If you’re like us, then you know how serious grilling can get. Sure, some people think it’s just a neat way to cook their food, but a true griller considers their grill as an extension of themselves. One of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re a grill owner is keeping the unit clean. A dirty grill might mean dirty food, and nobody wants that.
Unfortunately, cleaning a grill isn’t always as simple as, say, vacuuming a floor. There are many different types of grills and even more different parts of grills. Oftentimes, they each need to be cleaned in different ways. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on how to keep your grill clean. If you’re a real girl lover, you’ll want to read this and make sure you’re taking care of your baby!
Why it so important to clean a grill?
Aside from the obvious fact that an unclean grill could pose problems to your food, it’s also good to keep your grill clean for other reasons, such as:
- If you don’t clean your grill, dirt and rust could build up. As these sorts of things build up, the integrity of your grill could be compromised. People who don’t often clean their grills will probably notice that they decay and fall apart much faster than those of people who take very good care of them.
- An unclean grill could compromise the cooking process. If you have ash or burned bits of food left in your grill, they could clog up the air intakes or the gas valves. If you don’t clean grease off your grill, it could pose a fire hazard as well as getting in the way of different parts of your grill.
You can see that it’s very important to learn how to keep your grill clean. Understanding that is easy – it just takes common sense. Cleaning the grill, however, is a different situation entirely.
How to keep the different parts of your grill clean?
There are a lot of different parts to a grill. They may just look like boxes with grates, but there’s more to a grill than just that. Even the simplest grills have many components and it’s important to keep them all clean so they’re all functioning at their maximum capacity. For example, someone who only cleans the grate on their grill may find that the other parts become coated in grease or stained by smoke.
Here are some of the most common components of grills with information on how to keep each of them clean.
1. Keeping the grate clean
The grate is one of the most fundamental parts of a grill. It’s the metal piece that’s supported above the heart source and it’s what you put your food on so it can be grilled. Naturally, keeping the grate clean is what people most often focus on. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t really know how to keep their grates properly cleaned.
Part one: cleaning the grate itself is actually quite simple, but the important part comes afterward. To clean your grate, you simply have to scrub the residue off of it. Depending on the type of material your grate is made of, you may require different tools.
Regardless of the type of tools you end up using, it’s often recommended to heat up the grill before attempting to clean it, which is as simple as turning it on or heating a fire beneath it. If you heat up the grate for about five minutes before you start cleaning it, any food stuck to it will burn and crust up. This may not seem ideal when you’re used to cleaning burnt stuff off dishes, but grates can actually make good use of it.
Once you’ve heated up the grill, choose your tools.
- Some grates can be cleaned easily with a scouring pad. Scouring pads are good for use on lighter grates that don’t’ scratch and can also be used on cast iron grates as long as you don’t let the residue build up.
- There are tools made specifically for cleaning in between the slats on the grate. These are often difficult to clean between, especially if the grate isn’t easily removed from the rest of the grill. These tools are often just a long-handled brush with fairly abrasive bristle that can scratch off dirt and burned residue.
- Many grates are dishwasher safe, which makes them much easier to clean. These grates are often made of steel and can be easily removed, washed, and returned to the grill.
Part two: Oiling the grill. Now that you know how to clean your grill, it’s good to know when to oil your grill. Oiling your grill is a very useful practice that can actually lessen the amount of time you spend cleaning it, since oil prevents food from sticking to the grill. Food stuck to a grill is going to burn and become hard and difficult to clean, so it’s good to oil your grill once in awhile.
- You don’t need to keep your grill oiled all the time. In fact, it’ll save you time and money to only oil it when you know you’re going to be using it right away. If you oil it too much or too often, you may have a fire hazard on your hands.
- If you’re cooking food that’s been pre-oiled, you won’t need to oil the grill.
To oil your grill, you can simply get a piece of paper towel or tissue soaked in oil and use this to rub down the grate. Don’t use too much, but make sure the cooking area is sufficiently oiled.
2. Cleaning charcoal
Cleaning a charcoal grill is an entirely different story than cleaning a propane one. While cleaning the grate itself is generally the same process, the charcoal residue itself can be a bit of a task to deal with.
The most important reason that you’ll want to keep your charcoal cleaned is that there can be disastrous results if you don’t. The remains of used charcoal can collect moisture from rain or humidity, and the resulting product is closer to concrete than ash and way more difficult to clean.
