June 08, 2023

How to clean your BBQ by Struan Robertson

By Tom Gibson
Picture the all too familiar early June scene. It's a warm sunny evening and you're hungry, so naturally your mind veers towards one of the great pleasures in life - grilled meat! Excitedly, you text your family or friends letting them know that tonight they will be dining on Provenance steak, sausages or some chicken doused in our now legendary "green marinade". Buns are purchased, salad made and bottles are chilled. You even remembered to buy a bag of lumpwood charcoal!
It's all going swimmingly.....until you lift the lid on your Weber / Big Green Egg / Kamondo Joe (Other BBQ brands are available!) to be confronted by a dingy, rusty, sticky tar covered hell pit that you wouldn't burn evidence on, let alone feed your family and friends from......The clock is ticking - it'll be bath time / beer time / bed time (delete as appropriate) before you know it, so let's get that BBQ clean, fired up and grilling quicker than you can say "a clean BBQ is a clean mind...."
So, here is my list of BBQ cleaning hacks, using what you might have to hand, and when you're short of time. Now, go grab some gardening gloves and take off your work clothes, we're going to get messy.
1. Start Afresh
Take all the loose parts out of your BBQ and stare into the abyss of old dusty coal and ash. Carefully scoop out all of this detritus into a bin bag. It may well be damp,, which will stop the BBQ from lighting, and it also will block airflow with the fine dust and ash, which will slow down any efforts to get the heat going as quickly as possible. Best sure to brush out as much as possible and start your first cook of the season with a clean slate.
2. Fire it up!
Yes, time is short so get the coals going now as some other cleaning can be done while it heats up, and some of the other cleaning methods will be aided by the heat. As soon as the coals are going, put the grill on and let the BBQ come up to temperature.
3. Assemble the tools
Whether you're digging them out from the shed, or searching for your metal tongs in the long grass, grab your BBQ tools and give them a good clean in the sink while the coals heat up. There shouldn't be anything on them that hot water and fairy liquid cannot remove, but it's an essential step to serving a happy and hygenic BBQ.
4. Time to clean the grill (the important bit)
This isn't a classic car show and we're not trying to win any awards for presentation here, we're trying to cook some dinner before the sun goes down. Cleaning the lid and the outside can be done another time!
By now the grill should be hot, and if your BBQ is dirty, it will probably be giving off a lot of smoke. 
Assuming you don't have a specific grill brush, then you will need to arm yourself with two weapons: a sheet of tin foil and an onion.
First, cut the onion in half. We're going to use half the onion to start the job, half to finish it.
Use one half of the onion, with the cut side facing down to rub all over the dirty grill. If the heat is too intense to hold it with your hands, use your tongs. If you don't have long handled metal BBQ tongs then use a long fork as a makeshift handle. Rub the onion up and down all of the metal bars paying particular attention to the grimiest areas - the moisture from the onion will loosen the stubborn dirt, and onions also have natural antibacterial properties without the risk of tainting your BBQ with nasty chemicals. Once everywhere has been scrubbed, discard that first half of the onion. Don't use it to make the salad.
Next, scrunch up the sheet of tin foil into a ball and use it to perform the same manoeuvre. Again, the grill will be hot, so use your tongs, or if you gave a pair of heat proof gloves, please do wear them. The scrunched up foil becomes pretty abrasive and also moulds to the shape of the grill bars allowing you to push the burned on dirt off the bars, back into the coals.
Now use the other half of the sacrificial onion to perform step one again. Hopefully you should now have a reasonably clean grill on which to cook, and the evening has been saved!
Let the coals urnoff any of the grime that's been pushed off the bars, and then you should be good to go!
We will follow up with a more complete top to toe BBQ health check and cleaning email, but hopefully these quick tips have got you fired up for getting......fired up?! Enjoy!