To love grilling is to love your grill.
Like any good relationship, you need to put some work into the one you have with your grill—luckily the time spent keeping a happy grill is minimal and the payback for the effort is enormous. It doesn't matter if you're dealing with a top-of-line model or a cheap knock-off, with proper maintenance, any grill is bound to keep you cooking for a good long time.
Grill Racks and Grates
Grill racks and grates should be cleaned after each use.
For best results wait until after you've grilled. Your best bet is to brush down the grates and racks when they are cooler but still warm. Use a stiff grill brush to clean off food particles. Grill racks and grates need to be cleaned after each use.
You should always clean out the ash in your grill. A pile of ash left on the grill can collect moisture, and ash plus moisture can equal a cement-like substance that can become your biggest challenge to cleaning your grill—if you can manage to clean it out at all.
To make quick work of this, keep a big bucket by the grill where you can dump ash at days end. Not only will you be more likely to complete this annoying chore if it's that much easier, but you can also safely move still warm coals out of the grill to finish extinguishing. Store the bucket somewhere where it won't get wet, then trash the collection of ash when it's full and you're positive there are no coals still burning.
Ash disposal becomes even easier if you opt for lump charcoal since it creates relatively little ash when compared to briquettes.
At least once a year, your charcoal grill will need a good rub down with hot soapy water.
People with gas grills often think they are home free when it comes to cleaning their grills because of the "clean" setting on many gas grills.
This setting does heat up the grill and burns off some of the particles, but it isn't a substitution for regular cleaning.
Grates, tops, and sides of a gas grill will need to be cleaned after each use. Every third or fourth time you grill, the area under the cooking grate should be cleaned off for particles as well. At least once a year, a more thorough cleaning will be required. This usually requires some minor work to disassemble the grill.
How to Store Your Grill
It may seem obvious, but covering your grill is a must if you're keeping it outdoors. If you don't.. fast-forward a few months and your grill will be a rusty mess and beyond use.
Caring for your grill really doesn't have to take much time. The maintenance required is minor compared to all the greatness that will come from the extra work. So take that little bit of time to keep your grill happy, then throw some food over the flames, sit back and reap the rewards for years to come.