A dirty and rusty grill can quickly lead to disaster when BBQ-ing. Luckily preventing this couldn’t be easier. Here are 3 easy ways to clean your cast iron grill grates.

how to clean cast iron grill grates
Photo: David Reber

One of our biggest enemies as BBQ enthusiasts is rust. If you don’t take care of your gear then it can get everywhere.

If you prepare your grill by seasoning it then this should help prevent rust and wear, but even after doing this there is a chance that rusting can occur.

Like with anything, to get the most out of your grill then it’s important you clean and maintain it as regularly as possible. One of the best ways you can do this is by frequently cleaning your grill’s cast iron grates.

Your grates bear the brunt of a lot in your grill. From high heats, to cooked meat, to smoke and accompanying moisture. It’s no wonder that an untreated grate can wear down and rust quite quickly.

barbecue food on grill grates


How To Clean And Maintain Cast Iron Grill Grates

Cast iron grates are fantastic at conducting heat, and at giving you that iconic BBQ sear. Their big downside though is that they’re often prone to rust.

A lot of modern grills are porcelain coated, which helps to a certain extent with protection against rust. However this isn’t the case for all grills.

Here’s how to restore your grates from a rusty mess to mint condition.


1. Season your grill

This first tip is actually more of a preventative measure. Seasoning is a process that helps us prevent our grill surfaces and grates from future wear and rusting.

Despite what it might sound like, it’s not a means of using salt and pepper on your grill.

Instead, it’s a process by which we create a protective layer of oil on our grill by heating it on. The oil then forms a film over the inner surfaces of your grill and across its grates which should largely stand up to the high heats that your grill will reach over the coming months and years.

If you’re unfamiliar with the process then you can learn how to season your grates here.


2. Clean regularly

The next is a further preventative measure. It might seem obvious, but it bears repeating that if you take care of your grill then it will take care of you. So, if you take care of your grates by washing them as frequently as possible then your grill will reward you by lasting far longer without rusting over.

After each use, allow your grill to cool completely. Clean out any leftover ash or food remnants from the inside the chamber of your grill. Then remove your grates. You can actually washes the grates easily with just dish soap and warm water. Once you have cleaned them, rinse them down with hose water and leave outside to dry. Once dry, rub down with a little bit of vegetable or peanut oil before putting the grates back in your grill.


3. Remove rust

Despite all the precautions above, rust can still occur across your grates.

Soak your grates in white vinegar overnight. The next day, use a strong scraping brush or sanding sponge to scrub the grates down. The vinegar should make the removing the rust a lot easier for you.

Once you’ve done that, rinse the grates down and leave to dry. When the grates are dry use cloth and a little vegetable oil to line the grates.

Heat up your grill with the seasoned grates in them, and allow them to cook for an hour, or until the oil has set. Wipe off any excess oil with a cloth.

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