If your grill grates are covered in marinade splatter, burger grease and charred leftover chunks from last week's cookout, a good cleaning will not only help your barbecue function better but improve the flavor of your food as well. The most common grate materials are porcelain-coated, stainless steel, and cast iron.
Porcelain-coated grates are rust-resistant, but the coating has a nasty habit of chipping away over time. This can expose the metal underneath and may result in a rusty grilling surface.
Stainless steel grates tend to be the most affordable and are fairly resistant to rust. If you don't keep up with maintenance, this material can lose much of its non-stick abilities with regular use.
Cast iron grill grates are very durable and known to generate the most even cooking surface. If your cooktop has too much of an imbalance in temperature, you end up with food that is cooked unevenly, which can undermine your dish as well as your health. Similar to cast iron cookware, cast iron grates require a lot of upkeep and should not be exposed to a lot of moisture.
Most of the time, your standard dish soap just isn't strong enough to properly clean your grates, especially if you've neglected them all winter long. Many online tips insist the best way to clean grill grates is with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda, but that can take up to an hour to start working. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, avoid using cleaning products with harsh chemicals when cleaning your grill, as they can leave behind a toxic residue that can end up on your food.
Simple Green Heavy-Duty BBQ & Grill Cleaner is a fast-acting formula that removes baked-on grease, food and carbon deposits from your grill and grill grates. Its powerful, clean-rinsing and biodegradable* formula leaves surfaces residue-free, giving you peace of mind for your next cookout.
Your choice of cleaning tool is important as well, as wire brushes have filaments which can become dislodged and wind up on the grill (and, even worse, in your food), and steel wool can scratch surfaces such as stainless steel and porcelain. For safest results, use a bristle-free or stiff nylon grill brush to clean your grill and grill grates.
You should clean your gas grill grates or your charcoal grates after each use, and do a deeper cleaning at the beginning and end of each barbecuing season.