How To Clean Your Grill: The Grates Are Just The Beginning
As the weather cools, it’s a good time to give your grill a deep cleaning.
Outdoor grills get dirty in no time.
Whether you plan to grill all year or retire your outdoor cooker for the season, fall is a great time for deep cleaning. And a dirty grill isn’t just gross. It’s a dangerous fire hazard. All that built-up grease and grime buildup can cause nasty flare-ups, even full-blown fires. A yucky, soiled grill won’t do any favors to food flavor either.
There’s no need to panic, though. Here in this guide are simple steps to deep-clean, and maintain your grill properly. As a result, your food will taste better, and your grill will perform at its best — not to mention last longer. I serviced a propane-fueled grill for this article, but much of the advice I offer covers charcoal grills, pellet smokers and kamado grills, too.
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For more on barbecue grills, don’t miss our picks for the best gas grills for 2021.
Use A Commercial Cleaner
Sometimes you just want to be able to spray on a commercial cleaner to clean your grill. Thats totally fine, and you can still avoid the worst chemicals when you do this if you buy a naturally-derived grill cleaner like this one. Just follow the instructions on the bottle to use the cleaner and scrub your grill clean.
Should You Season Grill Grates
Over time, grill grates can corrode or get so sticky that its nearly impossible to pull food off in one piece. Seasoning grates remove contaminants, repels rust and seals pores to stop food from sticking. Seasoning before and after you grill will make cleaning easier and make your food taste better.
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Can I Soak My Grill Grates
Although, brushing and burning are the standard methods for cleaning, all grates should be soaked at least a couple times a year. Just fill up the sink or a large bucket with water and a bunch of dish soap. Add a little baking soda and let the grates soak for an hour. Afterward, scrub and rinse.
Why Should You Clean The Stainless Steel Grill Grates
Regardless of how frequently you use your grill, keeping it clean should always be a priority. Here are some reasons why maintaining a clean grill is critical:
- Eliminates Bacteria: Nothing brings a party to a screeching halt faster than food poisoning. Unclean surfaces provide a breeding ground for dangerous germs that may make you or your visitors sick.
- Increases Efficiency: If your grill is saturated with oil, it will operate inefficiently. Clean grills heat up and cook more quickly.
- Enhances Food Taste: While eating, no one prefers to enjoy your final grilling session. Maintaining clean grills ensures that your cuisine retains its authenticity.
- Stops the occurrence of flare-ups: It is something that we have all encountered. You look away for a brief moment only to be confronted with flames, smoke, and burned food. By removing debris and grease that lead to flare-ups, cleaning your grill may help decrease the probability of flare-ups.
- It significantly increases the life of your grill: The reason you spend your hard-earned money on a stainless steel barbeque grill. Maintain the safety of your investment and guarantee that it continues to burn for many years to come by properly cleaning it after each usage.
Based on how filthy your grill is, there are simple methods to keep it looking dazzling and clean. Lets examine the most efficient ways for maintaining a beautiful and clean outdoor kitchen and grill area for many years ahead!
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Clean Rusty Grill Grates With Food
If youre looking for a ready-made solution to your rusty grill grates, youve got some options. Number one is Evapo-Rust. Its non-toxic, biodegradable, safe on skin, and non-corrosive. You dont need any special gloves or eye protection to use it. Plus, if you have any other rusty cookware or cast iron pans, you can use Evapo-Rust on them as well.
Another great rust remover is Bar Keepers Friend. Not only does Bar Keepers Friend help to remove rust, but it can also bring a scratch-free shine to almost anything that gets scuffed or scratched including plates and cookware.
How To Clean Stove Grates And Burners
Cleaning your range is a great way to keep your kitchen looking and smelling great. But once youve finished sweeping up crumbs and wiping up surfaces, its time to turn your attention to an often-ignored component of your cooktop the cooking grates or burners. Cooking grates are used on gas cooktops to hold pots and pans above the flame from the gas burner. In contrast, electric stovetops heat pans by way of a heating element. Both should be cleaned every so often to keep them performing at their best.
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Best Ways To Clean Grill Grates
Cleaning grill grates is a nasty job, but not if you want your food to taste nasty too!
Ive heard people say they dont mind a little leftover grime on their grates, with the claim that it adds flavor. No, this is not a thing. Only lazy people say that. Grease, oil, and marinade get caked up during grilling. After they sit there for a while, they turn rancid and will make your food taste bad. Just clean the grates, its not that hard.
