Is Cleaning a Barbecue Grill With High Heat Enough?

Spring and summer are well-known grilling seasons, and they bring opportunities for dining on delicious barbecued foods and enjoying friends and family in your backyard or garden. Whatever the season, keeping the taste of food amazing requires more than cooking skills.

For many people, the drawback of using a gas or charcoal barbecue grill is the cleaning it requires. Some experts say one way to clean a grill is with heat, but is that enough to get the job done? Do you need detergents or a cleaner to help out, too?

The truth is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no. Stainless steel grills or cast iron grills can reach scorching hot temperatures, so it’s easy to see how heat may clean the steel burners and grill grates or racks. We have compiled a helpful guide below to give you all the top ways you’ll need to care for and prepare your equipment for the upcoming grill season.

Cleaning a Grill With Heat

Allowing your grill to sit for weeks or months with exposure to outside elements and without a proper cleaning means the equipment could contain everything from mould to old grease, carbon buildup, gunk, and leftover food bits.

You may have heard of the idea or the benefit that you should preheat your grill for up to 30 minutes before cooking since heat makes it easier to clean bbq grills that have caked-on charred substances or bits.

You may not know that searing meat in high heat creates potentially harmful chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These chemicals don’t set in immediately after preparing food on a propane grill or char broil grill, but they can develop if you leave the burned food residue on the dirty grill grates for several months outside.

Merely setting the barbecue to high heat before cooking affects only the materials on the heated grate. The smoke from the burning char could release PAHs into the air. So it’s safer to clean the grates and the rest of the grill manually outside.

One argument people use to defend using high heat to clean a barbecue is that the flames will eliminate bacteria. Their cleaning method often involves heating the grill for 15 to 30 minutes at a top temperature of 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, the high-heat treatment only affects the metal or steel grate. In the end, most of the bacteria in the barbecue are in the bottom of the grill, not where you cook the food.

The Proper Cleaning Process for a Barbecue Grill

Cleaning a Gas Grill

If you have a gas barbecue grill, the first step of the cleaning process is to disconnect the equipment from the propane or gas line for safety. Then, follow these steps while the grills heat is warm:

  1. Prepare a bucket of warm soapy water using dish detergent. You don’t need to use a special grill cleaning solution.
  2. Put on work gloves and separate all steel parts of the grill, including the bars, burner tubes, cooking grates and metal plates.
  3. Scrub away all traces of fat from the grill clean and place its parts into the soapy water. Use some elbow grease (no pun intended) to scrub everything clean with a damp cloth or a soft brush. Wash everything at least twice.
  4. Dry all the grill parts by laying it on something elevated outside or clean cloth to absorb the moisture.
  5. Spray oil all over the grate’s cooking surfaces to prevent rusting.
  6. Reassemble the clean grill.
  7. Turn the grill on for 15 minutes to burn away any residue for a cleaned grill.

Cleaning a Charcoal Grill

Cleaning a charcoal grill is a similar process to maintaining a gas grill but with a few differences. It’s best to follow the deep-cleaning barbeque guide below at least once a year if you grill casually with charcoal—or more often if you use the equipment frequently.

Correctly cleaning charcoal grills is necessary to eliminate traces of harmful carbon and ash.

Here’s how to get the job done:

  1. Remove the grate from the grill, if possible.
  2. Clean the grill’s grate with a stiff-wire grill brush or a dense wadded-up ball of aluminum foil. Use soapy water made with dish detergent, then rinse thoroughly.
  3. After the grate is dry, apply a layer of vegetable oil onto both sides of the grate using a cloth or paper towels. The oil will prevent rust and stop food from sticking to the metal.
  4. Get rid of leftover ash from the bottom of the grill. Ash buildup affects temperature control while cooking because the material blocks the vents on the bottom of the grill.
  5. Use mild soap and a grill brush to clean the inside of the barbecue grill and its lid.
  6. Wipe away remaining debris and grime from the charcoal grate with a ball of aluminum foil. Rinse the grills clean.
  7. Towel everything dry, replace the grate, and cover the grill until its next use, to prevent rust or corrosion. Weather-resistant grill covers are ideal for storing barbecue grills outdoors.

Regardless of which cleaning grill method, it is best to execute this task outside to minimize the mess within the home.

Some grill brushes contain sturdy wires or bristles and scrapers that will remove cooked-on materials from the grill. Learn more about top tips for barbecue grill brush safety here.

Tips for Cleaning Different BBQ Grill Parts

Hot Plates

Hot plates are flat surfaces used in place of grates. It’s best to clean them after cooking while the metal is still hot and easier to scrape down.

First, take all the food off the hot plate or heating element and let the heat from the barbecue burn off whatever remains on it. Then, use a metal spatula or a tight ball of aluminum foil to scrape the residue off the plate. Wipe any residue away with a cloth. Finish the job by covering the hot plate with some oil and removing the excess with a microfiber cloth

If the plate is too greasy before cleaning due to marinades and sauces, let the grill stay hot for several minutes, then scrape away the residue or coating. Next, turn off the heat and sprinkle a liberal amount of salt on the hot plate to absorb the grease. After the barbecue cools, wipe and clean the surface with a paper towel or clean sponge.

Drip Tray

Cleaning the drip tray can be tough, but it’s best not to wait longer than five grilling sessions to clean it because of potential grill flare ups. The coating of old grease is a fire hazard.

Drip-tray cleaning usually requires an overnight soak in warm, soapy water and plenty of scrubbing using a sturdy nylon brush. You can save yourself time and effort by covering a clean drip tray in aluminum foil and putting a small layer of sand at the bottom of the tray. The sand will soak up most if not all of the grease that drips into it, and the foil will protect the drip tray itself. Alternatively, you can use steam or a combination of vinegar and baking soda to lift off all the grease from the steel surface. Consider using a wire brush to remove anything else stuck to the grill.

It’s not enough to clean a gas grills or charcoal grills with heat alone, so consider receiving top BBQ cleaning service by Brilho Luxury Cleaning & Services to get your grill and griddle clean and ready to use. Call our experts at 416-923-3300 or email [email protected] to learn more about our service and schedule an appointment with us today. We guarantee exceptional results with our method.