Next up is the degreaser. Your cooker should be cool enough to touch bare handed by now so go ahead and liberally spray everything inside, both the cooking chambers and firebox, taking care to avoid soaking any electronics like igniters. Give it a good scrub with the green pads, keeping them soaked in cleaner and changing them often as they get clogged up. When finished go ahead and rinse everything off, once again avoiding getting electronics wet by covering them.
The inside is done so go ahead and spray the grates deflector down with the degreaser. Now here you can do a couple of things. If you happen to have a pressure washer go ahead and rinse them off with it. If not, you can put all of your grates in a trash bag and haul them down to a local car wash to rinse them off. Just be aware many car washes don't really like people doing this which is why I don't recommend taking the whole cooker there to clean. In my case the local guys tend to mind a lot less when I happen to have a rack or two or a tray of pork for them. Whether you use a hose, pressure washer or car wash keep in mind they are going to splatter grease all over so be careful and clean up after yourself. Your significant other or car wash guy will appreciate it.
Now that we have the working parts clean its time to make the outside all nice-nice. I'm as much into the rat rod and bike scene as the next guy but for some reason that same aesthetic doesn't carry over into the food prep realm for me. I take a minute or two and knock off any rust with a brush, sandpaper or steel wool the spray the whole thing down with degreaser and wash it off with the green pads. Make sure that you keep the surface wet so the green pads don't scratch up the paint. If you have a stainless outside, I would use a sponge, not the green pads. Rinse her off and after it dries hit up any bare spots with the high temperature paint. I like to use Rustoleum to help prevent rust from coming back. Take your shelves off and after cleaning, hit them up with a little polish or metal cleaner. Remember the Windex commercial that said "it ain't cool if the chrome don't shine!"? Make that bling stand out, you spent enough money on it.
There you have it, that's the BGBBQ annual maintenance program. I know it sounds like a lot but hey if you keep up with cleaning throughout the year it's not that bad. It doesn't matter if you are a contest cook or a backyard guy, we all like to show off our cookers and with a little elbow grease you should be able to make your's the center of conversation for years to come.
Sean Keever - Pitmaster, Big Guns BBQ