Some barbecue aficionados swear that what might be considered a dirty grill is just one that’s been seasoned with a lot of flavor. To me, just thinking about years of creosote and grease being used to “flavor” my food makes me a little queasy, but I suppose a grill’s high heat probably kills any really nasty bacteria. So why clean one? Because a clean grill cooks faster, and I don’t like waiting to eat.
Clean the grates: The easiest way to clean the grill grates, or racks, is by rubbing them with a steel-bristled brush immediately after cooking your meal. The grease is still hot at that point and should slip right off. If you’ve got years of buildup, you’ll probably need the more labor-intensive approach of waiting until the grate cools completely, then spraying it with oven cleaner and shoving it in a garbage bag to sit overnight. The next day, use the steel-bristled brush and garden hose and give the grate a good scrub. The gunk should come right off. (Do note: if you have a cast iron grill grate, you’ll want to season it with oil after cleaning.)
Clean the interior: Once a year, empty your grill, including any fixtures. Using hot, soapy water and a good scouring pad, get in there and clean all the burnt-on gunk. With a gas grill, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on disconnecting the gas and checking the burners and hose.
Clean the exterior: Grills that are left uncovered year-round will develop rust spots. Inspect and treat yours to prolong the life of your grill. Use Bar Keeper’s Friend on stainless steel grills, and regular soapy water on all other types. Lightly sand and prime rust spots, then paint them using a matching grill paint, available from most hardware stores.
Where do you come down on the whole to clean or not to clean debate?