How to clean a barbecue grill – simple tips for a bank holiday ready barbecue

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Barbecue season is finally here and many will be descending on their gardens for some alfresco eating. Before firing up the grill, it is important that the barbecue is clean and ready for use.

How can you clean a barbecue?

After grilling, it is a good idea to scrape off food residue when the grill is still warm.

For this purpose, use a specialist barbecue grill cleaning brush.

Once the grill has cooled down, work can start on getting the grills clean and sparkly.

Baking soda can be used for a variety of cleaning tasks around the home, including cleaning barbecue grills.

Metals expert Paul McFadyen, MD at specialist metal provider, metals4U, said: “Stainless steel is used for barbecue grills as it’s hard wearing and doesn’t rust like most other metals – when cleaning it you should be really careful not to use anything too abrasive that might damage the metal coating.

“We advise using baking soda mixed with water to form a paste to remove any dirt, as it is non-toxic.

“Be sure to rinse the area well after treating, and dry it with a microfibre cloth to prevent watermarks.

“You can also use baking soda to clean aluminium – so if your pots and pans are looking grubby or you have tough to remove stains, use the same paste to get them looking shiny and new.”

Some also recommend cleaning barbecue grills by hand after soaking the grills in hot water and washing-up liquid.

There are also a number of dedicated barbecue cleaning products on the market which can help shift burnt on food and dirt, just follow the manufacturers instructions.

Different barbecues may require different cleaning methods, so check the model’s instructions before cleaning.

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Why is barbecue hygiene so important?

It’s important to make sure barbecues are clean in order to keep people safe and prevent cases of food poisoning.

The Hygiene Doctor, Dr Lisa Ackerley, said: “Research by NSF International shows that a third of people are making BBQ food safety mistakes such as mixing raw and cooked foods before grilling, not washing their hands or checking the BBQ is hot enough before they start to cook.

“That’s why we’re urging Brits to consider their BBQ food safety this weekend to ensure we can all enjoy the Bank Holiday!”

Dr Lisa Ackerley and NSF International have provided a list of top 10 tips to ensure safe barbecuing, including:

  • Where possible, avoid actually touching raw meat and vegetables – put them on the BBQ with utensils. This reduces risks of getting dangerous bacteria on your hands.
  • Ensure you are using different utensils to put raw meat and vegetables on the BBQ and a different set to take the cooked foods off to avoid cross contamination. Alternatively, you could put the raw meat on the fire and then put the utensils in the BBQ heat immediately to disinfect them.
  • Don’t put cooked meats onto a platter that was used to carry out raw meat to the BBQ.
  • Place a bowl of hot soapy water and soap next to your BBQ to ensure you are able to wash your hands after handling raw meat and vegetables. Hand gel is also useful.
  • Use a thermometer to check the temperature of your meat before consuming (75oC) – make sure to insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. Whilst whole steaks of beef and lamb may be served rare, never serve burgers, chicken, sausages or pork undercooked because bacteria could be present in the centre. Disinfect the probe on the thermometer after use.
  • Make life easier the next time and clean your BBQ grill after using it by scraping residues into the flames with a BBQ cleaning tool, and let the heat do the work.
  • Studies have shown that the built-in side tables on barbecues are hot spots for bacteria and may be contaminated not just from raw meats but also by birds and pests so make sure you’re cleaning these surfaces with an antibacterial cleaner before cooking. And don’t forget the outdoor dining tables also need a clean before use.
  • Whilst the BBQ gets hot enough to kill some bacteria, it won’t remove allergens, so if someone is allergic to a food group you may need to cook their food first on a cleaned grill or even in the kitchen, separately to be safe.
  • If using marinades, make two batches – one to marinate the raw meat and one to use with cooked meat.
  • Minimise the time you leave food out of refrigeration to around one to two hours max – the hotter the day, the faster the bacteria can grow. You could have an ice box handy to keep foods in next to the BBQ if you have a lot of food to cook, but don’t mix up raw and ready-to-eat foods (such as salads).

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