How to clean a BBQ?
Clean BBQs work better, look great, and are much safer to use, but a question that comes up time and time again is How to clean a BBQ?
Whether summer is approaching, you just had a big cookout or you’re preparing to put your BBQ away for the winter. Cleaning the entire BBQ grill and removing all remnants of your cooking is important, and here’s why.
After a long summer, grilling steaks, burgers, and sausages on your BBQ will have left large quantities of carbon deposits on nearly every surface of the BBQ. This includes the burner tubes on gas BBQs, flavouring bars, the inside of the firebox, the lid, and of course the grates themselves.
Not only are these carbon deposits most likely the cause of the sugary sauces and grease you use when cooking, but they may also harbour harmful bacteria. Carbon buildup can also cause the tubes of a gas burner to fail, preventing your BBQ from fully reaching its safe operating temperature, and even cause the grill to cook unevenly.
The easiest way to approach cleaning a bbq grill is to follow a simple routine throughout your grilling season. After every grilling session, use a wire brush and scrub the grill grates of your BBQ to help make cleaning it easier later on. Always inspect your grill for any loose wire bristles after cleaning as you really don’t want to end up ingesting them.
If you are an avid fan of barbecues and you use it every week, then we’d always recommend that your grates should be thoroughly cleaned every two months. You should also give your complete grill a thorough cleaning at least twice a season as this will help you safely cook for longer and better.
The cleaning procedure we cover in this article will work the same for charcoal BBQs and gas BBQs even though they have different parts. Don’t forget to check out our How to Clean a Rusty BBQ Grill if your BBQ has rust on it!
If you’d like to find out whether a gas or charcoal BBQ is better, take a look at our article.
The Best BBQ cleaning equipment
Whether you want to pop down to your local DIY store or go online, you will find dozens of gizmos, gadgets, and tools designed for cleaning your barbecue. However, all you truly need is some elbow grease, a large bucket, a wire bottle brush, and a high-quality long-handled wire brush.
Please ensure that you avoid using any toxic chemicals when cleaning your barbecue as they can easily impact on the taste of your food later on. Instead, we find some grease busting washing up liquid, baking soda, white vinegar poultice, and good old warm water to be the best BBQ cleaner.
If your barbecue has a stainless steel surface on its exterior, you could add a high-quality stainless steel cleaning product to offer an extra shine. A pair of long arm rubber gloves and some disposable scouring sponges and some clean cotton rags can also help. If you want to effectively clean any stainless steel surface, try not to do it in the warm sun as removing streaks from steel surfaces is difficult when they heat quickly.
When choosing a vinegar, getting a 45% acid vinegar will be far more effective at cutting through the grease of your barbecue. A 5% acidity vinegar may work too but it will just involve much more elbow grease.
Step #1 Flame the BBQ
If you are tackling a gas BBQ, the first step is to close the hood and flame the grill and let it come to its full temperature for at least 30 minutes. This will burn away any stuck-on grease or food. Prepare a bucket of soapy warm water and use your wire brush to scrub off any carbon left on the grates. Turning off the gas before removing and disconnecting the propane tank, then let your grill cool down.
If you’re working with a charcoal BBQ, just remove any old charcoal briquettes and scrape away the charcoal before removing the dust into a suitable container
Step #2 Soak the grill
Once your grill has cooled down remove any flavouring bars or grates and completely submerge them in a bucket of soapy warm water leaving them to soak a minimum of 30 minutes. While these are soaking remove anything else you can from the grill including any grease trays, warmer racks, and even the burner control knobs. If you have a gas grill that has removable burner tubes take these off too.
Step #3 Get the Vacuum out
Once your grill has been stripped down, the inside of its firebox will be exposed and therefore will be much easier to clean. First, find an empty bucket and put it underneath the firebox just below the grease tray opening this will catch any flushed out debris or soapy water. Using a plastic putty knife, you can scrape off any gunk that is stuck to the inside of the firebox.
Step #4 Everything should be scrubbed
After all your panels and grates are fully soaked they should be taken out and scrubbed with the wire brush. If you encounter any stubborn gunk, apply your baking soda and white vinegar mix directly to the worst bits. Let this sit for 10 minutes and rinse all your surfaces clean. Cast iron grates should be fully dried to prevent them from rusting. This is also a good time to inspect any porcelain grates for chipping that could eventually lead to rusting. A porcelain touch up paint will allow you to repair any of these chips.
Step #5 Inspect the pipes
The next step is to inspect your burner pipes for any signs of corrosion or anything that may prevent them from operating properly. Burner tubes are a very attractive place for spiders to lay their eggs, especially if your BBQ has been left unused for a while. Use your wire bottle brush to clean out the inside of each tube thoroughly to ensure they are free from dirt, dust and any other foreign objects.
Step #6 Wipe, wash and dry
Empty and refill the water bucket and add a few fresh squirts of dish soap. Now the outside of the grill needs to be scrubbed down using a kitchen sponge. Don’t use any metal sponges or anything that may cause a scratch, having some towels handy to wipe down all the surfaces afterwards to ensure they’re dry.
Once your is BBQ is sparkling clean and has been thoroughly dried, remember to reassemble all the parts you removed and take particular care when you’re fixing any of your burner tubes back in place. Adding a light coating of vegetable oil to the grates will help protect them until the next cookout.
If you are cleaning your BBQ at the end of the season then please make sure you put it away or store it under a suitable BBQ cover. Leaving your BBQ exposed to the elements will not only lead to it have a shorter life but may also affect its use when you come round to using it again next season.