- Putting BBQ grill grates in the dishwasher can cause rusting and fail to remove burnt-on residue
- Most BBQ manufacturers strongly recommend against dishwashing grill grates
- The high heat, steam, and moisture in a dishwasher create ideal conditions for rust
- Alternative cleaning methods like scraping, steel wool, and vinegar work better than dishwashing
- Cast iron and porcelain-coated grill grates should never go in the dishwasher due to damage risk
- Stainless steel grates may be dishwasher safe but can still rust – handwashing is preferable
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During grilling season, BBQ grill grates can quickly become coated in burnt-on food residue and grease. This crusty buildup can be extremely difficult to remove. When it comes time to clean your grill, you may be tempted to just pop the grates in the dishwasher and let it do the hard work. However, most grill manufacturers strongly warn against placing BBQ grates in a dishwasher.
Putting grates in the dishwasher can lead to rusting, fail to remove grime, and even damage the grates. This comprehensive article will analyze the risks, considerations, and reasons why BBQ grates and grill components should stay out of dishwashers. Alternative cleaning methods and best practices will also be covered to help you effectively clean your grill without using a dishwasher. After reading, you’ll understand why it’s best to keep your grill out of the dishwasher.
With barbecue season in full swing in many areas, properly cleaning your grill is essential for maintaining its performance and longevity. Knowing the right techniques can save you time and prevent damage. This in-depth guide provides everything you need to clean your BBQ grill safely and effectively.
Why Putting BBQ Grills in the Dishwasher is Not Recommended
Can Rusting Occur in the Dishwasher?
Many BBQ grill grates are made from metals like cast iron, steel, or stainless steel. The hot, steamy environment inside a dishwasher can create the perfect conditions for rust to form on grates and grill components.
According to grill maker Weber, the combination of heat, moisture, and air circulation speeds up the oxidization process that leads to rusting. Parts that might ordinarily resist rust can quickly degrade in the harsh dishwasher environment.
A study conducted by the University of British Columbia found that stainless steel items rusted more than twice as quickly when washed in a dishwasher versus handwashing. The researchers identified regular dishwashing as a leading cause of rust spots on stainless steel utensils.
Does the Dishwasher Effectively Clean Burnt-On Gunk?
One of the toughest cleaning challenges with grill grates is burnt-on food residue and grease. This crusty gunk coats the grates after grilling fatty meats or sugary glazes and sauces. The extreme heat essentially bakes on the grime.
Unfortunately, the dishwasher is unlikely to effectively remove this stubborn residue. According to BBQ grill manufacturer Broil King, the baked-on grease and grime require special cleaning methods not achieved through dishwashing.
The detergent, agitation, and even high heat dry cycle of a dishwasher simply cannot penetrate and dissolve the carbonized buildup. So after a full wash cycle, you’ll likely pull out grates still covered in blackened gunk. For burnt-on messes, specific cleaning techniques work better.
Do Grill Manufacturers Recommend Using a Dishwasher?
The definitive authority on whether BBQ grill components should be dishwashed comes from the manufacturer. Major grill brands like Weber, Napoleon, Broil King, and KitchenAid strongly advise against placing grates or other parts in the dishwasher.
According to KitchenAid, the dishwasher can damage the porcelains coatings on grill lids and grates. Weber cautions that dishwasher chemicals can react with grill materials and lead to rusting. Checking your owner’s manual or manufacturer website will provide definitive guidance.
If the manufacturer gives the green light to dishwasher cleaning, be sure to follow their instructions precisely. Otherwise, their recommendations against dishwashing should be heeded.
What Does Weber Recommend for Cleaning Grates?
As a leading grill maker, Weber’s official recommendations give great insight into proper BBQ grate cleaning.
Weber states that abrasives like steel wool or metal scrapers work better than dishwasher cycles at removing burnt-on residue. For morestubborn gunk, they recommend letting the grates soak in a solution of 1⁄4 cup grease-dissolving degreaser and warm water.
Weber stresses that grill cooking grates and components should never be cleaned in a dishwasher. They state that the caustic dishwasher detergent chemicals can react with grill materials and bind to the surface, creating more mess.
Overall, Weber emphasizes that BBQ grates need specialized cleaning methods. Following their recommendations will help avoid rust, grease buildup, and damage.
Grill Grate Materials and Dishwasher Compatibility
Not all grill grates are made equal. The metal type and grate construction impact how well they’ll withstand dishwasher cleaning.
Cast Iron Grates
Cast iron is a very popular choice for grill grates thanks to its versatility, heat retention, and natural nonstick properties. However, cast iron is prone to rusting, especially in the presence of moisture.
The humidity inside a dishwasher creates prime conditions for cast iron to rust. Cast iron is also reactive to detergents. Soap and other chemicals can diminish the natural seasoning on cast iron grates needed for nonstick performance.
For these reasons, grill experts unanimously agree cast iron grill grates should never enter a dishwasher. Handwashing and seasoning is required to maintain cast iron.
Porcelain enamel coatings provide protection for cast iron grill grates. However, porcelain enamel can chip and peel when subjected to harsh dishwasher detergents and the banging around of wash cycles.
