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Using ketchup to clean your RV’s BBQ grill, plus other tips to keep it like new

Everyone loves to use it, but very few of us like to clean it. What is it? A BBQ grill. This trusty workhorse helps RVers enjoy yummy burgers, steaks, and hotdogs all season long. And that’s exactly why we all need some tips, tricks, and hacks to easily clean your RV’s BBQ grill.

Clean grills are good grills

Even a top grill master can have trouble cooking on a dirty gas grill. Excess carbon deposits, burned-on food, and grease buildup all can cause a grill to heat unevenly. And no one wants to taste last night’s grilled fish when they bite into today’s veggie shish-ka-bobs.

Experts advise that grill owners thoroughly clean their propane grills at least twice a year. (Clean even more often if you notice grime building up on your grill grates.) The first cleaning should happen before you grill the first burger of the grilling season. If your grill has spent the winter in the RV’s basement, it might have cobwebs, dust, and even mouse droppings inside. Nobody wants that kind of “seasoning” on their meat, so get it cleaned up!

About halfway through the grilling season, experts recommend that users once again clean their grill (if needed). Finally, once grilling season comes to an end, you’ll want to give the grill a thorough scrubbing. That way insects and vermin can’t snack on any “summer leftovers” that may be stuck to the grates, sides, or bottom of your grill.

Clean up that grill! Here are some tips and hacks to help you do just that!

Quick and easy grill cleaning tips

Interior

  1. Steam it off. Pour water into a metal baking pan. Place the pan inside your grill and heat until the water comes to a boil. Then turn off the burners and close the grill lid. Leave the grill closed for about 20 minutes. The steam should help loosen spills and any carbon deposit buildup inside the unit.
  2. Disconnect the gas. Then, use a wire brush to quickly clean the grill grates. (Use grill gloves if grates are too hot to handle.) A putty knife or stiff, metal spatula will remove food spills from the sides and bottom of the grill. Discard the solid residue by scraping it out of the grill and placing the “gunk” on several layers of newspaper. Fold up the mess and safely discard.
  3. Once solid residue has been removed from the grill, use Dawn dish detergent to soak removeable grill parts, like grates and burner shields or flame deflectors. A stiff brush should finish the job after a brief soak. The detergent will cut through residual grease and burned on food particles. Rinse thoroughly. Be sure to completely dry cast iron grates to prevent rusting.
  4. Check to make sure the grill burner holes are unobstructed. Use a brush to clean clogged holes. Then wipe everything down. Reconnect the gas and heat the grill for 15 minutes or so to eliminate any soap residue.

Rust

While there are many effective rust removers on the market, I hesitate to use them on our grill. I just don’t trust that I can rinse the chemicals off well enough. So, I use ketchup instead. I apply ketchup to any rust spots or rusted areas. After a 15-20 minute wait, remove the ketchup. Much, if not all, of the rust will be gone. (The acidic nature of ketchup does the job. No chemicals needed.)

Exterior

Grease, dirt, and grime will collect on the exterior of your grill, too. You can quickly clean it all away. (Disconnect the grill from the gas first.) Just add a few drops of dish detergent to a bucket of hot water. Then use a sponge to apply the soapy water to the exterior of your grill.

Note: Stainless steel grills can easily be scratched. Do not use coarse scrubbing pads, steel wool, or any other highly abrasive pad on the grill’s stainless surface.

Cleaning grill grates

Once the major grill cleaning is complete, you will occasionally need to clean the grill grates as the grilling season progresses. How often depends on what foods you are grilling. It’s best to remove gooey cheese and other sticky substances immediately. Here are some tips on ways to clean the grates.

