We’re about a week into summer and the aroma of neighborhood grills are filling the air. With the 4th of July coming up this weekend in the US, it’s a good idea to brush up on some grill safety tips.
Did you know that about 70% of the US grills out on the 4th of July? That’s a pretty crazy statistic. But on the flip side, July is also the biggest month for grill fires coming in at 18%.
However, don’t let that scare you from enjoying deliciously grilled food! I’ve got outdoor grill safety tips to ensure you’re ready for the biggest grilling weekend as well as set you up for every season.
How to Clean Your Grill
First things first when it comes to safety, you’ve got to clean your grill and clean it properly! Heating your grill up to burn off any excess food particles works but there’s a lot more to it than the “quick clean”. Truly cleaning your grill to ensure you can grill safely and so that your grill will last a long time without repairs involves just a few more steps.
Once you deep clean your grill thoroughly it’s pretty easy to keep it that way. But if it’s been a while, follow these tips to get back on track!
There’re many types of grills, but charcoal probably involves the most clean up. To keep your charcoal grill in tip-top shape, you need to clean it after each use. If you live in an area where you put your grill away for the season, you’ll also need to deep clean before an after each grilling season.
After each use, your charcoal and ash gathers at the bottom of the grill. This must be cleaned after each used to ensure safety and better tasting food for your next grilling session.
• Once the charcoal has cooled, remove the brick, coals and ash with a brush and bucket. This one is a great option that also comes with a shovel for easier cleaning. Remember to wait for it to cool off completely since embers can hide in the ash. If you live in an area where you have off seasons from grilling, bring it inside to keep your fireplace clean as well! Besides cleaning, you can also use it to transport logs, coal, pellets and wood chips.
Pro tip: do not ever put out hot coals with water. This creates lye which causes chemical burns and corrodes metal. Same goes for when it’s raining!
• After you’ve cleaned out the bottom of the inside of your grill, it’s time to clean the grates. The fastest and most efficient way to clean the grates is with a wire brush and scrapper. This brush comes with the scraper attached for easier use! You can do this before heating the grill up, but most people find it easier to clean once the heat from the coals rises to remove food particles easier.
If you are nervous about any bristles getting in your food from the wire brush, you can always ball up aluminum foil and grasp it between tongs or use these steel scour pads.
• Once the grill is heating up and getting ready to go, put on heat-resistant gloves and grab a rag with vegetable oil. Coat the grates to clean them with oil and this will prevent rust and food build-up. If you don’t want to use oil, stick a half of an onion or orange on a long cooking fork and you can rub that against the grates as well! The natural astringent from the onion and orange will clean the grates and will add a nice flavor.
• For a deep clean of the inside, you’ll need hot water, a scour pad, and either a mild dish soap or mild degreaser. Spray out your grill with the hose to make sure all the ash is out. If you’re using dish soap just scrub out the grill and grates with the scour pad and gloves (it can be a pretty messy job). If you decide to use a degreaser, just make sure it’s food safe! Simple Green is a great one to use. Spray it on and leave it for about 20 minutes, then scrub with your scour pad. After cleaning, pour out your hot water.
To keep your grill in tip-top shape, be sure to use a grill cover. This Royal Gourmet charcoal grill comes with a cover included!
Cleaning gas grills is similar to charcoal but not so involved after each use. Follow these steps to do a good deep clean for your gas grill!
• The most important thing to remember with gas grills is the grease pan. Clean out your grease pan after each used to avoid grease fires. If you forget to clean it out and let it overflow, you’ll be scrubbing out your grill and patio with a degreaser and nobody wants to be on their hands and knees on concrete, tile, wood, etc.
• Much like the charcoal, once the grill has cooled down enough (or as it’s heating up), it’s time to clean the grates. The easiest way to do with is with a stiff-wire brush but can also be done with balled up aluminum and tongs or scour pads.
Pro tip: to make your cleaning a little easier, turn the grill on high-heat for about 15 minutes then turn it off. Dip your brush in water and then clean the grates. Be sure not to lean over the grill though, as this will create hot steam.
• Once the grates have cooled, wipe the surface with a damp cloth to clean up any bristle or remaining residue. Again, if you are nervous about any bristles getting in your food from the wire brush, you can always ball up aluminum foil and grasp it between tongs or use these steel scour pads.
• Before this next step, turn off the gas supply. You can also detach the gas tank. Then, clean anything covering the burners. If it’s easier, remove any metal heat tents, ceramic briquettes, or lava stones that cover the burners. Brush them clean with water and a scour pad. You can add a mild soap to the water if needed.
• Now it’s time to clean the burner tubes and make sure all the gas ports are clean and open. To do this, use a dry wire brush. Clean the tubes by brushing side-to-side. Brushing up-and-down may push debris into the ports.
• Don’t forget to check out your burner hoods. If there’s any grease build up, clean with hot soapy water and a scour pad. Your burner hoods are there to prevent any flare-ups by protecting the burners from grease. You shouldn’t have to clean this often, but don’t forget to check on it!
• Just like a charcoal grill, use your stiff-wire brush or scour pad to clean the inside with warm soapy water. For cleaning the outside of your gas grill, refer to the manual on proper exterior cleaning.
And to make sure that your grill stays in tip-top shape, it’s always best to protect it with a grill cover when it’s not in use!
Pellet grills are trending like crazy right now. Everyone wants a Traeger and if you’re following the hype, read on to find out how to properly clean it!