Grilling season means different things to different people: burgers, steaks, hotdogs, barbecuing, and even grilled vegetables. With great grilling comes great responsibility. Cleaning a grill can be tiring, troublesome, and time-consuming. To make matters worse, the way that most people clean their grills is coming under fire. As it turns out, wire grill brushes can be hazardous.
The Dangers of Wire Grill Brushes
Several years ago, a patient came into the emergency room complaining of abdominal pain. He assumed he had appendicitis, but what he found out was shocking. It turns out that he had 1 ½ inches of metal in his guts, and it had pierced his large intestine. Apparently, when he cleaned his grill, a piece of his wire brush came loose during routine grill cleaning. When he later cooked a steak, that piece of wire made its way into his steak, and into his digestive system.
This was not the first, nor will this be the last, instance of a life-threatening medical emergency as a result of loosened wires from grill brushes. If you choose to use a wire brush to clean your grill, it is essential to inspect the grill before preparing food on it. There are, however, many alternatives to the traditional wire brush, and many of them actually do a better job of cleaning stuck-on food off of your grill grate.
There are many natural products that you can use to get your grill grates looking as good as new. The key to this natural method of cleaning is acidity. Any food product with a high acid content should be able to clean your grill thoroughly. For example, you can soak your grill grates in a shallow pan of hot coffee for an hour and then wipe them down. The acid in coffee works to break down the grease and grime that is stuck on the grate.
People have also had success using acidic fruits and vegetables to clean their grill grates. First, you need to heat your grill as hot as you can. Then, take any of the following fruits or vegetables, cut them in half, and rub them up and down the grill grates before doing a final wipedown:
Be sure to handle your fruit or vegetable and wipe with a pair of long-handled tongs to avoid burning yourself.
A ball of aluminum foil has all the abrasiveness of a wire grill brush without the danger of having wires that can become loose. After heating your grill on high, you can take a ball of aluminum foil, grasp it with long-handled tongs, and scrape as you would with a wire brush. If you’re worried about wasting expensive aluminum foil, you can always use the same piece of aluminum foil that you used to cook your food, to clean your grate.
Let It Burn
If you’re all about quick and easy methods, you will love this method for cleaning your grill. Simply crank your grill up as high as it goes and let it burn for about an hour. This should be sufficient enough to burn all of the debris off of your grill grates. However, this method takes a bit longer than the more hands-on approach and is sort of wasteful when it comes to using fuel.
For a more conventional cleaning approach, look for nylon-based scouring pads in the store. Of course, stay away from scouring pads made from wires, as these are just as dangerous as wire grill brushes. You can combine this method with any one of the above methods for an extra-clean grill.
Occasionally, you may want to clean your grill more thoroughly than usual. This might mean purchasing a chemical cleaner that is specifically formulated for grills. You can use this in conjunction with your wire-free scouring pad to get your grill looking as good as new.
While all the above methods should guarantee a sufficiently clean grill, you might want to consider taking preventative measures when it comes to the cleanliness of your grill grates. When possible, use foil pouches to house any food that might make an extraordinary mess. You can also brush cooking oil, preferably olive oil or canola oil, onto your grill grates before cooking. This will prevent most foods from sticking.