  • Grill fork and onion. Cut an onion in half. Then use your long-handled grilling fork to rub the onion over the hot grates. Follow up with a stiff coil brush and any cooked-on food will disappear.
  • White vinegar. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water. Put the mixture into a spray bottle and use it to apply the solution to the grill grates. After about 30 minutes scrub the grates clean.
  • Coffee. Got leftover coffee in the coffee maker? While you heat the coffee to boiling, remove the grates from the grill. Pour the hot coffee over the grates and use crumpled aluminum foil to scrub the grates clean. (Acids in the coffee will break through grease and food residue.)
  • Dishwasher. If they’ll fit, you can clean your grill grates in the dishwasher. Afterwards, replace the grates and heat the grill for 15 minutes. This will ensure that no cleaning residue remains.
  • Baking soda. Make a paste of baking soda and water. Apply the paste to the grill grates and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Then use a wire brush to thoroughly clean the grates. Rinse well.
  • Lemon and salt. Halve a lemon. Dip the lemon half into salt and use it to scrub gunk off the grill grates. (This is most effective when the grates are still warm.) Rinse and you’re done.
  • Beer. Pour half a bottle of beer over warm grill grates. Use a coil brush to scrub off food and grease remnants.

Some cautions

In recent years, emergency rooms have had to deal with problems caused by metal grill brushes. The bristles in some brushes can come loose or break off. Then the bristle finds its way into the grilled food and a person unknowingly swallows it. Needless to say, an ingested piece of metal can cause severe pain and is dangerous.

If you choose to use a wire brush, be extra careful. Continually inspect the brush for any damage. Also carefully check places where you use the wire brush. Look for loose pieces that become stuck on the grill grates.



Alternatives to wire brushes

After biting into a wire bristle in my grilled hamburger last summer, we’ve stopped using wire grill brushes. Here are some alternative products we use instead.

  • Aluminum foil. You can crumple up a piece of aluminum foil and use it to clean your grill grates. This works best when the grill is still warm.
  • Coil brush. Check out this alternative. This non-bristle brush works really well!
  • Pumice stone. Don’t let the name fool you. It works well for cleaning stubborn residue on your grill grates, too. Remove the grates. Wet the pumice stone with water. Then use gentle pressure to rub the dirty area. Use a clean rag to wipe off the grate. If any residue remains, repeat the procedure. When clean, wipe the grate with a clean, soft rag.

Do you have any tips or tricks for cleaning your grill? Please share your ideas with us in the comments below.

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DW/ND
13 days ago

Try the new Dawn “Spray N Wash” – follow the directions: spray, let it work a few minutes, wipe with a paper towel, rinse! Amazing stuff! Frying pans etc, too – and no grease down the drain either!

William
13 days ago

While the grill is still hot, dip a stainless steel scrub pad in water and, using tongs, rub it on the hot grates. It cleans them like a champ.

Thom R
13 days ago

I am another charcoal lover. I’ve tried gas, went back to coal. The only downside is the occasional RV park that allows gas bbq but not charcoal. I always clean the grate before and after cooking. I buy stainless brushes from the welding supply store. Good price and they last.

Steve H
13 days ago

I put a 40-year old box of Brillo soap pads I found in garage into the basement of the MH. During my once a week use of the propane grill, I use a Brillo pad to clean it. It’ll take most of the summer to use them up!

Abby
13 days ago
Reply to  Steve H

My mom used Brillo all the time when we were kids. But we stopped using it when we discovered that it sheds and shreds hair-like pieces of metal on the dishes, grill, colander, etc. Quite unpleasant to find in your food.

Travis
13 days ago

I would never put my grill grate in a dishwasher. In fact I would never use soap on it in anyway. I have 20+ years of flavor build up on my grill grate why would I want to wash that away with soap. Scrape it and heat it up at high temp. Of course I don’t use a gas grill either. I only cook over fire.

Bob p
13 days ago

After cooking the food I’ve always increased the heat to high completely burning the food particles to ash, after it completely cools a simple brushing removes the ash and the heat has sanitized the grill.

Roger Worley
13 days ago

Wasn’t there an article last week or so that said quit using crumbled aluminum foil on grills?

Forest
13 days ago
Reply to  Roger Worley

Wow, I hope not, that’s what I do!

Tommy Molnar
13 days ago

Leftover coffee? Is that like leftover wine? Never heard of either one. 🙂

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