It’s just about that time of year again. Barbecue season is upon us, and it’s time to get your garden or yard prepared. The first thing to do is prepare your grill for a summer of al fresco cooking!
But it’s important not to take this job lightly. A dirty barbecue can interfere with the quality of your food. And it doesn’t exactly create a great impression when you’re entertaining guests.
Cleaning a dirty barbecue grill is hard work, and it’s usually time-consuming. The combination of grease, grime, carbonised food and many more unwanted substances makes this job a tough one.
But there’s no need to panic. The more barbecue cleaning hacks you use, the less elbow grease you’ll need. And luckily for you, we’ve gone to the trouble of compiling some of the most popular and effective hacks in use today.
1. Make use of your dishwasher
Don’t waste time cleaning smaller parts of your grill by hand. Removable hotplates and any metal components on the barbecue should go straight in your dishwasher. Choose the hottest setting possible, along with the maximum dose of detergent. While those items undergo a thorough cleaning, you can get on with business.
2. Use the power of steam
A lot of people get bogged down with a range of cleaning processes, tools, and chemicals when they clean their barbecue. But if you have just one tool at your disposal, you might be able to discard most of the others.
A steam cleaner — preferably handheld — is perfect for cleaning dirty barbecues. Superheated steam cuts through grease without any assistance from degreasers. In fact, you can see the grease melt away as you clean. In fact, steam does everything from removing carbonised food to killing bacteria. And if all that’s not impressive enough, it gets rid of nasty odours, too.
If you don’t have a steamer, fill a metal container with boiling water, and place it inside your grill. The steam generated should gradually loosen stuck-on grease and food.
3. Cut an onion in half
This hack works best when the grill is still warm, so it’s not something you can do just after removing your barbecue from winter storage. Nevertheless, it’s perfect for keeping your grill reasonably clean throughout the barbecuing season. Cut an onion in half, attach it to a large fork, and rub it over the bars of the grill. The onion release juices which turn into steam and dissolve grease and grime with relative ease.
4. Use espresso machine cleaners
Espresso machines and other coffee contraptions require regular cleaning with special cleaning tablets and powders. In most cases, these agents work with time and contact, rather than elbow grease. So if you have components on your grill that require cleaning separately, using coffee cleaners saves time and a lot of effort. Fill a large bucket or bowl with hot water, and stir in some of the coffee cleaning agent. Then simply place the parts in the bowl and leave them to soak.
5. Clean the base of your barbecue every time
There are certain areas of a barbecue grill that don’t need cleaning after every use. The base of your grill isn’t one of them. Old coals, wood, lighter materials and ash can affect the flavour and aroma of your food. It’s essential that you remove these waste products after every use.
Scrape up all of these materials using a metal scoop or something similar. Then use a damp cloth to pick up any remnants. Finally, steam clean or de-grease the base to remove any lingering grease and odours.
6. Always have white vinegar at hand
When it comes to getting your barbecue presentable, there’s nothing better than white vinegar. Food-safe and highly effective, vinegar is very effective at cutting through grease, dirt, carbonised food and odours — all at the same time.
Make your own barbecue cleaning solution by mixing half a litre of water with the same quantity of white vinegar. Pour the solution into a spray gun. This, along with a simple scouring bad and sponge should be all you need to keep the exterior of your barbecue shiny and new throughout the season.
7. Use leftover beer as a cleaner
If you have any leftover beer after a barbecue, don’t throw it away. Even a few dregs collected from discarded bottles could help you to clean your barbecue grill. Soak a wire brush with the beer, and use it to scrub the grill. This should cut through grease and carbonised food with ease — but only if the grill is still warm.
8. Use baking soda
There isn’t much in the average home baking soda can’t move. This powerful cleaning agent is cheap, safe, natural and effective. And it’s very easy to use.
Start by sprinkling some baking soda onto your dirty grill. For the best results, do this when the grill is still warm. Then make a thick paste using baking soda and water. Apply the paste liberally to all the dirty surfaces of your grill, and scrub hard with a grill brush. If the accumulations are stubborn, try using some steel wool or scouring pads. Aluminium foil also works well.
9. Clean utensils and removable parts in coffee
There are several possible uses for coffee in the average home — other than drinking, of course. It might surprise you to learn that coffee is actually a very effective cleaning agent. And that’s because it is acidic.
Add some water to old coffee grounds, and give the mixture a good stir. Simply soak your barbecue utensils and removable parts in the mixture for one to two hours. After that, a quick wipe down with a cloth or a paper towel should be all that’s required.
10. Always fire up the grill after cleaning
Cleaning a barbecue grill takes a lot of effort — as well as a range of cleaning agents. The last thing you want is for these agents to linger the next time you cook. You can prevent this from happening by firing up your grill after cleaning it. The heat should burn off any chemical residues, so the flavour and aroma of your food won’t be compromised at a later date.
11. Manage your oil and fat
Cooking on a grill involves a lot of fat and grease. You have to keep on top of these substances, otherwise cooking can become difficult — and perhaps dangerous. Scrape away fat and grease into a separate container every time you clean your grill.
It’s vitally important that you don’t simply pour grease and fats down your sink. They’ll stick to the insides of your drainage pipes and eventually cause a blockage. Store fat in a dedicated metal container. When you’re ready to dispose of it, add cat litter to absorb any excess moisture and place it carefully in your bin. If you barbecue regularly it might be worth asking a company to collect your old fat and oil.
Keep your grill in tip top condition this summer, and look forward to many exciting barbecues with family and friends.