With the onset of summer, you can see a number of people having frequent barbecue cookouts in their backyards. Although, a weekend barbeque sounds quite appealing, however, you need to be assured that the grill is both clean and safe to use. If you have a grill and plan to cook food, then this article is a definite read for you.
How often should you clean a grill? Typically the grill must be cleaned after every use, irrespective of whether you’re dealing with a top-of-the-line model or a cheap one. It is recommended that cleaning after every-use will improve your grill’s cooking performance.
However, it is not that simple. Every part of the grill like the grates, flavorized bars, burner tubes (in gas grills), and even the firebox, are prone to get a buildup of grease and fat residue. This calls for a thorough cleaning and maintenance to ensure proper functioning. Moreover, both gas and charcoal grills require a different cleaning process.
Why you should clean your grill after every use?
There is a general consensus that the barbecue grill should be treated just like your kitchen stove. This means that it must be cleaned after every meal preparation. It is as simple as that.
The marinade and barbeque sauces tend to drip down, leaving grease and fat deposits, on the grill and its parts. These deposits tend to become dry and hard if they are not removed after every use.
These deposits look disgusting and unhygienic and can also affect the efficiency of your grill. That is why a thorough and timely cleaning routine can help to avoid these issues.
Importance of keeping your grill clean after every use
It is common sense that you would want to cook your food on a clean grill. Unfortunately, there are a number of people who are too lazy to clean their grill after the cookout and leave it to be cleaned for the next barbeque. This results in the accumulation of fat residue, grease, ashes and many other unwanted deposits. These deposits become dry after some time, making them difficult to remove.
The carbon deposits are not only unpleasant to look at but can also prove to be extremely hazardous. The buildup of grease can prevent the smooth flow of gas through the ports, resulting in unavoidable flare-ups.
Moreover, carbon deposits can affect the overall efficiency of the grill, resulting in uneven heat distribution and the failure of the function tubes. But most of all, dirty grills can impart an unpleasant smell and taste to your food, which is the most unhygienic impacts of lack of grill cleaning.
Common grill parts that are cleaned after every use
● Grill exterior
Grill exterior is one of the first things that anyone sees in a grill. Therefore, you must ensure that the grill is carefully cleaned with the help of soapy water after every barbeque. The more you delay the cleaning process, the more residue will accumulate and be difficult to remove. If the residue persists, then use a grill cleaner. However, avoid using it on the inside, as it will cause damage to the interior walls of the grill.
● Grates and Racks
Cleaning the grill will seem to be much easier if it is done after each use of the grill. This is especially critical with gas grills since the high temperatures can bake on grease and foods, making it extremely difficult to clean the grates and racks once they cool and the grease hardens. Therefore, make sure to clean both these parts after every use.
● Briquette or Ash trays
Clean out the residual ash in a charcoal grill after each use. A pile of ash left on the grill can collect moisture, and can form a cement-like substance that can be extremely difficult to remove.
How to Clean Barbeque Grill Grates and Racks (for gas grills)
Grill grates and racks should be cleaned after each use. For best results, wait until after you’ve grilled.
A great way of knowing that your grill grates require deep cleaning is when your grill is not heating up properly or failing to reach high temperatures of up to 500 ºF. This is the best time to get your grates thoroughly cleaned.
- Brush Off Grates and Racks
After each cooking session, immediately brush off the grates and racks when they are cooler but still warm, with the help of a high-quality stainless steel grill brush.
- Scrape the Grates
Use the brush’s built-in scraper for burned-on food, or use a separate scraper tool.
- Wipe the Grates and Racks
Wipe the grates and racks with a damp towel to remove any loose bits. Make sure that there are no loose brush bristles left on the grate.
For a cast-iron grate, clean it completely, then brush on some vegetable oil with a paper towel to keep your grate in proper shape.
How to clean the briquette or ash tray (for charcoal grill)
- Keep a metal bucket with a lid next to the grill, and dump the ashes and spent coals into it when everything has cooled down. Store the bucket somewhere where it won’t get wet.
- Transfer the collected ash to the garbage when the bucket is full. Make sure that there are no coals still burning. Ash disposal becomes even easier if you use lump charcoal, since it creates comparatively little ash as compared to briquettes.
Other parts of the grill that must be cleaned frequently
- Flavor (flavorizer) bars
Flavorizer bars play an active role in the grilling process. They help in directing grease and drippings away from the burner tubes, which ultimately results in reduced flare-ups. Moreover, these bars help to add an extra flavor to the food, as the dripped marinade and sauces are vaporized and added again into the food.
Therefore, the cleaning of flavorizer bars is essential to ensure the proper functioning of the grill. These bars need to be replaced only after they show any signs of corrosion. It is recommended to carry out a thorough cleaning at least once a month, depending on the grill usage.
- Lower interior and burner
Experts recommend that your grill requires a deep cleaning only twice a year. However, the frequent use of grills can result in the accumulation of large amounts of grease and carbon being deposited on the walls of the grill. This means that in some cases the grill might need to be deep cleaned after every couple of years.
You must always remember that if you have a gas grill, then the cleaning of the burners must be an important part of your cleaning routine. Make sure to get yourself a separate grill brush especially for this purpose. The burners can be cleaned by simply running a grill brush over them. This will definitely prevent the burner jets from getting blocked.
A more thorough cleaning could include taking out the burners out of the grill when they are cold. They can then be placed back in the grill once they have been washed with warm soapy water and wiped dry with a towel.
Comparison between the cleaning of charcoal and gas grills
The basic process of grill cleaning is the same for both charcoal and gas grills. The only difference is that a charcoal grill has fewer parts than the gas grill. Consequently, this makes the process of cleaning a bit easier and less time consuming for the gas grill as compared to the charcoal grill.
Both charcoal and gas grills require a thorough cleaning at least once a year. However, if you plan to grill a mouth-watering steak on a charcoal grill, you should make sure that the grill has undergone a deep cleaning at least once a year, after a regular cleaning at the end of every use.
Essential maintenance tips
Apart from the essential cleaning tips, the grills can be well-maintained by following the maintenance tips listed below:
- At least once a month, check for any leakage of propane gas. In case of leakage, make sure that the connection is carefully tightened or the defected line replaced.
- Always make sure that the grill is covered when it is not being used.
You can follow these simple maintenance steps and get a grill in perfect condition. Just remember that only continuous maintenance and cleaning after every use will help you keep your grill in great condition. A true foodie will never let their grill go to waste and will invest considerable time in its maintenance.
Do not wait around to cook a lovely brunch or dinner for your friends and family, just because you have a dirty grill. Knowing that a great meal awaits your hard work of grill cleaning, let’s get started today!