A lot of grills have automatic or semi-automatic ash emptying systems, but for those that don’t, it doesn’t always have to be hard to get rid of excess ash. You can just keep a bin, or even a garbage can, near your grill and dump out any extra ash at the end of your grilling session. If you want to get every last bit of ash, you can use a leaf blower or something to blow out whatever’s left after dumping it.
- Make sure your bin can be tightly sealed so it won’t collect moisture. If it does, your bin’s going to be just as irritating to clean out as your grill would have been without emptying the ash!
- If you get lump charcoal, it will leave far less residue than the alternative and will be much easier to clean in the long run.
3. Cleaning the grill itself
Cleaning the outside of the grill is pretty easy. Depending on how anal you are about cleanliness and appearance, you can usually just give it a wipe with a rag. If you’re more thorough, spray it with some cleaning product first, then wipe it with a rag.
Cleaning the inside of the grill is a much different story, though. In fact, since each grill is made of its own different components, nobody can say if there’s one ‘best’ way to clean a grill. There are a few general consideration that can be applied to pretty much any grill, though.
- Cleaning your grill too often can actually be counterproductive. If you allow your grill to collect a bit of residue, affectionately known as grill seasoning, you may actually notice some benefits.
- A seasoned grill allows for better temperature control. It lets the inside heat up a bit faster, and allows the grill to retain heat for a much longer time.
- Grill seasoning is sort of like a ‘black belt,’for grillers. As proof that you’ve done a lot of grilling, your grill becomes easier to use and more effective. This means that, contrary to what some people might think, a blackened grill is actually a sign of love and care for your barbeque.
- Don’t scrub the inside of your grill as hard as you scrub the outside. Of course, it’s good to make sure that you get rid of any loose bits of food or debris, especially anything that could pose as a fire hazard. However, if you scrub off your grill seasoning, you’ll lose all of the benefits that come along with it!
4. Keeping your grill stored properly
Making sure you keep your grill properly stored is almost as important as the actual cleaning procedures themselves. An improperly stored grill can lead to all sorts of issues, which can lower the grill’s functionality and appearance.
One of the most important things to remember, especially for folk who leave their grill outdoors, is to use a grill cover. Grill covers should be considered mandatory for anyone who leaves their unit out overnight.
- Grills are not invincible, and they are highly susceptible to rust and other weather-related deterioration. If you leave your grill outside for a few months, you’ll start to notice rust, erosion, maybe even cracks.
- The integrity of your grill is compromised when you leave it exposed to the elements. It’s a good idea to get an insulated grill cover, especially for winter. The constant change between high and low temperatures can cause abnormal reactions in the metal as it contracts and expands in response to the temperature.
- Alternatively, find a way to store your grill inside during the winter months. It’s worth making the extra room to save yourself the trouble of dealing with a cracked or dented grill.
If you can’t get a grill cover, then make sure that you put your grill inside. Most people don’t want a grill parked in their kitchen or living room, so the best place would be a carport or a storage room. If these aren’t available, you can also stash it temporarily under an awning or another area that’s sheltered from the wind and rain.
- If you can shelter your grill entirely, in so far as it will be protected from rain (even when it’s being blown about by heavy winds) then you won’t really need to buy a cover, unless you live in an area where it gets very cold at night or in winter. In this situation, though, you don’t necessarily need to use a grill cover. You could use a blanket or anything else that will help to insulate the grill against the temperature.
5. Last-minute grill cleaning tips
You’ve got the basics down, now, but there are a couple other things that you’ll probably want to consider. These things could make or break your cleaning experience, so keep them in mind before you go out and start cleaning!
- If you’re using cleaning products make sure to use light ones. You don’t want to use anything toxic on something that you use to make food for you and your family, do you?
- Don’t scrub anything too hard. Scrubbing the exterior too hard could damage the paint and make it look unsightly; scrubbing the inside too hard could damage your seasoning which takes time to restore!
If you take your grilling seriously, then give yourself a pat on the back. Grilling is a way of life for certain people, and these certain people are the ones who have given grilling such a popular name and turned it into such a popular pastime.
Keeping a grill cleaned properly is one of the most important things for ensuring that your food tastes great and that you have a good grilling experience. It’s very easy to clean a grill incorrectly, but we hope we’ve given you enough information for you to keep your barbeque clean and tidy for as long as you have it!