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Pressure-washing the Gas Grill: Mind the Overspray

The instructions for our Weber gas grill would have us lavish more care on it than we do on our car, which isn’t actually saying much. Nonetheless, once a year I gotta clean the crud out, whether it needs it or not, because not even I believe heat kills that stuff.

Used to be, that was a thoroughly disgusting job of hand-scraping carbonized gunk and scrubbing gooey muck in cramped quarters. Having acquired a pressure washer, cleaning the grill is almost enough fun that I might do it more often. It even gets the mildew (or whatever that schmutz might be) off the wood handles & platforms, which I would have bet was impossible.

Pressure washer side effects

Pressure washer side effects

However, if you’re even a teensy bit fussier than we are about the looks of your castle, you might want to not lay the grates & “flavorizer bars” on the driveway to blast ’em clean. Turns out that the overspray strips the grunge right out of the top layer of asphalt, leaving a white trail behind.

Looks a lot like those Nasca peteroglyphs, doesn’t it?

The pressure washer does a great job on the white resin plastic chairs, too, which go from really grubby to chalk-white in one pass.

Can’t imagine how I got along without it…

Memo to Self: Next time, use the sawhorses.

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  1. #1 by Neil Hendin on 2009-09-16 - 14:23

    One trick I use for cleaning the grill grates is to put them in the oven when running the self clean cycle. You can then just wipe off the white char that remains. and you get a clean oven too.

    • #2 by Ed on 2009-09-16 - 14:45

      I like it: get thermonuclear on those things!

      The only catch might be that it’d stink up the kitchen something fierce. A while ago we burned a decade of accumulated oil off our bread pans and the place smelled like a somebody attacked a pile of greasy shop rags with a flamethrower: a mixture of burned oil and carbon char. Pretty impressive… but those pans were shiny-clean just like new.

      Then I got the clever idea to burn the pepperoni oil off a $2 pizza stone we picked up at a tag sale. I put it in at a a mere 350 F while cooking something else and phew was that a mistake. The previous owners had pretty much saturated it with pepperoni and that stuff leached out and smoked off for as long as we were willing to keep heating the stone!

      Thanks for the idea, though: I’ll propose it for the next cleaning cycle…

  2. #3 by hexley ball on 2011-07-30 - 19:32

    A little late to the party, but your recent link to this page caught my eye and now I’ve got a hankering for my own pressure washer :-)

    Any recommendations (gas/electric? GPM? Pressure?) based on your experience would be appreciated.

    Oh BTW, here’s yet another trick for cleaning grill grates — cover them with a couple of sheets of aluminum foil and fire up all burners on high for 15 or 20 minutes. Then let things cool, remove foil, and wipe off the ash. Works pretty well, and the return on effort is pretty high…

    • #4 by Ed on 2011-07-30 - 20:57

      Much though I hate small internal combustion engines, electric pressure washers don’t have nearly enough mojo. I tried out an electric loaner and it couldn’t clean its own nose.

      This one is a gasoline engine: 6.75 hp / 2550 psi / 2.3 gpm. All three ratings are surely optimistic, but the narrow nozzle chews into the concrete patio something awful and the spinning jet strips paint off metal just fine. IIRC, this was at the knee of the curve where smaller ones seemed stripped-for-price and larger ones had too many useless (to me, anyway) features.

      We got it to strip & wash down the soffits prior to painting them and it worked wonderfully well; much better than hand-scraping 300-some-odd running feet of 2-to-4 foot wide overhead plywood and trim. Brightened up the sandstone stonework around the front door without doing too much damage, too.

      It paid for itself on that painting job by letting us work at our own pace, rather than meet the rental company’s deadlines. Now it has a pretty low duty cycle, but I’m planning to strip & paint the patio railing in the cool of the autumn and I do not want to chip away at that by hand.

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