Heating up: Charcoal needs to burn 20–30 minutes before it turns an ashy gray — signaling it’s ready to cook over. A chimney starter, a cylinder that draws air through it, can heat charcoal in about half its normal time.
Cleaning up: Put the lid on the grill while it’s still hot, and let the remains of the fire burn off any food residue. Brush off leftovers once the grill is cool. Scrape stubborn food with a grill brush. Clean the inside of the barbecue with soap and water. Do not use a stainless-steel pad to clean the grill surface because it will scratch. To clean the grill rack, let it cool, then soak it in hot sudsy water. For larger racks, wrap them in wet paper towels or newspaper and let stand for an hour. Then wipe and clean the cooking surface. Use a grill brush to thoroughly clean the rack. Discard cooled ash in a fire-safe receptacle; ash can oxidize quickly and cause the grill to rust.
Heating up: A gas barbecue can be ready to cook in as little as three minutes.
Cleaning up: Increase the heat after the food is removed to allow the fire to burn off most of the food residue. Then scrape with a grill brush. Clean the inside of the barbecue with soap and water. If the barbecue sits unused for quite some time before your next cookout, check the burner’s gas tubes for nesting spiders, which could block gas flow. Remove clogs with a wire hanger and replace cracked tubes.