Like any master craftsman, a good pitmaster knows not only how to use the tool of their trade, but also how to maintain it. They also know that the maintenance of said tool is just as prescient to its use as the use of the tool itself. That is to say: clean your barbecue. Simple. Now, you might be saying, “Well, I don’t know how to,” or, “I have to clean my barbecue?” Our answers are, “We’ll show you,” and “Absolutely.” Whether you’ve invested a sizeable chunk of change into a new barbecue, or feel like old reliable is owed a good pampering, it’s never too late or too early to clean your barbecue. Keep reading to learn how to clean it inside and out.
First thing’s first, you should disconnect your barbecue from its fuel source; this means decouple your regulator from the propane tank (and taking the tank out completely to really get in there for the deep clean). For natural gas, uncouple the quick disconnect nipple that’s attached to your hose from the coupler on your gas line hookup.
The next step, regardless of whether your barbecue is natural gas or propane, is to give the grill grates a good cursory scrape, just as you would before and after cooking (just like you do, right?). This is just so once we begin the cleaning process there’s less mess to deal with on the grill grates themselves.
Now, we should prep our workspace. Move the barbecue from its nook if you need the extra flexibility to reach all the spots you wouldn’t usually reach. If available to you, it’s a good idea to put down cardboard or newspaper to place the various barbecue parts onto as you clean, and to avoid defacing your deck with grease, oil, and other gross barbecue gunk. If you already have a barbecue mat, like the Big Boy Slop Sucker, this should do just fine. You should also have a few rags, or lots of paper towel handy, as well as your barbecue brush of choice (don't have one? Choose one by clicking here).
The Good Stuff
It’s time to start cleaning, but what are you going to use? We have a secret weapon up our proverbial sleeve that works a treat for deep-cleaning all the grime and grease off your barbecue and that’s our Barbecue Cleaner and Degreaser. It’s a weapon that is most feared by burnt-on barbecue grime (the hardest stuff to clean off). One bottle of it is more than enough to one-two punch your barbecue inside out.
Watch this quick video about our Brander Cleaner and Degreaser
Sometimes you have to make a bigger mess before you can clean up a mess (make sense?), and that’s why at Barbecues Galore we always recommend you start with cleaning the inside of your barbecue. Now that you’ve got the lid of your grill open and can survey the scope of your endeavour, don’t get overwhelmed. Start section by section and piece by piece. This is the reason for giving the grates that earlier brush-down, it’ll be your starting point.
If you have cast iron, porcelainized, or cast stainless steel grill grates do not use our Brander degreaser on them because it may compromise that nice seasoning you spent so many nights at the grill building up. However, if you have stainless steel grill grates, you’re in luck because our degreaser is just the thing you need. There are two ways to clean your grates:
- You certainly can spray the degreaser on the grates and let it soak for a few minutes and then wipe it off; however, our preferred method is the 2nd way,
- Setup a tub, large enough to submerge your grill grates into (whether laid flat or standing up) and create a mixture that’s about ¼ degreaser to ¾ water, or if your grills are in particular need of a cleanse make it ½ degreaser to ½ water. Dunk them in and let them soak for the duration of your cleaning session, set them aside for now and we’ll come back to them later.
5. Heat Diffusers
6. Burners And Cook Box
It is best to remove the burners to maximize your cleaning efforts, in most cases they will come out of the barbecue easily. Typically, there are mounting screws on the far end of the burner and they will be mounted on the front of the barbecue at the point where the burner meets the orifice behind the knob. After removing the screws holding the burners in, they should slide out vertically. Run your barbecue brush gently over the ports on the burner(s) to dislodge any debris that has built up and then spray them down with your Brander degreaser. Let them soak for two to five minutes, and wipe them down. In some cases, the burners can look as rough as the flavour bars. If that’s the case, same deal. We’ve got parts if you need them.
With the burners out, you’ll either see the cook box or a set of heat deflector. If it’s heat deflectors, clean them the same way you did the flavour bars.
