We’re fast approaching that time of year when it’s not quite warm enough to sit out in the garden but mild enough to start getting the garden ready to sit out.
For the team here at Lazy Susan, this is the perfect time of year to get your barbecue grill ready for summer. Get that cover off or pull it out of the shed and give it a good clean and prep for when things warm up.
It is a job none of us enjoys and one many of us put off. In fact, there’s a good chance that some of our last barbecue cookout is still on the grill. But don’t believe the “it adds flavour” crowd! A dirty grill is not only unhygienic, but it will also take longer to cook your food, cook it unevenly and actually spoil the taste.
Most of us will give it a quick wipe-down after each use, focusing on the grill racks, however, an annual deep clean is also necessary to remove any of the hard-to-remove grease, burnt food and carcinogenic residue that will build up over time, etc.
Many modern grills are expensive bits of kit too. You want to ensure that you maintain and protect them in order to prevent corrosion from taking hold and to keep them in good working order.
So, in this article, that is what we want to focus on. A good spring clean. Get it looking like new and ready to grill up some delicious food as soon as the temperature picks up.
The Lazy Susan team have got some great tips and hacks that we’ve picked up over our many years in the garden industry and we’ll also recommend some of our favourite go-to barbecue cleaning products too.
How to clean your barbecue
Many of the cleaning methods and products we use can be applied to both gas and charcoal grills but there are a few differences. However, the key, regardless of the type of BBQ you have, is the type of material you are cleaning.
For example, stainless steel requires different methods and solutions to ceramic, whilst the burning of charcoal necessitates the removal of burnt-on carbon compared to gas which has burners that need cleaning to ensure good flow.
But, before you start cleaning though, move your barbecue off the patio or pop down a plastic sheet to protect the surface from staining if need be!
How to clean the barbecue charcoal tray
If you have a charcoal barbecue and, as you’ve not used it for several months, start by removing any leftover charcoal. Most modern barbecues have a removable charcoal/ash tray, so slide this out and tip it into a bin bag.
If you can’t do this (as is often the case with many smaller kettle-style grills) then it can be a little tricky, so a tool like the Navaris Mini Dustpan and Brush Set (below) will help you to get in those hard-to-reach corners.
If you find the charcoal has mixed with food residue then it can harden to a solid lump. If this is the case, sweep out as much as you can and then add a little hot water with washing-up liquid and leave it to soften.
If it’s a little stubborn, you can gently pry it off with a plastic knife or plastic spatula. Never scrape it with metal utensils though as you could scratch the finish.
How to clean stainless steel grill racks
On both gas and charcoal barbecues, one of the most common materials is stainless steel grill racks, and this is where the food cooks so they get filthy but are the part you need spotlessly clean.
There are a number of different ways to clean them but we have found the best results with the following methods:
- Oven Cleaner
This will get you the best results but it uses some pretty nasty chemicals that put many people off. Our preference is Oven Pride as you simply slide the stainless steel racks into the supplied bag, add the cleaner, seal and leave it to do its thing. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions and always wear protective gloves. Please note this is for stainless steel grilling racks only!
- Magic Sponge
This takes a little more elbow grease than the oven cleaner method but there are no nasty chemicals and they do a great job of getting burnt off food off your grill racks. Just fill a bowl or bucket with warm water and a good squirt of washing-up liquid. Dip a magic sponge such as Flash in and give them a scrub. It has a slightly abrasive surface that will get them nice and shiny but not damage the finish.
- Heat It Up
The last method we recommend, if there is still burnt-on food left over from last summer, is to light some fresh coals in your BBQ or fire up the gas and let the heat burn them off. It usually takes around 30 minutes once the grill stops smoking that’s when you know you’ve burned off most old residual grease. Then you just leave it to cool down and clean the rest of the barbecue. If not all removed, let them cool until safe to touch but still warm and soft and give them a scrub.
If you want to just give them a good old-fashioned scrub, then for any removable stainless steel parts such as grill racks, cooling trays, gas burners etc, we take a large plastic tub (those large under-bed storage boxes are perfect for this job) and fill it with warm water. A good squirt of washing-up liquid, pop all the parts in and leave them to soak for about one hour.
After that time, the grill racks especially will often need a bit of a scrub, so a Barbecue Grill Brush such as the Kona 360 Grill Brush (pictured above) will remove that softened food and grease safely with a little elbow grease.
Any removable hot plates or burner parts are best cleaned with a soft sponge or cloth to avoid damaging the surface and we will look at those separately.
How to clean cast iron barbecue racks
If your barbecue has cast iron grill racks or plates, then do not use oven cleaner or the magic sponge method. Heating them up will work to soften any burnt-on food but we have found the best way to clean them is with a specialist cleaner.