You never think of using a frying pan and want to cook something that has left-over gunk and dried sauce everywhere. Well, your grill is pretty much the same principle and should have proper hygiene you need for a fine BBQ.
Lets talk about heavy metal for a second. Not the kind that you listen to that makes the neighbors wonder if youll ever grow-up. The kind that gets hot enough to put an excellent sear and crust on your steak. Below well cover everything you need to know about grates, DIY cleaning hacks, maintenance tips, and our top picks for the best grates and cleaning tools.
Cleaning Tools & Grate Upgrades, Reviewed & Ranked
The Obvious Approach: Brushing
This method works best if it is done immediately after grilling while the grate is still hot. Before the grates cool off, scrape each grate with a brush, both top and bottom sides. You can also dip the brush in water which will create a steam that loosens the grease. Not only will this make cleaning time shorter, but it will discourage insects from hanging around your grill. Depending on your grate you may need to wipe them down with a cloth after scrapping.
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Clean Your Grill Directly After Each Use
We know its a pain, and youd rather listen to the siren call of beer and hot dogs, but cleaning your grill of grease and burnt-on food directly after use is both hygienic and an excellent way to stop rust forming.
If you have a stainless steel grill, avoid using a wire brush to clean it as this will strip the coating off the steel and leave it vulnerable to corrosion.
Clean Rusty Grill Grates With Lemon Juice And Salt
Lemon juice alone is capable of removing rust because it is so acidic. If you want to try it without the salt, simply spread some lemon juice over the rust spots and let it sit for a few minutes. Then wipe it away with a sponge.
Dont have any lemon juice? You can also do something similar by using kosher salt.
Mix salt and water until you have a paste. Apply the paste to the rusty areas of your grill grate. Dont let it sit! Start scrubbing the paste away immediately, as salt is potent and can cause damage if you let it sit on your grill grates. Scrub the salt away with a sponge, brush, or steel wool. After youve removed the rust, rinse the grates off with water to make sure all traces of the salt paste is gone.
For more resistant rust spots, mix the lemon juice with some salt to create a paste. Apply the paste to the rust. Let it sit for no more than a few minutes, then wipe it away. You can use a brush to scrape away the rust if the sponge isnt tough enough.
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Prior To Using Grillgrates: Clean Your Grill
Clean your grease trap and inspect your burners and flame tents. Remove debris that has accumulated on the ledges that hold your old grates. This will prevent flare-ups from igniting grease and debris in the bottom of your grill.
Tip: Should a grease fire occur, turn off the burners and leave the lid closed until the fire is out. Do not use water to extinguish a grease fire.
Mix One Cup Salt With Two Cups Vinegar
The first thing youll need to do is mix the salt with the vinegar. The salt will increase the natural acidity of the vinegar to the point where it can dissolve the already oxidized metal.
However, it wont damage the metal around and underneath it. The salt also acts as an abrasive when it comes time to start scrubbing.
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How To Burn Debris Off Your Grill Rack
Utilize the grill itself to clean stuck-on-food off the racks. To do so:
Covering the rack with foil and burning off the foil is another technique for cleaning grill grates.
Choose Your Best Way To Clean Grill Grates
You dont need to use a specialized grill cleaner or harsh chemicals to clean your grill, even if its covered in charred grease and grime. When you clean the inside of your grill with baking soda, you can use a nylon-bristled brush, scourer sponge, a ball of aluminum foil, or even a paper towel or rag, depending on what you have available.
To clean grimy stainless steel grill grates, heat your grill to high to burn off and loosen any excess food, then let the grates cool before scrubbing. You can also skip this step and go straight to the scrubbing.
Here are four ways to clean your stainless steel, cast iron, or enamel grill grates with minimal effort, thanks to the power of ARM & HAMMER Baking Soda.
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Is White Vinegar A Degreaser
Yes, White Vinegar is an excellent degreaser. When heated, White Vinegar works as a degreaser by breaking down the minerals and ingredients of whatever it contacts.
I like to heat the Vinegar in the microwave so that it is hot to the touch before using it with a cloth or spray bottle.
Use caution when mixing in Baking Soda as the liquid may bubble up and make a mess.
How To Clean Coil
While some electric stovetops are made of glass, others feature a coil burner design. If your stovetop features coils, you can use affresh® Cooktop Cleaning Wipes to keep them looking great. You can also use these steps to clean your electric stove burners:
If you have recently used the stovetop for cooking, first ensure the stovetop and burners have completely cooled. Then unplug and remove the heating coils. If you cannot remove the coils, you should be able to lift them up to better access and remove the burner bowls located underneath the coils if your cooktop is equipped with them. Consult your owners manual for specific instructions.
