Continuing the theme of getting your grill ready for Spring here is my 5-step guide to getting your charcoal barbecue ready for the warmer weather, and those evenings of alfresco living. While a precook burn-off will suffice the majority of the time, I give my grills the once over at the start of the year to make sure they are fully working whenever the need arises to fire one up.
Tools For The Job
You will need:
- Hot water with laundry detergent – really good on tough grease and grime
- your grill brush
- a 2″ paint scraper
- a roll of tinfoil or baking parchment
- paper towel
- disposable gloves
My 5 Step Process To Spring Clean Your Charcoal BBQ
- Wash the Fatty Area in the Bottom of the Bowl, and the External Ash Catcher
Sometimes on a class I forget the foil tray to go underneath the food if I’m roasting and the juices collect with the ash in the bottom of the bowl. This can make a real mess and either block vents, or block any cleaning system your barbecue may come with.
Remove the grates and clean out the bulk of old embers and ash. Empty the external ash catcher and replace as this will stop your feet getting wet when you start adding hot water to the bowl. Use the paint scraper to remove the bulk of any fatty ash deposits around the lower vents and cleaning system (if applicable). Remove the debris from the bowl and clean the greasy area using the hot soapy water and a scouring pad until the area is back to the original finish.
- Wash Exterior
Depending on the finish of your barbecue this may need to be done with a soft dish cloth, or if your barbecue has a tough enamel finish you can use a scouring pad to really lift those burnt on stains. I also remove any fixings that easily detach and really get into the corners.
- Dry Out Interior and Burn Off Sides
Lighting the barbecue after it’s been cleaned may seem counter intuitive, but you want to dry it out thoroughly. Light a full chimney of charcoal and once it’s lit all the way to the top, pour the coal onto the lower charcoal level (leave the cooking grate out at this point). Put the lid on with the vents open, and dry out at a hot 250-300c for 10 minutes.
- Brush Inside Bowl
As the barbecue was drying out it was also burning off the upper walls of the bowl. Lift the lid, and using your wire grill brush go around the inside of the bowl brushing off any burnt on debris.
- Burn Off & Brush Cooking Grates and Scour Inside the Lid
You will burn off and brush the top of the cooking grate before each cook but at this time of the year I like to give them a clean on both sides and just have a visual inspection for wear and tear. They are like tyres and wipers on your car – they need replacing every so many miles.
If everything seems to be in good working order there is nothing left to do but figure out you’re going to cook first. Hopefully you’ve already decided what to cook and as soon as the grill is clean you start cooking straight away!
If you notice that the cooking grate has seen better days, and perhaps the lower charcoal grate is wearing thin and beginning to sag, it may be time to replace them with new replacement parts. These can likely be sourced from where you bought your barbecue, or if they can’t help you try calling the manufacturer. If I am replacing these parts it’s always a good idea to burn them off as they may well have a coating of engineering grease on them. Burn them off for 10-15 minutes at a high 250-300c temperature and you’re ready to go.