We’re about a week into summer and the aroma of neighborhood grills are filling the air. With the 4th of July coming up this weekend in the US, it’s a good idea to brush up on some grill safety tips.
Did you know that about 70% of the US grills out on the 4th of July? That’s a pretty crazy statistic. But on the flip side, July is also the biggest month for grill fires coming in at 18%.
However, don’t let that scare you from enjoying deliciously grilled food! I’ve got outdoor grill safety tips to ensure you’re ready for the biggest grilling weekend as well as set you up for every season.

How to Clean Your Grill

First things first when it comes to safety, you’ve got to clean your grill and clean it properly! Heating your grill up to burn off any excess food particles works but there’s a lot more to it than the “quick clean”. Truly cleaning your grill to ensure you can grill safely and so that your grill will last a long time without repairs involves just a few more steps.
Once you deep clean your grill thoroughly it’s pretty easy to keep it that way. But if it’s been a while, follow these tips to get back on track!

Charcoal Grill

There’re many types of grills, but charcoal probably involves the most clean up. To keep your charcoal grill in tip-top shape, you need to clean it after each use. If you live in an area where you put your grill away for the season, you’ll also need to deep clean before an after each grilling season.

After each use, your charcoal and ash gathers at the bottom of the grill. This must be cleaned after each used to ensure safety and better tasting food for your next grilling session.
• Once the charcoal has cooled, remove the brick, coals and ash with a brush and bucket. This one is a great option that also comes with a shovel for easier cleaning. Remember to wait for it to cool off completely since embers can hide in the ash. If you live in an area where you have off seasons from grilling, bring it inside to keep your fireplace clean as well! Besides cleaning, you can also use it to transport logs, coal, pellets and wood chips.
Pro tip: do not ever put out hot coals with water. This creates lye which causes chemical burns and corrodes metal. Same goes for when it’s raining!
• After you’ve cleaned out the bottom of the inside of your grill, it’s time to clean the grates. The fastest and most efficient way to clean the grates is with a wire brush and scrapper. This brush comes with the scraper attached for easier use! You can do this before heating the grill up, but most people find it easier to clean once the heat from the coals rises to remove food particles easier.
If you are nervous about any bristles getting in your food from the wire brush, you can always ball up aluminum foil and grasp it between tongs or use these steel scour pads.
• Once the grill is heating up and getting ready to go, put on heat-resistant gloves and grab a rag with vegetable oil. Coat the grates to clean them with oil and this will prevent rust and food build-up. If you don’t want to use oil, stick a half of an onion or orange on a long cooking fork and you can rub that against the grates as well! The natural astringent from the onion and orange will clean the grates and will add a nice flavor.
• For a deep clean of the inside, you’ll need hot water, a scour pad, and either a mild dish soap or mild degreaser. Spray out your grill with the hose to make sure all the ash is out. If you’re using dish soap just scrub out the grill and grates with the scour pad and gloves (it can be a pretty messy job). If you decide to use a degreaser, just make sure it’s food safe! Simple Green is a great one to use. Spray it on and leave it for about 20 minutes, then scrub with your scour pad. After cleaning, pour out your hot water.
To keep your grill in tip-top shape, be sure to use a grill cover. This Royal Gourmet charcoal grill comes with a cover included!

Gas Grill

Cleaning gas grills is similar to charcoal but not so involved after each use. Follow these steps to do a good deep clean for your gas grill!

• The most important thing to remember with gas grills is the grease pan. Clean out your grease pan after each used to avoid grease fires. If you forget to clean it out and let it overflow, you’ll be scrubbing out your grill and patio with a degreaser and nobody wants to be on their hands and knees on concrete, tile, wood, etc.
• Much like the charcoal, once the grill has cooled down enough (or as it’s heating up), it’s time to clean the grates. The easiest way to do with is with a stiff-wire brush but can also be done with balled up aluminum and tongs or scour pads.
Pro tip: to make your cleaning a little easier, turn the grill on high-heat for about 15 minutes then turn it off. Dip your brush in water and then clean the grates. Be sure not to lean over the grill though, as this will create hot steam.
• Once the grates have cooled, wipe the surface with a damp cloth to clean up any bristle or remaining residue. Again, if you are nervous about any bristles getting in your food from the wire brush, you can always ball up aluminum foil and grasp it between tongs or use these steel scour pads.
• Before this next step, turn off the gas supply. You can also detach the gas tank. Then, clean anything covering the burners. If it’s easier, remove any metal heat tents, ceramic briquettes, or lava stones that cover the burners. Brush them clean with water and a scour pad. You can add a mild soap to the water if needed.
• Now it’s time to clean the burner tubes and make sure all the gas ports are clean and open. To do this, use a dry wire brush. Clean the tubes by brushing side-to-side. Brushing up-and-down may push debris into the ports.
• Don’t forget to check out your burner hoods. If there’s any grease build up, clean with hot soapy water and a scour pad. Your burner hoods are there to prevent any flare-ups by protecting the burners from grease. You shouldn’t have to clean this often, but don’t forget to check on it!
• Just like a charcoal grill, use your stiff-wire brush or scour pad to clean the inside with warm soapy water. For cleaning the outside of your gas grill, refer to the manual on proper exterior cleaning.
And to make sure that your grill stays in tip-top shape, it’s always best to protect it with a grill cover when it’s not in use!

