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How To Clean a Grill

How to Clean a Grill

Grilling is one of the very best ways to cook steaks and many other cuts of meat. The distinctive flavor and aroma that comes with cooking over fire just can't be beat. So, it's important to take good care of your grill.

Keeping your grill clean and free of charred food or food debris is important for food safety; it also discourages interest from insects and small animals. A clean grill is also likely to cook your food more evenly and will help keep food from sticking to the grates. Finally, cleaning your grill regularly (at least twice a year; every month or more if you grill frequently) is the best way to prolong the life of your grill and protect your investment.

So, let's get started! Below you'll find everything you need to know to get your grill in tip- top shape and keep it going for many steak dinners to come.

  1. How to Clean a Gas Grill
    • First, if available, check the manual for your grill and be sure to follow any cleaning instructions provided.
    • Gather your supplies. You'll need the following:

      • Gloves (optional)
      • A tool to scrape the grates (Grill brushes with metal bristles can present a health hazard because the bristles can come loose and end up in your food. A grill stone is a good, food-safe option. You can also purchase a coil-shaped, bristle-free brush made especially for grill grates. You can even use a wad of crumpled up aluminum foil to scrub your grates.)
      • A scrub brush
      • A small stiff-bristled brush
      • A sponge or gentle scrubber (The type of sponge or scrubber you would use to clean your car is a perfect choice.)
      • Cleaning rags or paper towels
      • A large bucket
      • Hot water with a grease-cutting dish soap
      • Stainless steel cleaner, if you have a stainless steel grill (optional)
    • Heat your grill on high for 15 minutes to burn off any food residue. Use your grill brush to scrape the grates. Turn off the grill and allow it to cool completely.
    • Make sure all knobs are turned to off and disconnect the propane tank. If you have a natural gas grill, turn off the gas line.
    • Fill your bucket with hot, soapy water. Remove the grill grates and place them in the water to soak for 10 minutes or so. Using your grill stone, coil grill brush, or crumpled aluminum foil, scrub the grates with the soapy water. If the grates are too tall to be completely submerged in water, soak and scrub one end of the grates first, fill your bucket with fresh hot, soapy water, then soak and scrub the other end of the grates. Rinse the grates with cool clean water and set aside to dry.
    • There should be some sort of barrier between your grill's grates and the burners – a flame shield, briquettes or lava rocks. Remove those and brush clean. Set aside.
    • Use the small bristle brush to clean away any ash or residue clogging the burner holes or tubes.
    • If your grill has a drip pan, remove and empty, then soak in hot, soapy water. Rinse and place back in the grill.
    • Brush or wipe any ash or debris out of the bottom of your grill and under the lid. Use fresh, hot soapy water and a scrub brush to clean the inside of the grill, then rinse with clean water and dry with cleaning rags or paper towels.
    • Remove any knobs or thermometers (if possible) and gently clean with warm, soapy water. Do not allow water inside any thermometer. Set aside.
    • Clean the exterior of the grill with hot, soapy water and the sponge, using the scrubbing surface to gently dislodge any caked-on dirt or debris. Be sure to use a scrubbing surface that will not scratch your grill (consider using the type of sponge or scrubber you would use to clean your car). Rinse the exterior and dry with cleaning rags or paper towels.
      Note: If you have a stainless steel grill, you may want to use a stainless steel cleaner. Follow the manufacturer's cleaning instructions carefully to avoid scratching any surfaces.
    • Return the heat shield, briquettes or lava rocks to their place above the burners. Set the clean grates in place. Reattach knobs and thermometers.
    • Reconnect the gas tank or turn the natural gas supply back on.
    • You're ready to grill your best steak ever!
  2. Charcoal Grill
    • First, if available, check the manual for your grill and be sure to follow any cleaning instructions provided.
    • Gather your supplies. You'll need the following:

      • Gloves (optional)
      • A tool to scrape the grates (Grill brushes with metal bristles can present a health hazard because the bristles can come loose and end up in your food. A grill stone is a good, food-safe option. You can also purchase a coil-shaped, bristle-free brush made especially for grill grates. You can even use a wad of crumpled up aluminum foil to scrub your grates.)
      • A scrub brush
      • A small stiff-bristled brush
      • A sponge or gentle scrubber; to avoid scratches. The type of sponge or scrubber you would use to clean your car is a perfect choice.
      • Cleaning rags or paper towels
      • A large bucket
      • Hot water and a grease-cutting dish soap
    • Fill your bucket with hot, soapy water. Remove the grill grate and charcoal grate and place them in the water to soak for 10 minutes or so. Using your grill brush, scrub the grates with the soapy water. If the grates are too tall to be completely submerged in water, soak and scrub one end of the grates first, fill your bucket with fresh hot, soapy water, then soak and scrub the other end of the grates. Rinse the grates with cool clean water and set aside to dry.
    • If your grates are round and won't fit in the bucket at all, wet them down with a hose or a sponge and apply a generous coating of grease-cutting dish soap to all surfaces. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes. Using your grill stone, coil grill brush, or crumpled aluminum foil, scrub the grates with hot water. Rinse the grates with cool, clean water and set aside to dry.
    • Remove and sweep all ashes from your grill. If it has an attached ash catcher, remove and empty completely.
    • If your grill has an attached thermometer, be careful not to get any water inside the thermometer while cleaning. If the thermometer is removable, do so and set aside.
    • Use fresh, hot soapy water and your scrub brush to clean inside the grill and under the grill lid, then rinse with clean water and dry with cleaning rags or paper towels.
    • Clean the exterior of the grill with hot, soapy water and the sponge, using the scrubbing surface to gently dislodge any caked-on dirt or debris. Be sure to use a scrubbing surface that will not scratch your grill (consider using the type of sponge or scrubber you would use to clean your car). Rinse the exterior and dry with cleaning rags or paper towels.
    • Reattach the grill thermometer if you have removed it.
    • Put the clean charcoal and grill grates in place and reattach the ash catcher.
    • You're ready to grill your best steak ever!
  3. How to Clean Rusty Grill Grates

    Your metal grill grates have gotten rusty and rust is NOT safe for food consumption. What now?

    • First, if available, check the manual for your grill and be sure to follow any cleaning instructions provided.
    • If your grill grates have developed a light coating of rust, start by washing them thoroughly with dish soap and water. If the rust is stubborn, try scrubbing them with a nylon scrub pad. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
    • If simply scrubbing doesn't do the trick, there are several cleaning remedies you can try.

      • Make a paste of baking soda and vinegar. Rub it onto the rust and let sit for about 30 minutes. Scrub with your nylon pad and rinse thoroughly.
      • You can also try combining lemon juice and powdered detergent. Apply to the rust and let sit overnight. Scrub with your nylon pad and rinse thoroughly.
      • If all else fails, there are some commercial rust removers. Be certain to use one designed specifically for grill grates and follow the directions carefully; generic chemical rust removers can leave behind a toxic residue.
    • If your grill has cast iron grates, you may wish to apply a very light coating of a vegetable cooking oil after cleaning them. This can help prevent rust from forming again. Light the grill and allow the oiled grates to heat up thoroughly. Repeat this process one or two more times.
    • If the rust on your grill grates is heavy and has actually damaged the metal, it's best to replace the grates.
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