Keeping your grill grates clean can help prevent flare-ups and ensure that the food you prepare tastes better, is carcinogen-free, and thus is safer to eat. Properly cleaning the grill and maintaining it will also prolong the longevity of your appliance.
Here is how to clean grill grates easily and efficiently and how to maintain the rest of your grill.
Determine the material the grates are made of
The first step is to determine whether the grates of your grill are made of cast iron, stainless steel, or porcelain enameled. Then you can proceed to clean them safely and efficiently by using the following methods:
Porcelain grill grates
Enamel-coated grill grates are corrosion resistant, non-stick, and have very good heat retention, but they can easily be chipped if mishandled, leading to the loss of these properties.
To clean a porcelain-enameled grill grate, you should use a more delicate soft-bristled brush made of nylon, such as the Grillaholics Nylon Grill Brush.
Cast-iron grill grates
These are the most durable type of grates, but only when they are properly cleaned and maintained. They also offer the best heat retention of all and can help you achieve even cooking temperatures and beautiful sears.
To clean a cast iron grate, you should use a stiff wire brush like the Cuisinart Stainless Steel brush. This will allow you to get the residue off easily and efficiently. You will also need to dry and season the cast-iron grates after cleaning them using vegetables, canola, or other oil to prevent rusting and ensure that they stay non-stick.
Related: How to Season Cast Iron Grill Grates
Stainless steel grill grates
These are some of the simplest to keep up. They are lightweight, cheap, and corrosion-resistant. They also heat up rapidly. However, they may begin to rust over time, and as the grates age and deteriorate, food may begin to adhere to them. You can clean them with the grill cleaning equipment of your choosing, but be sure to properly dry the grates.
Find out what’s the best type of grill grate material
Pick the right tools
While many traditional pitmasters prefer to use wire grill brushes to clean up after using their grills, they can cause damage to more brittle surfaces such as ceramic coated grates, and also there is a risk of the metal bristles breaking off and getting incorporated into the food you prepare on the grill.
So, here are some safer alternatives to using a traditional wire grill brush:
Crumpled aluminum foil
Make a ball out of some crumpled aluminum foil such as Reynolds Aluminum Foil, and use your grill tongs to scrub the grate surface after grilling. You can use the foil which you have used for preparing the food to save money and reduce waste.
Plastic scouring pad
You can use a nylon scrubbing pad like the Scotch Brite Non-Scratch Plastic Pad to clean the grates of the grill safely, efficiently, and quickly.
A grill cleaning stone
Use a grill cleaning stone like the Elaziy Brick Block for grill cleaning and rum it across the grates to remove the grime and residues. Then rinse off the area with a soft cloth and clean water.
Half an onion
While it may sound outlandish, using half an onion speared on a fork can help degrease the grill grates. This is due to the natural acidic enzymes contained in the onion. Using onion is a natural and non-abrasive way to clean the grill grates without chemicals or without buying expensive cleaning tools.
How to clean grill grates?
Many people hate the elbow grease associated with cleaning their grill grates, which can degrade the grates and the taste and safety of your food.
Here are some easy and highly efficient methods to clean the grill grates with minimal effort:
This cleaning method is the easiest to perform. All you need to do is turn the grill’s heat up after you are done grilling, close the lid of the grill, and then let the heat blast off as much of the food residue and grease from the grates as possible.
Let the grill burn at high heat for about 15 minutes, and then use a grill brush or cleaning tool of your choice to brush away any leftover residue.
Hot soapy water
To ensure that the grill grates are clean and sanitized, you can clean them using the hot soapy water method at least once a month while using the burn-off method after each cooking session.
To clean the grill grates with soapy water, do the following:
- Scrub the grates lightly with a brush or tool of your choice
- Remove the grates and soak them in some soapy water for an hour
- Rinse them off with water thoroughly
- Return them to the grill, turn the heat on and close the lid
- When the grill has warmed up, use a grill scrub or brush to remove any leftover food and residue
Vinegar (or grill spray)
If you prefer using an all-natural cleaning method, without soap or other detergents, you can use vinegar to clean the grates instead.
Here is how to clean the grates using vinegar:
- Pour an even quantity of water and vinegar in a spray bottle
- Shake the bottle to mix the ingredients
- Spray the mixture on the grates and let it sit for about 10 minutes
- After that, use your preferred grill cleaning tool to brush away and clean any leftover residue
- No rinsing is required
You can also use a dedicated cleaning spray like the Parker & Bailey BBQ Grill Cleaner and Degreaser. It is made of food-safe, natural, and non-abrasive ingredients and will efficiently degrease and clean your grill grates, as well as most other surfaces in your home.
Steam cleaning is another natural way to clean and sanitize the grates of the grill without the use of chemicals.
To clean your grates using steam, you will need a sponge such as the Geloo Silicone Sponge Brush and some water.
Here is how to steam clean the grates after grilling:
- Heat up the grill to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, and after the temperature is reached, turn it off
- Place a tin can filled with water on the grates
- Close the grill’s lid and let the water sit and steam inside it for about 30 minutes
- After the time is up, use the sponge to loosen and remove any remaining residues
Take care of the rest of your grill
Make careful to thoroughly clean the grates and the grill after each usage for the best results.
Cast-iron grates on your grill should be dried after cleaning and seasoned by rubbing vegetable oil on them with a paper towel to keep them from rusting and to keep them from sticking.
If you want to use your grill and your grilling utensils for years to come and if you want the greatest cooking outcomes, you should also take the time to clean them.
To keep your grill safe from the weather elements, you can consider buying and using a suitable grill cover to protect it when it is not in use as well.
Related: How to clean a rusty grill [Step by Step Guide]