TLC for Your Grill – Care and Cleaning Tips for Your Summer BFF
By: Esther Pransky, Lubicom Marketing Staff
Barbecue grills are the kings of summer. And their cleaning entourage of brushes, rakes, and scrapers give them the royal treatment.
But cleaning a grill is more than just aesthetic.
Well-maintained grills cook healthier foods, untainted by bits of old, leftover food. They produce better flavors, too. Plus, built-up ash and residue may become a fire hazard.
For all those reasons, experts recommend cleaning the grill after each use. How? Let’s dive into the basics of Grill Cleaning 101.
It Takes All Types
The first question to ask is, what kind of grill do you have?
There are many, many grills out there, ranging from $10 throw-away models to premium grills that can cost over $10,000. Still, they’ll all fall into three basic categories, divided by how they heat the food:
- Gas grills - Most gas grills use propane tanks, but some use natural gas.
- Charcoal grills – These grills all use some form of charcoal for fuel, giving food that distinct smokey taste. They come in a wide range of price points, from disposable grills to simple kettle grills to the pricey kamado-style grills.
- Electric grills – Electric grills run on electricity, of course. While BBQ purists may look down on them, firing them up is as easy as putting in a plug.
Knowing your grill type will inform how you care for and maintain it.
All grills have grates, and the cleaning suggestions are the same across the board.
- Pre-treat the grates by rubbing with oil before use to prevent food from sticking and burning.
- Don’t use heavy chemical cleaners; the chemicals will get into your food. Instead, use a non-toxic grill cleaner or a vinegar solution of one part vinegar to one part water.
- Clean the grates with a grill brush or scraper. Use a nylon brush for porcelain-coated grates. You can also use the brush to clean any residue off of flavorizer bars. TIP: To steam clean grates, dip the brush frequently in cold water and (carefully) clean the grate while hot.
To avoid scrubbing, the experts at Ace Hardware recommend “self-cleaning” your grill. For gas or electric grills:
1. Cover the grate with heavy-duty foil.
2. Poke a few holes in the foil.
3. Turn on the grill to high.
4. Close the grill and leave it for 10-15 minutes. The high heat will burn off almost everything.
For charcoal grills, put in a fresh batch of charcoal, heat it up, and close the top for 10-15 minutes. Charcoal grills get so hot there’s no need for the foil.
The Inside Story
The inside of your grill, top and bottom, takes a beating with each grilling. Maintaining your grill before and after using it will prevent unmanageable or dangerous grease and ash build-up.
- For charcoal grills, line the kettle with foil BEFORE you add the coals. After it cools, wrap up the coals and ash in the foil and throw it away.
- For gas or electric grills, replace the disposable drip pan after each use.
- For the inside of the hood, “self-cleaning” will help, or you can use a grill scraper (or even a paint scraper!) to clean off any residue. If you can remove the cover, you can wash it in warm soapy water.
Think Outside the Grill
It’s not necessary for safety or taste to clean the outside of a grill. But if your sparkling grill is a point of pride in your backyard, you can certainly do it.
Our rules for cleaning are as follows:
- Absolutely no harsh abrasive cleaners or sponges
- Use glass cleaner for porcelain-coated lids
- Use stainless steel cleaner for stainless steel lids. Then, wipe down the grill using paper towels or a soft cloth
Wild and Wonderful Grill Cleaning Hacks
We all would rather skip the scrubbing, so there are all sorts of “get-clean-quick” suggestions out there for grill cleaning. While nothing is magic, these unusual ideas may save you some elbow grease. They all work on the same principle – creating steam to loosen caked-on grime.
- Pour beer onto a hot grill and scrub.
- Rub half an onion onto a heated rack. The water in the onion will create steam.
- Pile wet newspaper onto a hot grill. Close for a few minutes to hold in the steam. Then, open the grill and use the newspaper as a cleaning rag to wipe off the loosened dirt.
Do you have your own no-fail grill cleaning hacks? Let us know!
Here’s to a summer of happy grilling!