How to clean your BBQ grill

How to clean your BBQ grill

Carolin Teufelberger
Zurich, on 16.03.2019
Translation: Eva Francis
Embers glowing in bright red, juicy steaks and a melodic sizzling noise in the background – that’s what BBQing reminds me of. The thought of cleaning the grill afterwards is hidden away in the very back of my mind. Although I know how important it is.

I admit it, cleaning isn’t one of my favourite tasks. No matter whether it’s vacuuming, washing up or dusting – I somehow never seem to be in the mood for it. Therapeutic effects? Not in my mind. This way of thinking isn’t only limited to my apartment: I find grilling tons more fun than cleaning the grill afterwards. You agree? I’m not surprised. But it's important if you want your BBQ dinner to taste nice every time. Even I get that.

Let’s begin with some good news: cleaning the entire grill is only necessary once per season. You might have done that after our last BBQ in 2018 – or you might have to do it now, because you couldn’t be bothered and put the grill away for the winter right after your last BBQ. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Well, the bad news is: if that’s what you did, you have some cleaning to do before you can enjoy sizzling sausages.

How to clean every part of a BBQ grill

Begin with all removable parts. These are best cleaned in the sink using regular washing-up liquid. Pre-clean the cooking chamber with wet kitchen roll, giving it a good scrub with a sponge and washing-up liquid to remove any traces of fat. Use a wooden scraper to remove any caked-on dirt.

You want your grill to look clean from the outside? Use warm water with washing-up liquid to clean the surfaces and outside of your grill or use a special surface cleaner for stainless steel, for instance. What’s important is to apply little pressure to avoid scratching any surfaces. After a short time, your grill will look nice and shiny again.

Make sure to carry out the next steps after each BBQ, not just once a year: cleaning the grill grate, cleaning the grease drip tray and disposing ash and coal. It might be lots of work, but the more often you get it done, the less time it takes. The cleaning method depends on the type of grill:

Charcoal grills

  • Wait until the grill has cooled down completely.
  • Get rid of the coal. A galvanised bucket is your best option.
  • The ashes need to be removed, too.
  • Use a special spray to clean the grill grate. Allow the spray to take effect and then wipe the grate clean with a damp sponge.
  • Use a wooden scraper to remove any caked-on dirt.

Gas grills

  • Again, don't start cleaning until the grill is cold.
  • Remove the grease drip tray and clean it with water and washing-up liquid. If this doesn’t work, use a degreaser.
  • Turn on the burner, press the ignition button and close the lid. This will burn off all of the dirt.
  • Any meat residues and marinade are turned into ash, creating smoke. As soon as no more smoke can be seen, the work is done. This usually takes about 30 minutes.
  • Remove the remains with a stainless steel brush.
  • If you want, oil the grill grate. This removes any ash that’s left over and forms a kind of non-stick layer.

Electric grills

  • Again, don’t start until the grill has cooled down completely.
  • Double-check that you’ve unplugged the grill.
  • Remove the grease drip tray and clean it with water and washing-up liquid.
  • Brush the grill grate clean, but do not use steel wool.
  • If the heating elements are dirty, scrape them off very carefully.
  • Wipe the inside and outside with a damp cloth and some cleaner.

Preventive measures

The easiest way to clean your grill is to keep it from getting dirty in the first place. Covers protect your grill from the outside and drip trays protect the grate. This is an indirect cooking method which includes the meat’s juice, so it’s not suitable for any meat that has short cooking times.

What about other remedies?

As is so often the case with cleaning, there are also a few simple home remedies that help you get your BBQ clean. They work just as well as professional cleaning products, so it’s handy to have them at home.

Newspaper It’s a common problem: you have no newspaper subscription, but your letterbox is always full of adverts and magazines from certain supermarkets. Do you throw them away? Use them to clean your grill. Wrap the grill grate in damp newspaper and leave it like that for at least three hours. The moisture and the printing ink soften up the dirt, so you can easily brush it off afterwards.

Baking powder Baking powder doesn’t only make cakes rise, it also works wonders on grill grates. Place your grill grate in a container, sprinkle it generously with baking powder and fill in so much water that the entire grate is covered. The reaction between water and baking powder dissolves fat and dirt.

Aluminium foil Your BBQ brush is old and scruffy? Tinfoil is a great alternative. Crumple it up and use it to clean your grill grate. But I’d still recommend buying a new grill brush, as cleaning takes longer and is harder work with tinfoil.

Now that the tedious work is over, let’s turn to the more enjoyable part: put the cloth, brushes and cleaning sprays away and let those perfect embers speak for themselves.

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Carolin Teufelberger
Carolin Teufelberger
Editor, Zurich
My life in a nutshell? On a quest to broaden my horizon. I love discovering and learning new skills and I see a chance to experience something new in everything – be it travelling, reading, cooking, movies or DIY.

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