Everyone likes a good barbecue party. Just the thought of inviting friends over and throwing some meat on the barbecue is an universal idea of a good time. The only part that’s not so fun is the cleaning of the barbecue itself.
Anyone who has ever tried to clean a barbecue, knows the difficulty that the task itself presents. The state of the barbecue affects the taste and quality of the food prepared, so not cleaning it is simply not an option at all. Some do it before use, some after and some prefer to do a thorough job and do it both before and after cooking.
Knowing how to clean a barbecue can make the job more easy. It’s a job that takes a lot of time either way, but by knowing how to do it right and making proper preparations before starting, the time can be cut in half. Also, have in mind that the job doesn’t end with the barbecue itself as there might be surrounding surfaces that need attention too. The process of cleaning a barbecue doesn’t have to be time consuming or frustrating. With a brief introduction on how to clean a barbecue properly, starting with learning the various methods of cleaning, and understanding what types of barbecues respond better to these methods, cleaning can be a breeze.
Methods to Cleaning the Grates
The cleaning done on a barbecue is usually focused on the cooking grates. The cooking grates are the ones that come in direct contact with our food, so it’s not surprising that they play a huge role in the whole cooking process. Keeping them clean is of utmost importance, and should be done regularly.
Heat Can Help
The best way to clean the grates is right after you’re done cooking. While the grates are still warm, it’s easier to clean all the build-up residue. If they cool off, the residue will harden and become a lot more difficult to remove. Scrubbing with a wire is the most effective method of cleaning the grates. Stainless steel grates are more fragile, so this method should be avoided. A plastic scrubbing brush is prefered for the grates built of more gentle materials. If the grates have already cooled off, it’s still a good idea to pre-heat them before cleaning. Heat has a sterilising effect and will liquify all the hardened grease on the surface making it easier to clean.
Water and Detergent
Water and detergent also work pretty well. The commercial cleaning detergents designed for barbecues dissolve the residue on the grates with ease. Letting the grates soak in a bowl of water and detergent for a while, can make the job a lot easier to. Make sure not to use abrasive cleaning detergents and resist the temptation to use strong detergents might contain toxic substances.
Replacing the Grates
Taking good care of the cooking grates will make them last longer, but their lifespan is not eternal. Fortunately, cooking grates are sold separately, so they can be easily replaced when they become too chipped and rusted. Rusted areas are more difficult to cook on and clean too. Also, the rust might stick on the meat creating a very unhealthy intake of metal with every meal.
Different Barbecues, Different Methods
There is more than one type of a barbecue. The methods used to clean one of the types, can prove to be damaging to another, so get well acquainted with the model and it’s features. The structure of the barbecue is very dependant of the type of fuel it uses. The three basic types of barbecues and their most important features regarding cleaning are listed below.
The gas barbecue usually has a gas tank or a gas installation. It also has a system of burners that needs to be cleaned regularly in order for it to function properly.
The charcoal barbecue has the most simple design of them all. Straight edges and flat surfaces are predominant in the designs, so it’s easy to clean.
The combined barbecue has similar features as the charcoal models. They do have a more complicated firebox, which in turn makes it a little bit harder to clean.
The instruction manual of the barbecue often has a section focused on cleaning, so make sure to read the instructions. When introducing a new cleaning agent always consult the manual first.
How to Clean a Gas Barbecue
Cleaning the gas barbecue for everyday use involves just scraping the cooking grates, wiping out the surrounding surfaces and emptying the grease pan. There may be regulations regarding the proper disposal of the grease, so check with your local recycling centre.
When doing a thorough cleaning, always start by closing the gas valve. If the barbecue has a removable propane tank, disconnect it. This will prevent all sorts of accidents from happening. To do a proper cleaning job, most of the parts need to be disassembled.
The Flame Guards
Removing the flame guards is among the first steps. They accumulate a lot greasy residue that drips from the grates. Their size makes them very easy to clean. Scrubbing each one with a brush or just submerging them in hot water and detergent will prove very effective.
