Nothing tastes better than a good meal prepared on a clean charcoal grill. The best way to maintain a charcoal grill is to clean it after every use. Take a wire brush to the grill rack while the coals are still hot. Once the charcoal is completely extinguished, and the coal pan and the lid are cool to the touch, you can empty the ashes and any old coal using a small trowel or other implement. Place these in a bag and discard them. While some people prefer to add the ashes to a composting pile, if any accelerant was used to start the previous fire, there might be some unburned petroleum distillates-not a desirable thing to have in your compost.
Now that you have emptied out the coal pan, using old newspaper, an old rag or paper towels, wipe out the interior of the coal pan, then rinse it out with a garden hose. It isn't necessary to get the coal pan spotless. However, it's helpful to remove any old food that could affect the taste of future meals prepared on the grill.
Wipe off the exterior of the grill. You can probably do this with a wet rag or a towel. This won't affect the taste of the food, but it does have an aesthetic purpose. Avoid using a wire brush or other abrasives to clean off the grill's exterior so that you don't tear off paint, exposing bare metal and increasing the chance of premature rusting.
A couple of methods are useful to clean the grill grate. The first one involves placing the grate on several layers of newspaper and then spraying it with oven cleaner. Allow the oven cleaner a few hours to work before rinsing it off thoroughly, and make sure that the grate has had time to air dry before replacing it in the grill.
The second method of cleaning the grate is to place it in a large plastic bag with straight ammonia. The fumes from the ammonia will do a nice job of eating through any old grime. Again, allow the rack to remain in the bag for a few hours. The longer it sits, the less muscle work you will have to do. Once again, make sure that you thoroughly rinse the grate until it's clean and allow it to air dry before placing it back in the grill.
It is much easier to clean a charcoal grill if you keep up with it after each use. Scrubbing the grate with a wire brush immediately after use while it's still hot makes it much easier to keep it clean. This allows any food particles to be consumed in the hot coals and avoids any major grease and grime build-up.
These basic BBQ safety tips are a must-have when summer approaches and millions of people dust off their barbecues, ready to enjoy the weather and delicious grilled food.