If your cooktop features burner bowls, remove them from the cooktop. If you have removed your burner bowls, soak them in hot, soapy water for at least 20 minutes.
While the burner bowls are soaking , wipe down the heating coils with a soft, damp cloth. Then dry them with a towel or set them aside to dry.
Wash the burner bowls, if applicable, then rinse and dry them.
Once everything is completely dry, replace the burner bowls and plug in or lower the burner coils.
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Is Apple Cider Vinegar Better Than White Vinegar For Cleaning
Truth be told, there are no actual differences between these 2 kinds of vinegar in terms of cleaning.
The main difference is the smell.
White vinegar has a strong sour smell while apple cider vinegar gives off a more pleasant sweet odor.
So, if dont like the smell of white vinegar, then use apple cider. Your grill grates wont be less clean.
Why We Dont Like Brushes For Cleaning Grates
Everybody thinks that wire brushes work best, but in reality, they can be dangerous if not used properly. You need to use a scraper to knock down the dried-up stuff that a wire brush cant do easily. Like brushing your teeth huh? Not really, since little wire hairs can snap off and stick to the greasy spots you cant get to. You wont see it there until it gets in your food. Sending your BBQ guests to the hospital is never part of the plan.
Only use a wire brush after youve scraped off all the grease and given the grill a good inspection. Dip your wire brush into water before doing any scrubbing after the grill is free from oil and junk. If the grill is still hot, the water will vaporize and causes steam to remove anything left-over. This will also prevent little wires from sticking to the grill surface too as theyll drop down into the grill bed.
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Best Ways To Clean Stainless Steel Grill Grates
Keeping your stainless steel barbecue grill racks in good shape requires cleaning them soon after each use. Letting the burnt-on food debris sit on the rack will only make cleaning more difficult and possibly cause dulling of the grill finish. Using a wire brush or steel wool may cause pits and scratches that will later fill up with burnt on debris and make the grill more difficult to clean. Never use an abrasive cleaner when cleaning stainless steel grill racks.
Dont Use A Wire Brush
Theres a story we came across a while back about a four-year-old boy who got hospitalized after he accidentally swallowed a metal bristle from a wire brush. Yikes!
While wire brushes are marketed explicitly to barbecue grill owners, we dont recommend using them to clean your grates. Theres always a chance that some of the bristles from the brush may fall off without you noticing, latch onto your food while youre grilling, and end up in your body. Its simply not worth a trip to the ER.
There are several other safer alternatives you can use that work just as well. One option would be to crumple up a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil and shape it into a ball. Then, use a pair of tongs to grab it, and voila! You have a safe tool to clean your grates with.
Alternatively, you could also use a wooden grill scraper instead. The best thing about it is that the block will start to develop groves that fit your stainless steel grates perfectly after a while of using it.
Now, if you live on the wild side and insist on using a wire brush, ensure you double-check and even triple-check your grates for any stray bristles that might make their way into your food. Be sure to run a damp cloth across the grates once youre done scrubbing. You can never be too safe.
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How Do You Restore Cast Iron Grill Grates
When your grill grates are looking a little worse for wear, there are several ways you can give them a thorough spring cleaning without breaking the bank or calling in a professional:
- Steel wool:
Using a big old bowl of soapy water and some good old fashioned steel wool, you can scrub away any surface rust and burnt on food its important to make sure that you thoroughly rinse and completely dry them afterwards, however, as any lingering moisture will cause rust production pretty quickly. Bear in mind that youll need to re-season the grates before you use them again.
- Self cleaning oven:
If youre lucky to have an oven with a cleaning cycle, running your grates through it for the entire period, possibly twice, is a surefire way to get them looking good again.
The same effect can be achieved by leaving them in a piping hot grill for an hour or two. You might still want to give them a rinse and a scrub with water, just in case theres any lingering carbon.
- Oven/grill cleaner:
Struggling to get the worst of the burnt-on food and rust off? You might need to opt for the store bought oven cleaner/specialized grill cleaner in order to successfully finish the job.
Be aware that unlike your oven which can be cleaned in a few hours, youll need to leave your grill grates soaking in the cleaner for a good few days, in a warm dry place, then rinse and wash. This is a lengthy process, but very much worth the effort!
- Proper maintenance afterwards: