How To Clean and Store Your Outdoor Kitchen for the Winter

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Here's what you need to do now so your outdoor kitchen is ready to go when it's time to use it again in the spring.

An outdoor kitchen is a great way to add value to your home and extend your living space. It can be as simple as a built-in grill, sink and countertop, or top-of-the-line with a pizza oven, refrigerator, smoker and more. According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, outdoor kitchens are in high demand, with 76 percent of people surveyed planning to add one.

But when summer ends, should you prepare your outdoor kitchen for winter? If the temperature where you live dips below 38 F for an extended period, the answer is yes, says Bill Barnhill, technical support representative with Marvel Refrigeration.

Winterizing your outdoor kitchen may sound like a lot of work, but we’ve outlined the process for you. Here’s what the experts say you need to do.

Outdoor Kitchen Cleaning for Winter

Just because the kitchen is outside doesn’t mean you can skip cleaning and maintaining it like your indoor kitchen.

“Most outdoor kitchen equipment is designed in a way that it’s able to withstand different climate conditions,” says Alex Varela, general manager of Dallas Maids. However, it’s important to wipe down all surfaces at the end of the season. If the outdoor kitchen is open air, cover all surfaces with a tarp to protect them from ice and snow.

Here are some outdoor kitchen cleaning tips:

Clean the outdoor kitchen grill

If you won’t be using your outdoor kitchen in the winter, Surinder Multani, grill expert at BBQ Outlets, suggests thoroughly cleaning the grill before covering it up for the season.

“You’ll want to make sure you don’t attract any bug infestations or rodents from leftover food droppings in the grill,” Multani says. “An uncleaned grill is also a potential fire hazard. An excess build-up of grease can contribute to a flare-up later on.”

Here’s how to clean a gas grill, and this is how to clean charcoal grill grates. We highly recommend this product: Kona Safe/Clean Grill Cleaner.

Clean the outdoor kitchen sink

Most outdoor kitchen sinks are made of stainless steel. Here’s how to clean a stainless steel sink.

Clean the outdoor kitchen cabinets

Walter Bennett, owner of Green Leaf Air Handyman, recommends cleaning stainless steel cabinets and doors with soap and water to help prevent rust.

Clean the outdoor kitchen refrigerator

Remove everything from the fridge and give it a thorough wipe down. For specifics, this is how to clean a fridge.

Clean the outdoor kitchen countertops

Natural stone is a popular material for outdoor countertops. Whatever yours are made of, wipe them down before covering. If you have natural stone countertops, now is the time to seal them (see below).

Clean the outdoor kitchen furniture

Whether you have the space to store your outdoor kitchen furniture indoors or out, it’s important to properly clean it before winter. This is how to clean outdoor furniture.

Outdoor Kitchen Preparation and Storage for Winter

Lots of SnowKiyyah/Getty Images

After your outdoor kitchen has been thoroughly cleaned and dried, take the steps necessary to protect and store everything for next year. Before you start, turn off the water, drain water lines to the refrigerator, ice maker and sink and unplug everything.

Here are some outdoor kitchen storage tips:

Outdoor kitchen grill

If you won’t be using a gas grill during the winter, make sure to turn off the natural gas line. If it’s a propane-powered grill, leave the propane tank connected but turned off.

Outdoor kitchen sink

After turning off the water, Bennett says completely open the hot and cold taps to ensure there is no water left in the pipes. Open up the P-trap under the sink and empty out any water. Even if it’s made of PVC, it will break if the water inside freezes and expands. You can also wrap the P-trap with foam pipe insulation or fiberglass pipe insulation for extra protection.

Dry out the sink if needed, then cover it to prevent debris or water from harming the surface during the winter.

Outdoor kitchen refrigerator

If you live where the average daily temperature drops below 40 F in the winter, plan to winterize your outdoor refrigerator and/or ice maker, says Bill Barnhill, technical support representative with Marvel Refrigeration.

After cleaning the refrigerator, leave the door open to let the unit dry to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. When it is completely dry, close the door and cover it.

Outdoor kitchen countertops

Varela recommends sealing outdoor natural stone countertops right before winter. “I recommend any pH-neutral stone cleaner, like Oceancare pH Neutral Stone Cleaner or Weiman Granite & Stone Polish,”  Varela says. “Then, to keep them looking great year after year, make sure to seal the stone to avoid stains or water damage.”

Granite Gold Sealer is a good option. Cover the countertops for extra protection.

Outdoor kitchen furniture

Ideally, you will store your clean outdoor furniture, covered, in a garage, shed or rented storage unit. If that’s not an option, this is how to properly protect it.

According to Jackie Hirschhaut, executive director of the International Casual Furnishings Association, “There are quality outdoor furniture covers that can be used that are ideal for the typical winter off-season.” These covers come in various sizes to protect your furniture from the elements.

Paul Knapp, a landscape designer with landscapearchitectural.com, recommends outdoor furniture covers from www.the-cover-store.com or www.liveouter.com.

Andrea Cooley
I'm a working mom of 3 who loves making our house a home, inside and out. Freelance writer and copy editor for Meredith Premium Publishing and former editor for Country Home and Lowe's Creative Ideas. I love living in a 100-year-old home that is full of character.