One Unexpected Vegetable Will Make Cleaning Your Grill Much Easier

When you think of a perfectly charred and constructed burger, you may imagine what it consists of: an all-Angus beef patty, fresh lettuce, melted cheese, toasted sesame buns, and residual brass wires from a grill brush. Okay, the last one may not be our preferred topping of choice, but unfortunately, these wiry bristles are more common in grilled foods than you think. 

In 2012, following a series of increased incidents of wire bristle consumption, Sen. Chuck Schumer requested a federal review by the FDA and the CPSC to evaluate the safety of grill brushes, per ABC News. If ingested, these bristles can remain in the digestive tract and possibly puncture the intestines, leading to bodily infection. One woman even required surgery to remove the foreign object, reports ABC7

However, despite the eventual federal approval of grill brushes, the threat of physical harm remains, especially with chemical cleaners. Poison Control states that high-alkaline cleaners, resting at a near 14 on the pH scale, are used to break through heavy layers of grease and build-up. These products can create deep-tissue burns and swelling of the throat and mouth if ingested or handled inaccurately. 

Luckily, natural home remedies can help clean your grill without fear of hospital visits or chemical burns — and they may already be on top of your burger. 

Onions are a natural way to clean and shine grills

Onions are an excellent and cheap tool to use when cleaning and polishing an outdoor grill. Because of their high acidity levels and water composition, they can safely remove grime and grub, explains Southern Living.

"Onions are acidic and will pick up the grease that's left behind, as well as any small specks of dirt and carbon," Dan Cooper, Weber Head Grill Master, said to Delish. "I use this method regularly, and it really helps keep my cooking grates in good shape."

The bigger the onion, the higher the heat — and the better results. Before slicing a large onion in half (it doesn't matter which kind), it is recommended to preheat the grill to a high-heat setting to loosen hardened grease. Then, with moderate pressure, scrub the onion along the grate to cleanse it of burnt-on remnants. They're also great for cleaning rust off cutlery and can add extra flavor to future grilling ventures. 

Surprisingly, onions are also fantastic bug repellents. While cleaning with half of one onion, SF Gate suggests blending the other half with fresh garlic before mixing it with water in a spray bottle. This will ensure that those flying pests stay away from your food. 

Other non-toxic agents that make cleaning a breeze

If onions are unavailable, lemons can also work as a non-toxic grill or oven cleaner. For the grill, add a bit of salt before placing the lemon on the hot grates to aid in lifting residual food. If you're using the oven for baking burgers, lemons and water can work wonders on the dirt and grease left on your oven racks. 

However, if your arms are tired from flipping patties and you don't feel like cleaning, baking soda and white vinegar can be used as a non-scrubbing method. Arm & Hammer suggests placing the cooled-off grates in a large bag with a baking soda and vinegar mixture before sealing it and soaking it overnight. Then, spray off the grates in the morning and use a sponge to remove any remaining grime. 

Lastly, oiling grates with a potato before grilling works as a great preventative method. Good Housekeeping reports that potatoes work best to keep fragile foods from sticking to heated grates because of the starch inside. As with onions, rub the potato on the grill after heating (but before cooking) to grease the surface and make it non-stick. 

Whatever method you use, cleaning your grill is essential. According to BBQ Island Inc., if charred foods remain on grates without being scraped off, they can become carcinogenic or cause grease fires over time.