Caring for the BBQ

A strong odor on my boat led me to the lazarette, where we store the propane grill. I had neglected to clean the grill during fall layup, mold had formed on the bits of baked-on food and grease that remained.

Grilling is truly our favorite way to cook, ashore or onboard. Nothing compares to the smoky flavor of grilled foods. Plus, grilled foods are easy, they taste great, and they keep the cabin cool on a hot day, but don’t forget the cleanup.

Proper Grill Care

For stainless steel parts and surfaces, the most efficient cleaning agent is spray-on barbeque or oven cleaner. Full-strength liquid dishwasher detergent is a close second. Both are caustic and should be applied carefully. Rubber gloves are a must, as is eye protection.

Disassemble the grill as far as possible, which makes cleaning easier and protects those parts — brass, aluminum or zinc alloys — that should not come in contact with caustic cleaning agents. Most gas grills come apart quite easily. First, clean out the burner orifices with a pipe cleaner or similar apparatus. The venture and grease pan can be cleaned in the dishwasher. Vulnerable parts
that cannot be removed, especially gas inlet and outlet jets, should be covered with masking tape. If the regulator can’t be removed, cover it with a small plastic bag sealed with masking tape.

Scrape off loose debris before spraying on the cleaner. Leave it on for 20 or 30 minutes before scrubbing with coarse steel wool or an abrasive pad. Rinse with warm water, being careful not to allow water to flow back into the burner if it’s still attached. Deposits carbonized by heat may have to be sanded or scraped off, but they don’t pose a health threat.

Fire up the grill, allowing the heat to dissipate any remaining moisture before putting it into storage. Keeping the grill in a canvas bag, often available as an accessory, will make storage much easier and protect it from damage. Because it is made from a soft metal that is easily damaged, the regulator must be protected, especially the area around its gas inlet. Partially depleted gas cylinders should be removed from the grill and stored, if not outside, then at least in a well-ventilated place apart from living quarters.

Proper cleaning before decommissioning ensures that your grill will work better and last longer, and that your food will be cooked in a healthy manner. Plus, you’ll be spared from having to look for that odor.