If we’re lucky enough to get a consistently good summer this year, your barbecue grill might be in for a tough time. It doesn’t usually take too long for the average household grill to become covered in grease, dirt, bugs and carbonized food — so constant maintenance and cleaning as you go is usually essential.
If you want to enjoy last-minute barbecues throughout the summer, keep your barbecue clean and ready to go by following the following maintenance tips.
1. Clean when warm
Don’t let your barbecue grill cool down without cleaning it. Removing grease, food and debris is always easier when the grill is still warm. Scrape off food, degrease with vinegar and wipe it down with scourers and cloths — whilst wearing oven gloves. If you take this approach all the time, your grill will always be clean and ready to use.
If you didn’t clean your barbecue the last time you used it, the best thing to do is fire it up — and let it reach full temperature. This will burn off old grease and dislodge stuck-on food.
2. Use the power of steam
Steam is very effective at dislodging food, dirt and grease. There are several ways you can approach this, including filling the grill with water while it’s still hot and placing a lid on it. If your grill doesn’t have a lid, use a handheld steamer for the job.
3. Scrub and scrape after every use
Scrubbers, grill brushes and scourers should be part of your BBQ inventory. Every time you’ve finished cooking, wait for the grill to cool, and scrub away food and grease. If you don’t have a brush, scrunch up some aluminium foil into a ball, and use it as a scourer.
4. Always remove ash, charcoal and coal
If you leave ash in your barbecue, it will become more difficult to remove as it cools. While the grill is still warm, tip the contents out into a metal bin. Clean the grill the usual way, and wipe it with paper towels — making sure you remove all the tiny bits of carbonised food and ash that usually collect at the bottom of grills.
5. Take some preventative measures
By taking preventative measures, you’re making the cleaning process a lot easier and quicker. Before you use your grill, coat it in vegetable oil — the cheapest you can find will do. This will stop food from attaching itself to the metal elements. While you’re cooking, use a long fork, brush or pair of tongs to dislodge food while the grill is still hot. The less food you have to remove later, the easier the cleaning process will be.
6. Cover up
The elements can damage your grill and shorten its life. Not only that, wildlife can create a real problem in terms of cleanliness. After all, the last thing you want to do before cooking food is remove dead bugs from your grill. If your grill didn’t come with one, pick up a cheap grill cover from your local home improvement store.
7. Perform a deep clean once a month
If you have been looking after your barbecue grill, this deep clean won’t take all that long. You should start by removing all of the trays, plates and parts — they should be washed separately in a bucket of hot, soapy water. Alternatively, you can wash these accessories in your dishwasher.
Scrub the main grill with lots of hot, soapy water before putting everything back together. You can make grease in your drip tray easier to deal with by filling the tray with cat litter. Before you use the grill again, however, you should run it at full temperature for at least 15 minutes — to burn off soap, water and any other chemicals you’ve used.
If you’re cleaning your grill after every use — while it’s still warm — it should always be ready to go when the summer sun makes one of its rare appearances.