You don’t want to use anything too abrasive on cast iron as the surface is easily damaged so take a product such as ProCook Cast Iron Cleaner (below) to safely remove everyday grease, grime and any burnt-on deposits.
Start by filling a large tub (big enough to submerge the racks such as the aforementioned storage tubs) with warm water, pop them in and leave to soak for about 15 minutes. Take them out, spray on the cleaner, leave that to work for a minute or two and then scrub with a soft nylon brush or dish sponge.
Pro barbecue tip:
Once dry you should coat the cast iron grill racks and plates with a little cooking oil (vegetable, sunflower, olive, whatever your preference) on a kitchen towel. This will help prevent food from sticking to the grate when you next fire up the BBQ and it will also prevent it from rusting.
How to clean the inside of your barbecue lid
Whether you have a gas or charcoal barbecue, the inside of your lid can get pretty mucky from all the grease and smoke and it can look extremely unsightly.
The lids themselves are often enamel/ceramic coated, so you need to be careful when cleaning and avoid anything abrasive.
A great way to clean them if they’re not too dirty is to apply a kitchen multipurpose cleaner, leave it to sit for a few minutes and then wipe it with a soft cloth or sponge soaked in warm water.
If the muck is proving to be pretty stubborn, which is more common on charcoal grills than gas, then a powerful oven cleaner such as Dr Magic’s Oven And Grill Cleaner will definitely do the trick.
As we mentioned above, with any oven cleaner, make sure you follow all guidelines and safety instructions. The video below from the Chicago Griller uses an American brand of oven cleaner but it is a great step-by-step on how to tackle this job.
How to wash the outside of your barbecue
The outside of your barbecue grill, whilst not as mucky as the inside, can get pretty grubby too, especially if it has been left on the patio under just a cover.
You don’t need anything too powerful for this job though, simply wash it all down with some warm soapy water with a soft cloth or sponge and then towel dry.
If you do store it outside, then just make sure you cover it with a weatherproof cover that is breathable to keep it clean, protect it from the elements and prevent any mould growth.
Pro barbecue tip:
Another great tip we’ve picked up is to apply a little white vinegar to your BBQ once washed as it brings it all up to a nice shine and removes any watermarks. Simply fill an empty spray bottle with one-third white vinegar to two-thirds warm water. Give it a little shake, spray it over your grill, leave it for a couple of minutes and then wipe it off with a clean, dry microfibre or glass cloth.
How to clean the burners on a gas barbecue
Whilst a gas barbecue has the big advantage of no charcoal to clean, you do have to keep your burners clean and free from grease and food residue to keep them in good working order.
Before you start this job, make sure you disconnect the gas bottle and that the grill is cool to the touch for your safety.
Remove the burners and pop them in a bucket with hot water and a good squirt of washing-up liquid. Pop them in and leave them to soak for around 15 minutes. Then rinse and dry.
In our experience, you do not need any special cleaning solutions for this job, but if you've got them then use them. A good kitchen cleaner/washing-up liquid that will cut through the grease in a large bucket filled with warm water will also do the trick.
If the burners can't be removed (which we’ve not come across), then spray them with a kitchen degreaser/multi-purpose cleaner. Leave it to work for a few minutes, wipe it with a soft sponge or cloth and warm water and leave it to dry.
How to clean ceramic grill plates
When it comes to cleaning any enamel parts or ceramic grill plates, then we like Spruce’s Multipurpose Cleaner (pictured above), mainly because it smells great but it also does a really good job of cutting through the grease and is refillable.
Often a good squirt of washing-up liquid in a bucket of warm water will do the trick too. When it comes to food residue and grease, get the water as hot as you can get your hands in with some rubber gloves too as this will help soften and remove it.
Before you pop them in to soak, make sure you wipe away any excess fat with kitchen towels too. Once soaked, and washed, rinse them with cold water, and pop them in the sun to dry. Don’t be tempted to put any non-stainless steel parts in the dishwasher as it can damage them.
If you can't remove the grill plates to soak them, then before you give them a wipe with a multipurpose cleaner, carefully scrape off as much of the muck as you can with a Wooden BBQ Scraper from Amazon (below).
When all clean, pop all the removable parts back onto your grill and before you cook on it, reconnect the gas bottle or light some charcoal and let it get up to temperature before you pop any food on as the heat will burn off any remaining cleaning residue.
If you’re using our Outdoor Furniture at your next barbecue, then we’d love to see a few snaps for our Do Some Good charity campaign. You can tag us @LazySusanFurniture on Instagram or Facebook or email them to us at [email protected].