Oh, those lovely, hot days of summer and getting together with friends and family to enjoy some yummy food cooked on a grill and eaten in the warm sunshine or on cool summer nights.
The grill grate is an important element of your barbecue. Not only does it hold your food, but it aids in even heat transfer, and can even provide those beautiful grill marks.
There are 3 major types of grill grates: porcelain, cast iron and stainless steel and each require a slightly different method of maintenance and cleaning.
The following is a general guide to cleaning and only covers part of your grill. Please be sure to follow the specific instructions in your owner’s manual.
Porcelain Grill Grates
These grates are popular as they retain heat well and resist rust. The porcelain in these grates is generally the coating over either steel or cast iron. Over time, the porcelain coating can chip away, if care is not taken. When cooking with metal tools, be careful not to scrape or nick the grates. If the underlying metal is exposed, water can creep in and create rust.
To clean porcelain grates, you will need:
- Dish washing detergent
- A large pan or a bucket with warm soapy water (for soaking)
- A soft rag
- A non-metallic brush or soft toothbrush
After a cookout, burn off any remaining food residue. Wait for the grates to cool. If the grill grate is fairly clean after use, you can clean it immediately with soapy water and a rag or soft brush. For more baked-in residue, you may have to soak the grate in a pan of warm soapy water for 30 minutes or more.
When cleaning the grate surface, be sure to get into all of the cracks with a rag or soft bristle brush. Never use a stiff brush or metal scraper to clean as this can chip and damage the porcelain. Rinse with clear water. Allow to air dry or use a soft clean rag to dry it before placing back on the grill.
If your porcelain grill grates have rust due to cracks, brush them with a soft brush to remove as much of the rust as you can. Put the grate on the barbecue and sprinkle it generously with baking soda. Turn your barbecue on and watch the baking soda begin to bubble and remove the rust. Turn off the grill and let it cool down.
Cast Iron Grill Grates
Cast iron grill grates are very durable, heavy, tolerate high temperatures, and create an even cooking surface. They are tough and can withstand just about anything except water (iron is prone to rusting) and being dropped on a hard surface.
To clean and rust proof your cast iron grates after each usage, you will need:
- Nylon cleaning brush or sponge
- Paper towels
- Baking soda and water to make a paste (optional)
- Vegetable oil
Before cleaning, burn off any residue left over on the grate and begin cleaning while the grate is still a bit warm (but not too hot to touch).
Wipe it clean with paper towels. If there are particles of food stuck on the grate, you can use a nylon sponge to scrub them away and wipe again to ensure they are clean and free from food build up. If the baked-on food is not coming off, create a cleaning paste by mixing baking soda with water. Apply the paste with a nylon sponge and scrub the area until it is free from build-up.
Once cleaning is done, and the grates are dry, rub them down with a thin layer of vegetable oil with a cloth. One coat is enough if done regularly.
If you forgot to put the cover back on after having used the barbecue, or if water has found its way in, the grates can become rusty. But not to worry – the grates can be restored to their former glory.
If your cast iron grates are heavily rusted, you will need:
- White Vinegar and water
- Nylon brush or scrubber
- A slightly heated oven
Gently lay your grill grates into a large sink or pan with a 50/50 vinegar and water mixture covering the grates and let them soak for about an hour and scrub with a plastic scrubber or brush to remove any remaining rust.
Rinse off any remaining vinegar, and dry thoroughly in a low heated oven. When the grates are completely dry, season them with at least two coats of vegetable oil or with a special cast iron seasoning oil you can purchase at a hardware store.
Stainless Steel Grill Grates
Stainless steel grill grates tolerate intense heat and are fairly rust resistant. Of the three types, stainless steel grates are the easiest to clean. Never use abrasive cleaners or brushes when cleaning stainless steel grill racks. This could cause pits and scratches that will fill up with burnt debris making cleaning more difficult.
To clean stainless steel grill grates, you will need:
- Aluminum foil (optional)
- Nylon cleaning brush
- Soft rag
Cover the top of the grates with aluminum foil (this first step is optional).
Let the grill heat up for about 15-minutes. This should burn off the remaining food bits and make it easier to scrub once they’ve cooled down. Adding aluminum foil concentrates the heat and may be more effective. Turn off heat and use a soft brush to scrub off remaining residue while the grates are still hot. After the grates have cooled, wipe down with a rag soaked in water.
If you have a heavy layer of burned-on residue, you will need:
- Spray bottle/ or Large pan for soaking (optional)
- White vinegar and water 50/50 mixture
- Aluminum foil for cleaning
Vinegar can dissolve burned-on food while gently cleaning your grill racks. Foil can be effective in removing debris without scratching the surface.
Heat your grates first then let them cool down. Remove the grates and lay them on a smooth covered surface. Use 2 cups of the 50/50 water and white vinegar mixture in a spray bottle and generously spray your grates top to bottom (or put the water and vinegar mixture in a pan large enough for the grates to soak in). Let the grates soak for at least 15 minutes. Use aluminum foil sprayed with the mixture and scrub gently. Fold the foil several times so it is thick.
Keeping your grates clean and rust-free helps ensure great tasting, healthy food. Enjoy the summer!
Your appliances are important. For the very best in appliance repair and maintenance, you can count on C&W Appliance Service. Get in touch with us at (855) 358-1496 or (214) 358-1496 or submit our online service request form.