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How to care for your barbecue

By Victoria Pearson

Keep your barbecue working for years with our expert cleaning and care tips

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Five tips for cleaning your BBQ

Keeping your BBQ clean won't only help to prevent nasty stomach upsets, it can also keep it in a good working condition for longer.

Many gas BBQs have to be replaced because the gas burners or metal body succumb to rust. 

Follow our tips to keep your BBQ in working order, or find out which ones have excelled in our tests with our guide to Best Buy BBQs.

1. Assemble your BBQ cleaning kit

It is worth giving your BBQ a basic clean of the grills after each use and a deep clean every three months. You’ll want to clean it without damaging the paint or metal surfaces which can allow rust to start forming. 

Basic BBQ cleaning kit

  • Rubber gloves - to protect your hands
  • Brush with stainless-steel bristles – to remove baked-on food and carbonised grease
  • Lint-free cloth to clean, dry and buff surfaces
  • Warm soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge pad - to remove stains
  • Mild glass cleaner - to clean painted surfaces
  • Stainless-steel cleaner - to clean polished metal surfaces

Many manufacturers sell their own BBQ-cleaning products and have videos of their recommended cleaning methods online.

It’s wise to check your BBQ’s cleaning instructions first, to ensure that the cleaning equipment you use won’t damage your grill or invalidate your warranty - for example, some recommend the use of wire-wool scouring pads and others don't.

2. Bake off grease deposits

Leave your gas or charcoal BBQ with the heat and lid on for 15 minutes to bake grease and food deposits into a blackened layer which is easier to remove than liquid grease.

Leave the BBQ to cool down and remove the coals and ash from a charcoal grill or disconnect the gas bottle from a gas grill. 

3. Clean the lid and grills

Use a stainless-steel grill brush to remove carbonised grease from the inside of the lid and the cooking grills. Remove the grills and flavouriser bars of gas BBQs, then wash these and the lid with warm soapy water and a non-scratch sponge pad.

Avoid a build-up of carbonised grease on the BBQ lid by wiping over with a damp rag while it's still warm to remove moisture and debris.

Caring for metal and painted surfaces

Clean stains from painted lids with warm soapy water and polish up with a mild glass cleaner and lint-free cloth.

Use a mild stainless-steel cleaner on the metal parts of the lid or metal shelves. 

Clean with a side-to-side motion in the direction of the metal grain and then buff until shiny.

4. Cleaning the gas burners

Clean the gas burners using a steel brush to remove deposits. Use a metal pin or BBQ skewer to unblock individual gas outlets, taking care not to put debris into the burner itself. Wash with warm soapy water and dry with a lint-free cloth.

Brush across the width of the burner rather than along the length of it to avoid pushing debris from one hole to another. 

5. Clean the cavity of the BBQ

Remove big deposits of food particles or grease and then clean the inside with warm, soapy water and a sponge. Rinse and dry with a lint-free cloth.

Use a flat metal tool, such as a putty knife or a paint scraper, to remove large grease deposits.

Empty and clean the drip tray and replace any drip-tray liners ready for the next time you use your BBQ.

And finally:

Apply a thin coating of vegetable oil to your grills and reassemble your barbecue. 

If possible, store it in a shed or garage to provide the best protection from the elements, otherwise use a good-quality BBQ cover to protect it from the rain.

Caring for your barbecue in winter

Many gas BBQs have to be replaced because the gas burners or metal body succumb to rust over the winter months. Follow our tips to stop the rust setting in and to keep your BBQ in working order after the winter. 

1. Protect your BBQ from the elements

Rust usually starts because the metal surfaces of a BBQ get damaged and then damp. 

So the the ideal place to store your BBQ is in a shed or garage, away from rain, frost and freezing temperatures.

Otherwise it's wise to invest in a BBQ cover, which will cost from £15 to £60. Look for a cover that fits well and is easy to put on and take off. Covers have a habit of blowing off in strong winds, so look for one that has strong ties to attach it to the frame or use a rope to tie it on. 

2. How to stop cooking grates from rusting

Damaging the surface or coating on your cooking grills/grids/grates can let rust get a foothold. You need to treat the different types of grill materials in different ways to stop this happening.

Cast-iron grills

These rust easily unless they're kept seasoned. After cleaning the grill with warm soapy water and removing any rust with steel wool, dry thoroughly and then wipe over with a highly saturated solid fat such as lard or palm oil. Put them back in the BBQ with the burners on medium heat for a while, then leave them to cool before storing.

Stainless-steel grills

After cleaning with a steel brush and warm soapy water dry the grills, then apply a light layer of vegetable oil before storing them away.

Chrome-coated wire grills

Avoid cleaning these with wire wool which can damage the surface - just wash them with hot, soapy water. Use a chrome cleaner if necessary. To prevent rusting, wipe them with cooking oil after rinsing and drying.

3. Final BBQ checks

Before you put your gas BBQ away, take a bit of time to check the hose that connects the gas bottle to the BBQ. Remove fat or oil deposits and check the hose for kinks, splits and signs that the rubber is perishing; if it is order a replacement hose before next spring. Store the hose away from frost and direct sunlight. 

Storing your cooking gas

Do:

  • Store gas bottles in an upright position in a well-ventilated place
  • Ensure gas bottles are stored away from heat and ignition sources
  • Make sure gas bottles are stored outdoors, away from building entry/exit points, drains, frost and direct sunlight

Don't:

  • Store gas bottles below ground level
  • Keep gas bottles near any corrosive, toxic or oxidant material
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