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Really burned on grease on stainless steel

Midlife May 16, 2011 11:24 PM

This is, hopefully, a legitimate cookware question though the piece is a built in outdoor gas BBQ grill. I'm doing my regular Spring "make sure it's as clean as possible" thing and am running into some very stubborn, caked-on build-up under the front edges of the grills. This is probably from significant grease build-up, and complicated by a couple of incidents of leaving a burner on overnight. Anyway................. I've tried several things, but the blackened stainless underneath the build-up is not cooperating.

I'm using a plastic scraper and every solvent I can find that says it's safe on stainless. I've seen some online material about a paste made from baking soda and vinegar but haven't tried it yet. Any ideas of what might loosen up this stuff will be much appreciated.

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  1. w
    Wingborn May 16, 2011 11:43 PM

    Oven cleaner.

    IMHO whoever suggested using baking soda and vinegar together was playing a joke on people. You'll get a lot of fizz and not much else, as the baking soda neutralizes the vinegar.

    Frankly, IMHO, if it isn't getting in the way of using the grids then don't worry about it. This kind of polymerized fatty acid is the same kind of stuff that forms the seasoning on cast iron skillets. There is nothing unhygenic about it, as you sterilize it every time you cook on it.

    OTOH, if it's really caked on to the point that it interferes with the use of the grids, and you really want to remove it, try putting the grids into a self-cleaning oven, and running its self clean cycle. That will burn off anything that can be burned off.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Wingborn
      Candy May 17, 2011 10:56 AM

      Oven cleaner. I would not be without it. You cannot use it on aluminum, it will pit and damage the surface, stainless and most enameled surfaces can take it. I clean all of my le Creuset once or twice a year with it. It looks all shiny and new despite 25 years of use.

    2. Chemicalkinetics May 17, 2011 03:55 AM

      "I've seen some online material about a paste made from baking soda"

      Baking soda is the food safe approach, but the more effective method is to bake off the the build-up or to use oven cleaners like Easy-Off -- much like Wingborn said.

      You said it is a stainless steel piece is built in to an outdoor grill, right? If it is inside the grill or if you can remove it, then you can just turn up the heat and bake the piece out. If it is outside of the grill, then try using oven cleaners.

      1. j
        janniecooks May 17, 2011 04:25 AM

        Use a metal putty knife as a scraper, not a plastic scraper. Greased Lightning, which contains lye and caustic soda, sprayed on and left for some time to soak, might also help loosen the grease so it is easier to scrape off with a metal scraper. You might also try scrubbing with a steel scrubber pad. Although I'm inclined to agree with Wingborn and just live with it.

        1. m
          mikie May 17, 2011 06:08 AM

          You might try something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Handy-Home-Prod... They work fairly well and it's not supposed to scratch. I've used one to remove burnt on stuff on SS pans. Might try the burnt on grease remover that is advertised with it on Amazon.

          Good luck, let us know what works.

          5 Replies
          1. re: mikie
            Chemicalkinetics May 17, 2011 07:14 AM

            That looks kinda like a ice scraper for car window. Have you tried it before?

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
              petek May 17, 2011 07:35 AM

              try boiling some potato peels covered with water for 15 mins.It worked wonders on my carbon steel pan,maybe it'll work on Stainless Steel.

              1. re: petek
                petek May 17, 2011 11:32 AM

                I just re-read your OP and thought you were talking about a SS pot/pan.. so just go ahead and totally ignore my sugestion :D
                Apologies.

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                m
                mikie May 17, 2011 09:17 AM

                Chem,
                Actually, yes. I also work for the company that sells them the plastic they use to mold these. I got one when they first came out, but didn't really use it much, but then some pots got some burnt on spots and I gave it a shot and it worked fairly well. The key is that the plastic is hard, but not harder than the material you are going to clean. The plastic is about a Rockwell hardness of 124 on the R scale or 104 on the M scale. This is equivelent to about 90 or so on the E scale, which you can now compare to the C scale, only 90 on the E scale doesn't even make the C scale, knives are in the upper 50's and 60's on the C scale for comparison. Polycarbonate, the material used for the blade of most plastic ice scrapers is about 75 on the Rockwell M scale.

                1. re: mikie
                  Chemicalkinetics May 17, 2011 10:32 AM

                  "The key is that the plastic is hard, but not harder than the material you are going to clean"

                  Got it. Thanks.

            2. RudysEquipment_Supplies May 17, 2011 07:52 AM

              Swell Grill and oven cleaner (aerosol can), or Sokoff carbon remover are the best two grease removers I have seen. And we clean used restaurant equipment.

              1. Midlife May 17, 2011 11:19 AM

                Thanks for all the replies.

                I may not have been clear in my OP. The build-up is not on the grills themselves, but on the front 'lip' of unit (that the leading edges of the grills sit on), and on the front 'lip' that the lid comes down on.

                Oven cleaners (like Easy-Off) say that they shouldn't be used on stainless steel. I'm not sure what the consequences may be but am reluctant to find out on a rather expensive built-in grill. And using a metal scraper is going to scratch the stainless. A hard plastic scraper should do almost as well if I can just find something to soften the burned on grease a bit.

                I'm gonna try more Greased Lightning and see if I can find the Swell and Sokoff products mentioned by RudiesEquipmen_Supplies.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Midlife
                  RudysEquipment_Supplies May 18, 2011 08:51 AM

                  Both are good to go on stainless. Trick is letting them sit on there for 20-30 minutes.

                  1. re: RudysEquipment_Supplies
                    Midlife May 18, 2011 09:16 AM

                    Thanks. I ordered some Sokoff on line yesterday. Hate to pay the shipping, but couldn't find it locally. One restaurant supply place suggested it may be California environmental law prohibits sale here. ??

                  2. re: Midlife
                    p
                    phrekyos May 18, 2011 01:57 PM

                    Really? My can of Easy-Off Heavy Duty specifically says it's okay for use on stainless steel surfaces. I used it to clean a pan once, as a last resort. The stuff smells like it'll melt a hole, but it came out fine.

                    1. re: phrekyos
                      Midlife May 18, 2011 05:06 PM

                      I've got a can of Easy-Off Heavy Duty in front of me and it says, on one part of the label:
                      "Ideal for cleaning ovens, broilers, barbecue grills & stainless steel surfaces"
                      BUT..... in the directions it says:
                      "BBQ Grill Cleaning: DO NOT USE ON GRILL EXTERIOR, INTERIOR OR COMPONENTS"

                      Kind of confusing unless "stainless steel surfaces" means solid stainless or heavily coated stainless...... as in pots and pans. The more specific BBQ warning seems pretty much straight forward.

                      When I called DCS/Fisher & Paykel a nice New Zealand-sounding woman told me not to use oven cleaner on anything but the grill racks. A good friend of mine had to pay big bucks to repaint the trunk lid of his BMW when he polished it with his polisher at the wrong speed. I've spent more time reading the fine print since then. ;o)

                      1. re: Midlife
                        r
                        rexster314 May 18, 2011 09:52 PM

                        Go to an auto parts store, buy a can of spray brake cleaner. Spray on and wipe off. Won't hurt stainless whatsoever

                  3. RudysEquipment_Supplies May 19, 2011 02:30 PM

                    When using sokoff if you didnt get the spray apply with a cheap throw away paintbrush..

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