Last year, during the first wave of pandemic depression (like I can even keep track of how many waves of pandemic depression there has been), I decided it would be a good idea to get a grill. The one I had hadn’t been used for several years and it sat outside, in the elements, uncovered, and was becoming more of a Petrie dish for rust and other kinds of natural growths.
So I bought a new grill and decided that I wouldn’t let this shiny new grill become another growth experiment. I bought a cover, special grill cleaner, and watched many videos on YouTube from the manufacturer about how to best upkeep my grill. I bought their suggested grate brush and scrubbed the grates down before and after each grill session.
So with the end of Summer and the unofficial end of “Grilling Season” I thought it would be good to give the grill a deep cleaning before putting it to rest for a long Winter nap. This has been a ritual I’ve done each season end. Do you know what I’ve learned in over a year of grill ownership? You can’t ever get the grill truly, perfectly, sparkling clean. It’s best to not drive yourself to madness over it.
Don’t get me wrong, the inside you can get clean. Soapy water, a little steel wool, a paint spatula to scrape the grease away. That’s easy. But it’s parts of the outside you can never get truly clean. Mysterious little spots and marks that appear which you can never really figure out if they’re from water, grease splatter, or if animals are seeking up into the grill cover at night and throwing a rave.
There’s one kind of spot on the side tables, which is stainless steel so I know it’s not rust, but it looks like rust. I can’t tell what it is. It’s that sort of rusty orange color, but it looks like grease at the same time. Yet, despite its greasy appearance, it doesn’t feel or wipe away like grease. It drives me crazy and has become the bane of my cleaning existence. I can get it mostly cleaned off, then new spots appear every time after I take the cover back off the grill.
They move around too, on Labor Day I found one inside the grill hood. I still have no clue what it is. I fear to think it’s some kind of vermin crawling around all over my nice grill grates, but then again there’s a reason I crank the hotbox too high and let it come up to around 600 degrees for 10 minutes before I even think about cooking on it. Paranoid hygiene is my new flex and the name of a Punk Band I was in during High School.
So I decided before the grill was put up for the season I would really go after these mystery spots. I began by skipping the stainless steel cleaner and hit it with Soft Scrub, then Bar Keeper’s Friend, then Mrs. Meyer’s Multi-Surface Spray. It worked OK, but getting this grill completely clean was my new mission in life. My obsession. My white whale. It was time to step up.
A controlled burn was the only solution left. A took a small bit of isopropyl alcohol and splashed it on the stains, then I dropped a lit match and stood by with a fire extinguisher in my hands. It’s important to let people around you know that a controlled burn is about to take place, just in case something would go awry, so that’s why I yelled loudly “I am the god of hellfire!” Then I sang all of “Fire” by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.
The controlled burn did not work. It just made the stain worse and I got a VERY stern talking to from the fire commissioner. Yet, I remain undaunted, I am already scheming for how I will tackle the stain next year before grilling season starts up again. Acid. Acid should do it? Or it will turn me into Two-Face. A cliffhanger! See you next week.