How to Clean Grills After Using Fire Extinguishers

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Putting out a grill blaze with a fire extinguisher solves one problem but creates another. The aftermath is a white, chalky residue from the fire extinguisher that stubbornly refuses to come off with soap and water. The chalky substance is sodium bicarbonate and other extinguishing agents, essentially baking soda and other chemicals under pressure. Removing this mess takes elbow grease and common household products.

Things You'll Need

  • Large bucket or washpan
  • Water
  • Degreaser cleaning product
  • White vinegar
  • Sponge
  • Garden hose
  • Wire grill brush
  • Remove the cooking grates and place in a large washpan before saturating the grates with liquid degreaser and filling the pan with water. Leave the cooking grates to soak

  • Remove the firepan if cleaning a charcoal grill or take out the lava heating rocks or ceramic briquettes if cleaning a gas grill. Set aside the rocks or briquettes.

  • Scrub the inside and outside of the grill with a 50-50 mixture of water and white vinegar, which is a weak acid that will dissolve and remove the sodium bicarbonate residue from a fire extinguisher.

  • Set the grill in direct sunlight and rinse it down with a garden hose to remove the residue. Let the grill air dry completely.

  • Reinstall the firepan and the lava rocks or ceramic briquettes, by arranging these in a single layer evenly distributed inside the grill.

  • Scrub the cooking grates with a sponge, rinse with the garden hose and allow to dry before replacing them on the grill.

  • Ignite a gas grill or start a fire in a charcoal grill and let the appliance heat up.

  • Close the lid on the grill and let it cook for 15 minutes to burn off any remaining residue that could taint food with odd flavors and smells.

  • Scrub the cooking grates with a wire grill brush after the grill cools.

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