How to Clean a Rusty Grill Grate in 2022

Got a rusty grill? Learn how to clean a rusty grill grate through this article.

The grill is one of the most popular fixtures which you will see in anyone’s backyard. It is not just a piece of furniture or décor but actually where the party happens. This is where delicious barbecue staples are produced and doled out for every guest to enjoy whether on a warm afternoon or a quiet, relaxing night, perfect for family dinners. So, it is only natural that a piece of equipment with such importance is well cared for and made sure to remain in tip top shape.

Unfortunately, you will not always have the time to attend to your grill and before you know it, the outside elements or perhaps because it has been unkept for a time, has started to take its toll on it. Rust and dirt may have started to cake or coat your grill’s grate making it a sight for sore eyes.

There is no need to dash to the nearest store and purchase a new grill or a fresh set of grill grates. You most certainly do not have to despair until you have thoroughly assessed the situation. It could be that your grill’s grate just needs a little bit of some TLC and a good case of scrubbing.

But, in order to begin the process of cleaning your rusty grill, you have to know some of the reasons why it had rusted or gotten to that point. This way, you will be able to understand the depth of cleansing you need to apply or if the situation is moot and you will have to replace the grate or the grill itself.

Reasons Why Your Grill or Grill Grate Gets Rusty

  • Your grill has been left outdoors during wet or winter season without proper protective cover.
  • Your grill has a lot of food residue sitting for so long on the grate.
  • Lack of sufficient drying after washing your grates.
  • Your grill is made from mediocre material which makes it prone to rusting more than those made of high-quality steel.

What most grill owners should understand is that you can actually prevent your grill grates from rusting or be prone to corrosion. It is just a matter of knowing how to take care of it before, during and after you use it. It is about ensuring that the equipment is covered with a vinyl cover or a fitting nylon cover when not in use especially during the cold season.

However, if your grill’s situation is past the point of prevention, then the next step is to try and get it cleaned in order to restore it to its former glory. It will also mean that you can still save money and time from not having to replace it with a new model.

How to Clean a Rusty Grill Grate

There are many methods that can be used when it comes to cleaning your rusty grill or grill grate. These processes are also quite easy to do and the materials you will need are usually your ordinary cleaning materials at home. Simply read through and choose which procedure of how to clean your rusty grill works best for you.



  • 1 cup of regular table salt
  • 2 cups of white vinegar
  • 1 heavy duty garbage bag
  • Cloths or rags which are disposable

Step 1: Mix the white vinegar with the regular table salt. This process will raise the level of the vinegar’s natural acidity and enable it to dissolve oxidation in metal. The coarseness of the salt will aid in the abrasive scrubbing of the grate without damaging the metal.

Step 2: Grab your rusty grill grates and place them in the garbage bag. Try to see if one bag is strong enough to hold the weight of the grates as well as the acidity of the mixture. You do not want the bag to tear or dissolve so double up if you necessarily have to.

Step 3: After you have secured your grates inside the heavy-duty garbage bag, pour in your mixture of salt and vinegar. Jostle or carefully move it around until you are sure that your entire grate is covered with it.

Step 4: Once you are sure your mixture is spread and has coated the grates entirely, seal it and find a flat surface to lay your garbage bag on. This will ensure that the grill grate is perpetually soaked in the mixture as you leave it overnight.

Step 5: Most of the rust which has covered your grill grate has been removed by the mixture overnight but, you will still need to use your cloth or rag to give it a good, thorough rub down in case there are still some few spots left. If you still have some salt left, use it as an abrasive material to scrub off any stubborn rust.

Step 6: If you feel like one soaking is not enough because your grill is extremely rusty, do not be afraid to re-do the entire process. Repeat until you are satisfied.



  • 2 cups of baking soda
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • Cloth or rags (disposable)

Step 1: Make a thick paste by mixing baking soda with the vinegar.

Step 2: Quickly apply it in areas with rust spots or hard to reach rusty areas. The acid in the vinegar will eat away at the rust and the foam reaction that develops from the baking soda will help get into the gaps for those difficult to reach places.

Step 3: Wipe away the mixture or wash with water and wipe dry. Feel free to repeat the process if there are stubborn spots left.



  • Baking soda
  • Soft Grill brush

Step 1: Pull out your grill’s grate and brush it with a soft grill brush and try to remove as much rust as you can.

Step 2: Return the grate on your barbecue and then sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda all over it.

Step 3: Turn your grill on and let the baking soda start to bubble and remove the remaining, hard to scrub off rust.

Step 4: Turn off your barbecue and let it cool down before brushing it off again.



  • Wire brush
  • Sand paper
  • Cloth or rag (disposable)

Step 1: Take off the grill grate and place it on a flat, even surface like your garage floor, driveway or patio deck.

Step 2: Get your wire brush and start brushing with its stiff wire. Flip the grate to the other side and repeat the process.

Step 3: Hold the grate and stand it on its side as you brush in between each metal rung.

Step 4: After the thorough brushing action, grab your cloth and wipe off any residual rust with it.

(In case there is still stubborn rust residue that refuses to leave, you can try this method)

Step 1: Wrap a piece of sandpaper around the rung of your rusty grate.

Step 2: Rub the sandpaper firmly in an up and down motion.

Just be careful when using this method because although it can remove rust effectively, it can also scratch your grate’s surface.



  • Dishwashing soap
  • Water
  • Stiff-bristled nylon brush

Step 1: Use soapy water to wet your grill grate.

Step 2: Use the nylon brush to scrub off any rusty spots.

This method is usually used for minor rusting and for cleaning off small spots of rust in order to be able to use your grill as soon as possible.


One other option you can use is to buy rust removing chemicals that are sold in the market however, the risk is that these ready to use products contain some hazardous chemicals that you might not want to get into your grill grate. You want to keep your grill safe and non-toxic since you are cooking food on it.

Still, there are some brands in stores that are water-based, non-toxic and even biodegradable which are safe to use on your grill. If you have tried all the natural methods and have not gotten satisfactory result then, feel free to try and look for safe to use rust removing solutions.


At the end of the day, your barbecue grill should be constantly attended to whether you are currently using it or stowing it away for a number of weeks. It is imperative that you clean it after every use and even oil or season it as you would like a cast iron skillet to keep it in good cooking condition.

In case you are unable to use it for some time, store it away properly away from too much direct exposure to wet and cold. If you do not have the space then make sure that you purchase a good, sturdy and reliable cover for it. After all, your grill is an investment you want to be able to use for a long, long time.

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