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Matador 4 burner BBQ on a timber deck
Get your barbecue in tip-top shape with this guide to thorough cleaning and maintenance habits.

A grill to thrill

Spring has sprung, and how better to celebrate than with a barbecue? But is your barbecue all in good working order, and when was the last time you gave it a decent scrub?

Deep clean

Apart from hygiene reasons, cleaning your barbecue also reduces the chance of it catching fire and ensures your food doesn’t taste of whatever you cooked three months ago. “Maintaining your barbecue by regularly cleaning the grill and hot plates is essential,” says Diana Dulevski, of Mayo Hardware. “This will prevent the build-up of grease and residue, reduce the risk of flare-ups, prevent food from sticking to the surface and prolong the barbecue’s life.”

Details, details

Hotplates:

“Cleaning the plates when they’re hot will make your job so much easier,” says Matt Hoffmann, Bunnings barbecue buyer. “Turn the barbecue up high and scrape the plates with a metal spatula or a scraper to remove remnants of past cook-ups. When it has cooled, use paper towels or a ball of newspaper to wipe up the mess.”

For a deep clean, Diana suggests using a grill block. “This is made from 100 per cent recycled glass and is environmentally friendly and non-toxic,” she says. “The block moulds itself to the barbecue grill, removing built-up grime left between the grill bars. Keep one side for your grates and the other for your hot plate.”

Rust:

“Rusty hotplates are also best cleaned when hot, using your metal scraper, cooking oil, paper towels and a grill stone block,” says Matt. “Heat the plate, then rub the surface with regular cooking oil and the grill stone. Turn off and wipe up with paper towel or newspaper when cool. Repeat until all rust is gone.” Baking soda sprinkled onto the hot surface and wiped up when it stops fizzing can also help.

Grills and grates:

These are also best cleaned after heating the barbecue. Then turn it off and scrub with a grill rake or brush. You can also leave grates overnight in hot soapy water, then scrub with a sponge, rinse and dry, and replace. But note – cast iron grills shouldn’t be soaked, as this can promote rust. Instead, make up a thick paste of baking soda, salt and water, apply with a sponge and leave for about 20 minutes. Scrub off with a brush and then wipe or spray lightly with cooking oil to discourage rust.

Tip: Avoid abrasive cleaners for stainless steel and use soft sponges and brushes for enamel.

A person wearing gloves scrubbing a barbecue grill in soapy water

Barbecue burners:

“Ensure the gas is turned off and disconnect the tank before cleaning,” says Matt. Remove all the grills, grates, trays and burners and clean any food or dirt from the burner tube with a brush. Use a pin, toothpick or cleaning rod to ensure the holes in the burners are free of debris.

Replaceable parts:

Check for damaged or corroded parts and replace those you can. Particularly look at the flame tamers, which are often damaged by use or salty air. It’s crucial to replace damaged flame tamers to minimise the risk of fire.

Maintenance

To keep your barbecue in good condition, give it a bit of TLC after each use. “Every time you use your barbecue, burn off all the remaining grease afterwards and clean the surface. For hot plates, use a scraper, scrubber and/or barbecue wipes,” says Diana. For grill grates, use a grill rake or grill brush to get into gaps and hard-to-reach corners. “Replace the fat absorber in the drip tray regularly to avoid it becoming a fire hazard,” adds Diana.

When to say goodbye

There will come a time when your barbecue simply won’t respond to any amount of TLC. So, how will you know when you need a new one? “When your barbecue will no longer light, the hoses or fuel lines are cracked, or if it is leaking gas or the regulator is broken, then it’s definitely time to replace it,” says Diana. “Anything to do with gas can become a safety issue if not addressed urgently.” Other telltale signs include the following:

  • The flame distribution becomes uneven.
  • Your barbecue doesn’t maintain temperature.
  • Replacing parts becomes more expensive than buying a new barbecue.
  • There’s damage to parts you can’t replace; for example, the hood, doors, side shelves, the main firebox, glass window inserts and drip trays (in gas barbecues).
  • Your barbecue is too big or too small for your needs.

Keep in mind…

  • Barbecue covers can help keep your barbecue clean and in good shape, but ensure the barbecue has cooled completely before covering.

Need a helping hand?

Check out our step-by-step video on how to clean and maintain your BBQ.

Photo Credit: Sam McAdam-Cooper

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Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.