How to Keep Grill Grates Clean - Backyard Boss
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How to Keep Grill Grates Clean

Grease and oil residue can make a grill disgusting, particularly when the weather’s hot. The grease along the bottom of the grate can evaporate and add a funky taste to your good. The rancid black crust, made of carbon, that gets between your grates can be extremely unhealthy to ingest. Keeping the grill grates on your BBQ clean is crucial to even and consistent cooking. It also ensures good-tasting and healthy food.

We have an entire article on year-round grill maintenance, but below are tips for ensuring you’re cooking on clean grates every time out.

Step-By-Step Guide On How To Keep Grill Grates Clean

Step1: Clean Your Grill Grate Periodically

a fire pit grill closeup
Image Credits: Sindre Strøm on Pexels

Never run your grates through your dishwasher. You would be amazed at how many people try this. Grill grate grease is not the kind of grease you want in your dishwasher; it will coat everything inside. It’s nasty and destructive. Instead, every so often, lay them on the ground on top of a cloth. Get a bucket with hot soapy water. Using a brush, scrub both sides and rinse.

A word of caution: washing cast iron in this manner may cause it to lose part of its non-stick qualities. Sometimes, however, you simply don’t have a choice, especially if rust is present. Just be sure to completely dry and then oil cast iron after washing.

Every year, put your grill grates in a large plastic trash bag, slip on a pair of gloves, and thoroughly spray oven cleaner on them while they remain in the bag. Allow them to sit for a minimum of 30 minutes and then hose them off. If you grill often, you might need to do this more than once a year.

Step2: Clean Your Grill Grate Before Grilling

Man grilling in his backyard
Image Credits: Askar Abayev z Pexels

Before you start to cook, get the grates super hot by turning on all burners, shutting the grill lid, and waiting approximately 15 minutes or until the smoke clears. The smoke you’re seeing now comes from grease and doesn’t flavorize food like wood smoke. Grease smoke covers the stuck-on food with bitter soot. The high heat will eventually burn off the grease and melt any leftover food particles into carbon.

Note: If you have reversible grates, flip them on the cooking surface in between cooking sessions. It will keep the gunk and goo from building up on the other side.

First, invest in a good quality brush and scraper. Here’s a great option:

    GRILLART Grill Brush and Scraper

grillart grill brush
    Stainless steel, woven grill brush with attached scraper.

Take that stainless steel wire brush, dip it in water, and start scrubbing the hot grates with the wet brush. This will create lots of steam.

Be very cautious when it comes to using bristle brushes, especially the cheaper brands. Each year there are stories of people who consumed grilled food with tiny bristles embedded. This can easily be preventable by taking the appropriate steps to keep your BBQ grates super clean and free of debris, including bristle brushes. After scrubbing, run a damp cloth over your grates. Some experienced grill enthusiasts slice a lemon or half onion, running them over the grates to ensure the bristles are completely removed.

If your grates have a great deal of stubborn grease on them, put a sheet of extra heavy-duty aluminum foil down on top of the grates; add some weight so it won’t rise with the hot air, and just let the fire burn. After about five minutes, carefully remove the foil with a pair of tongs and scrunch it up. Next, grab the scrunched-up foil in the pair of tongs and thoroughly scrub your grates.

We also recommend sometimes using a mild enzymatic cleaner rather than a harsh chemical cleaning agent. But in most cases, water and a good scrubbing will do just fine.

Step3: Clean Your Grill Grate After Grilling

A man rubbing meat on a barbecue
Image Credits: Z Grills Australia – via Unsplash

After a round of cooking, you want to do some minimal cleaning to keep insects away in between your cookouts. If you are using a charcoal grill, allowing the charcoal to burn out and naturally carbonize food residue is a good idea. If you have a pellet or gas grill, leaving the heat on high is a great idea, but be careful: Many people forget to shut off the burners and accidentally let them run through the night, wasting an entire tank of propane or bag of pellets. Make sure to write yourself a note or set an alarm.

How Else You Can Clean Your Grill Grate

A person cleaning the grill
Image Credits: BBQ Junkie on CreativeCommons

Brushing the grill grate is, of course, the most common way to keep it clean. However, there are a few other methods you can use to make your grate shine. Depending on the type of your grill, different ways will be more effective.

Burn Your Grill Grate

That’s probably the best wat if you have a gas grill. Before brushing or cleaning your grate, fire up your grill and let the fire run for around 20-30 minutes. After this time, soak your brush in the water with soap and start scrubbing the grate. It will help you with getting rid of the grease and any stuck-on food. 

Soak Your Grill Grate

If your brush can’t get rid of your grill grate, another solution is soaking it first in warm, soapy water. Let it stay there for at least 30 minutes, and make sure it is completely covered in water. If needed, you can also add more powerful cleaning products into the water. After you take it out, it should be way easier to clean the grate. 

Vacuum Your Grill Grate

In case the grease and the food aren’t stuck so much to the grate, you can use the vacuum cleaner to remove them. It would be best if you had a small and portable vacuum for better comfort. It should also be powerful enough to pull in bigger pieces of dirt.

To Wrap Up

Following these tips will keep your grates spotless, your food safe, and let you enjoy your cookouts worry-free. It’s important since it will prevent you from getting any food poisonous. Also, clean grill grates make the food taste better, and it doesn’t take too much time to keep them that way.

If you struggle to maintain your grill grate clean using just a brush, there are other methods that can help you. In case your grate is very dirty try to burn it for 30 minutes, or soak it in warm soapy water. In case it’s not that dirty and you are in rush, a vacuum cleaner should do the job just fine.

After all, remember that safety comes first!