Pellet Grill

Pellet grills are trending like crazy right now. Everyone wants a Traeger and if you’re following the hype, read on to find out how to properly clean it!

• First and foremost, only start cleaning your pellet grill once it’s completely cooled.
• For the grates, be sure to clean them after each use. Pellet grills weren’t designed to get super hot so food debris ends up getting stuck and gummy. To clean them, remove them completely and either stick them in a bucket of soapy water or have a bucket of soapy water nearby. Take your stiff-wire brush or scour pad and scrub them clean.
• Remove the grease pans as well and scrub them clean as well. Grease build up leads to grease fires so be sure to clean these after each use. If there’s a lot of build up, you can use a paint scraper to get rid of most of it while the pan is still a little warm. But hot soapy water and scour pad should do the trick. Be sure to where gloves to protect your hands!
• After cleaning the grease pans do not forget the chute between the grease pan and collection bucket. Food debris can get lodged and this can cause a grill fire as well. Be sure to clean this out by using any nonmetallic tool. Wooden paint stirrers should do the trick and are extremely inexpensive.
Pro tip: don’t ever hose down your pellet grill. Wood pellets will expand when wet and this can cause auger jams.
Next, remove the chimney cap and clean the inside with a scrub brush. Just make sure it’s not metallic. A paint stirrer or even a toilet brush will do the trick!
After you burn through a few bags of pellets, it’s time to clean out the ash. Too much left over ash will keep your fresh pellets from igniting. The best way to do this is with a wet/dry vac. It may seem excessive, but it’s necessary for pellet grills. This plus side of this, is it could come in handy around the house if you ever need it! I found one here that’s fairly inexpensive and isn’t huge so it’s easily portable.
Wipe down all other parts with a damp cloth.
As always, don’t forget your grill cover!

Cooking Safely

One thing that you don’t want to run into this summer is food poisoning. Food poisoning cases usually spike in the summer, and some of this is due to cross contamination during grill season. To help you stay safe I’ve got a few tips.
• Separate your meats. Cuisin art makes great prep and serving trays. If you’re cooking chicken and beef, check out this two pack to keep them separated! You can also use aluminum trays as well to dispose after you’re done.
• Properly defrost your meats. I found this awesome defrosting tray that’s food-safe to help your frozen food defrost quickly and safely. It’s made with a high thermal conductive material that quickly and naturally transfers warmth evenly across the surface of your food.
• Wash your hands! After 2020 we all should know better by now.
• Don’t cross contaminate your marinades. After you’ve touched raw meat, throw it out.
• Use a meat thermometer. Nobody likes medium rare chicken and nobody wants to deal with the repercussions of it. A meat thermometer is inexpensive and will ensure you can safely serve food to your family and friends.

Hopefully these tips can help you prep your grill and cook on your grill more safely! If you have any questions or tips I left out feel free to drop a comment and let’s chat!
I hope you enjoy learning about the products we recommend! These products were independently selected by Haley’s Kitchen. Just so you know, as an Amazon affiliate, Haley’s Kitchen earns from qualifying purchases. Oh, and items are in stock as of time of publication unless noted otherwise!
Remember to be brave in trying new things and always cook with a dash of love!
Until next time,
Haley | Creator of Haley’s Kitchen

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  1. Hey, those are some good tips to remember. We were going to get the grill out for the 4th but we had a lot of rain.

    I’ll have to pass these along to my hubby. He does most of the grilling. We like to do a lot of that in the summer.

    Thanks, Connie

  2. These are great tips. I actually have three kinds of grills, though one is considered just a smoker. The charcoal, gas and smoker.
    Each will get gunk on the grates in different levels I’ve noticed. Meaning, the charcoal grill will often burn the food off after it’s done cooking. They’re not as difficult to clean because of this.

    With the gas, since it’s often turned off after the food is done, will be more difficult to clean.

    I used to use the wire brushes to clean all my grills, since you can scrape them while they’re hot. The only thing is, I watch too much TV and saw that someone had actually died from ingesting one of the wires from the brush. Apparently, it got into their food and caused the intestines to rip, leading to death by infection.

    So, I immediately went out and bought the plastic brush, and now only use that. The problem? You can’t clean the grill with this when it’s hot. It melts the plastic. But, at least I don’t have to worry over dying by some random act of weirdness.

    Thanks for sharing these tips! Love them!


    1. Hi Katrina,

      Unfortunately it’s pretty impossible to not get gunk on the grates. And I 100% understand your concerns, you’re definitely not alone! That’s why it is suggested that you wipe down your grates after you scrub them with a brush using wet paper towels or a wet cloth. I personally suggest the cloth so that you don’t leave behind any snagged paper towel. But to avoid using the brush, you should try a scour pad! It won’t melt like the plastic brush and avoids leaving behind any toxic bristles!

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