13 Reasons You Really Need to Do a Better Job Cleaning Your Grill

The smell of a backyard barbecue is an official sign that summer is here, and the grill masters are out in full force, marinating, trying out new recipes, and serving up delicious burgers, ribs, and grilled corn on the cob. But another thing they may unintentionally be serving up is bacteria, soot, and mold—all caused by improperly cleaning their grills. Whether you grill once a month or every night during the summer, cleaning your grill is one of the most important steps in extending its life and ensuring your own safety. Need more proof? Here are 13 reasons why you really need to do a better job cleaning your grill.

  1. Eliminate Built-up Carcinogens

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    Clean grill to eliminate carcinogens

    Even if you dutifully scrape your grill after each and every use, over time carcinogens can build up on the grates and be transferred to your food during the cooking process, which could pose health risks. One of the most effective ways to rid your grilled meals of carcinogens is to clean your grill, so be sure to scrub thoroughly after each use.

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  2. Clean Grills Have More Longevity

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    Clean grills to prolong longevity

    A grill can be a hefty investment, and if you fail to clean your grill regularly you could be buying a replacement sooner than you think. Routinely cleaning your grill will keep it in tiptop shape, guaranteeing that it will last years longer than if you let food particles, rust, or sauces sit without scrubbing them away.

    Related: 17 New Essentials for Your Best Ever BBQ

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  3. Prevent Bacteria from Contaminating Your Food

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    Clean grill to remove bacteria

    You wouldn’t cook food on a pan that you hadn’t washed, so why would you make a meal on a grill you hadn’t cleaned? A dirty grill attracts germs and bacteria—all of which can get onto your food and potentially make you sick.

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  4. Your Meat Will Taste Better

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    Clean grill tastes better

    There’s nothing like the taste of a freshly grilled burger—except when it has the remnants of the other night’s teriyaki porkchop marinade on it. Cleaning your grill will make your food taste better and eliminate any chance that your meals will come with funky tastes or smells.

    Related: 15 Pit Stops Every Barbecue Enthusiast Should Make

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  5. You Could be Attracting Pests

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    Clean grill to prevent pests

    A dark, private space filled with greasy leftovers and plenty of room to sleep is the perfect environment for many critters, including mice, rats, and even possums. Keep your grill sparkling clean and pests will be less likely to gather at your grill for food and shelter.

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  6. Your Grill Will Heat Up Faster

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    Clean grills heat faster

    If your grill is caked in food particles, sauces, or stuck-on debris, then it’s going to make things a little slower when you’re cooking. A clean grill will heat up evenly and cook things more efficiently than a dirty one.

    Related: Get Grilling! 10 Best Grills Under $100

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  7. Excess Grease Can Cause Flare Ups

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    Clean grill prevent flare ups

    When you’re grilling, the most important safety tip is to watch for flare ups, which could burn you or even cause a serious fire. Failing to clean your grill could cause excess grease to accumulate, which could, in turn, contribute to a flare up later on.

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  8. You Can Prevent Rust

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    Clean grill to prevent rust

    Rust is not just unsightly on a grill, but it can also be unsafe for you and your family if ingested. Keeping your grill squeaky clean can prevent rust from forming on the grates, warming rack or burners—thereby eliminating the risk of your food coming into contact with rust.

    Related: No Sweat: 7 Best BBQ Shortcuts

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  9. Prevent “Scale” from Getting on Your Food

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    Clean grill prevent scale

    Cleaning out your grill also means paying attention to all parts of the grill, not just the interior. Something called “scale,” a buildup of carbon and soot on the hood and sides, can leak into the inside and get on your food—not exactly appetizing or healthful.

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  10. Routine Cleaning Can Help You Spot Grill Damage

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    Clean grill to spot damage

    When you clean your grill it’s not only a chance to eliminate bacteria and germs, but it’s also a good opportunity to examine the entire appliance and ensure that everything is in working order. Having a grill cleaning routine will make you more attuned to things like a cracked gas line or a flaking grill plate, which you might not have otherwise noticed if you weren’t cleaning it out so regularly.

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  11. Prevent Mold Growth

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    Clean grill to prevent mold growth

    Mold thrives in moist environments and in places where food is nearby, which makes an uncleaned grill an ideal growing environment. Although food contaminated with mold won’t seriously injure you, it could definitely make you sick or give you an allergy attack.

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  12. Reduce Your Chances of Cross Contamination

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    Clean grill to reduce cross contamination

    Cross contamination is one of the leading causes of food poisoning, and it can be especially prevalent when you’re grilling. The best way to reduce your chances of cross contamination? Start out with a clean grill.

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  13. You Won’t Get those Coveted Grill Marks

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    Clean grill for grill marks

    Those coveted grill marks look pretty—and they also seal in all those delectable juices that we love so much. But don’t count on getting those if your grill is dirty: Filthy grill grates prevent meat from directly touching the surface, which means that a nice sear just isn’t going to happen.

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  14. See the Kitchen of the Week

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    Calling all cooks, renovators, and home connoisseurs: each week, we select an interesting, innovative, or inspiring design to serve up on a platter as our Kitchen of the Week—see this week's now!