The absolute easiest trick to cleaning your grill

With supplies you already have on hand, too

Published July 19, 2021 4:49PM (EDT)

 (Julia Gartland / Food52)
(Julia Gartland / Food52)

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Why is it important to clean a grill? And how come leaving charred bits and leftover cooking oil doesn't season the grates similar to a cast iron skillet? Well, first and foremost, it's better for your health. Grilling meats at high temperatures can actually produce carcinogens, then left behind on the grill, so it's important to keep the grates maintained. Beyond the health factor, regularly cleaning your grill will lengthen its life, prevent dangerous flare-ups, and simply make your food taste better.

We know that summer is officially in full swing, but here's a tip that will carry you well beyond the Fourth of July: how to clean your grill, using things you already have lying around. All you'll need for this quick hack is a piece of aluminum foil and a pair of tongs. Oh, plus your dirty grill grate and a little bit of elbow grease. 

1. First, cut a length of aluminum foil about the size pictured here — or, the width of your grill is a good rule of thumb.

2. Once you have your aluminum foil, crumple it into a ball. This will be your main tool, and the bearer of all grill-cleaning magic.

3. Position your magical aluminum foil ball snugly in your tongs, and then, with determination and your Olympic strength, use it to scrub the surface of the grill rack. (Hint: this method works even better when the grill is still warm.) The foil will remove all of your stickiest grilling bits in a matter of seconds.

And there you have it! Now your grill is good as new, with enough time leftover for kicking back at your barbeque.

Other hacks we've seen (but can't confirm)  

• First, brush the grill gates with a neutral oil, like canola. Sprinkle kosher salt all across the grates. Then, scrub them down with a halved potato. 

• Get the grill piping hot, then scrub it down with half an onion. While this sounds like a lovely method for cleaning the grill pre-steaks, this will likely impart flavor, so best not to do this before grilling peaches. 

A deeper clean:  

If you're looking to give your grill some TLC beyond just the grates, here's how you can give it a full, knock down, drag out scrubbing. 

1. Start by turning the grill onto the highest heat, close the lid, and wait at least 30 minutes. This will operate like a self-cleaning oven, singing everything that exists in there and readying itself to be scraped down.

2. Let the grill fully cool down, then scrub the grates with a brush (avoid metal brushes that can shed dangerous splinters into your food) or sponge, dish soap, and hot water.

3. For some extra cleaning power — and if you have the space to do it — soak all the grates in a soap and hot water solution for 30 minutes. Once they've soaked, you can scrub them again — using a baking soda and vinegar paste on most stubborn parts.

4. Use a putty knife or any kind of flat scraper to remove bits from the fire box.

5. Finally, clean the exterior of the grill with white vinegar and a cloth or a specialized stainless steel cleaner. 

By Kenzi Wilbur

MORE FROM Kenzi Wilbur

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