If your grill grates are covered in burnt-on food, it might be time to clean them. An estimated 48 million Americans contract food poisoning each year. You need to make sure you always cook on clean grill grates to avoid this. You don’t want to fall victim to a dirty grill at your house or a filthy kitchen; you’ll look like a rookie chef. Heat-resistant gloves are good for more than just picking up hot meat or reaching over the grill. Use them to properly clean your grill and accessories—don’t spend the summer in the bathroom paying for a mistake that could have been avoided.
Porcelain grill grates need to be kept clean, even though they’re rust resistant. Bacteria forms on them just as easily as on cast iron or stainless steel. Scrapes or chips in the porcelain leave the metal underneath exposed to water, which can lead to rusting. When you use metal utensils, be careful not to make too much contact with the grates. Don’t use wire brushes when cleaning porcelain; instead, use a soft brush made from a material such as nylon. A soft brush will prevent you from scraping the finish.
Cast iron grates are very durable, and they can withstand high temperatures during cooking. Iron rusts easily if water is left on it, though. Use a wire brush to clear off any excess food and stuck on bits while the iron is still warm. Iron grates can be cleaned with water, but do not use soap. Soap will seep into the iron and leave behind a residue and a foul taste. Use only water and a stiff bristled brush; it’s all you really need. Make sure to dry them thoroughly immediately after, and then coat them in vegetable oil. The oil serves as a layer of protection to prevent rust.
Similar to cast iron, stainless steel is durable and can take high heat for a long time. It is fairly rust resistant, and food doesn’t stick to it as easily. A wire brush or scraper should remove any excess food with no trouble. Steel isn’t as porous as iron, so you can wash it with soap and water, as well.
For a deep cleanse, you can soak any of these above grates in a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. Mix the vinegar and baking soda at a ratio of 2:1. Find a receptacle large enough to put the grate in, a garbage bag usually works if you have no other options. Put the grate in your container, pour in the vinegar mixture, and let it sit overnight. Rinse it off with a hose, and the stubborn food should fall right off.