It’s time to get your outdoor entertainment area ready for those warm evening barbecues.

Aside from the leaves and dust that have built up over winter, there’s a bit of mould and moss in a few places - and you never did really clean your barbecue properly last summer, did you?

So let’s get to work.

Luckily, for most outdoor cleaning jobs all you need is one chemical — caustic soda (available from any hardware store).

Alkaline cleaners are by far the most common class of household cleaners and the only reason that caustic soda is not more widely used is its strong fumes when used indoors.

As an outdoor cleaner this is not a problem.

Get yourself a 2kg tub and you’re good to go.


Sprinkle the caustic soda around liberally, with extra going on moss and mould, oil stains on your driveway and around your barbecue area.

Put your hose on a fine mist and wet it down, with just enough water to get it wet. Then use a stiff broom to sweep it around — the mechanical action will help it get into the stains and moss.

Leave for at least 20 minutes, then hose off with a strong spray (or high-pressure cleaner if you have one).

This should remove most dirt and grime, but you may need to repeat in some areas.


Now for the barbecue. You can use a barbecue or oven cleaner (they’re the same thing) but, since they’re mostly just caustic soda, why not use the caustic soda that you’ve just used for the outdoor area?

Sprinkle it all over the cooking area, or anywhere there is oil or fat. Wet it down, and then get a stiff brush and rub it well in.

After a couple of minutes you’ll see it lift off, and may even have a soapy smell (the caustic soda converts the fat to soap — that’s how it’s removed).

Fill a jug with water, tip it all over, and you’ll see all the fat just run off.

A word of caution, however. When using caustic soda, make sure you wear gloves and safety glasses and keep it out of reach of children.

A by-product of this approach is that it’ll make short work of any weeds that are growing up through your cement or pavers.

And make sure you put the lid back on the caustic soda when you’ve finished with it, as it absorbs moisture from the atmosphere. If you don’t seal it, it’ll be a solid lump next time you go to use it.

© The West Australian

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