How to Clean a 55-Gallon Drum for a BBQ

Creating a backyard grill out of a 55 gallon drum is one of the easiest ways for homeowners and do-it-yourselfers to create a more affordable grill on their own dime.

While it is a cheaper alternative to commercial grills, cleaning the drum before using it is important so you don't have to worry about dust, old chemicals, algae or other components that can interact with the flavor of your food once you grill. Thankfully, there are a number of methods that any do-it-yourself handy-person can use to clean the drum prior to using it for a grill.

Remove the bung cap on the drum and insert a garden hose. Fill the drum to around 1/4 of its capacity and add a large box of baking soda along with at least 1/2 bottle of common white vinegar, which you can buy in any grocery store. Replace the bung cap and turn the barrel on its side. Let it sit for a minimum of 12 hours and rotate it every few hours so that the solution has a chance to soak into every crevice of the interior. Flush the barrel with clean water several times after you are finished.

Clean the drum with bleach for algae growth or otherwise. Fill it to around 25 percent capacity and then add a bottle of bleach. Replace the bung cap and put the barrel on its side and roll it around a few rotations. Let it sit overnight, rotating it a couple of times to ensure all of the interior growth and areas are covered. The following day, flush it several times with clean water to ensure you remove all of the bleach.

Burn any additional material from the interior of the drum for additional cleaning. This can be done either after the drum has been cut for grilling by filling the two halves with charcoal or firewood and letting it burn for several hours, or it can be done after the grill has been constructed, prior to actually using it for the first time.

Things You Will Need

  • Garden hose
  • Bleach
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Power washer (optional)
  • Charcoal
  • Firewood


  • Additionally, you can choose to rent a power washer or sandblaster to clean the interior of the drum after it has been cut in half for use as a grill. However, soaking the interior with baking soda and vinegar (creating a mild acid solution) or bleach should clean the interior sufficiently for use as a grill.


  • Be sure to drain the vinegar/baking soda and/or bleach solution in a safe area, such as in a drain pipe or on top of gravel. Vinegar will kill grass, so avoid draining the solution in flowerbeds or in your yard.

About the Author

Tim Anderson has been freelance writing since 2007. His has been published online through GTV Magazine, Home Anatomy, TravBuddy, MMO Hub, Killer Guides and the Delegate2 group. He spent more than 15 years as a third-generation tile and stone contractor before transitioning into freelance writing.