Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: April 5, 2022

Food prepared on a grill just tastes better. And cooking outdoors with fire always feels special, no matter how often you do it, and in my household, it is a Saturday night institution. But what doesn’t feel great is cleaning the grill.

There are many mixed opinions about how often grills need to be cleaned, so we have compiled this definitive guide so you can enjoy hygienic, hassle-free grilling.

Quick Summary

  • Clean the grill grates after each cooking session.
  • Deep clean the entire grill at least twice a year if the grill is used regularly.
  • Always ensure that your grill is hygienic and safe for food preparation.

How Often Should You Clean Your Grill?

A hand cleaning a grill

Weekend barbecues with friends and family have become an institution, especially during the long summer months. Nothing heralds the arrival of spring each year more profoundly than smelling the delicious aroma of your neighbor's grill the first time he lights it.

Grilling, unfortunately, can be a messy affair. Sauces drip off the meat, and fats and oils either end up on the grate or in the grill. Each time you add heat, the residues from the last grill remelt and start sizzling again.

Cleaning a messy grill can be a chore, but it can be a snap if you have the right equipment and know-how.

Opinions are strong regarding how often grills should be cleaned. Two schools of thought prevail. Some people prefer to do a thorough clean each time they use their grill, while others leave long intervals between cleaning.

  • Those who prefer to leave cooking residue on the grill insist that the residues add to the meal's flavor. In addition, the oils and fats that have burned onto the metal surface can act as a preserving agent and form a protective coating that prevents rust from forming.
  • Others prefer to clean the grill thoroughly after every use.

The correct answer depends entirely on how often you use the grill. If it is hardly ever used, it should be cleaned each time you use it so that it is not left covered in cooking debris for extended periods. However, if you grill regularly, intervals between cleaning the entire grill can be much longer.

Nobody wants their grill to be damaged or rusted up prematurely.  We also need to keep the grill surface hygienic, so meat and other food can be prepared safely.

The answer is simple, clean the grill grates after every cooking session and clean the grill itself when it needs a clean. On average, you should only need to clean the entire grill every 2 months if you use it once a week.

Give your grill a deep clean at least twice a year. Since most grilling happens during the warm summer months, the most important time to give your grill a thorough deep cleaning is before it gets packed away. Be sure to season any cast iron parts after cleaning so that your grill is protected from rust.

Routinely Cleaning Grill Grates

A person cleaning a grill

No matter how delicious the meat on your grill is, you probably don’t want to experience traces of it the next time you use your grill.

Giving your grate a quick scrub doesn’t take long and will ensure that you have a clean surface to cook your food.

Regardless of what type of grill grate you have, the cleaning routine is always the same. Let’s go through how to give your grate a quick clean after using it so that it is always ready for the next delicious grill.

Whether you want to give your grate a full wash or just rub off any burnt fat is your preference, but leaving the grate ready for the next use will make the idea of grilling again much more appealing.

There are four methods that you can use to clean your grill grate:

  • Burning off
  • Use a grill spray
  • Wash the grates
  • Try steaming the grates

Let’s go through each cleaning method in a little more detail. All of them are simple. However, if you are packing your grill away for the winter, it is recommended to clean the entire grill thoroughly and wash the grate using earn soapy water. Follow the cleaning instructions of your particular grill when giving it is deep clean.

Burning Off The Grill Grate As A Method Of Cleaning

lit charcoal

Burning is by far the quickest and easiest way to give your grill grate a quick clean after each use.  This method works especially well if you grill frequently. The grate won't be as sparkly as when you wash it, but the film of oily residue that remains can be useful to protect the grate.

  • Open the lid and turn up the heat to max. If you are using charcoal, try moving them around to get the heat as high as possible.
  • This blast of heat will dry out and blacken anything stuck to the grate.
  • Once it is nicely charred, turn off the heat and give it a brush using a grill brush.
  • If you can turn the grate over safely, give it a brush on the underside too.

Using A Grill Spray To Clean The Grate

Spray cleaning is a good method to use if you are short of time and don’t want to wait for the grill grate to soak in water. There are specific grill sprays that will soften cooked-on residues, or you can make your own using vinegar [1].

  • Rub as much solid material off the grate as possible using a wooden grill scraper.
  • Spray with a grate cleaner or make your own by mixing equal parts of water and vinegar
  • Let it soak into the grid for around 15 minutes, and then scrub it off using a grill brush. The spray will loosen any burned on fats and residue, so they come off quickly.

How To Wash Your Grill Grate With Soapy Water

Closeup of soapy sponge

Washing is the most thorough method to clean your grill grate, but it only needs to be done about twice a year if you use your grill regularly. You can usually just use the burn-off method between weekly grills, but it is important to give the grate a proper clean every few months to keep it in mint condition and make it last longer.

  • Before you soak your grate in water, turn up the heat and burn off any bits and pieces that might be stuck to it.
  • When it has cooled down enough, give the grate rub using a grill scraper
  • Then immerse the entire thing in hot soapy water and let it soak for at least an hour.
  • Rinse and return it to the grill.
  • Warm up the grill and when it is warm, brush it using a grill brush. This will loosen and remove any debris.

Steaming As A Method To Clean Grill Grates

Steaming the grate to clean it sound complicated, but it is one of the simplest methods [2].

  • Use an old tin filled, and half fill it with water
  • When you are finished grilling your food, turn up the heat as high as possible.
  • Once hot, turn off the grill and place the tin of water on the grate and close the lid
  • After 30 minutes, the debris will be soft and can easily be rubbed off using a soft scrubbing brush or silicone sponge.

Which Type Of Grill Lasts The Longest?

A man cooking on a grill

Buying a quality grill is the key to ensuring that your grill lasts a long time and doesn’t need to be overly pampered to ensure it stays in good working condition. Ideally, your goal should be a stainless steel grill.

Steel or rolled steel grills are great and retain heat well, the downside is that they will eventually start rusting and require more care in the long run.

A stainless steel grill will undoubtedly outlast a steel grill in areas close to the ocean. Regardless of the type, keeping your grill clean will keep it looking newer for longer.

Conclusion

Keeping your grill clean will make food taste better, and your grill will last longer. Fortunately, cleaning a grill doesn’t need to take hours, and so long as you keep the cooking surface clean, you may only need to clean your entire grill every couple of months.

The grill grate should be cleaned more frequently to keep the cooking surface as clean as possible.


References:

  1. https://www.wikihow.com/Clean-Grill-Grates-with-Vinegar
  2. https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/how-to-steam-clean-grill-grates/

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