How to Clean Rusty Cast-Iron Grill Grates

Rusted cast iron grill gates on the bbq grill station.

When it comes to purchasing cast-iron grill grates, there are numerous benefits to doing so. Buying a cast-iron grill is one of the finest investments you can make, along with its long-lasting quality. To keep them in good condition for long-term use, you should clean and maintain them every time you use them. 

With regular usage and seasoning, they will ultimately become non-stick, just like a cast-iron pan. In contrast, cast-iron grill grates might become rusted and useless if cast iron pans are not thoroughly cleaned and preserved.

Cast-iron grate rust removal may be on your list of things to investigate. How do you go about getting your cast-iron grates clean and rust-free? You have come to the right place, my friend!

Interesting Facts About Cleaning Rusty Cast Iron Grates 

When properly cared for, cast-iron grills can surpass much other high-quality cooking equipment at our disposal. They can develop a non-stick coating resembling our cast cast-iron skillets if they are used frequently enough. When you use it correctly, they produce perfect grill marks onto your meats and are capable of withstanding high heat temperature. Grates made of cast iron, as opposed to stainless steel, are highly durable.

We can scrape and brush and use a variety of chemical chemicals on it, but it will not budge even after all of this effort. There are a few things you need to keep in mind when it comes to maintaining their quality. Cast-iron grates are prone to rust when they’re not thoroughly cleaned and kept moist within. Preventing it from rust formation is, therefore, the most recommended course of action to take.

Techniques & Methods To Get Rid of Rust on Cast-Iron Grates

Grates may get rusty due to accidental or involuntarily negligence. Thus, it is essential to keep an eye on them. Moisture may accumulate within your grill if you mistakenly keep the lid off or if you do not use it for an incredibly long period of time, allowing it to rust. Leaving that way might also cause it to become a breeding ground for mildew and other microbes.  

Fortunately, you can eradicate corrosion from cast-iron grates in several ways and restore them to their original splendor, so don’t lose heart if this happens to you. 

Clean with Soapy Water and Steel Wool

For starters, I’d want to point out that you should never clean your cast-iron grates with water and soap if you don’t want to remove the seasonings altogether, then re-season them. As long as your family allows it, move your barbecue grates inside and scrub them in your big sink using steel wool, lukewarm soapy water, and a sharp brush. Grates that have been seasoned will be stripped down to their raw metal state by this procedure.

Also Read:  How to Remove Rust From Stainless Steel Grill

A thorough rinse and drying are required steps after cleaning your grates. If any moisture is left behind, rust will immediately re-appear, even if it has already been washed and dried. It’s preferable to dry your grates in a low heat temperature oven for a few minutes to ensure that all of the water has evaporated from the surface.

Saturate with Vinegar

You can clean your barbecue grill simply by submerging the grates in vinegar for an hour or two. To begin, prepare a 50:50 ratio solution of white vinegar, water, and soak the grates for one or two hours. Next, try using either a wire pad or a scrubber and carefully brush the surface to clear rusted materials. As soon as the cleaning is done, you should rinse the surface with soap water and dry it out in a lower heat oven.

Grill with High Heat and Cleaning Oven

Even if you use steel wool and soap to clean your grill or soak it in vinegar, you may need to resort to more harsh measures if there is much corrosion. The oven’s self-clean procedure has been used for a long to cleanse cast-iron, and it’s a foolproof method. Resting them for an hour in a scorching barbecue grill around 600°F temperature will produce the same outcomes as a cleaning oven if you don’t have one of those.

When the grate is completely cool anywhere inside the ovens or even on the grills, you’ll still require to give them a scrubbing with lukewarm water and soap to eliminate any remnants that have accumulated.

Deep Clean Method Using Oven Cleaner

Grates that are severely corroded and need a thorough cleaning may not be cleaned using the methods we mentioned beforehand. It is now necessary for you to find a foolproof method of eliminating all traces of corrosion or solid crumbs from your cast–iron grates before replacing them with new ones. What we recommend is you start preparing an oven cleaner, garbage bags, and somewhere safe to put them whereas the cleaner does its work, the most efficient method to get this done.

