Grilling delicious food in the sunshine is one of the greatest pleasures of summer weather. Whether you love a hearty, grilled steak or flavorsome grilled vegetables, your grill is likely to be the shining star of your summer cookouts.
However, if you don’t want your barbecue blowout to turn into a culinary catastrophe, you’ll need to know how to use and protect your grill properly.
One of the biggest questions that arise from new grill owners is ‘should I cover my grill?’ So, today, we’ll be discussing what grill covers are, how they should be used, and whether or not they are necessary.
What is the Point of a Grill Cover?
First and foremost, we should clarify what exactly the point of a grill cover is.
Grill covers are, quite simply, plastic or fabric covers designed to be laid over a grill when it’s not in use. The purpose of a grill cover is to keep any water, dirt, dust, or other debris and contaminants away from your grill between uses.
Can I Leave My Grill Uncovered?
If the weather is fine and you’re in the process of hosting a cookout, it’s absolutely fine to leave your grill uncovered for short periods of time.
For instance, you don’t need to throw the cover over your grill in between cooking your meat and your vegetables.
However, if the grill is not in use and isn’t too hot, it’s always best to put the cover on if you can. It may not always seem immediately necessary, but as a general rule, we’d recommend always having the cover on unless there’s a specific reason for taking it off.
We should also clarify that this rule still stands even if you have an indoor grill. Your grill doesn’t have to be exposed to the elements for it to be vulnerable to contamination. Admittedly, indoor grills tend to be much smaller and easier to clean, so decontaminating one of these units isn’t typically too laborious.
However, getting a cover for your indoor grill is still a good idea unless you want to be rinsing dust off the griddle every time you feel like a grilled sausage.
What Happens if you Don’t Cover your Grill?
Even though you should be fine to leave your grill uncovered for a short period of time, as long as the weather isn’t bad, there can be some pretty unfortunate consequences to having your grill uncovered in the long term.
The biggest concern if you don’t cover up your grill is that rain will get into the grill and cause corrosion. Even if you keep your grill somewhere sheltered, like your garage, moisture particles in the air can still accumulate and damage the metal components. Rust will severely limit the lifespan of your grill as well as making it much less appetizing to cook on, so a grill cover is essential in this respect.
Dust particles can also accumulate faster than you might think. While you can avoid contaminating your food with dust by cleaning the grill every time you use it, your life will be much easier if you use a grill cover as a preventative measure.
NB: Using a grill cover does not negate the need to clean your grill before and after use. However, a cover is an easy way to keep excess contaminants out of your grill so that you have less work to do come barbecue time.
How do you Put on a Grill Cover?
The specific method for installing your grill cover is likely to vary according to which grill and cover models you own. However, most of the time, putting a cover on your grill should be relatively simple.
In most cases, the first step to putting a cover on your grill is the easiest. Usually, this literally just involves placing the cover straight over the top of the grill so that the unit itself is seamlessly protected by a dome of fabric.
At this point, most of your grill should be completely covered, with just the feet or wheels exposed.
A well-designed grill cover should also have attachments at the bottom to secure the cover in place. This will stop it from flying away at the first gust of wind and provide tighter coverage so that stray drops of water will have a hard time making their way in.
Now, security attachments can differ from cover to cover. Your cover might feature straps with buckles that can be tightened to secure the grill. Another common security feature on grill covers is the contraction buckle, which requires the user to pull the cord through the buckle to secure the fit.
If your grill cover does not come with any security features, don’t worry. You can make a makeshift security system yourself using nothing but a length of bungee cord! Simply wrap the cord around the covered grill, ideally underneath a protruding component so that the cord has something to hold it in place.
Alternatively, you could buy a pre-assembled grill cover securing system online, such as the Original Gust Guard! This system features a set of bungee cables with hooks on the ends, which can be attached to the provided cinching clamps. The result is a detachable, adjustable grill cover security system – and all for a budget-friendly price!
Can You Put a Grill Cover on a Warm Grill?
Working out when it’s safe to put the cover back on your grill can be tricky. Many grills stay warm for hours even after being turned off, which leaves users in the difficult position of trying to gauge how warm is too warm to cover up.
It’s difficult to put an exact timeframe or temperature on the point at which it’s safe to put the cover back on your grill. However, since the majority of grill covers are made from fabric or plastic materials, most are not flame-retardant or even heat-resistant.
For this reason, we would never recommend putting a cover over a grill that is still significantly warm.
A good rule of thumb to follow is that, if you can comfortably put your hand on the grill, it’s likely cold enough to put the cover back on.
Now, this method of estimation is risky in itself, so you should approach the checking process with the utmost care. Slowly move your hand towards the grill. If you can feel a lot of heat rising from the grill, do not make contact. This is a sign that your grill is still too hot and could burn you or damage your cover.
Putting a grill cover on a grill that is too warm may result in melting the material, or even combustion. So, while it’s important not to leave your grill uncovered for too long, it’s also crucial not to put the cover back on too early.
What are the Best Grill Covers?
There are some really high-quality grill covers available on the market that are guaranteed to keep your grill looking as good as new for the foreseeable future.
Our overall top recommendation if you’re looking for a durable and highly effective grill cover is the Classic Accessories Veranda Water-Resistant BBQ Grill Cover. This cover comes in a wide range of sizes to fit all grills, from X-Small to 3X-Large. Despite being made from high-quality fabric, the Veranda grill cover retails for a very reasonable price. Moreover, it features adjustable toggles for security, and vents to prevent condensation in storage. The high-density stitching, meanwhile, ensures longevity and durability.
Another impressive grill cover is the VicTsing Grill Cover which, like our top pick, comes in various sizes. It’s made from heavy-duty, 600D fabric, is water-resistant, and features built-in UV protection. The cover stays firmly attached to its grill using padded straps, and the exterior-bound seams mean that you won’t have to replace this grill cover any time soon!
The bottom line is that, ideally, you should always cover up your grill when it’s not in use.
Using a grill cover is the best way to ensure that your grill stays undamaged by moisture and unpolluted by dust, dirt, and other contaminants.
Generally speaking, you should always cover your grill when it’s not in use, even if you store it in an indoor space. The only time you should hold off on covering your grill is if it’s still too hot, in which case, putting the cover on could result in damage to both the cover and the grill.
Remember to secure your grill cover in place, either with your own cord or using the attachments that come with the cover, so that the wind doesn’t blow it away.