Gardening: Is it ever OK not to clean your BBQ?
Experts tell Sam Wylie-Harris why you really do need to keep those grills gleaming...
WITH sunshine, blue skies and a string of Bank Holidays on the calendar, summer brings lots of scope for planning BBQ parties.
When you're prioritising sorting the essentials such as your propane or charcoal supply, not to mention those tasty marinades and stocking up on ingredients before they sell out – cleaning your BBQ might be the last thing on your mind.
How much does this really matter though?
“It's important to keep your barbecue clean, as just like with everything else, it needs to be maintained so you're able to use your grill time and time again,” says Dan Cooper, head grill master at Weber.
“If you don't regularly clean your barbecue, you can run the risk of exposing your fresh food to residue, dirt and grime, which could ultimately affect the taste and flavour of your cooking.”
To help you get to grips with the build-up of grease and grime, here are some expert-recommended guidelines…
1. If your BBQ hasn't been used for a while, give it a thorough clean: When it comes to giving your BBQ a thorough clean, Cooper says the first step is key. “Heat your BBQ up to the max for about 30 minutes – this will help to burn off most of the old residual grease and fat.
“Then, it's essential to have the right tools for the next steps so you can clean the grate, internal components and exterior of the BBQ properly, to help keep your grill cooking and looking like new, season after season,” he continues. “Helping to ensure high performance and the utmost in BBQ safety.”
Weber have a wide range of utensils to help make the cleaning process as hassle-free as possible, such as their Stainless Steel Gas BBQ Cleaning Kit (£50.39) and Charcoal BBQ Cleaning Kit (£39.99).
Angela Slater, resident expert at Hayes Garden World, who specialises in BBQs, says: “Cleaning the BBQ at regular intervals is absolutely essential, as a BBQ with a build-up of grease is dangerous to use and won't last as long.”
She says that by removing all parts and scrubbing off the charred fat build-up with a wire brush, and then cleaning with a dedicated BBQ cleaner greatly extends the life of the parts. “And saves money on having to continually replace them, just because they've reached dangerous levels of fat residue build-up,” Slater adds.
2. Always eliminate dirt from the cooking grates: “Make sure your BBQ is still hot, and then brush [the cooking grates] with a grill brush to remove any leftover residue which may be left behind after the burn off,” advises Cooper.
“Next, we recommend using half a raw onion on the end of a BBQ fork to scrub the grates. This will pick up any grease left behind, as well as any small specks of dirt and carbon, due to its acidity.”
3. Once cooled, clean the internal bits: Let it cool down before proceeding to the next step. “Put on your rubber gloves and remove all the grates and internal components,” says Cooper. “Then use a T-brush and scraper to clean everything, making sure all grease channels are clear, before placing them back into the BBQ.
“Make sure you don't jet-wash or put components in the dishwasher, as this can cause some parts to rust,” he adds.
To protect your hands and nails, try Marigold's Extra Tough Outdoor Gloves (£4.29, Marigold), which offer extra protection with excellent grip.
And if you're looking for a quick cleaning fix in-between grilling sessions, Laura Marsden, marketing manager for Marigold, recommends investing in a good quality scourer, such as the Marigold Scrub Away Heavy Duty Scourer (£1.19), specifically designed to remove burned-on food.
“It's flexible, so great at bending round grills and getting into corners or hard-to-reach areas,” says Marsden. “It's also very durable, lasting as long as five traditional spiral scourers.”
4. Your BBQ will benefit from a good buff:
Once you've got the chore of cleaning everything out of the way and patted yourself on the back, it's time to polish up.
“Use your microfibre cloth for buffing to give your BBQ the best shine possible,” says Cooper. “And that's it – you're now ready to grill and become a grill master this season. Enjoy.”