Why You Might See Someone Rubbing Onions on Their Grill

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When it comes to the grill, the humble onion is right at home. Grilled onions taste amazing on burgers, hot dogs, or even just your average sandwich. But what if onions had a place in your grill cleaning routine, too? Hear us out for a sec, because this is a cleaning hack worth doing.

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According to a recent story by Southern Living, rubbing a halved onion (flat side down) on a hot grate will get rid of post-BBQ grit. You can also pierce the other side of the onion with a grilling fork for ease and safety. If you'd like, finish by spraying the grate with white vinegar or lemon juice to remove leftover bits. It sure beats using toxic grill cleaners on, you know, the actual surface you cook food on.

If you're not convinced, there are stock photos of the hack — like the image used in this article — so it's clearly a real method that people use. The Weather Network also shared this trick on their YouTube channel back in 2016.

How do onions actually clean the grill?

According to fans of the hack, the onion's juices create steam when placed on the heated grate. This helps dislodge charred pieces and residue. It's also said that the antibacterial properties of onion lend a hand. And while there's no solid scientific research proving its effectiveness, home cooks are all about this trick.

Natural grill cleaner alternatives:

If you're looking for other natural grill cleaners, onions aren't your only choice. Besides, this hack will only be fun if you actually ​like​ the smell of onions on the grill. Alternatives include baking soda or a homemade vinegar spray. Better yet, you can use both cleaners together. Between the abrasive texture of baking soda and the acidity of vinegar, the grime on your grill won't stand a chance.

Other ways to keep your grill clean:

In addition to using a non-toxic, eco-friendly grill cleaner, there are other ways to keep your grill in tip-top shape. Here are a few ideas:

  • Oil the grate before cooking food.
  • Regularly brush the grate with a grill brush as you cook.
  • Use a grill mat or aluminum foil, especially for sticky or small foods.
  • Wash the grate in the dishwasher.
  • Wash and scrub your burner protectors.

Of course, it's always a good idea to check your grill's maintenance manual for specific best practices. Happy grilling, friends!

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Kirsten Nunez is a writer and author who focuses on food, health, and DIY. In May 2014, she published a craft book, "Studs & Pearls: 30 Creative Projects for Customized Fashion." Her work has appeared on eHow, Martha Stewart, Shape, VegNews, and more. She lives in the Hudson Valley region of New York.