soak for 2 or 3 hours. Rinse with warm water and dry well before placing back into the grill.

Clean the inside (below the grates)

Ash and food debris collects on the bottom of the grill. Put on some rubber gloves and pick out what’s in there. If you have a shop vac, that can expedite this quite a bit after you loosen things with your hands. If your grill has lava rocks, it’s probably a good time to ditch what’s in there and get all new for next year.

Wrap the burner unit in a plastic bag to prevent spiders and insects from nesting inside the tubes.

Empty the Drip Pan

Cleaning this regularly is a good idea throughout the season because the grease can harden and potentially catch fire. Some grease pans can be fitted with a foil pan or tray—just pitch the grease along with the disposable tray and put a new one in there.

Clean the Outside

Using a degreaser spray throughout the summer is great for regular cleaning. For end-of-season cleaning, hot water and dish soap is perfect (Dawn is particularly good—and mild—at cutting through grease.) Wipe down all surfaces and allow to dry. Some people even use baking soda to polish the outside of the grill and get it shiny. There are several degreaser sprays and cleaners on the market specifically made for grills. Just read the label to see if it’s compatible with the finish on yours.

Do a visual inspection of your knobs and temperature gauges. Check all the hoses for cracks and holes.

Cover the Grill

Most people will keep their grill outside. Spend the $30–$40 to get a good grill cover that can fit well and be secure even in high winds. This will ensure rain, ice and grit won’t get into crevices and trash your grill a lot quicker. Just make sure the cover doesn’t touch the ground so that any moisture inside is able to escape.

If you do store your gas grill inside a garage or structure, remove the propane tank and keep that outside—a small gas leak could potentially cause an explosion. Simply cover the gas line opening with a plastic bag to prevent insects from nesting inside.

NEXT SPRING: Inspect your grill to ensure no critters and insects have nested. Before lighting the grill (with propane tank connected), test the connection for leaks. Info. for testing and what to do in case of a leak can be found here. 

Re-seasoning your grates

Check out these videos for more detailed, step-by-step instructions on seasoning ManGrates.

Rust? Not A Problem

You can easily remove rust on the grates.

If your ManGrate seasoning has worn off or rust has developed on the grates (which can happen if moisture gets into your grill), the grates need to be properly re-seasoned. Just follow the instructions above to re-season your ManGrates or see the step-by-step process shown below. We purposely allowed ManGrates to rust so we could demonstrate how simple the re-season process really is. Nothing has been photographically enhanced. Please note that any rust dissolves and burns off during this re-seasoning process.

Season all sides of the grates.

Occasionally we hear of grates having a surface “scaling” issue, where flakes of the iron are coming off. This is a result of oxidation of the iron at high temperatures, where the top portion of the grates were seasoned, but the bottom and sides were not. The unseasoned areas of the grates deteriorate from moisture getting into the pores of the iron, resulting in irreparable damage to the grate itself. PLEASE season all sides of the grates. It is really easy to do, particularly when you use a spray oil. Over time and use, the cast iron is extremely hardy, just like cast iron skillets that have been passed on to generations of family.