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How to clean and maintain a BBQ

Proper cleaning and maintenance is the secret ingredient to great grilling. A clean BBQ grill will provide higher temperatures and better heat distribution, and you won't have as much trouble with food sticking to the grates either. All in all, good maintenance means better performance.

Some simple steps at the beginning, end, and throughout the season will keep your grill in top shape.


Clean the burner

The burner and gas tubes are the most important part of the grill. They ensure that your temperature is just right for everything from smoking to searing. Keeping them clean will help you cook anything on the grill to perfection. Burner maintenance should be done at the start and end of the season.

The cleaning process will be the same both times. Start by turning off the propane tank and removing the cooking grates. Detach the tubes and burner, taking care not to damage any components. The tubes can be cleaned with warm, soapy water, and the burner can be wiped with a damp microfibre cloth. Towel dry the burner ports and clean out any remaining residue with a toothpick. Set the burner and the tubes aside until you are finished cleaning the rest of the grill.


Wash the grill

Once you have removed the burner and tubes, it is a great chance to give the interior of the grill a good cleaning. At the start of the season, this will remove any dirt or debris that has settled inside while in storage, and, at the end of the season, it will remove any built-up cooking residue.

Before beginning, use aluminum foil to cover the gas valves to prevent corrosion. Then, take a long-handled, stiff-wire grill brush and scrub the grill's interior using warm, soapy water. A grill cleaner can help tackle particularly tough grease spots. When you have scraped off all of the debris and residue, give the grill a thorough rinse and towel dry. After everything is dry, you can reattach the burner and gas tubes.


Burn off the grease

The briquettes that transfer heat to your cooking grate can get coated with grease over time, hindering your grill's performance and reducing food flavor. Over the course of the grilling season, you'll want to burn off the grease to maintain optimal cooking quality. To do this, simply flip the briquettes over, close the lid of your grill, and heat it on high for around 15 minutes. Burn off the grease one last time after your last cookout, before giving the grill its final wash.


Clean the grates

After cleaning the briquettes, make sure that the burners are fully off and allow the grill to cool. Remove the cooking grates and give them a good scrub with a long-handled, stiff-wire grill brush or a grate scrubber. Warm, soapy water should be enough to get most of the debris, but a grate cleaner can help with tougher spots. Thoroughly towel dry the cooking grates and place them back into the grill. Apply a coat of vegetable oil to the grates once you are finished.

Cleaning the grates on a regular basis will help prevent the buildup of food and bacteria, and it will protect against corrosion as well.


Clean the outside

Once you've finished taking care of the inside of the grill, it's time to turn your attention to the exterior. The cleaning method you use will depend on the surface material, which varies among grills. Here are some tips for four of the most common materials.

Stainless steel lids

For a stainless steel lid, hot and soapy water will generally be enough to remove most of the grease and grime. If you need to put in a little elbow grease as well, then use a sponge and scrub with the stainless steel grain. Going against the grain can leave marks on the surface that damage the grill's appearance. Rinse off any remaining soap with warm water and dry with a clean cloth. Finish it off with a stainless steel cleaner for a polished look.

Porcelain-coated steel lids

Porcelain-coated steel lids look fantastic, but they are relatively fragile and liable to crack or break if not handled with care. Treat it as you would glass and clean it with a mild dishwashing soap and water solution. Dry the surface with a cloth and polish it off using a window cleaner.

Powder-coated steel lids

Powder-coated steel can sometimes look like stainless steel but should be treated like a porcelain-coated lid. Clean the lid with mild soap and water and dry it off with a microfibre cloth. Make sure that you do not use a stainless steel polish on a powder-coated surface, as it can damage the finish.

Painted lids

A painted lid can be routinely cleaned with soap and water like other types of lids. If the surface is showing signs of corrosion, you can refinish the lid with high-temperature paint. First, remove the corrosion with sandpaper and a scraper, then wash and dry the area. When it is thoroughly dry, apply the paint according to the product instructions.

No matter what type of surface material your grill is made out of, you can keep it protected while in storage and looking great every season with a quality BBQ cover.


Charcoal vs. gas grill cleaning

If you have a charcoal grill rather than a gas BBQ, then many of your start- and end-of-season tasks will still look the same. The main difference is that charcoal grills do require more regular maintenance to remain in peak condition, and should ideally be cleaned after each use.

Surfaces will be easier to clean while the grill is still hot. It is recommended that you use a grill brush that can dispense water to make the process of cleaning the grate easier. Alternatively, you can sprinkle some water on the brush for a similar effect. Make sure you also clean out the ash at the bottom of the grill after every use to prevent it from blocking the vents. Just remove the charcoal bricks once they have cooled and brush the ash out.