Regularly cleaning your grill grates is one of the best things you can do to keep your barbecue, smoker, or gas grill working at it's best. A clean grill is less likely to stick to skin-on chicken, and you won't have carbonized bits from the last cook-out searing into your steak. Keeping the grill grates clean helps to make them last longer because they are less likely to become rusty and weak. We'll share some of our tried-and-true methods for keeping all types of grill grates clean using safe and natural cleaners.
How Do I Make My Grill Grates Look New?
Grill grates are going to get dirty. In order to get your grubby, greasy grill grates looking new again, you'll need to know what the grill grate is made from. Each type of grate has unique properties that make a difference when you clean. A regular deep cleaning will be the best way to make your grill grates look like new again.
What Is the Easiest Way to Clean Grill Grates?
We don't like using harsh chemicals that are toxic for the environment and tough on skin. There are plenty of products out there that are probably safe, but you can use some common household products to clean grill grates without harming the environment. While it can be tempting to use chemicals, wire brushes or scrubbing pads, or steel wool to clean your grill grates, you stand a good chance of damaging the surface and causing bigger problems in the future.
How Often to Clean Grill Grates
We recommend doing a quick wipe-down on your grill grates each time you use the grill. You don't need to let the grates completely cool as long as you use heat-resistant gloves like ours that feature the Carnivore logo. A rag with a small amount of canola oil can be useful to wipe off most little bits. If you keep your grates clean, you won't have to spend as much time and elbow grease getting them up to usable condition.
At least twice per year, you should deep clean your entire grill including all the grates and other surfaces. We typically do a deep clean in Spring and Fall to get ready for the grilling season and smoking season. A couple of cleanings a year will prevent caked on grease and fat from building up and making your grill a fire hazard.
Having the proper tools for cleaning the types of grates you use will make the biggest difference in the amount of effort it takes to keep your grill grates clean. We've got some tips for every type of cooking grate you're likely to encounter.
Soaking Solution for Cleaning Grill Grates
One of the most effective ways to quickly clean grates that are well-maintained is to use a soaking solution. You can pick up regular white vinegar in gallon jugs on the cleaning supplies aisle. Place your grill grates in a large tub so they lay flat or you can use a large garbage bag. Put the grill grates in the container or bag and pour in enough vinegar to cover the surfaces. If you are using a bag, tie it off and let the grills soak. A mild cleaning only requires a short soak of 10 to 30 minutes, while more aggressive cleaning can require several hours.
You can also use a paste made of baking soda and water and smear it on the grill grates, then immerse in vinegar. The chemical reaction of the baking soda and vinegar will loosen grime, grease, and rust from grill grates. A crumpled ball of aluminum foil is safe to use on most grill surfaces to help remove stuck on food. Rinse the grates off in the sink or with a garden hose before use. A nylon grill brush works well on most grill surfaces.
Quick Tips on How to Clean Porcelain Grates
Porcelain grates are somewhat more challenging to deep clean than other types of grates because the coating can be damaged. You shouldn't use a wire brush, steel wool, or other abrasives on these grates. These tools can cause scratches in the surface that may lead to chipping, cracking, and rust. Instead, use a nylon grill brush to knock off the largest chunks. Aluminum foil is safe to use on most grill grates because it is softer than the metals the grates are made from.
Warm water with a little dish soap is a great way to clean porcelain grill grates to remove light messes. Wipe them down with a cooking oil that has a high smoke point. Vegetable oil is a good choice, but you should avoid using extra virgin olive oil which can burn and leave a funky flavor that is also unhealthy.
Quick Tips on How to Clean Cast Iron Grates
Cast iron grates are awesome because they hold heat well and are easy to clean. When you've got a cast iron grate that is rusty and dirty, you can burn it off in a fire to help clean the surface. Rust and other debris can be removed with a stiff wire brush or a wire wheel on a grinder.
When the cast iron grill is completely cleaned, you need to season it before use. Do it just like a cast iron pot by getting the grate hot and then carefully wiping it down with oil and letting it cool. This gives the cast iron grill grates a rust resistant finish and prevents food from sticking.
Quick Tips on How to Clean Stainless Steel Grates
Stainless steel grates offer a great balance between ease of cleaning and ease of use. The trick with stainless grills is to prevent scratches. When cleaning a stainless steel grill you shouldn't use wire brushes that will scratch. Scratches will cause stainless steel finishes to crack and peel and will introduce areas for rust to form beneath the finish.
The first thing you should do is soak the grates and use a ball of aluminum foil to gently loosen stuck on food. Dab the foil ball in white vinegar and baking soda to help clean the grates. Dish soap is highly effective at removing stuck on grease from stainless steel grates. Stainless steel grates are best when kept clean in between uses to protect the finish. It's also a good idea to wipe the grates down with oil in between uses.
Cleaning After Each Use
It is a common practice for many people to leave food drippings, grease, and fat on the grill grates between cooking. The next time they cook, they heat the grill and burn the grates off before use. This isn't a practice that we support. Burning off the grill in this manner releases toxic chemicals into the air and contaminates your grill, but it's also kind of gross to think about beef fat rendering in the sun on the uncleaned grill grates slowly going rancid before being burned off.
From a food safety and quality standard, cleaning the grill grates after each use is ideal. It's also quite simple. Use a brush to gently scrape the large chunks of burned on food from the grate. Then, you can use aluminum foil held in barbecue tongs to wipe down the rest of the stuck on food. A wipe with a paper towel and some oil will keep the grates ready for the next use.
The grill grates that came with your barbecue, smoker, or grill are engineered to last for a very long time. The main thing that causes grill grates to fail is neglect. Simply keeping the cooking grates clean is important if you want them to last, and a clean grate surface makes cooking more enjoyable. Using a little oil in between uses is a great way to help prevent rust and keep your grates as nonstick as possible.