How to Clean a Grill Grate Without a Brush
Obviously this is ultimately a post about how to clean a grill grate without a brush, but before we get to that there’s something more important that needs to be covered. From time to time I get emails from customers about how their grill caught on fire and totally destroyed their meal and their grill tools as well. While it is certainly possible to start a grill fire by overloading a grill with greasy meat, and cooking it too fast, most often the grill overloading is not the root cause of the fire. What is? It’s the fact that the grill isn’t clean, and the flammable grease and oils are not draining correctly or efficiently.
Not What It Seems
I know that a barbecue appears to be a primitive and clunky tool. I mean, you just basically light a big fire in it and cook stuff, right? Not exactly. The shape and contours of a barbecue grill are all there for a reason. One of the biggest reasons is grease management. When a barbecue grill is brand new, it provides a perfectly functioning path for the hot grease to follow and drain away from the flames. Over time, as grease dries on the surface, down inside the grill, and doesn’t get cleaned up, it begins to restrict the flow of grease when you’re using the grill.
A Thin Line
It’s a very thin line between a clean and highly functioning grill and one that is a hazard and has the potential for a grease fire. Just a bit of clogging in the wrong place and a little puddle of hot grease can ignite and literally light your entire grill on fire. What I’m getting at here is that you need to understand the importance of keeping your grill clean. I’m not talking about the grates. That’s up to you if you want to cook on dried-on food from last time. It isn’t a fire hazard, however disgusting it might be. I’m talking about cleaning the innards of your grill.
I like to start with a metal spackling knife after the grill has cooled down. I remove the grates and scrape the grease from the sides and bottom of the interior of the barbecue, paying close attention to clearing the flow into the grease catcher. I also empty and clean the grease catcher. People literally go for years without cleaning their grill and never have a fire but the risk increases every time they use the grill and don’t clean it. However, the danger of fire has a lot to do with what they are grilling and how they are grilling it. There are times when you need to pay close attention to the cleanliness of your barbecue.
- If you are planning to grill a lot of meat especially hamburgers at the same time you’ll want to start with a clean grill. Most fires start with an overloaded grill and the fire could be avoided if the grill is clean.
- If you are using a bbq grill mat you will ALWAYS want to keep a
clean grill. The grill mats concentrate the flow of grease and if used incorrectly will dump a large quantity of grease directly onto the flame. In addition to making sure your grill is clean you need to position your barbecue grill mats so that the grease drains into an area on the side where no flame is present. It’s smart to leave one burner off, specifically for the purpose of grease management.
- If you are planning to cook anything with a lot of fat or oil in it, be sure to clean your grill before you start.
This might seem like obvious stuff, but I can’t believe how many people never take these simple precautions to avoid fires. If you are using a bbq grill mat, be sure to check out our grill mat instructions.
Moving on to the real issue:
How to Clean a Grill Grate Without a Brush
Okay, so now that you have the innards of your grill cleaned up, we can address what this post was supposed to be all about, which is how to clean a grill grate without a brush. Sorry to have to trick you into avoiding a grill fire, but nobody ever asks about that until after it happens. In regard to grate cleaning, you have a few options.
- How to Clean a Grill Grate Without a Brush Option One:
If you clean the grill grate while it is still hot you can just use an onion and an insulated silicone glove. Cut the onion in half. Put the silicone glove on one hand and use it to hold the onion, open face down and just scrub the grates clean. This works best if you’re starting with a clean grill and you’re cleaning it before the gunk has cooled and hardened on the grate.
- How to Clean a Grill Grate Without a Brush Option Two:
If you have a grate that’s already got a lot of baked on material accumulated over months or years, the onion approach is not going to work. Instead use a container that’s large enough for the grates to fit in the bottom and cover them with hydrogen peroxide. Leave them there until you are able to wipe the gunk off with a scrub pad.
- How to Clean a Grill Grate Without a Brush Option Three:
Do everything the same as in option two except use white distilled vinegar instead of hydrogen peroxide. What’s the difference? It depends on what the source of the accumulated crap on your grate is. Some dirty grates respond better to peroxide and others to vinegar. Don’t try doing both at the same time, though. Try one way, and if it doesn’t work to your satisfaction then try the other.
- How to Clean a Grill Grate Without a Brush Option Four:
Use a BBQ Grill Mat from the time your grates are new. Some of you won’t want to do that, but if you do you’ll never have to clean your grates and the’ll always look the same as when you bought them.
Personally I would never use chemical solvents on anything I prepare food on, so I’m not even going there.
Check Out Our Store
When you have a minute, be sure to check out our online barbecue gifts and accessories. We’ve got all the fun stuff for any barbecue enthusiast. And feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input.
Be careful, be smart, and have fun. Chef Caron