Protecting the investment

Only the finest U.S.D.A. Prime dry-aged steaks for this grill...

I used to clean my grill meticulously. I had the big brush, the black scrubber and the narrow between-the-grates horseshoe thing.

Then I got lazy. I would clean the grates after cooking, but toss them at the beginning of each spring. At least I would vacuum out the interior of the grill with a ShopVac.

But, then I got lazier. By the time I abandoned my two-burner CharBroil at my former Liverpool residence, it was pretty disgusting. I had given up with the grease catcher (kept falling off), so my deck had a nice burn mark too. I left both the grill and the grease for the landlord.

I attempted to retake control of the grilling mess when we moved in ’07. My stainless steel CharBroil Commercial series was a beast and I was determined to take care of it. I cleaned the inside and out with great care. I regularly vacuumed the interior. I treated it better than I did members of my family.

And then it reminded me why I don’t treat my family nicely. It started blowing fire at me. Literally.

I started getting flames through the exterior flashing and out through the knob. I nearly set myself on fire one evening. After much deliberation with CharBroil, it turns out I had a clogged valve. $10 in parts and a can of compressed air, and problem solved.

I’m no longer as devoted to my grill, though I do better than that mess I had in Nags Head last week. I brush the grates and regularly perform a trick I picked up from a magazine article.

When I’m cooking something with the potential to stick or if the grill is too dirty, I mop the hot grates with oil. Take a small wad of paper towels and grip them with a pair of long tongs. Dip the towel in a bowl of oil and coat the grill grates. This takes off some of the soot and lubes them up for the next meal.

Al Dente’s Monmouth County, N.J. correspondent Brian Conaghan passed along his tip for a clean grill via Facebook: “Two tips my wife got which works well here….turn your grill on…get it warm and then take a ball of tin foil and use your tong to run it up and down the grates to get the shit off….then…cut a lemon in half…flesh side down…rub it up and down the grates…the acid burns off the rest of the shit and leaves a nice flavor on the grill itself….I dropped the steam enhanced grill daddy for this method and have been much happier.”

I have used chemicals. Carbona made a grill cleaner for a while that was supposed to work like Easy-Off. Spray on a warm grill and let sit. It did nothing more than turn my grill grates a speckled white.

Weber suggests a soap-embedded scrubber, like a Brillo pad, Brinkmann suggests wire brushes; Consumer Reports leans to my oil mop.

So…what’s your standby for cleaning the grill?


3 thoughts on “Protecting the investment”

  1. Buy a Weber. I’ve never had to use anything but a wire brush and some hot water from time to time. Also, crank the heat up for about 15-20 minutes before or after you cook. The extreme heat will turn anything to ash.

  2. Also, Weber makes a high heat spray that you can put on the grill before dropping any food on the grates. The nice thing is that it doesn’t add any flavor or flare ups like oil can.

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