Why You Should Always Clean Your Grill With an Onion

Photo: Stocksy / Jayme Burrows
The food hack you're sure to use over and over again this summer is cleaning your grill with an onion. That's right. As grilling season heats up, there's an easier way to clean up post-barbecue that avoids the use of caustic grill cleaners and detergents.

With just a freshly halved onion, you can break down char and stuck-on gunk in seconds, without all the scrubbing and brushing. All you need is a white onion and a grilling fork. Follow these step-by-step directions on how to clean your grill with an onion, and other general tips to care for your grill all summer long.

How to clean your grill with an onion

1. Never use water directly on cast iron grates

Don't use water directly on cast iron grill grates—it can cause them to rust, which will hinder the success of future BBQs. Instead, stick to the onion hack (more on that below) or use a cast-iron friendly natural grill cleaner.

If you don't have cast-iron grates, water is okay, particularly for end-of-season deep cleanings. To do this, remove the grates and soak them in a tub of soapy water (or with a water-vinegar solution). You can also dip your grill brush in some water to help scrape away debris on the grates post-grill.

2. Use an onion to clean the grates

After you're done grilling, leave your grill on. Then, stick half of a white onion on the end of your grilling fork and scrub it face-down along the grates. The heat paired with the natural antibacterial properties of the onion will break down any stubborn char or sticky sauce. Remember: The grates should be hot, so use a fork or a pair of tongs to hold the onion (you don't want to burn your hands). And if food is really stuck, try using a natural acid, like lemon juice or white wine vinegar, to expedite the process.

cleaning grill with onion
Photo: Getty Images/ideeone

For those of you with a charcoal grill, save that onion to reduce food waste. Once you're done, toss it into the hot coals and let the smoky flavors infuse whatever you cook next. (To make the grill grates nonstick, you can grab a potato and repeat the process.)

3. Scrape away excess carbon

Each time you use your grill, grease builds up on its components and smoke vaporizes into carbon, the little flakes that sit in your grill hood. To avoid dirt and carbon getting into your food, you should scrape your hood, drip plates, and burners regularly.

When you're soaking those grill grates, use a grill brush along the hood to remove any excess carbon and debris. (Note: Metal grill brushes are best used at the end of the season rather than every day because the bristles can break off and end up in your food.) This Weber grill brush uses stainless steel bristles that will withstand wear-and-tear. And this Grill Brush & Scrape Set ($14) removes any pesky build-up without leaving a scratch.

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