According to grill maker Napoleon, porcelain-coated grates will become damaged and eventually destroyed in the dishwasher. The porcelain finish will deteriorate rapidly with regular dishwashing.
Stainless Steel Grates
Stainless steel offers resistance against rust and can hold up better to dishwashers. However, as Weber notes, stainless steel isn’t fully impervious. It can still become discolored or rusted with repeated high-heat dishwasher cycles.
While stainless steel has more dishwasher tolerance, experts still recommend handwashing over machine washing. Gentle scrubbing with warm soapy water allows you to monitor for any corrosion.
You may encounter chrome-plated steel grates on less expensive BBQs. The chrome adds decorative appeal and some protection against rust. However, with heavy use, the chrome finish eventually cracks and peels, exposing the steel underneath to moisture damage.
Frequent high-heat dishwasher cycles will accelerate the breakdown of the chrome plating. Handwashing is required to maximize the life of chrome-plated grates.
Alternative Cleaning Methods for BBQ Grill Grates
If you can’t put grill grates in the dishwasher, what are the best cleaning methods? Here are effective alternatives for removing grime without dishwashing:
Can I Clean Grates with Vinegar?
White vinegar is a very effective and natural cleaner for dissolving grease and stuck-on food residue. The acetic acid in vinegar cuts through baked-on grime.
Weber recommends spraying grates with undiluted white vinegar, letting it soak for 15 minutes, then thoroughly scrubbing with a stainless steel bristle grill brush. For heavier buildup, let the grates soak for up to one hour in a bath of 50/50 vinegar and water before scrubbing.
Should I Use Steel Wool on Grill Grates?
Grade 0000 super-fine steel wool is safe and effective for scrubbing BBQ grill grates. The super fine grade is gentle enough not to scratch stainless steel. Always scrub in the direction of the metal grain.
For cast iron grates, use brass wire brush or scrubbing pad instead to avoid removing the seasoning finish. Make sure grates are fully cooled before scouring to avoid burns.
Will a Metal Scraper Remove Burnt Gunk?
Sturdy metal grill scrapers with serrated edges can chip off burnt bits and greasy buildup from grill grates. Always use a soft touch to avoid damaging porcelain coatings or scratching stainless steel.
Make sure to buy a grill-specific scraper. Common kitchen scrapers may be too harsh. Look for a scraper with a long handle that protects your hand from the heat.
Should I Use Degreasing Cleaners?
Heavy-duty degreasing cleaners are formulated to dissolve thick, carbonized grease deposits on grill grates. Look for a degreaser specially designed for BBQ grills and follow label diluting instructions carefully.
After spraying on, let the degreaser sit for 10-15 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing. Wear gloves since many grill degreasers contain caustic chemicals like sodium hydroxide. Rinse thoroughly.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dishwashing BBQ Grills
Still unsure about dishwashing your grill components? Here are answers to some common questions:
Can I put stainless steel grill grates in the dishwasher?
Stainless steel has more dishwasher tolerance than other metals. However, grill experts still advise handwashing over machine washing for stainless steel. The heat and moisture in dishwashers can cause stainless steel to become discolored, stained, or rusted with repeated exposure. Gentle handwashing preserves the finish.
What happens if I put cast iron grates in the dishwasher?
Never put cast iron grill grates in the dishwasher. The water and steam will cause immediate rusting. Cast iron also requires seasoning to maintain its nonstick properties – dishwasher detergents will destroy that seasoning finish. Always handwash cast iron using mild soap and water.
Why can’t porcelain enameled grill grates go in the dishwasher?
Porcelain enamel grill grates chip and become damaged in the harsh dishwasher environment. The finishes crack and peel rapidly with exposure to high heat, harsh detergents, and rattling during wash cycles. Always gently handwash porcelain grates to preserve their appearance and prevent rust underneath.
Will the dishwasher remove burnt-on gunk from my grates?
Unfortunately, no. Dishwashers do not effectively remove the thick, carbonized grease and food residue that coats well-used grill grates. The burnt-on mess requires special cleaning methods using degreasers, steel wool, grill brushes, and a good deal of elbow grease. Don’t rely on the dishwasher.
Can I put grill covers, drip pans, or smoke boxes in the dishwasher?
No. All auxiliary grill parts and components should kept out of dishwashers unless explicitly stated dishwasher-safe by the manufacturer. The metals, coatings, and materials used in grill parts can be damaged by machine washing. Always check owner’s manuals for guidance. When in doubt, handwash.
While it may seem convenient, putting BBQ grill grates and components in the dishwasher is an all-around bad idea that can lead to rust, persistent grime, and even permanent damage.
Always consult your grill manual or manufacturer for definitive cleaning guidance. For most grills, handwashing and specialized cleaning methods are required to properly remove residue without causing corrosion or premature wear. With the right tools and techniques, you can keep your grill sparkling without the dishwasher.
Following the recommendations in this comprehensive guide will ensure your grill grates stay in top condition for many seasons of barbecue fun to come. With some elbow grease and grill-specific cleaners, you can tackle any mess. Now get outside and fire up that grill with total confidence!