Grilling is one of summer’s greatest joys, but it’s not without its hassles (or messes). You don’t want tonight’s burgers to taste like last-week’s ribs, which is why it’s important to know how and when to clean your grill.
Use these five tips and tricks to get your grill sparkling clean using a minimum of elbow grease. For best results, do a quick clean after every use and a more thorough deep-cleaning at least twice a year.
These simple hacks will ensure that grilling at your home is all about the good food and great times — not about the cleanup.
Burn off excess food after every grill session.
Wondering how to clean those grill grates? Don’t shut down your grill after the last burger’s been flame-grilled to perfection. Instead, turn the grill up for a few minutes to burn off any excess food.
To remove stubborn, stuck-on particles, ball up a wad of aluminum foil and then use your grill brush to push it across the grates. If you forget (hey, it happens!), scrape it down once it’s hot but before you start a fresh grilling session.
Use fruit or veggies to clean grill grates.
In addition to using aluminum foil to clean grill grates, you can also turn to items you find in the produce aisle of a grocery store (or the veggie bin in your fridge). Dip the cut side of a halved lemon into salt (try Kosher salt for its coarseness) and then push it across a hot grill with a long-handled grill fork.
You can also fork half an onion and slide it across a hot grill to get things squeaky clean. Either method is low on effort, cost and environmental impact, so you can feel good about getting your grates ready for your next cookout.
Behold the magic of vinegar and water.
You may already be using vinegar and water as an indoor cleaning solution, but don’t stop there — it’s equally effective on stubborn grill grates. The secret behind how to clean grill grates with vinegar couldn’t be easier. Simply combine equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray on every part of a cool grill.
Be sure to blast the inside and outside of the hood, the grates, beneath the grates, etc. Briefly let the vinegar solution sit, then wipe the outside with a heavy-duty sponge or towel and the grates with a grill brush.
Soak your grill grates.
While it’s best to give your grill a light cleaning after every use, it’s also important to do a seasonal deep cleaning at least twice a year. If you’re in a climate where year-round outdoor cooking is a pipe dream (or requires multiple layers of clothing), plan to give your grill a deep-cleaning at the end of the fall grilling season and then again when it’s time to fire things up in spring.
Soaking the grates allows time to do the scrubbing work for you. Options for soaking include: vinegar and water, or baking soda and water. Tall construction buckets work well for this task, and the dirtier the grill, the longer the soak.
Use a little bit of magic.
When all else fails, use a Magic Eraser, preferably the extra durable kind. It’s not actually magic how the white squared-off sponge works. The scientific reason behind the melamine foam’s magic has to do with the substance’s chemical structure.
Melamine foam has a very hard microstructure, giving it its highly abrasive quality, while it also has an open-cell structure, allowing it to act more like a traditional dirt-soaking sponge. The way it works aside, it works. And while grill grates themselves should be able to withstand Magic Eraser’s tough love, do a spot test on the exterior and interior of your grill to make sure it won’t scratch or mar the finish.
Now that you know how to clean a grill, you also know that proper grill-cleaning doesn’t need to eat up too much time or take over your weekend. With just a few minutes spent cleaning after each grilling session, along with some more focused cleaning a few times a year, it’s easy to maintain a clean, functioning grill that’s ready to be fired up for your next barbecue with friends and family.