Keep Your Grill In Tip-Top Shape With These Cleaning Tips

Summer means more time spent outdoors. Much of this time is often spent on patios or decks in the backyard inevitably cooking on grills and barbecue pits. Whether you are one who cooks on your grill throughout the year or one who doesn't dust it off until summer rolls around, there are plenty of good reasons you should keep your grill clean. In a nutshell, if you don't clean your grill a number of things can happen –- all of them bad –- including rust ruing the grill, mold growing, increasing the risk of a grease fire, and having bacteria spread to food. Additionally, cooking on a dirty grill can result in food sticking to the grill, meat burning more easily, and the food taste being subpar. If these are reasons enough, consider you never really know what critters have been crawling around in your grill while it's been sitting idle.

Despite all these reasons and the fact many people give plenty of attention to cleaning their patios or gutters, they often neglect this part of the grilling process. After all, cleaning is not nearly as fun as cooking and eating. But, there are a few simple ways to keep your grill in tip-top shape in order to ensure a safe, healthy, and tasty grilling experience.

Surprisingly effective grill cleaning solutions

The best option for ensuring a clean grill is to clean it regularly. However, even if it has morphed into a rusty, sooty, blackened mess, all is not lost. There are some surprisingly effective grill cleaning solutions to get your grill back in tip-top shape. However, some of the traditional methods for cleaning grills may not be as safe as you think. A number of commercial grill cleaners are corrosive not just to a gunky grill, but to the person cleaning that grill. Wire brushes, the traditional tool for grill cleaning, have been known to cause injuries through accidental ingestion.

So, you may want to opt for some safer cleaning solutions which you can put together yourself. For regular cleaning, a diluted vinegar solution (50/50 with water) can be sprayed on the grill, then wiped away. If the grill is already a bit crusty, try a mixture of baking soda and water. This can be wiped over the grill with a sponge or rag, then scrubbed off with a crumpled ball of aluminum foil or a scouring pad. If the grill is particularly bad, try soaking it overnight in a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. 

Even a clean grill needs a bit of attention once the fire is lit. Once the coals are close to ready for the meat and the grill is hot, try brushing it with a sliced lemon or onion to remove any remaining bacteria with natural acids.

Properly preparing a grill for storage

Whether you are putting the grill away for the season or just until next weekend, there are few steps to take to make sure it is in tip-top shape and ready to go the next time you grill. Some basic steps you need to take to prep your grill for storage are:

  • Empty coals and ashes from charcoal or wood-burning grills. Remove propane tanks from gas grills and unplug pellet grills.
  • Check to make sure all parts are functioning properly.
  • Clean the entire grill thoroughly with soapy water (this includes grill grate, lid, charcoal basin, and outside of grill).
  • Make sure the grill is completely dry.
  • Wipe down the grill grate, burners, and moving parts with a light coat of cooking oil.
  • Secure the lid. If your grill does not have a lid latch, try using bungee cords or a cinch strap.
  • Cover the grill. This is especially important if it will be exposed to the elements, but is also handy to prevent excessive dust and dirt from entering the grill while it is stored.
  • Find a safe, secure spot to store the grill until the next use.

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