Everyone loves the indoor grill. It’s opened up culinary possibilities year round that we thought were confined to the warmer weather and just made cooking in general a lot more fun. The fact that most indoor grills sit at a slight incline also means that a lot of that nasty grease that used to either drip down onto the coals and set off a smoke-fest in your yard or stay put next to your cut of meat and find its way to your plate now runs off the grill surface and out of your life.
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Until that is, you have to clean the grill. And cleaning your indoor grill is something you will definitely have to do on a regular basis if you want it to last and continue to generate delicious, healthy meals for you and your family.
The Lowdown on Cleaning Your Indoor Grill
Just about every indoor grill in existence claims to be non-stick but it’s best if you take a wait and see attitude when it comes to such claims. While some in fact do a great job of letting go of whatever they come in contact with others develop attachments that require your intervention to break up. That said, even the slickest grills will still need to be cleaned because there’s the little matter of all that grease and all those juices that slid off the surface and (temporarily) out of sight. So, while the particulars of the cleaning process may vary a bit from grill to grill there’s no getting around the fact that every indoor grill needs to be cleaned. Here’s how we’re going to do that.
Cleaning Removable Grill Plates
Every make and model of indoor grill comes with either removable grill plates or non-removable grill plates. Some have both. First we’re going to look at cleaning the removable grill plates before we move on to their less portable cousins. Here are the recommended steps for cleaning removable grill plates on your indoor grill.
● Fill the sink with hot, soapy water – Do this first so it’s ready once you’ve removed the grill plates from your indoor grill.
● Unplug the grill and let it cool – This should go without saying but you’d be surprised by how many people injure themselves every year trying to clean their indoor grills before they completely cool down.
● Use an oven mitt if you’re in a hurry – For those people who simply can’t wait for the grill to cool down completely make sure you use an oven mitt to grab any removable plates. In fact if there’s ever any doubt, use an oven mitt to handle grill plates.
● Submerge the plates in the sink – Now’s the time to put that sink full of hot, soapy water to use. Take the plates directly to the sink and submerge them. Let the plates sit in the water for a few minutes in order to loosen any debris stuck to them.
● Clean with a non-abrasive sponge – Make sure you use a non-abrasive sponge to clean your grill plates. Using a scouring pad will destroy any non-stick surface just as surely as it would destroy the surface of your Teflon frying pan. So use a soft sponge and clean the grills thoroughly, then set them aside and let them dry.
● If there are no other plates associated with your indoor grill put the clean plate(s) back on the grill and close it.
Cleaning Non-Removable Grill Plates
Now that we’re up to speed on the conventional way to clean removable grill plates on an indoor grill it’s time to look at those pesky non-removable plates. These typically involve a bit more work than the removable plates. Exactly how much more depends on exactly how non-stick your indoor grill actually is. In order to make this process as easy and effective as possible we’re going to institute a few simple hacks that will give us a head start on cleaning the surface. Make sure you follow all the instructions carefully and never, repeat never, attempt any of them when the grill surface is still hot. That said, here are 3 ways to clean the non-removable plates on your indoor grill.
1) The Aluminum Foil Hack – No doubt anyone who’s spent any time grilling outdoors will recognize this hack but that doesn’t in any way reduce its effectiveness. Its beauty is not that it makes your indoor grill more attractive, it doesn’t. No, its beauty lies in its simplicity. Simply take a single sheet of aluminum foil and lay it across the grill surface prior to turning the grill on. You can mold it to the ridges in the grilling surface if your indoor grill has ridges. If your indoor grill has an active upper grill layer that you roll back and use as a second grill surface then cover that too. When you’ve finished grilling just remove the meat or vegetables or whatever, unplug the grill and allow it to cool off. Once it has fold the aluminum foil in on itself from the edges toward the center in order to make sure no fat or other cooking debris drips out onto the grill (or your countertop or floor) and discard it. Cleaning your grill surface now should be easy as pie. Just use a soft, damp sponge and a wee bit of mild soap. If there’s a downside to the aluminum foil hack it’s that by placing aluminum foil over the grill ridges (if your grill has them, not all do) you won’t get those nifty grill lines on your salmon steak or cheeseburger. If you can live with that indignity then the aluminum foil hack is for you.
2) The Moist Paper Towel Hack – This one is a little bit trickier than the aluminum foil hack but will also help speed the process of cleaning up your non-removable grill surface. The most important thing here is to wait until the surface has cooled down to the point where it’s warm. At that point take a few damp paper towels and layer them on the grill surface then close the grill (or place the lid on the grill). You’re going to have to make sure the surface is neither hot nor cold in order for this to work effectively. Too hot and you’ve got a fire hazard, too cold and the paper towels will just lay there swimming in cold grease. After you’ve laid the paper towels on the warm grill surface go and enjoy your meal. The paper towels will soak up the grease and other fatty residue while you enjoy your dinner. Later, when it’s time to clean up simply remove the paper towels and voila! Your grill will be ready to clean with a damp sponge and some mild dish soap. Keep in mind that even if it looks like the grill is clean after you remove the paper towels it’s not really. You’ll still need to give it a few swipes with the damp sponge and dish soap to remove the last of the grime.
Important: We assume you understand that water and electricity don’t mix but we’re going to make the following point anyway just in case you forgot. Your indoor grill is an electric appliance. Wet paper towels are, well, wet. As such do not ever place wet paper towels on your grill until you’ve unplugged it.
3) A Little Bit of Water Goes a Long Way – This is the least involved of the three hacks but it can still be mightily effective. Once you’ve finished cooking unplug the grill then spray it with a bit of water while the surface is still warm. Keep one of those spray bottles they sell for plants in the kitchen for just this reason. Once the surface has completely cooled simply wipe down the plate with some damp paper towels. This will remove most of the debris easily. Then all you need to do is give the surface a quick once over with the sponge and a wee bit of soapy water and you’re done.
The Grease Tray
It’s likely your indoor grill came with a tray to catch greasy runoff from the cooking process. This tray is an essential component of the indoor grill but one that sometimes gets overlooked during cleaning. Most of the time they’re easy to clean by simply removing them once they’ve cooled and placing them in the sink with the hot soapy water. Just make sure you remove any fat or other byproducts of the cooking process from the tray and dispose of them properly before placing the grease tray in the sink. If you don’t all that wonderful fat is going to wind up clinging to the inside of your pipes from where it will come back to haunt you in the future.
One More Thing
When it comes time to clean your indoor grill don’t forget to give some love to the outside. Remember these types of grills aren’t designed to be put in the dishwasher or dropped into that sink full of soapy water. You have to clean them the old fashioned way. In most cases a simple damp towel or damp paper towels will do. Just wipe off the day’s dirt and dust and dry it off to prevent water spots. And as always remember to unplug your grill before cleaning it.
The indoor grill has made eating a lot more exciting and enjoyable and opened up culinary possibilities that were previously outside our grasp. Show your indoor grill you appreciate it by making sure you clean it thoroughly after every use.