How to clean a BBQ grill grate and base – using steam, onions and even beer!

Get your BBQ sparkling in no time, ready for when we can feast with friends and family once again
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  • As restrictions lift in the coming weeks it’s looking like we’ll be entertaining outdoors more than ever this year. It’s time to get barbecues in tip top shape, so you’re ready to host family and friends all season long.

    No doubt the last time you saw your grill it was gathering dust in the shed, still caked in last summer’s last grilled meals. Sound about right? Then it’s time to bite the bullet, put on a pair of rubber gloves and get scrubbing. This isn’t just a step-by-step guide to how to clean a BBQ – we’ve also added a few hacks to help you keep your grill clean all summer long.

    At the first sign on sun we want to be outdoors getting the coals fired up for, ready for flame-grilling burgers and bangers, steaks and salmon, cooked to order on the BBQ.

    Or do you just need a new one? Best BBQs 2021 – charcoal, gas and hybrid barbecues for your garden

    How to clean a BBQ – grill, grate and base

    1. Start with heat 

    how to clean a bbqImage credit: Future PLC

    If there’s still caked-on food left over from last year, light fresh coals in your barbecue and leave them to reach a very high heat. This will burn off a lot of the most stubborn remnants.

    2. Clean the BBQ grill with newspaper and steam

    Lynsey Queen of clean has a neat trick with newspaper to clean a caked-on BBQ grill. Allow your barbecue to cool slightly, but while it’s still warm, lay a sheet of old newspaper across the top and generously spritz with water. Close the lid for half an hour to steam clean it. 

    Lynsey explains, ‘Grab one sheet of newspaper and pop it o the BBQ you’ve been using and just get a spray bottle of water and spray the newspaper. Pop the lid back on and what will happen is this will give your BBQ a steam clean. It will start to release all that grease, all that fat and all those bits from the food.  When you take the newspaper off it will be all greasy and  dirty, put that away (in the bin). And you’ll find the newspaper has done most of the work for you.’

    3. Scrub the grill

    how to clean a BBQ2

    Image credit: Emma Lee

    Use a grill brush with wire bristles to get rid of remaining food particles. If you have a porcelain-coated rack, it’s best to use a brass-bristled grill brush to avoid damaging it. No grill brush? Screw up aluminium foil into a ball and scrub the grill with it instead. Next, clean the grill with a dishcloth and hot soapy water.

    If that doesn’t shift the dirt, you might want to try a household cleaner. However, some can be abrasive and toxic for a barbecue, so make sure you get a cleaner that’s specifically designed for the job, such as Jeyes barbecue cleaner, £3.50 for 750ml, B&Q.

    If you’re in the mood for sprucing things up, check out our care and cleaning page

    4. Clean with an onion

    Believe it for not a brilliant BBQ hack is to use an onion for cleaning. ‘When the grill has started to heat up, attach half an onion to a fork and rub over the hot bars. The water in the onion steam cleans the grill plate/ bars and removes any impurities’ advises a spokesperson for Delphis Eco. ‘Onions have natural antibacterial properties and if you’re cooking with charcoal, you can throw the used onion right into the coals when you’re finished to add flavour to whatever you’re grilling.’

    how to clean a BBQ 1

    Image credit: Future PLC

    5. Get a BBQ gleaming with white vinegar

    A favourite for cleaning inside the home, white vinegar is a great alternative to stainless steel cleaner. Use a left-over spray bottle and fill it with half white vinegar and half water. Spray it over the grill, wait five minutes before wiping it off with a clean, dry cloth.

    6. Coat the grill in cooking oil

    This method might sound counter-productive to cleaning, but it will help prevent food sticking and your grill from going rusty. Each time before you use the BBQ give it a good coating in sunflower oil, and rub it down the same way once you’ve finished. Your BBQ will thank you.

    7. Tackle cleaning the BBQ base

    How to clean a BBQ Tackle-the-base

    As soon as your barbecue is cool, tip away leftover ash into a bucket – it will collect moisture and be harder to clean later if you leave it. Use damp kitchen roll to pick up the final bits, alternatively an outdoor vacuum is an easy way to collecting any remaining bits. Then give the base a good wash using warm water and washing-up liquid.

    8. Add ketchup to remove rust

    Turns add tomato ketchup is not just for saucing up burgers and bangers! We have the Queen of clean Lynsey Crombie to thank for this savvy condiment cleaning hack! She says, ‘Ketchup  is an amazing cleaner for removing rust!’ ideal for the BBQs left out in the elements last summer. Simply apply a small amount to any areas of rust, leave for a few minutes and watch it work its magic.

    9. Pour on a splash of beer

    Beers in a bucket of ice at BBQ

    Image credit: Charlie Richards

    BBQs and beers go hand in hand so if find yourself with a little beer leftover after a BBQ, pour it over the grill while it’s still warm. Then give it a good scrub with a wire brush to get it sparkling. It’s not a waste of good beer don’t fear, it’s a savvy way to get the grill gleaming.  ‘Use beer to clean your BBQ’ advises Lynsey. ‘Using your scrubbing brush pop beer onto the end,’ she demonstrates while presenting on This Morning. ‘The acid in the beer will help clean it (your BBQ).’

    10. Soak BBQ tools in Coffee

    Get your barbecuing utensils gleaming again by soaking them in coffee for an hour. Any cooked-on food should slide right off.

    11. Use tin foil to wipe clean

    While you can use a specialist BBQ cleaning pumice stone, you can do just as good a job with the leftover tin foil you’ve been cooking with. ‘If you’ve been using tin foil on your BBQ, screw it into a ball and just scrub away,’ says Lynsey Crombie. ‘That will start to lift off the food.’ a good budget alternative to buying a cleaning tool.

    12. Wipe the outside

    Using fresh warm water and washing-up liquid, wipe the exterior, then buff the metal shell with a dry cloth. If your barbecue is stainless steel, use a specialist polishing spray. It’s also worth giving your BBQ a light coating of mineral or baby oil to protect it from the elements. This is doubly important if you’re planning to keep your barbecue outside all summer long, and will give it a lovely shine.

    How to clean a bbq prevent-more-grime-from-building-up

    Image credit: Chris Alack

    14. Always cover up

    To keep grime and dirt off all summer long. It may seem like a faff, but covering your grill to protect it from the elements will save you loads of hassle in the long run. Covers are available for most brands of barbecue. You’ll usually have to pay extra for them, but they will ward off rust and keep out extra dirt between cook-outs.

    15. Keep on top of things

    Now that you’ve got your barbecue looking pristine, ensure it remains in tip-top condition by using a barbecue cleaning product after every use. HG Grill and Barbeque Cleaner,  £5.47 for 500ml at Amazon will do the job perfectly.

    16. Cheat to clean a BBQ if time is against you

    Try some speedy antibacterial wipes. We like double-sided Landmann Barbecue Cleaning Wipes, £17.99, for 40 at Amazon. Alternatively, you can skip the scrubbing and give the BBQ a hose down with a pressure washer or if it fits pop the grill in the dishwasher.

    Get the garden ready: 29 easy garden ideas – simple, low-maintenance updates to transform your outdoor space

    Got any BBQ cleaning tips that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments box.

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