You've been cleaning your grill all wrong

If you are among the contingency that doesn't get fired up to eat leftovers, then you probably want to keep your outdoor grill spick and span or risk the possibility of eating the charred remnants of meals past. Yuck, right? Well, if that isn't motivation enough to apply a little bit of elbow grease to keep this outdoor appliance clean, then perhaps knowing those burned bits are potentially bad for your health – they contain chemicals linked with increased rates of cancer, per The Conversation – will get you motivated. The rule of thumb is: clean your grill after each meal so you don't have grimy, greasy, gross grates when you are ready to cook your perfectly seared meats and vegetables (via The Spruce). 

Keeping your grill clean will also prolong its life. In fact, did you know that Americans tend to get rid of our grills approximately every three years, but they are supposed to last anywhere from 5 to 15 years (via The BBQ Depot)? That's madness! Maintaining your grill and keeping it clean will help eliminate this waste. But what if we told you that part of the problem is you've been cleaning your grill wrong? Instead of reaching for the bristly grill scraper or some chemical cleaner that smells bad, there's a really easy way to do this that involves nothing more than a food wrapping you probably have stashed in a kitchen drawer. What is it?

Use aluminum foil to clean your grill

Aluminum foil can be used on a regular basis to scour the grates of your grill and keep them clean. It's really simple, too. Tear a sheet foil from your roll, ball it up, and start scrubbing all those burnt pieces of food wrapped around the grates. SF Gate compares it to cleaning with steel wool. The site suggests wearing work gloves to handle the aluminum while Reynolds Kitchens recommends using tongs.

If you haven't been cleaning your grill on a regular basis and the grease and charred food build-up have accumulated, there's also another way to approach cleaning your outdoor appliance with foil that mimics a self-cleaning oven. Cover the grates with a sheet or two of foil and turn your grill on high. Close the cover and keep the heat going for about 25 minutes. The intense heat will burn off all the caked-on, burnt-on food and grease, leaving ashes in its place. After the grill has had time to cool off, use heat-proof oven mitts or tongs to take the foil off the grates. Now all you need to do is brush off the grill, and you are ready to cook again. Afterward, while the grates are still warm, you can use a balled-up piece of foil to clean them again, making sure to shield your hands with gloves or mitts.