Keeping a clean grill is the secret to great grilling. Yesterday's steak marinade won't taste good on today's lime-grilled tilapia. Just like a cast iron skillet, cooked-on flavor can be a good thing for your grill, but you don't want your grate coated in spices and melted cheese. And seafood is also notorious for adding unwanted flavors to your grill grate. A dirty grate also can make some meats stick, especially fish. You can avoid that situation altogether by cooking fish dishes, like salmon, on foil placed on top of the grate. You can also buy pans that are specifically made for grilling. They have holes on the bottom that allow the flames to lick the meat, so you still get that fresh grilled taste, and wooden handles that don't conduct heat. Here are a few other tips for cleaning your grill to ensure accurate cooking flavors.

Use Olive Oil

Spraying or rubbing your grill grate with a light olive oil coating is a good way to keep meats from sticking, and it also makes for a good grill cleaner. After getting off the larger chunks of grill mess with a good wire grill scrubber, coat the entire grate with olive oil. Then use a scrub brush or grill scraper to remove the rest of the caked-on food and spice. Then simply rinse the grate with water and your grill is nice and clean. You can remove the grates and do it in the yard to prevent a wet mess in your grill tray.

Use Your Oven

If your oven has a self-cleaning setting, you're in for an easy grill clean without all of the elbow grease. Remove the grate and any other metal parts that are coated in grilled-on food and spices. Place the parts right onto the oven racks and set the self-cleaning feature. The oven will lock itself and heat up to about 900 degrees Fahrenheit (482 degrees Celsius). Not only will it incinerate every bit of foodstuff from your grill grate, but you'll kill two birds with one stone and come away with a clean oven as well.

Soap and Water

If you've let your grill get out of hand and it's coated in cooked-on food, you may need to remove the grate and take care of it with some soap and water. This is always a good idea to do at the end of your grilling season. If your sink is large enough, you can use it for your soak, otherwise you'll need to use washtub or plastic bin. Or maybe even your bathtub. Fill the sink or bin with warm soapy dish washing liquid and let the grates soak for at least two hours. The longer you soak it, the easier it will be to get the gunk off. After the soak, remove the grate and scrub it with a stiff wire brush, rinse it and let dry. Make sure you never use any harsh chemicals like bleach or a chlorine powder. After all, this is what you cook your food on. You can also look for an all-natural, chemical-free liquid soap for your soak.