8 Different Methods To Clean Rusty BBQ Grill Grates Quickly

The formation of rust on the grill may be very disappointing for you, especially for cooking enthusiasts. Many people are unaware of how to clean rusty grill grates.

Fortunately, it is effortless to use the items such as lemon juice, salt, vinegar, and baking soda that are readily available in the house.

How To Clean Rusty Grill Grates

It will be challenging for you to protect your grill from rust. Commercial rust remover is the most widely used technique to remove rust from grills and is available in almost every retail shop.

After removing the rust from the grill grates, take safety precautions so that rust will not come back again in the future.

What To Determine Before Cleaning Grill Grates?

As grill grates are made up of a wide range of materials. So, you should find the material used to make your grilling grates. The following are common types of grill grates:

Porcelain Grates

These are made from porcelain and are available in many different colors. Porcelain grates have smooth surfaces with no rough edges or cracks. On any stovetop or outdoor grill, they are highly resistant to heat. 

proclean grill grates

Cast Iron Grates

castiron grill grates

These are made from cast iron but come in different types like white, red, black, and green cast iron. They have a smooth surface with no rough edges or cracks. Cast iron grates are heat resistant, and you can not use them on any stovetop or outdoor grill.

Stainless Steel Grates

Stainless steel grates are one more type of grill grate which is highly durable and long-lasting than its counterparts mentioned above. These grates offer a smooth surface which helps to prevent food from sticking to it easily. It results in less effort when cleaning them after use.

Stainless Steel Grates

How To Clean Rusty Grill Grates?

The grill has been rusted due to moisture because you have left your barbeque in the open area all the winter season. The technique you will use to prevent the grill from rusting depends upon the material used in the grill. Generally, the grill grates are made up of metal or stainless steel.

Many people clean their grill with a stiff wire brush after every use. It may be very effective in removing rust from the grates but can damage the stainless steel grill finish. The ways to remove rust from the drill are given below. 

Method 1 – Using Commercial Rust Remover


  • Oven cleaner
  • Dish soap
  • Paper towel
  • Garden hose
  • Sponge 
  • Large trash bag


A commercial rust remover is an excellent method to remove rust from the grill grate. Are readily available cleaner in the market is oven cleaner. The oven cleaner can be used for cleaning charcoal grills and gas grills.


The best way to clean the charcoal grill grate is to remove the grate from the grill and spray the oven cleaner on it. You must ensure that the process is done in a well-ventilated place. 

Place the grill in a garbage bag, close the bag and keep the bag in a hot area. You must ensure that the grill is away from your pets and children. Scrub the grate with the dish soap and sponge dipped in hot water.

Method 2 – How To Clean Rusty Grill Grates With Wire Brush


  • Wire brush
  • Paper towel
  • Garden hose
  • Bowl
  • Basting brush
  • 1 cup olive oil


The wire brush method is an easy way to remove rust without using harsh cleaners. While scrubbing, use oil to protect your grill. Remove the grates and keep them on a flat surface. Take some oil into the bowl and apply it with the wire brush. 

Spray the water with the hose on the whole surface to remove debris of rust, and then clean it with a paper towel. Use the bristles of a wire brush to scrub the grate. Repeat the same process on the backside.

Method 3 – Cleaning Rusty Grill Grates With Baking Soda


  • Large bucket
  • Wire brush
  • Hot water
  • 1 cup dish soap
  • 1/4 cup baking soda


The baking soda method is very cheap. It is a scratchy method that can also absorb grime and grease. Scrub the rust before placing it into a soapy solution. Add baking soda and dish detergent to the bucket of water.


Before placing it on the grill, spray it with water through a hose. Let it dry out for an hour, and then remove the loose rust with the help of a brush. I recommend using a nylon sponge or old rag instead of the wire brush.

Method 4 – How To Clean Grill Grates With Vinegar


  • Bowl
  • Garden hose
  • Rags
  • Heavy-duty trash bag
  • 1 cup table salt
  • 2 cups white vinegar


Pour salt and vinegar into the bowl and then stir it so that the salt dissolves. Put your grill grate in the large garbage bag and place the bag on the ground. Insert the solution over the grate and close the bag.

Let it stay here for the night, so the cleaner loses the rust. Take off the grill grate from the bag and remove the rust debris. Wash it with cold water and let it dry before placing it on the grill again. 


Method 5 – Use Lemon Juice


  • Paper towel
  • Garden hose
  • Grill brush
  • Plastic brush 
  • Basting brush
  • Bowl
  • Liquid dish detergent
  • One lemon


Squeeze the juice of one lemon in a bowl, add a few drops of dish soap, and then mix all the ingredients. Apply the solution to the surface using a basting brush and wrap it with plastic. Do not open the grate for about 24 hours.

After 24 hours, remove the plastic and then use a scrub to eliminate the grim and rust debris. Wash the grates with the water hose and use a paper towel to dry them. Before placing them again on the grill, keep them in the open air for some time. 

Method 6 – Using Sandpaper


  • Paper towel 
  • Garden hose
  • Medium grit sandpaper


To clean iron grill grates, firstly, remove the grate from the grill and place it against the robust surface. Wrap the iron grill grate with the grit sandpaper and scrub the grates. Steel wool is an excellent alternative to sandpaper.

how to clean grill grates

Do not apply too much pressure. After covering each part of the grate with sandpaper or steel wool, wash the grating with cold water and dry it with a paper towel. Now, you can put it back into the grill.

