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How to Clean Grill Grates

How to Clean Grill Grates - Proline Range Hoods

Grill grates, do you remember the last time you cleaned them?

Cleaning your grill grates is an important step to maintain a clean and safe barbecue. It can also help improve the cooking ability of your grill and the flavor of food you cook.

You don’t want to spend hours scrubbing tough baked-on food and gunk that just won’t come off.

So, we'll start by giving you some tips on how to clean porcelain grates, cast iron grates, and stainless steel grates. These are the three most common types of grates out there.

Then, we'll go over eight different methods to make them look new again:

  • Brush your grill grates
  • Burn off the baked-on food
  • Soak the grill grates with dish soap and water
  • Soak the grill grates in vinegar and water
  • Soak the grill grates in baking soda and vinegar
  • Soak the grates in a trash bag with ammonia
  • Soak the grates in coffee
  • Scrub the grates with an onion

How to Clean Porcelain Grates - Quick Tips

Porcelain grill grates are popular because they insulate heat well and they're resistant to rust.

But, you still need to periodically clean them to keep them in great condition.

Watch out for chips and scratches in the porcelain finish. If water comes into contact with the metal under the finish, this may cause rust.

So take extra caution when cooking with metal spatulas or other metal tools.

Make sure to use a nylon brush which has soft bristles rather than a metal brush to keep the porcelain scratch-free.

How to Clean Cast Iron Grates - Quick Tips

How to Clean Cast Iron Grates

Cast iron grill grates are incredibly durable. They can tolerate any temperature that you'd be able to generate. Even though cast iron pans are durable, water is not their friend. It can cause rust.

So, avoid soaking your cast iron grill grates in water to clean them. Instead, use a brush or burn off the food. We'll go over these methods a little later.

To help prevent rust, wipe your cast iron grates with vegetable oil after you're done cleaning.

Like with porcelain grates, avoid wire brushes or steel wool. These tools are too abrasive and may damage the finish.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Grates - Quick Tips

Stainless Steel Grill Grates

Stainless steel grill grates can handle 800+ degrees Fahrenheit, which is hotter than any residential grill will get. Unlike cast iron, stainless steel is somewhat rust-resistant.

The easiest way to clean the grates is to simply brush them. We'll go over this method below.

With stainless steel grates, you can use a nylon brush or wire brush, but nylon is the safer bet. You always run the risk of scratching the grates using a wire brush if you press too hard.

Also, the bristles can break off in your grill and cook into your food, which is a health hazard. So just be mindful of how much pressure you use when cleaning your stainless steel grill grates.

Now let's get into eight different methods you can use to make them look nice and shiny.

Use a brush to clean your grill grates

Stainless Steel Grill with Fire

What You Need

  • Nylon or wire grill brush
  • Vacuum cleaner with upholstery attachment

1) Heat your grill to medium or high heat for about 10 minutes.

If you are using a wire brush, brushing your grill works best when it is heated up. This will loosen up the food and make it easier for you to clean the grates. You won't have to use as much elbow grease.

If you’re using a nylon brush, brush the grill when it’s cool.

2) Brush them thoroughly to remove baked-on food and grease.

3) Let them cool completely.

This may take between one to two hours.

4) Remove the grates and vacuum the burnt food and grease that you brushed off.

5) Insert them back on the grill.

Burn off the baked-on food

Grilling burgers

What You Need

  • Nylon or wire grill brush
  • Aluminum foil
  • Vacuum with upholstery attachment (optional)

This method is pretty similar to brushing, but we'll use a little more heat and wrap the grates. This will allow the toughest grease and baked-on food to break down with ease.

Get ready to say goodbye to kitchen grease stains! Click to see our recommended sprays.

1) Wrap each grill grate in aluminum foil and set it in your grill.

2) Heat the grill up to 500 to 550 degrees and let it run for about 15 minutes.

If you are using a nylon grill brush, do not heat up the grill. It will melt the bristles on your brush.

3) Let the grill cool and the burnt food will become brittle.

4) Use a nylon or wire grill brush to remove the baked-on food and grease.

Dirty Stainless Steel Grill Grates

You can brush the grill grates over the grill and vacuum up the residue inside the grill later.

Or, you can hose them off and set them back in the grill, without needing to vacuum.

Again, if you’re using a nylon brush, make sure the grill is cool.

5) Remove them from your grill.

6) Vacuum the bottom of your grill.

7) Insert the grates back in the grill.

Soak the grill grates with dish soap and water.

Cooking Chicken on a Grill

Note: Do not soak cast iron grates in water. This will accelerate rusting. This method works best for porcelain grates or stainless steel grates.

What You Need

  • Dish soap and water
  • Bathtub, sink, or large plastic bin
  • Scrubby sponge
  • A couple of dry towels
  • Garden hose or sprayer (optional)

1) Make sure your grill is completely cool.

2) Fill your bathtub, sink, or container with hot water and mix in a few squirts of dish soap.

3) Remove grill grates and set them in the tub or sink.

4) Let them soak for at least an hour, or overnight if you have the time.

5) Use a scrubby sponge or dish towel to wipe away any remaining dirt and grease.

6) Rinse them under running water.

You can also use a garden hose or the sprayer attachment and wash off your grates outside.

7) Towel or air dry the grill grates.

8) Insert them into your grill.

Soak the grill grates in vinegar and water

Note: Do not soak cast iron grates in water. This method works best for porcelain grates or stainless steel grates.

