With the holidays just around the corner, many families are looking forward to those nicely grilled meals as they catch-up and unwind with their loved ones. This is also probably the time when you have the grills prepped-up in readiness for these gatherings. Irrespective of how long the grill has been sitting unused, you have to clean it before using.
If you have been wondering how to clean your gas or charcoal grill, this article is for you. As part of maintenance procedure, there is a certain way in which these two types of grills should be cleaned.
We will walk you through the steps to follow when cleaning them, including the flat top grills.
#1. Clean a Gas Grill
Most gas grills are made of stainless steel, so it’s good to pay attention to the tools that you use when cleaning and grilling. Repetitive scratching on the surfaces reduces how durable the grill will be. Another way of improving the lifespan is by cleaning regularly which you can do by following these 4 steps:
- Scrub the grates
If you often brush your grill, you won’t have to deal with chunks of residues deposited on the cooking grates. But if you do see them on the grates, you’ll have some serious scrubbing to do on both the top and bottom layers. The quickest hack to the situation is to use a grill brush, because unlike regular brushes, these ones are designed in such a way that they can reach the grates even on the sides.
They also have a scrapper on one side, and this makes it easier to remove heavy residues, debris or grease. And depending on how long the layers have been accumulating there, you might have to put in more effort when scrubbing.
- Clean the burner protectors
After setting the cooking grates aside, it’s much easier to remove the burner protectors. You’ll notice that they’re equally messy because it’s these that cover the grill burners from clogging caused by grease and food residues when grilling is in progress.
However, if you only grill from a specific spot, you’ll realize that not all of them will be messy in equal measures, so you could actually have minimal cleaning to do. You can scrape-off the large chunks before proceeding to scrub them in soapy water and rinse properly for a new and shiny look
- Wipe the burners
Burners are usually easier to clean when they’re removable and in addition to that, they have minimal dirt to handle. However, leaving the grime there for long might cause clogging.
If removable, you can remove and rinse them in soapy water, as you did with the burner protectors, only that you won’t have to do any scrubbing. If yours is built-in, you can wipe them down with a dump rag or sponge.
- Empty the bottom
Like the ash catcher in a charcoal grill, the plates underneath the burners are where all the wastes are harbored. And these too, should be removed regularly. There are those gas grills that are designed with two, and others have one, depending on brand and size. The good thing is that pulling them out is effortless, and so is cleaning them.
Your grill brush will still come in handy here, especially if the plates have chunks which can be easily scrapped off. Beneath the plates, there is yet another tray that will need scrapping and emptying as well. After cleaning every detail of the gas grill, you can re-assemble it in readiness for storage or grilling.
#2. Clean a Charcoal Grill
We all know how messy using charcoal can be, and that’s why of all the different types of grills, a charcoal grill should be cleaned more often. When the ashes get in contact with the grease, debris and food residues, what you’ll end up with is purely stubborn stains and this happens mostly when you keep them away before cleaning. If it is layers of accumulated dirt you’re dealing with, don’t give up on the charcoal grill so soon because you can get it ready with the following steps:
- Build a fire
For ease of cleaning from your end, you’ll first need about half an hour of beaming fire to try and bake-off the layers accumulated over time. After the thirty minutes have elapsed, remove the heavy debris and build-ups using the scraper side of the grill brush. Thereafter, use the side with the brush to clean the grill surface, not forgetting between the cooking grates.
With such stains, it also means that the charcoal grill could have been in the basement for so long that even some insects harboured in there. Therefore, starting the fire is also one way of dealing with them completely, so that they don’t contaminate whatever you’ve prepared to grill. Please note that if your grill is fairly clean, you can skip this part.
- Clean cooking grates
Once the grill has cooled, remove the cooking grates and the charcoal grate as well if you’re grill has one. Brush-off any remaining charcoal, ashes and debris from the grates and depending on how dirty it is, you can soak them in soapy water for an hour or two. You can also clean them by gently scrubbing with a folded foil as an alternative to the grilling brush.
Once fully cleaned, remember to oil the grates with olive vegetable oil, irrespective of whether you still want to keep or use them immediately. This covers it from rust and also minimizes build-ups of residues and dirt in general.
- Clean the lid and bowl
Many often ignore the lid but it’s equally important because that’s the part that contain steams and smoke released when grilling. Clean the inside of the lid and bowl or the firebox if that’s what your grill has; and this you can do with a scouring pad or steel wool and soapy water. After that, rinse thoroughly and remember, the products you choose to use should be gentle enough on the grill parts.
- Empty the ash.
Leaving the ash to accumulate in the ash catcher can block the grill vents, making it difficult for the fire to light up as it should. You might not also be lucky on windy days because the ash can be blown over your food, creating a mess. Therefore, as you clean everything else, remember to remove the ash. However, before handling it with you bare hands, ensure that’s it has totally cooled down and that there are no sparks of fire that might cause you harm.
#3. Clean a Flat Top Grill
Flat Top Grills are probably the most challenging to clean compared to other types like the ones we have mentioned, reason being that they’re often exposed to extreme conditions. In addition to that, theses girls are commonly used for foods that require a lot of seasoning and oil. It’s the extreme conditions which make the grease and food residues to harden on the surface, especially if you don’t clean after every meal has been prepared.
There are so many ways to clean a flat top grill, but I always narrow down to those that require items that are easily accessible. In that case, you don’t need to buy cleaning productsfor a flat top grill to get the job done; all you need is lemon or vinegar. Today, I’ll walk you through the four easy steps on how to use a mixture of lemon juice and soda water for your cleaning needs.
- Heat the grill
When the grill has already cooled down, the layered-up grease will not peel-off easily. That’s why it’s necessary to first heat it up, like you would do when setting up for a grilling session. At the same time, you should be careful when handling the grill when hot, so ensure that you don’t use your bare hands.
- Scrape off the grease
While it’s still hot, use a grill scrapper to remove the food residues and grease. This reduces the volumes of layers that you’ll have to deal with in the next step. To ensure that you do it to perception, it’s important to use the triangular heavy-duty scrappers. It’s only with these that you can be able to reach even the farthest corners of the grill
- Spray the mixture.
The whole essence here is to make the remaining grease, seasoning and food residues softer because not all of them will be scrapped off completely. So basically, there’s no limit to the amount of mixture to use, provided that it doesn’t overflow on others surfaces.
How long you’re supposed to wait will depend on how long the layers have been there, and that’s why I started off by highlighting how important it is to clean the grill immediately it has cooled down after you’re done for the day. Averagely, it will take close to 5 minutes for this to get done.
- Scrub it off.
This final step should be much easier and it’s also safer on the grill being that not much scrubbing will be needed. You can use a scouring pad to scrub your grill top gently in circular motions, in order to minimize scratches. At this point, you can decide to use your regular dishwashing soap to ensure that all the grease is cleaned up, after which you rinse properly and dry with a rag or paper towel.
For a properly cleaned grill, you’ll have to use water. This would also mean that there are high chances that your kitchen appliance might begin to rust, especially the cooking grates and it could cause harm when it gets in contact with the food.
Now this is why I insist that you oil the grill after every cleaning session and before you start grilling. However, when you have a stainless steel grill, there are minimal chances of rusting. Having known how to clean gas or charcoal grills, we hope that maintenance shouldn’t be an issue now.