If you’re like Ree and the Drummonds, you couldn’t be happier that summer is finally here. After all, this season is about enjoying family time together, whether it’s playing outdoor games or heading out for a beach vacation. But before you plan the cookout to keep everyone well fed with all your favorite BBQ recipes, you’ve probably got one chore you’re absolutely dreading to get through first—and that’s cleaning your grill grates. Is there anything messier or more difficult than scrubbing those nasty things? Okay, undoubtedly there is, but when you’re up to your elbows in grime and grease, it sure doesn’t feel like it.
Luckily, we’re here to save the day with our simple, easy-to-follow instructions detailing how to clean your grill grates. We’ve found the best ways to rid your grill of built-up, burned-on food, no matter how long it’s been stuck like glue there. That way, you can get out there and enjoy the season with the people who matter to you most.
Should you clean your grill grates after every use?
In a word, yes! Soiled grates are not only unsanitary (and unsightly), they’re actually unsafe. Not only does all that old, burned food carry bacteria and cancer-causing carcinogens, it can cause flame flare-ups or even actual fires. That gunk changes the taste of your food, as well—and not in a good way. Plus, it can even cause your grill to heat less effectively, and extend your cooking times.
How do I make my grill grates look new?
Ah, the eternal question. One thing you definitely do not want to do is use one of those old-fashioned, stiff-bristle brushes. It seems that the wire bristles tend to break off from the handle and fall into food, with people occasionally ingesting them. Can you imagine what just one of those things would do to your digestive tract? Yeah, we don’t want to either, thank you very much.
Instead, there are other methods to clean your grates that you can try, both conventional and otherwise. The idea here, no matter which method you choose, is to heat your grill up for 10 or 15 minutes and burn away any leftover food particles, let it cool down, and then scour it clean. You can also scrub your grates right after cooking while they’re still super hot, though in this case, you won’t be able to use nylon on them. You’ll also want to use tongs when holding the foil or onion, and a grill mitt with the brick. Safety first, please!
Nylon Grill Brush
These handy, specially-made tools often have scrapers built into them and feature softer, safer bristles. Or grab a nylon scrubbing pad from the kitchen. Nylon is fine to use with even porcelain grill grates, which aren’t as scratch-resistant as cast iron or stainless steel grates.
Grill Brick (or Grill Stone)
Rising fast in popularity are grill bricks or stones, which are blocks made of pumice, an all-natural and non-toxic material. Wet both the block and grate before using—the pumice will then break down as you scrub, conforming to the shape of grate. After you’re done, simply wipe away or rinse off the residue.
A traditional favorite with backyard barbecuers everywhere, aluminum foil is an easy-peasy solution to your grill-cleaning needs. Just crumple it up and use the ball to scrub your grates. The best part about it is that foil can get into even the tiniest nooks and crannies.
It sounds odd, but if you’re out of foil and don’t have a nylon brush or pumice stone on hand, wipe down your grates with a chunk of onion. The acidic compounds in the juice help break down any lingering food deposits and grease.
Tip: After cleaning your grates, make sure you dry them thoroughly before rubbing them with vegetable oil. The oil will help make clean-up easier the next time and prevent cast iron grates from rusting, too.
How do you remove grease from grill grates?
If your grates still feel slick, or you’re doing a monthly, deeper clean, try soaking them in hot water and a grease-fighting dish detergent for a half-hour (you can also coat them directly with a dish spray like Dawn Platinum Powerwash). Then scrub with a nylon brush or pad and rinse. Or, go for a specially-formulated grill cleaner, following the directions on the bottle.
You can also always use the power of steam, carefully, to clean your grates. Heat the grill to 600 degrees, turn it off, and then place a largish metal vegetable or coffee can filled with water inside. Close the lid and let it sit for 30 minutes. Once the grates have cooled, pull them out, scrape them down and rinse.
What do you soak grill grates in to clean them?
If you want to go all-natural, mix two cups vinegar to 1 cup baking soda in a garbage bag, seal the grates in the bag and let them sit overnight. Scrub any remaining grease or food off the next day and rinse with water.
Now that you’ve cleaned those grates, you’re probably anxious to get grillin’. Make sure you check our tips on the best steaks for cookouts, and the best barbecue sauce brands, too!
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