What You Need

  • Vinegar and water
  • Bathtub, sink, or large plastic bin
  • Scrubby sponge or towel
  • A few towels
  • Hose or sprayer (optional)

1) Make sure your grill is completely cool.

2) Remove your grill grates and set them in your bathtub or sink.

3) Submerge them in a 50/50 water and vinegar solution.

You can also use 60% water and 40% vinegar. Add a few squirts of dish soap to help cut through tough grease on the grates, if you want.

4) Let them soak for at least an hour, or up to overnight.

5) Use a scrubby sponge or dish towel to wipe away any remaining dirt and grease.

6) Rinse the grates under running water.

You can also use a garden hose or the sprayer attachment and wash off your grates outside. This step will help get rid of the lingering vinegar smell and vinegar on the grates.

Be careful to not burn yourself.

7) Towel or air dry the grill grates.

8) Insert them into your grill.

Cooking chickens on a small grill - How to Clean Grill Grates

Soak in baking soda and vinegar

What You Need

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Bathtub or sink
  • Wall paint brush
  • A couple of dry rags

1) Make a baking soda paste using 3 parts baking soda and one part vinegar.

Add vinegar if needed until the mixture is a pasty consistency.

2) Remove the grill grates and set them in your sink or bathtub.

3) Spread this mixture on your grates using a wall paintbrush

4) Let them sit for at least 30 minutes.

This will loosen any burnt food off your grates and soak up the excess grease.

You can let them sit overnight if you have the time.

5) Rinse them under running water.

6) Towel or air dry the grill grates.

7) Insert them into your grill.

Flaming grill

Pro Tip: Now that you're done cleaning, oil the grill grates with canola oil before you cook. This will help prevent food from sticking to the grill in the future and make cleaning much easier.

Canola oil, peanut oil, and avocado oil are all great due to their high smoke points.

Here is a great oil spray from Amazon.

Olive oil and extra virgin olive oil are not good to use as they have a smoke point. They will burn at around 400º which is too low for grilling.

Now let's continue with the rest of our grill grate cleaning methods.

Soak the grates in a trash bag with ammonia

Note: The ammonia fumes help break down the grease. Do not try to fully submerge the grates in ammonia.

Working with that much ammonia will produce a very strong smell and may be dangerous for your health.

What You Need

  • Ammonia
  • Gallon trash bags
  • Hose, sink, or bathtub
  • A couple of dish towels

1) Make sure the grill is completely cool.

2) Remove grill grates from the grill.

3) Carefully place them in a trash bag.

Be careful to not put holes in the bag.

4) Pour 1/4 cup of ammonia into the trash bag.

5) Set the bag outside and seal it.

You don't have to put the bag outside, but ammonia fumes are strong so this is probably best.

Make sure to seal it tight so that the ammonia fumes stay inside the bag to help break down the tough stains.

6) Let the bag sit overnight.

7) Unseal the bag (away from your face, nose, and eyes).

The ammonia fumes may be strong, so be careful when you open the bag.

8) Rinse the grates under running water or use a hose.

This will reduce the strength of the ammonia odor. It'll also clean the grates of any remaining food and dirt.

9) Towel or air dry them.

10) Place them back into your grill.

Soak the grates in coffee

Note: Do not soak cast iron grill grates in coffee. This may accelerate rusting. This method works best for porcelain grates or stainless steel grates.

What You Need

  • Plastic tub
  • Coffee
  • Hose or sprayer
  • A couple of towels

1) Brew 1-2 pots of coffee.

You may need more or less depending on how many grates you are cleaning. It's best to submerge the grill grates fully.

2) Remove your grill grates.

3) Set them in the plastic bin.

4) Pour coffee into the plastic bin.

The temperature of the coffee doesn’t matter, but be careful to not burn yourself.

5) Let the coffee sit for at least an hour.

Coffee is acidic so it does a great job of breaking down difficult stains and baked-on food.

6) Remove the grill grates from the plastic bin.

7) Rinse them with a hose or sprayer.

8) Towel or air dry them.

9) Place them back into your grill.

Scrub the grates with an onion.

What You Need

  • Raw onion
  • A couple of towels
  • Vacuum with upholstery attachment
  • Grill tongs or skewer

1) Turn your grill to 500 to 550 degrees with the grates inside.

2) Cut the raw onion in half.

3) Before scrubbing, skewer the onion with a grill tool or put on some grill gloves. You can also grip the onion with tongs and scrub.

This way you can scrub the onion on the grates from a distance, since the grill will be very hot. You can also invest in some heat resistant grill gloves, like these from Amazon. They work great if you want to hold the onion and scrub with a little more force.

4) Use the flat side of the onion like a grill brush and scrub the grill grates.

If needed, you can use the other half of the onion too.

Onions contain sulfur compounds that harden when they are heated in contact with metal. This gives your grill grates a durable protective coating.

5) Throw out the onion and let the grates cool.

If you're just cleaning, toss the onion and let the grates cool.

But if you're ready to grill, throw the onion into the coals and get started!

Grilled sausages

Recap

That wraps up our ultimate guide on how to clean grill grates. These were the cleaning methods we went over:

  • Use a brush to clean your grill grates
  • Burn off the baked-on food
  • Soak the grill grates with dish soap and water
  • Soak the grill grates in vinegar and water
  • Apply baking soda and vinegar
  • Soak the grates in a trash bag with ammonia
  • Soak the grates in coffee
  • Scrub the grates with an onion

Between these eight techniques, there's one here for everyone! You can also try a few different ones to figure out which works best for you.

We hope you found this guide helpful! Happy grilling!

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