4 major BBQ mistakes that will ruin your grill

Want to keep your grill in tip-top condition? Avoid these common BBQ mistakes that can damage it

Smoke coming out of a smokestack of a small black smoker grill or barbecue on green background
(Image credit: Anze Furlan / Alamy Stock Photo)

We all know that there are BBQ mistakes to avoid if you want your food to taste good and not make you sick. But what about barbecue mistakes that will actually damage or even ruin the grill itself? 

Even the best grills will eventually succumb to damage if used incorrectly or not maintained properly, and a damaged BBQ is a barbecue that will not give you great results. Even worse, you may find yourself in a situation where you have to replace yours prematurely, having to fork out hundreds on a brand new grill. BBQ experts name the top mistakes not to make if you want your barbie to last. From lighting a BBQ properly to cleaning it using the right tools...

1. Not cleaning your BBQ

Sounds obvious, but many people don't clean their BBQs regularly. And, as it turns out, not only will not cleaning your grill give you food poisoning, but it also will ruin the grill itself. Heather Nixon, Bio-D (opens in new tab)’s sustainability manager, urges BBQ owners to clean their grills after every use to prevent rust build-up. 

To clean your barbecue, 'scrape any residue off the grills – rubbing half an onion on the grills can help with stubborn excess, and leave to soak in hot water with washing up liquid. For best results, leave to soak for 20-30 minutes to make sure all of the food residue is broken down.'

A barbecue with tall flames

(Image credit: Gerry Masterson / EyeEm / Getty)

2. Using harsh cleaning agents

On the other hand, if you're over-enthusiastic with your scrubbing, you could end up damaging the finish on your grill. Paul McFadyen, Managing Director at metals4U (opens in new tab), explains that 'stainless steel is used for barbecue grills as it's hard-wearing and doesn't rust like most other metals – so when cleaning it you should be really careful not to use anything too abrasive that might damage the metal finish.

'I would advise using baking soda mixed with water to form a paste to remove any dirt or grime, as it is non-toxic. Be sure to rinse the area well after treating, it and dry it with a microfibre cloth (opens in new tab) to prevent watermarks. You can also use baking soda to clean aluminum – 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.'

3. Not oiling your grill regularly

You've cleaned your grill. Now do you a) leave it be, or b) oil it? If you're not oiling it, particularly if your BBQ is made from cast iron, you'll be looking at a rusty BBQ pretty soon. Andrew Lovell, Product Manager from LANDMANN (opens in new tab), recommends oiling your grills 'before cooking to make sure food doesn't stick. It also helps prevent rusting and helps to clean more easily once you've finished. Vegetable oil is fine for this as it has a high smoke point.'

Clean outdoor cedar wooden deck and patio of home with BBQ cooker and bottled beer

(Image credit: Thomas Baker / Alamy Stock Photo)

4. Grilling with the lid closed

This is a very common BBQ mistake that could end up costing you your BBQ – and could even cause an injury. Ross Bearman, Great Taste Judge and Founder of BBQ Gifting company, Ross & Ross Gifts (opens in new tab)  ,explains how starting a gas grill with the lid closed could easily damage your BBQ:

'Lighting your grill with a closed lid can cause quite a serious buildup of gas, which in some situations can create a ball of fire. Not only is this going to damage your BBQ, but it could very easily hurt you too. Ensure you keep your BBQ lid open when lighting it and if the flame does go out, simply turn the grill and gas off, waiting 5 or so minutes before relighting just to be safe.'

These common mistakes are easy to avoid. Look after your BBQ and keep grilling! 🍗 

Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design. 

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