How to clean your barbecue just in time for summer

Clara V.
Clara V.Published on 10 Sept 2021

The sun’s starting to come out and the days are getting longer, which means that entertaining season is upon us - and for many, that means it’s time to whip out the BBQ.

Luckily, if you stay on top of maintaining your BBQ, then cleaning it can be relatively fuss-free. Cleaning a BBQ regularly and in the correct way has a huge payoff; you can grill to your heart’s content at your next outdoor gathering.

If you think your barbecue has seen better days, then read on for our handy guide to cleaning your BBQ so that you’re ready to start your summer entertaining.

A man in a blue apron using a barbecue.

How often should I clean my BBQ?

Your BBQ should be treated in the same way you’d treat your kitchen cooktop and be cleaned after every use. This is for health and safety reasons - particularly if your BBQ has a cast iron grill that’s prone to rust - as well as to ensure that the food you spend so much effort preparing actually tastes good.

It’s also recommended to give your BBQ a deep clean once a year, either before or after the grilling season. If you grill year-round, some manufacturers recommend a deep clean twice a year.

Read your BBQ’s product manual

While cleaning your BBQ after every use and again yearly is a good rule of thumb, you should also consult the product manual to see if your specific model requires extra cleaning. You may even find extra cleaning tips that can help you tackle specific parts of your BBQ.

How to clean your BBQ after you use it

It can be easy to turn a blind eye to the mess you’ve made on the barbecue, particularly if you’ve got guests over. However, a quick clean right after you’ve finished cooking can save you a headache and more time scrubbing off baked grease later on in the day.

1. Disconnect the gas

First things first, twist the nozzle on your gas bottle to its ‘off’ position and disconnect your bottle.

2. Clean the drip tray

Remove the drip tray and use a BBQ scraper or a non-scratch scrubber to scrape any food residue off it. You can also use a scourer or a grill brush to get rid of any food or marinades still remaining and use BBQ wipes to remove excess grease before rinsing.

3. Scrub the hotplates

Fill up a large bucket with hot soapy water (tip: this works wonders for most parts of your BBQ) and scrape away fat and grease with a scraper from the hotplates. Then you can do the same for your grills, making sure to wash both sides and clean any fat that has dripped through the grates - a metal scourer works well for this. You can let these soak before rinsing them off.

4. Clean the inside of your BBQ

Before you put the hotplates and grills back on, you need to get a bit more familiar with the inside of your barbie. Go over the surfaces with hot soapy water, and if you find this a bit tedious and you don’t mind spending a bit more money on cleaning supplies, then use BBQ wipes from your local hardware store.

5. Coat your hotplates in oil

Now that your hotplates are clean, let them dry or dry them with some paper towels and spray a light coating of cooking oil on them - this will help prevent them from rusting. Then you can pop them back onto the barbecue, ready for the next grill.

Make sure you dispose of fat and oil the right way

Don’t run the risk of a clogged drain by pouring grease straight in the sink. Scrape any fats and oils into a container or newspaper after they’ve cooled down and then bin them.

To dispose of cooking oil, mix it with something absorbent, such as coffee grounds or cat litter, and then bin it.

Tips on cleaning the exterior of your BBQ

The outside of your barbecue deserves as much love as what’s inside - and cleaning it is just as important. Here are some tips on how to keep it clean.

  • Keep your barbecue protected from the elements, both under a barbecue cover and under some kind of shade.
  • If you have a stainless steel BBQ, clean the exterior with warm soapy water or a stainless steel cleaner to reduce tea staining (the brown discolouration of stainless steel).
  • Use warm soapy water or an all-purpose cleaner to get rid of fingerprints and fat from the hood, side tables, and warming rack.

Cleaning your barbecue yearly

Some barbecues need a deep clean once a year either before or after the grilling season, particularly if you use them frequently.

To do this, first remove all the interior parts of the BBQ, ensuring that the gas and any electrical connections have been disconnected.

Warm soapy water comes to the rescue again: here, you can use it to clean the hotplates, grill plates, roasting racks, and flame diffusers. You can then dry these and coat them with cooking oil.

Soak any stainless steel components of the BBQ in warm water with some laundry powder for an hour or two before going over them with a scourer. You can then rinse and dry them.

Let all the parts of the BBQ dry in the sun before you put it back together again.

Barbecuing tips to help you minimise your mess

Cleaning is important regardless of how you use your BBQ, but there are a few tips to keep in mind so that you can prevent a big mess in the first place.

  • Apply cooking oil on the grill before you start cooking to prevent the build-up of dirt and grease.
  • Cook fish and seafood in foil packets that contain the mess.
  • Cover your hotplates in Teflon sheets - these are non-stick BBQ grill mats that can be used with gas, charcoal, or electric BBQs and can be cleaned in the sink (or for certain types, in the dishwasher) after you’ve used them.
  • Line your drip tray with aluminium foil to collect fat and grease without dirtying your tray (too much). Sprinkle a fat-absorbent material like kitty litter on top; this makes it easier to clean the next time and also helps eliminate odours. You also only need to change the foil around every 10 barbecuing sessions.

If you're considering buying a BBQ for the warmer weather, you can read reviews for all BBQs here.