The burners are right beneath the flame guards. They’re well protected so most of the job is just making sure that there is no congestion along the way. It’s very wise to remove the ignitors before you start cleaning the burners. The wiring and the igniters themselves can be easily damaged by scrubbing or water. Use a garden hose to run water through the burners. The water coming out of the burners will also make any cracks on the visible. Cracked burners should be replaced right away.
Inside the Barbecue
Once all other components are removed from the barbecue, it’s time to clean the interior. The interior is best cleaned in two steps. The first step involves scrubbing off and removing all loose debris. The better job you do in the first step, the easier it gets in the second one. After the thorough scrubbing, wash all that’s left with warm water and detergent.
How to Clean a Charcoal And Combined Barbecue
The charcoal barbecue is easier to clean as there are not as many parts to disassemble in order to do the job. When you're done with the cooking grate, simply remove it and approach the cleaning in the same manner as in a gas barbecue interior.
Keep All Mechanisms Working
Charcoal and wood don’t provide consistent temperatures during the whole cooking period and that’s why this sort of barbecues have mechanisms to control the distance between the fire and the grate. These mechanism should always inspected after every use and kept clean at all times. Don’t grease them up to make them run more smoothly, as all grease is flammable. Using some hand soap will do the trick.
There are some preemptive measures all can take to make the cleaning of a charcoal barbecue a lot easier. Lining the barbecue with aluminium foil will make the disposal of all residue a lot easier. just wait for it to cool down, fold it and throw it in the trash.
Cleaning Additional Parts
A good cleaning job is not limited to the barbecue itself. All surfaces around the cooking area need some cleaning after a sizable barbecue. Use food friendly detergents when cleaning the areas where food is prepared and served. It doesn’t matter if the food does not come in direct contact with the surfaces, one can never be too careful. There is no preference when it comes to detergents used on the floor areas, All food that lands on the floor should be disposed of anyway. Also, a floor mat around the barbecue might save you some trouble when cleaning up. It’s far easier to remove the floor mat and wash it, than bothering to get behind every corner with a towel or a mop.
Find Related Cleaning Items On eBay
All the previously mentioned cleaning supplies can be found on eBay. There is great selection of all items, but still it can be said with great conviction that one brush is as good as the other. There’s no specific category that holds all the cleaning supplies and accessories in close relation with the barbecue. That’s why the search bar should consulted for each one individually.
When browsing by categories, most cleaning tools and supplies can be found in the "Home, Furniture & DIY" section. Still, it’s not nearly as effective as using the search for a specific item. If there’s a need for a great number of items, a shopping list should be created before starting the search. Shopping for all items at once is always a good eBay strategy.
When searching for a replacement cooking grate or a set of burners have in mind that most won't fit your needs. It’s always best to try and find a replacement from the same vendor. The dimensions of the replacement must be an exact match. All offers have dimensions included, so if an original replacement cannot be found, there’s still a chance to find a probable replacement.
As it turns out, there’s a lot to know about cleaning a barbecue. This shouldn't put anyone off in their idea of using the barbecue as often as needed. After repeating all the steps mentioned above two or three times, they can be easily memorised.
The most important part about the cleaning is to have a nice clean cooking grate. It’s closely involved in the food preparation process and it has a huge affect on the quality of the meal cooked. Cooking grates of more sensitive materials should be cleaned with water and soap.
The strategy employed in cleaning is also affected by the type of the fuel a barbecue uses. The structure of the barbecue can vary a lot depending on the type. Cleaning a gas barbecue involves a careful process of disassembly and individual treatment of every part.
The areas around the barbecue should be cleaned too as the barbecue is not the only place used in the preparation of the food. All surfaces where food is prepared should be cleaned with food friendly detergents. Less attention should be payed on what detergents to use on the floor surfaces.