Cooking on the grill is a fabulous way to bring out the best flavor in your meats, veggies and even pizzas or cornbread. It cuts down on the dishes that can pile up when you roast or bake in your kitchen oven. But the grates need a little attention after you've removed the last tasty bites from the grill and the dishwasher isn't always the safest bet.
Safe and Sanitary
If your grates are metal and an appropriate size to fit, the dishwasher offers an ideal environment to get rid of those stubborn stains, smoky layers of fat and seared bits of meat or vegetable flesh. But it's not a good idea to take them directly from the grill to the dishwasher.
How to Wash Your Grill Grates in the Dishwasher
First, turn on the grill to high if it's a gas grill and burn off as much of the edible debris as you can in about 15 minutes. Once they are cool, give your grates a rub down with warm water and a non-citrus based soap before you plop them in the basket of your dishwasher for a sanitizing spin. Large pieces of greasy or sooty food can cause problems in your dishwasher's plumbing. If the grill grates are too tall, you can take out the top basket from your dishwasher by following the manufacturer's instructions. Most dishwasher baskets are easily removed by either taking off the front tabs or lifting the back end of the basket off of the tracks and pulling it away from the tub.
When the Dishwasher Won’t Do
Cast iron or specific equipment, such as Weber's Flavorizer bars that work best when seasoned, should never go in a dishwasher. The rough spray, hot water and high drying heat can damage the surface and reduce your grilling enjoyment. When it simply is not a good idea to clean your grates in the turbulent and heated environment of a standard dishwasher, you can get your grill grates back to near sparkling with a little elbow grease and a food-grade friendly cleaner.
First, scrub the grates from both sides to remove stuck-on food and char. Use a wire brush or one recommended by the manufacturer if your grates are specially treated. For a simple cleaning solution that is safe for food areas, fill a 32-ounce spray bottle halfway with vinegar and top it off with hot water. A few drops of essential oil can assist in scrubbing action, but that is optional. Sprinkling the grates with baking powder before you spray any cleaner on them can also help to eliminate fish or other stubborn odors. Leave them out to air dry for a few hours before starting up the grill.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.