With these heat deflectors out of the way, the cook box should now be visible for everyone. At this point, there’s another tool that you’ll have to get ready: a vacuum, and preferably a shop vacuum (if you have one). If you don’t have a vacuum, you can also use a broom and dust pan. There can be a lot of loose debris built up in the cook box and using either a vacuum or broom is the easiest way to clear it out. If you’re using a broom, you can push all of the debris down the path that funnels into the drip tray.
Before lathering up the cook box with degreaser it’s a good idea to tuck away any exposed wires inside the barbecue. Now get spraying! Let the degreaser soak into the grease in the cook box for two to five minutes and then get wiping. FYI, your cook box will not return to that shiny showroom condition you purchased it in. This is because of the immense amount of heat that the metal inside the barbecue is exposed to, as well as the smoke that builds up inside coupled with the various vapours and greases from the food you cook in it. This doesn’t mean your effort in cleaning it is for naught; cleaning it out helps limit the potential for fires and also makes using it much more pleasurable. If you’re having an exceptionally miserable time cleaning your barbecue, let it be a lesson to make cleaning it a more common fixture in your maintenance routines, or, grab another beer.
With the bottom half of the cook box complete, we can turn our eyes toward the horizon and the upper-portion of the barbecue; if your barbecue has a warming rack now is an excellent time to take it out and clean it utilizing the same routine as the other components (spray, soak, wipe).
Now, it’s time to tackle the inside of the lid. You may notice what looks like paint peeling on the inside of it; but what this actually is, is carbonized grease. It forms when the vapours from your food get mixed with the smoke and high heat of the barbecue, hot air rises and that’s why this carbon grease usually only forms on the lid of the barbecue. If your barbecue has a particularly thick layer of this carbon build-up, or even if it just has the usual oily grease stuck to it you can take your bristle brush and remove any excess chunks. For tougher chunks, you can use a plastic scraper or plastic putty knife. Spray your Brander degreaser onto the inside of the lid and let it soak for a few minutes then give it a good wipe down with a rag or paper towel.
You can now start reassembling your barbecue, in the order opposite to that which you disassembled it. Take the grill grates out of their bath and wipe them down, the flavour bars as well if you opted to soak them too, and don’t forget to put in a new drip tray.
9. Finishing Touch
Like we said before, the Brander degreaser isn’t only for the inside of the barbecue, so let’s tackle the outside. You can take it on one section at a time or lather the whole grill at once. One thing to note is that if you really want to get every nook and cranny, it’s helpful to take the knobs off. This is easy: set them to the off position and pull forward, they come off and go back on effortlessly.
The exterior of the barbecue won’t need as extensive of a soak as the components inside did, so only leave the degreaser on for two to three minutes and then wipe it off. If your barbecue has drawers or shelving under the grill head, give that area a good sweep or vacuum and a little TLC with the degreaser, or even some dish soap and water.
Now at this point your barbecue is probably looking just as fresh on the outside as it is on the inside, but is it shining? We stock our Brander "The Shining" Stainless Steel Barbecue Polish just for such instances. It’s designed to be applied to all that glorious stainless steel exterior of your barbecue tainted by the bespeckling of grease, grime, and gunk. Also, it positively will get your barbecue looking very, very close to brand new.
To use Brander The Shining, make sure the barbecue is completely dry and clean (luckily, we just did that), dab some of The Shining onto a dry cloth and buff it onto as much of the exterior stainless steel as you want to. We recommend doing all of it if you want it to be glimmering under the sunlight.
10. Hook Up And Burn
At this point you can hook up your barbecue back to its fuel source and fire it up at medium to high heat for about fifteen minutes to burn off any of the degreaser or other cleaning chemicals that might be left inside the barbecue. After that you’re ready to grill again.
We recommend cleaning the barbecue to this extent at least twice a year, once at the beginning of barbecue season and once at the end. It’s a helpful habit to get into and if you clean it often, the cleaning process itself becomes easier each time. Don’t forget to keep your barbecue covered between cooks to avoid debris, bugs, bird poop, or any other gift from nature to get into it.
If you have any additional questions about cleaning your barbecue, or about our Brander Cleaner and Degreaser or "The Shining" Stainless Steel Barbecue, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our barbecue experts on the virtual chat feature on our website. You can also call, or visit one of our five locations across Canada. We've got two in Calgary, AB and three in the GTA, Ontario area.