13 smokin’ hot summer grilling hacks

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You’re ready to fire up the grill and make your backyard the summer hub for barbecues. Become a grill master with wallet-friendly ways to keep your barbecue cooking, impress your backyard guests, and speed cleanup.

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1. Prep your grill before the first use

Make sure your outdoor grill is prepped anytime you want to call it into action. Clean the grates by placing them in the tub and covering with very hot water and 1 cup each ammonia and dishwasher detergent. Cover with old fabric softener sheets and soak overnight. The next day, don your rubber gloves, scrub away, and watch the grease dissolve.

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2. Avoid harsh cleaners and give this a squeeze instead

Grill cleaners often contain harsh chemicals. But if you want to remove rust and sanitize your grill, you can use a simple lemon. Just cut in half and rub on the grill grate.

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3. Save the elbow grease

Save on expensive grill cleaners by simply using WD-40 instead. Get rid of charred food stuck to the grill by removing it from the barbecue and spraying it with the oil. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then wipe off and clean with soap and water.

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5. Foil that mess

When you’re done grilling, place a large piece of aluminum foil over the entire top of your grill, then put the top back on and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. The caked-on mess from the burgers and hot dogs will turn to ash.

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6. Grab an onion…

Your barbecued chicken was a hit, but your grill is a mess. What to do? Poke half an onion, dipped in vegetable oil, on your grill fork, and scrub it over the hot grates. The onion’s enzymes will break down grime, and the oil will help soften the grilled-on gunk.

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6. …or give this a try

Another great way to clean your grill is with wet newspaper. After cooking, just place it on a warm grill for 1 hour with the lid closed. You’ll be amazed how easily the grime comes off.

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7. Get covered for less

Don’t spend big money on a grill cover! Just look for an inexpensive poncho at a discount store—it’ll do the trick and protect your grill just as well.

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8. Keep vermin away

Make sure squirrels, mice, and other critters don’t chew through the rubber pipeline that connects your propane tank with your grill—reinforce the entire thing with duct tape. This step is a good idea for anything else in your yard made out of rubber, as it’s a favorite chew toy of rodents!

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9. Fuel level test

It’s unforgivable to run out of fuel before the last kebab is bobbed! Even without a gas gauge, there is a way to figure out how much fuel you have left. Here’s what to do a day or two before the flip-flopped masses are set to arrive. Boil water, then pour it down the side of the tank. Place your hand on the side: the cool part has propane inside, the warm part is empty.

Related: How to Solve Your Biggest Summer Problems

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10. Keep your charcoal nice and dry

Store charcoal briquettes in airtight plastic bags—charcoal absorbs moisture very easily and won’t be as easy to light if exposed to air.

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11. Try this easy lighter fluid alternative

Can’t get the charcoal going, and don’t have any lighter fluid? Try using sugar. Once sugar is exposed to a flame, it decomposes rapidly and releases a fire-friendly chemical that can help ignite that stubborn charcoal. Simply apply a light dusting of sugar to the coals before you light them.

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12. Grab your foil again…

To get your grill even hotter (making sure the bar marks on your steak are extra impressive), cover it with a large sheet of foil for 10 minutes before cooking. This little step will keep as much heat from escaping.

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13. Always keep food safety in mind

When you’re making hamburgers, place a sheet of plastic wrap on your platter before adding the raw patties. Once you’ve added them to the pan or the grill, you can toss the plastic, and the platter underneath will still be clean for the cooked burgers. That way you don’t have to wash two dishes, and you protect your family from potentially harmful bacteria.

This article originally appeared on QuickAndDirtyTips.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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