Choose a well-ventilated space, then spray the grates with oven cleaning. Remember that oven cleaners contain dangerous chemicals, so you don’t want to get them in your lungs or eyes while cleaning. Do not apply it in an enclosed space. Place your grates in garbage bags and close them tight once after oil you apply some cleaner into them. Keep an eye out for any spots where air might be seeping out.

Also Read:  What Temperature to Cook Pork Ribs on Grill?

To ensure that rust build-up on your grates is dissolved, keep them rest for 72 hours or, if your oven cleaning manufacturer suggests, more longer. Keep the bags out of sight and out of reach of curious hands.

After several days, get the grates out from the garbage bags and clean the grates in hot soapy water in the sink. Before storing your grates, make sure they are thoroughly dry and then re-season them.

Clean Using Salt Paste as a Base

Kosher salt and water can be more abrasive to remove the rust off your cast-iron BBQ grill grate than sodium bicarbonate or vinegar. After applying it, use a wire brush or a ball of steel wool to remove any remaining rusty material. Repeat the procedure if necessary. 

If you have obstinate rust, you may need to start with a salt paste; however, once the first few layers of rust are removed, you can switch to some less gritty sodium bicarbonate paste.

After Cleaning Your Grates, Make Sure to Season Them

Cast-iron grates must be seasoned before keeping them away, regardless of the method used to clean them. Cooking with cast iron requires oil or baking fats into the holes to cause it to hydrolyze, which in turn creates an impermeable layer that resists corrosion and eventually acquires a non-stick look.

If you just cleansed your grates with such a grill cleaner, or you’ve done one of the more in-depth cleaning procedures indicated above, but still you’ll want to add two more layers of coating? Is it possible? The answer is yes! You apply any cooking oil to season your grates. In our recommendation, try to use Crisbee seasoning for cast-iron cooking equipment. It is made from soybean oil, palm oil, and beeswax, and this seasoning is mainly made for use with cast iron.

Final Verdict

It takes a lot of time and effort to maintain and clean cast iron grill grates. As long as you put in the effort to maintain them properly, they will outlast your grill alone! Keeping this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks for maintaining the pristine appearance of your cast iron grill grates. This approach may first appear time-consuming, but we’re confident that it will be well worth it when you see the outcomes.

Also Read:  How to Grill Vegetables Without a Grill?


What is the best solution for cleaning grill grates after soaking them overnight?

For grill grate cleaning, hot soapy water, especially dish soap, is the perfect option. Baking soda and vinegar mixture or straight-up oven cleaner is the most popular soaking solution utilized.

Is Grilling on Rusted Grates Healthy?

If you have no other choice, then absolutely, but it’s best not to. Taking iron oxide (rust) orally for a short period will not hurt you, but regularly consuming it will have negative consequences for your digestive tract and other organs of your body.

Grilling on rusty grates may be acceptable in an emergency, but only once or twice. The following time, ensure everything is thoroughly cleaned before firing up the grill.

Is Vinegar Safe to Use on My Grill?

There’s no reason why you can’t. An old-fashioned method of cleaning grill grate is to soak in baking soda and vinegar for several hours. It deoxidizes any remaining rust, and the results are stunning. Most would suggest allowing it to rest 24 hours at room temperature or even for a matter of days, whether you have the time, and then rinsing them with water and dishwashing soap and carefully drying them to remove any remaining debris.

Can I Clean Cast Iron With Steel Wool?

Correctly so, but only for specific types of cast iron cookware. Use steel wool sparingly if you’re cleaning a non-stick surface, as it will likely scratch off the protective layer rather than removing any burned-on foodstuff or rust.

In contrast, if you want to scrub cast-iron grill grates, go on and do it! Even while a few superficial scratches will not hinder your grilling, it wouldn’t matter how hard you have to apply pressure on steel wool.

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