Method 7 – Using Aluminum Foil


  • Aluminum foil
  • Brush or paper towels
  • Water


Assure that the needed materials are ready before starting. Firstly, cover your grill grates with aluminum foil. You can use any foil that you have at home. Please do not use too thin or too thick aluminum foil as it may not be able to stick properly on the grill grates. 

You need to ensure that the aluminum foil is large enough to cover most of your grill grates easily without overlapping them. Once you have covered your grill grates, place them in the oven for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). 

After this period has elapsed, remove the grill grates from the oven. Let them cool down completely before cleaning them up again using water and some paper towels. It will help you eliminate any leftover oils from the previous cooking process and protect your food from getting burned during this process.

Cleaning Grill Grates With Onions

Onion slices are a great option if you are looking for a way to clean grill grates. You can use them on your own or mix them with other ingredients, such as lemon juice and salt. It is an easy way to remove caked-on grease from your grill.

  • Step 1: Peel off the onion skin using a knife or vegetable peeler (the outer layer is insensitive). If you do not have time for this step, slice off about an inch of the top layer and discard it. 
  • Step 2: Place the sliced onions on your clean grill grate and cook over medium-high heat until its edges start to get brown (about 10 minutes). Spread the onions, so they do not overlap, ensuring they do not fall through onto your cooking surface below. 
  • Step 3: Drain extra liquid from the browned onions after removing them from your hot grill. 
  • Step 4: Remove residual onions from the grill grates after they cool down. You have to wash your grill grates to clean onions over them so you will get rid of accumulated grease.

How To Clean Grill Grates With Cast Iron?

Cast iron is an excellent material for grills but can get dirty. With some care, you can keep your grill looking new. These are some tips that will be helpful for you in cleaning cast iron grates:

  1. Remove the grate by lifting it off the top of the grill.
  2. Wipe the surface with soap and water or spray with an all-purpose cleaner.
  3. Rinse with cool water and pat dry with a paper towel or cloth towel until completely dry before replacing it on top of your grill rack or placing back onto your outdoor tabletop smoker/grill
  4. If you do not want to go through this process each time you use your outdoor cooking appliance, invest in a product that will help remove rust from your cast iron grate and apply this every time you clean it. 
How To Clean Grill Grates Cast Iron

How to Prevent Grills from Rusting

Wash the grills utterly after every use to prevent them from rusting. They should be dried thoroughly to prevent moisture. Oil the grill so that the saltwater does not damage it. Cover a grill and keep it in a garage or dry place. The following are some ways to prevent your grill from rusting:

Store Grill In The Garage

If the grill is not in your use, try to store it in the garage. If you live in heavy rainfall or high humidity area, always keep a protective cover over them. It does not matter from which material the grill is made. If you leave the grill outside for a long time, there will be a risk of rusting.

Invest in a Grill Cover

You will have to invest your grill in a cover if you want to keep your grill outside. Always remember that humidity and moisture can cause rusting. Keep your grill in a custom-sized cover to remain safe from moisture. 

You can prevent your grill from rusting by using a cover and placing your grill under favorable conditions. You can purchase the grill cover online or from the market. 

Dry The Grill Thoroughly

Always ensure that you have dry the grill completely after washing as the water in the grill causes rusting. Check each corner of the grill and if you see water, then dry it with a towel.

Clean The Grill

Many people recommend using a gentle soap, a sponge, and harmful water for cleaning. After using, clean the grill so that any type of ash or food residue can be removed. Otherwise, they can get stuck with the grill. 


Maintain The Grill Grates

You can protect the grill grates by rubbing oil into the grill after use. It is recommended that you rub oil into steel grates. After cleaning, apply a thin coat of oil to the grill so that the food cannot stick to the grill.

Always use a little amount of oil and use a dishrag. Your grill will become safe from both rust and moisture by doing this. Never apply oil to the aerosol cans, as they can explode when exposed to flames.

How Often Should I Clean My Grill Grates?

The answer depends on the built material of the grill. If you have a stainless steel grill with a non-stick surface, you should clean them regularly. Stainless steel is extremely durable when cleaned and cared for but requires proper maintenance.

If you have a charcoal grill or an electric one, you will want to clean them less frequently. Charcoal grills tend to get dirty quickly, so they need a little more care than others.

If you have ceramic or porcelain-coated grates, these can last for years without cleaning. You can simple clean them by wiping with a damp cloth or sponge. The food might stick to them, so you must remove them.

These are some maintenance tips for your grill grates: 

  1. Clean the surface regularly with an outdoor cleaning spray or vinegar-based cleaner.
  2. Do not allow the food residual to be on them for too long. Ketchup can prevent food from sticking to the grate, so I recommend putting it on the steak before it goes on the grill.
  3. Use silicone baking mats underneath large items that may fall into the fire pit during cooking (like burgers). The mats help keep items from falling into flames or onto other surfaces.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, it is not safe, and it is recommended to use rusted grates as the rust can enter the food you are cooking. Eating a small amount of rust is not harmful, but continuous eating of rust can cause intestinal problems. So, ensure to clean the grates after each use.

Add 1 part of salt and two parts of vinegar into the spray bottle. Apply the solution to the grates and place it in a trash bag for a night. After that, clean the grates with a clean cloth to remove the rust.

Burn off the food left in the grill grate. Then, allow them to get cool and scrub them with nylon brushes. After that, dry them thoroughly and apply a thin layer of oil to them.

Final Words

The problem of rusty grill grates can be solved by cleaning them regularly. For this, you must prepare lemon juice, baking soda, salt, and white vinegar in a liquid form. Mix these ingredients in the plastic bowl and rub them on the rust to remove them. You can also use a brush to clean the rusty grates.

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