Have you pulled out your grill for the summer, and found that it's full of grease and built-up grime? Some people would say that it adds to the flavor, but you know that's not true. After all, you wouldn't want to cook on a frying pan that hadn't been cleaned, would you?
If you're going to clean your grill, you need to be sure that you're doing it the right way. Here's how to clean those grates the right way, and ensure that your grill is sparkling clean every time.
Get Your Tools Together
Before you start cleaning, you need to have the right tools. Firstly, let's talk about cleaning substances. Take a look at any hardware store, and you'll see there's a huge range of grill cleaners available. They will do the job, but you're not required to use them in order to get your grill clean. In fact, all you need is a bucket of water and some dish soap.
It makes sense, after all. Let's think about that frying pan again. Soapy water is enough to clean that off, so of course, it'll be enough to clean off your grates after they've been used. Now, if the grill has been left dirty over the winter, or is particularly dirty, then the dedicated grill cleaner may be the better choice. Oven cleaner often works well in these cases, but you'll need to check it won't damage your grates.
Moving on, let's look at grill brushes. The brush you use is important, as it's what you'll use to scrub the dirt off those grates. There are several different types of brushes, and with good reason. A wire brush is a standard, but it will scratch some grates. They're usually better for cast iron grates. If you have a stainless steel or porcelain grate, then nylon brushes are better as they're softer. However, if you want to use the brush on a hot grill, then brass brushes are the best option.
Make sure you pick the best brush for you, and take good care of it. Throw it in the dishwasher to clean it off after every use, and replace it when it starts getting worn out.
Now, if you hate the idea of scrubbing the grates, you can invest in a grill cleaning robot. These tools do the scrubbing for you with rotating brushes, so you don't have to deal with it. If you get one of these, there really isn't any excuse not to clean your grill.
This really is all you need to get started, so let's look at how you'll go about cleaning your grates.
How To Clean The Grates
There are several ways you can clean your grates. All you need to do is pick the one that works for you.
Brushing: This is the most obvious way to clean your grate, and it's best done right after you've used the grill. While the grill is still hot, take your brush and scrub at the grates, removing any residue. If you want to use this method, you'll need a steel or brass brush, as nylon won't stand up to the heat.
Scrubbing while the grate is hot makes it easier to get that food off before it dries on and sticks like glue. For a little extra cleaning power, you can dip the brush in water to create steam. An added bonus of this method is that it'll stop insects hanging around your grill, too.
Burning: This is another good method for cleaning, especially if the grates haven't been cleaned for a while. Simply turn on the grill, let it get hot enough to burn that food off, and then brush away the burned up debris when you're done. This should only take about 15 minutes, and then it's done.
Soaking: This is another method for cleaning your grates if they haven't been cleaned for a while. It also helps to do this a couple of times a year, during your grill deep clean. You'll just need to fill up a bucket with soapy water, put your grates in there, leave them there for an hour, and let them soak. Then, just scrub them down with a sponge and then replace them onto the grill.
Homemade cleaning options: There are lots of homemade cleaning options you can try, if you want to find an alternative to traditional grill cleaners. Some people like to create a scrubber with a block of hardwood. Over time, you'll create grooves in the wood that fit your grill perfectly.
Others swear by cutting an onion in half and using it to scrub the grates down. Some ovens recommend soaking the grates in coffee. White vinegar is often recommended too, as it's such a good all around cleaner.
Oiling The Grill
Once you've cleaned the grates off, you need to oil them. This is an important step, as it will help you keep that grate cleaner for longer. With an oiled grate, food won't stick to them, so you won't have to scrub it off after you cook. To oil a grate, you just need a cooking oil with a high smoke point, some tongs, and a paper towel.
Turn on the grill and let it heat up for 15 minutes. Then, take the paper towel and dip it into some oil with the tongs. Using the tongs, rub the paper towel over the grates carefully. You want to make sure you get every surface.
Once the oil is applied, you just need to turn the grill on again and let it do its thing. Once the grates go black or brassy colored, they're fully oiled and ready to go.
Now you know just how to clean your grill grates, and get the most out of them. Give them a quick scrub down every time you use them, and it'll be so easy to keep them clean. You just need a good grill brush and some soapy water, and you're all set.