Grilling is synonymous with warm summer nights barbecuing burgers in the backyard. But the idea of maintaining and cleaning a grill can be not-so-fun for some. The same cooking process that makes those picture-perfect, flavorful char marks on your food generates carbon deposits on virtually every interior surface of your grill – the flavoring bar, grates, burner tubes, and firebox itself. These dark carbon patches aren’t just ugly – grease stick to them and harbor bacteria. On top of that, carbon buildup can lead your grill to heat unevenly and prevent it from reaching full operating temperature. Now after you’ve invested thousands of dollars on your grill, the most prized kitchen equipment of your home and center of attraction, you wouldn’t want anything like that to happen to your grill, would you? To help you out, here’s a quick list of the top 7 tips for maintaining your luxury grill.
Use simple cleaning equipment
Your luxury grill may be expensive, but the cleaning equipment does not have to be. There are over a hundred different grill cleaning gizmos to choose from in the market, but there’s nothing that can beat a wire brush and some elbow grease. Make sure you don’t use toxic cleaning formulas as they can be harmful if ingested, (not to mention they will leave a bad taste on your food!). When cleaning, just stick to the basics like warm water, dish soap, vinegar, and baking soda. If your grill has a prominent stainless-steel exterior, invest in a stainless-steel cleaner.
Use a vacuum
After removing the flavorizer bars and grill grates, put a bucket beneath the firebox where the grease tray sits to collect debris. Now turn on the vacuum cleaner and let it suck up the gunk that is collected in your grill. You can use your grill brush to loosen up any stubborn stuck-on grit. If the deposits are caked on deep, dunk the wire brush in a bucket of soapy water and clean with it. After you’re done the vacuuming, use a hose to rinse everything down.
Scrub deflector plates regularly
Based on how often you use your barbecue grill, you will need to clean the deflectors and flavorizers at least a couple of times every grilling season. Since they are positioned to prevent flare-ups, grease can accumulate and build on these surfaces very quickly. To clean, lay a plastic drop cloth and lay out the deflector plates and grate. Using hot water and dish soap, vigorously scrub both sides of the plates and grate with a scouring sponge or a stiff brush. After that, rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry.
Clean the burner tubes
If you use a gas grill, one part that frequently gets clogged up is its burner tubes. A symptom of dirty burners is reduced flame size. Use a steel or nylon wire to gently clean the small holes on the tubes. Make sure to brush from the center of the tube, moving sideways. If you do it vertically, you will push the debris into the tube or holes instead of clearing.
Clean the insides
It’s not just the cooking surface and deflector plates that need cleansing. The interiors need to be cleaned every so often – especially with charcoal models. Gradually, the insides will develop a layer of carbon, creosote, soot, and other byproducts from various effects of smoke. Luckily for you, this part maybe even easier than cleaning the exteriors. Scrape the layer of residue with a putty knife and use a damp cloth to give final cleaning touches.
Don’t forget the final touches
Thoroughly cleaning a barbecue grill consumes a lot of time and energy, but that doesn’t mean you can slack off when the cleaning nears an end. Spray on a stainless-steel cleaner, and let it sit for a couple of minutes before you wipe it off with a clean, dry cloth. After that, reassemble all the parts you removed and put the burner tubes back in position with screws or cotter pins. Don’t forget to coat cast-iron grill grates with vegetable oil. If it is a gas grill, connect the propane tank and light up the grill; let it heat for 15 minutes before turning it off. It will help you burn off any residue from cleaning. It will also serve as a reminder that you have re-assembled everything properly.
Prevent future buildups
There are certain things you can do to prevent deposits of dirt and grease from forming in the first place. One way is to grease the grates of your hot grill with a little cooking oil before cooking. Similarly, scrubbing your grill grates with raw onion is another technique you can try. The onions release organic compounds, which can break down stubborn grease dirt. Since onions also contain a high potency of sulfate (a natural grease cleaner) it’s a fool-proof way to discourage buildups.