Grilling is fun but cleaning BBQ grill grates can sometimes take the fun out of it. When I was younger, this was the part I dreaded the most. However, over the years, I have learned some tricks on how to clean grill grates efficiently, and I’d like to share some with you.
The easiest way to clean stainless steel BBQ grill grates is by brushing. Do this right after grilling before the grates cool down. Using a brush, scrape all sides of the grates. Dipping the brush in water will produce steam that can break down or melt the grease, making it faster and easier to clean the grates.
While this is the most common method, there are still other ways to get rid of stubborn grease on your grill grates.
Why Should You Clean Your Grill Grates?
Aside from looking less appealing to your guests – serving them freshly grilled meat on greasy and blackened grill grates – there are more reasons why you should do it. Here are some reasons why.
- The last thing you want to do is develop cancer-causing PAHs. Based on studies, burning down meat – particularly those with higher content of fat – can produce carcinogens. When creatine and amino acids are incinerated and turned into charcoal, PAHs are produced.
- Another reason why you should clean grill grates regularly is to prevent rust buildup. You don’t want to serve grilled foods to your family tasting like rust.
- Aside from rust, the leftover meat pieces, fats, and grease will sooner or later get in the smoke giving your food a funny taste.
- While you may think that grease will soon burn off and won’t gather beneath the grill, some grease can accumulate at the bottom. After some time of not cleaning, it can overflow and the melted fat can leak and spill on the grill. Worse, it can leave a horrible stain on the floor that can be very difficult to remove.
- Did I forget to mention moulds and bacteria? That’s right, leftover meat chunks and grease will soon grow mould, bacteria, and who knows what else? You’ll probably think that heat from the grill would be enough to kill anything that had grown there. Even though that may be true, what about in areas that don’t get enough heat like underneath the burners? The heat may not be hot enough to eliminate whatever is growing there.
- If you think the reasons above are unappetizing already, wait until you hear the last reason – rodents! You know how these pesky creatures love dirty and smelly places, plus don’t forget the greasy and tasty snacks from the grease and leftover meat.
Rodents will have a feast in their newfound home. If you don’t clean your grill grates before and after use, you might be grilling rat droppings and urine with your fresh meat.
Different Methods to Clean Your Grill Grates
As mentioned earlier, there are other ways to clean grill grates aside from brushing. I have tried several methods, and below are the ones that I find the most effective.
1. Baking Soda
Baking soda has been proven to be an excellent cleaning agent and it’s not surprising to learn that it is also great for cleaning grill grates. Here’s how to do it.
What You Need
- Baking Soda
- Brush or sponge
- Aluminum Foil
- Combine 1 1/2 cup of baking soda with a half cup of water. Mix it until you get a thick liquid consistency or like a paste.
- Get the sponge or brush and use it to apply the baking soda paste onto the grill grates. Be sure to cover all surfaces and leave the baking soda paste on for a few minutes.
- Cut the aluminium foil around 2-3 feet long and turn it into a ball by crumpling. Using the aluminium foil ball, scrub the grill grates covered with baking soda paste. Be sure to scrub each wire thoroughly.
- Rinse with water before putting the grate back into the grill.
Vinegar is another effective tool to clean stainless grill grates. All you need is water and vinegar. Combine water and vinegar in a spray bottle with a 60:40 ratio (vinegar to water).
After cooking, let the grill cool down for a bit, when it is warm already, spray the mixture on the grill grates and other surfaces you want to clean and wait for a few minutes before wiping them clean.
Who would have thought that coffee is also a great cleaning agent for removing stubborn dirt caused by fats and burnt food? Brew up some of your favourite coffee. You can use any kind of coffee, but best to use the stronger ones. Make sure you are not using instant coffee; use coffee grounds.
Get your grill and throw it in a washing basin or tub. Pour the brewed coffee on the grill until it is fully covered. Let it soak for at least 3 hours for maximum effect.
The acids found in coffee will break down the accumulated grease and dried leftover meat on the grill. After 3 hours, use a pot cleaner or sponge to scrub the grill.
Similar to coffee, onion contains acids that can break down grease. You can cut the onion in half without peeling it and rub it on the grates. Do this while the grates are still a bit warm.
For better cleaning and more scrubbing power, adding salt will do the trick. Be sure to reach underneath the grill. After scrubbing it with onion, spray with water and vinegar mixture mentioned above.
Another easy cleaning method is cranking up the temperature very high. The high heat will burn any grease that has accumulated in the grill grates. If you have a self-cleaning oven, you can place the grates in or cover the grates with aluminium foil before closing the lid and turning on the grill.
Wait for about 10 to 15 minutes, and you will see that all the fats have turned into a white powder. Just brush the powder out and that’s it. A word of caution – never expose your grill grates to very high temperatures (more than 850°F or 450°C). Doing so may cause deformity on your grates.
How Often Should You Clean Your Stainless Grill Grates and What Not To Do
To make cleaning easier, it is recommended to scrub the grill grates after each use with a wire brush. It doesn’t have to be deep cleaning each time, just brushing off some of the greases will do. Doing this will make regular maintenance effortless.
If you use the griller regularly, for instance once or twice a week, deep cleaning of the grates should be done at least every two months. During grilling season, thoroughly clean it at least twice.
By regularly cleaning your stainless grill grates, it can last longer and cook better. How often you should clean it will depend on how frequently you use it.
When cleaning your grill grates, there are certain things that you need to avoid. Be careful in choosing which cleaning agents you will use as not all are compatible with stainless steel.
For instance, you may be tempted to use a bleach cleaner since it’s a great tool for removing stains. However, never use bleach cleaners as they can rut stainless steel due to its active ingredient which is Sodium Hypochlorite.
Another thing to avoid is using oven cleaners. You might think they are safe since they’re used in ovens but they are not. Aside from being toxic, they can also rut stainless steel. Most oven cleaners contain Lye or Sodium Hydroxide which can be dangerous.
Lastly, never put grill grates in the dishwasher. It may seem an easy way out but grill grates are not meant for dishwashers.
If you want to make your stainless steel grates look new again, always clean them after use. Do not let the food debris sit because it will be harder to clean. Scrub it with a stainless steel grill brush or a metal scraper. You can also use vinegar and foil for cleaning.
Vinegar can help soften and melt burnt food on the grill and the foil is very effective in taking off debris without scratching the surface. A pressure hose is also a good way in getting your grates clean.
Place the grill grates against the wall and use a high-pressure nozzle to spray off burnt on debris. Dry them with a towel after. Remember to always clean grates regularly and properly every after use to keep them looking new.
One of the best cleaners for stainless steel BBQ grill is the Bayes BBQ Grill Cleaner because it works both as a cleaner and a protectant. You can also use natural products like vinegar and baking soda. If not, you can clean it with a soft cloth and a high-quality non-abrasive cleaner.