With one of the hottest summers on record winding down, the #1 grilling hack of 2023 is to wait until cooler weather in the fall to start your serious grilling. Even fall weather in some areas of the south are still hot, but not as hot as the summer.
When you do need to grill in hot weather, stay cool by using a misting stand fan in front of the grill. Mist from the nozzles on this type of stand fan evaporates quickly, drawing heat out of the air in front of the grill so you stay cooler. You will get wet while you grill, but you’ll stay a lot cooler.
Use a Lemon or Onion to Clean Grill Grates
Instead of using a wire brush to clean grill grates, dip the cut side of a halved lemon into salt (try Kosher salt for its coarseness) and then push it across hot grill grates with a long-handled grill fork. Granted, it won’t clean caked on residue as well as a wire brush. But it won’t leave broken wire bristles anywhere on the grates either. The lemon will get enough residue off the top of the grates to provide you with a sanitary cooking surface.
You can also fork half an onion and slide it across a hot grill to get the grates reasonably clean. Either method is low on effort, cost and environmental impact, so you can feel good about getting your grates ready for your next cookout.
Burn off Excess Food Deposits after Every Grilling Session
To make the lemon or onion cleaning hack more successful, don’t shut down your gas grill immediately after the last burger’s been flame-grilled to perfection. Instead, turn the grill up for a few minutes to burn off any excess food.
Reuse the lemon or onion that you used before grilling to help remove residue. You can also use a long handled grill brush to help remove stubborn food deposits from the grill grates.
Clean Your Grill with Vinegar and Water
You may already be using vinegar and water as an indoor cleaning solution, but don’t stop there — it’s equally effective on stubborn grill grates. The secret behind how to clean grill grates with vinegar couldn’t be easier. Simply combine equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray on every part of a cool grill.
Be sure to blast the inside and outside of the hood, the grates, beneath the grates, etc. Briefly let the vinegar solution sit, then wipe the outside with a heavy-duty sponge or towel and the grates with a grill brush.
Soak Your Grill Grates
While it’s best to give your grill a light cleaning after every use, it’s also important to do a seasonal deep cleaning at least twice a year. If you’re in a climate where year-round outdoor cooking is a pipe dream (or requires multiple layers of clothing), plan to give your grill a deep-cleaning at the end of the fall grilling season and then again when it’s time to fire things up in spring.
Soaking the grates allows time to do the scrubbing work for you. Options for soaking include: vinegar and water, or baking soda and water. Tall construction buckets work well for this task, and the dirtier the grill, the longer the soak.
Use a Magic Eraser on Your Grill
When all else fails, use a Magic Eraser, preferably the extra durable kind. It’s not actually magic how the white squared-off sponge works. The scientific reason behind the melamine foam’s magic has to do with the substance’s chemical structure.
Melamine foam has a very hard microstructure, giving it its highly abrasive quality, while it also has an open-cell structure, allowing it to act more like a traditional dirt-soaking sponge. The way it works aside, it works. And while grill grates themselves should be able to withstand Magic Eraser’s tough love, do a spot test on the exterior and interior of your grill to make sure it won’t scratch or mar the finish.
Upgrade Your Grill
Don’t wait until your grill is absolutely on its last leg before you look for a new grill. When your current grill is getting harder to clean or when grates, burners or flame tamers begin to deteriorate, liven up your back yard with a new grill.
Lots of new grill models are available in 2023. Find one that best fits your need and your grilling style. With the inspiration you get from having a new grill, you’ll be able to develop your own new hacks for 2024.