The TEC Cherokee portable grill we acquired last week via a trade came to us in pretty good condition. All we needed to do to get the grill was ready for use was to scrub the stainless steel grate and wipe the sides. However, as we want it to look really nice for FirstGrill, we decided to give the TEC a complete detailing.
When we were growing up, Brillo pads were what we used to clean pots and pans. They are little steel wool pads infused with grease-cutting soap. The fine steel wool cleans without scratching and the soap cuts through even baked-on grease like nobody's business. We have not used Brillo pads for years, but did remember it as being amazing for cleaning stainless steel.
Our recollection was correct. We were able to clean the entire unit with just one pad. The soap and steel wool made short work of removing any remaining black spots. The metal was left grease-free and gleaming.
Cleaning the TEC stainless steel grill was no sweat for the Brillo pad. Perhaps it was time to put the little pink scrubbers up against something more challenging. We wondered how the Brillo pads would do against our other grills which have been sitting outside all Winter long.
The Weber we have had for over 15 years. We have never cleaned it and we are not about to start now. The other two grills (Thermos, Coleman) we have had for six years. They were from our very first FirstGrill event in 2006 and have spent every hour outside since that time. Other than scrubbing the crud off the grilling plates before use, we have never really cleaned them. We are actually amazed that we don't see more rust, or that they have not completely fallen apart.
The Thermos grill's plate is made of aluminium. It is coated with a non-stick surface of some kind, but some of the coating on the ridges have been scrubbed off after six years of use. On the plus side, because the plate has no opening, no food bits have dripped onto the burner. The the last time this grill was used was in October 2011 and apparently nobody cleaned it over the Winter (interns). The Brillo pad did not have any problem removing the leftover crud. However, steel wool and non-stick surfaces are not really a good match, so we only scrubbed gently in order to preserve the coating. Hey, it's a six-year old grill.
The plates of the Coleman RoadTrip grill are not closed like that of the Thermos Grill2Go. As a result, bits of food would fall through during use. As with the Thermos, we would scrub off any charred bits still on the plates before each use. The cooking grease and the bits which had fallen through were just ignored. Functionally, the grill was just fine. Visually, it was kind of gross.
We started with Brillo on the grilling plates and quickly realized that the fine steel wool was not stiff enough to scrape off the chunkier pieces. While we managed to get the grease and a good amount of the carbonized bits off, we realized we best use a heavy duty wire brush to tackle the chunks in the burner bowl. However, we did notice that the chrome rim responded to scrubbing and decided to focus our effforts on that.
It took a few pads to get the rim clean, but it was a good decision as we were able to remove most of the layer of black grime and grease. The chrome underneath was in excellent condition with no signs of bubbling or peeling. The success of cleaning the chrome got us so excited that we used the Brillo on the cover and the body. The steel wool removed the layer of dirt which had accumulated and dull red color came back to life! As long as you don't lift the cover, the grill could almost pass for new :-) That is amazing!!!
While we are very pleased with how nicely the TEC grill cleaned up, it was expected, as one of TEC's claim is that their grills are made using higher quality stainless steel than their competitors. What REALLY impressed us was how well the Thermos and Coleman units looked cleaned up. Even with the amount of abuses we put them through over the past six years, aside from a little fading (Thermos cover) and some rust (Coleman plates), both units have held up extremely well. With a box of Brillo pads and some elbow grease, all of the grills are now ready for Summer. [Permalink] - Brillo Pads: Grill Cleaning
Note: A few readers have written to inform us that the grilling rack on the TEC Cherokee was shown placed upside down. Thank you for letting us know! The two images below show how the rack should be configured: drain holes toward the rear, channels pointing up.