How to Clean Cast Iron Grill Grates (2022 Easy Guide)

Are you having a hard time wondering how to clean cast iron grill grates?

There are lots of reasons to purchase a cast iron grill grate. Not only that this is durable and will likely outlive your grill if taken care properly, cast iron grill also does able to retain heat during cooking and with continuous use and seasoning cast iron grill will eventually become non-stick.

However, the appliance can easily become rusty and unusable when not cleaned and stored properly. Ideally, cast iron grill grates should be cleaned every after use. This is done to avoid leaving grease and cleaning the stuck-on food on the surface that might cause bacterial growth, food poisoning or maybe a contributing factor that will cause rust on the grill surface.

In this article we will discuss further on how to properly clean and store your cast iron grill grates.

Understanding your cast iron grill grates

Cast iron grill grates is unlike any other stainless grill that easily become scratched or discolored once an abrasives cleaning product are used. It is very tough, resilient and durable and will possibly outlive most of our sturdy appliance if well taken care of.  

Cast iron grill retains heat for a long time, which is why it is excellent in searing and creating food grill marks. In addition, your grill can become non-stick with continuous use and right maintenance which will give you much benefit in cooking.  

However, the challenge in maintaining this is not preventing scratches but rather preventing rust. The first step in keeping your grill out from formation of rust is by following the user’s manual on how to season the item upon your first usage. Next, ensure that every after usage the grill is completely cleaned or food residues are removed.

How to Clean Cast Iron Grill Grates

How to Clean Cast Iron Grill Grates ( The Easy Way )

Not to state the obvious but one and the most effective and easiest way to avoid rust and clean your grill is by immediately cleaning it after every use . We know when the word “cleaning” comes into action the next word would be “tiring”, but as for this one the earlier you do the job the easier it would be.

The first thing you’ll do is to remove as much residue as possible. If you’re using gas grill, turn the burner back for 10-15 minutes, while if you’re using charcoal grill just put it back over the burning coals and leave it there until it’s not that hot to touch. Make sure that after reheating the grill; take a little time to cool it down enough not to get burned. While the grill is still warm, use a grill brush to scrape all of the remaining food left on your grill.

A good grill brush can be bought at any home depot, or you can check in any online market to see the ratings and feedbacks of the purchases.

Preventing rust

In aiming for the long life span of your cast iron grill, and also to limit the amount of effort you’re going to extend in removing the rust on your grill you should know how to prevent rust from forming.

The most effective way to prevent rust from penetrating is to season your grill before and after using it. Cast iron is a porous material, in which these pores when not seasoned well, holds water that will bring rust to your grills. The main purpose of seasoning your grill is to coat the grill with many layers of oil. Doing so repels water; prevent the rust from forming on your grill and will give non-stick surface with continues seasoning.

 Always remember moisture or water is the main rival of your cast iron grill. In instance that you leave your grill outside be sure to keep it covered, especially in you live in snowy or rainy areas.  Also, be sure to throw away the ash after the grill cools down, ash holds moisture that might bring rust to your grill.

Nonetheless, always inspect your grill from time to time if you see spots of rust, clean it immediately and season it. When rust gets out of hand refer to the next topic to see how to remove rust from your grates.

Tips of how to remove rust from your cast iron grill grates

When your prevention doesn’t stop rust from forming, there are few tips that might help in removing the buildup of rust. As long as the rust hasn’t been that long to eat up all the metal in your grate, it can still be recovered.

Tips on rust removal

  1. Soap and Steel Brush
  2. Soak in vinegar and water or baking soda solution
  3. Heat up the grill
  4. Use an oven cleaner

 1. Soap and Steel Brush

Wash your grates in with warm soapy water; this will help remove the excess residues of food on your grill. After such, use a steel brush to remove the dirt that is stuck on the grates.  In the absence of steel brush, you can crumple a foil and use it as an alternative.

Check this video on how to clean cast iron grill grates that have suffered rust.

2. Soak in vinegar or baking soda solution

Combine the vinegar and a cup baking soda then fill the sink with this solution and let the grates soak for an hour or as needed depending on the formation of rust. This process allows the solution to penetrate through the rust formation and soften it.

After such, the rust should be easily removed, use a steel brush or a steel wool to rub the rust off. Rinse it thoroughly after to remove the baking soda and vinegar solution and let it dry for 15-20 minutes in a low oven.

3. Heat up the grill

In storing the grill, it is very important not to leave any moisture to prevent the buildup of rust. One of the ways to make sure the grate is completely dry is to put the grill back inside the oven on low heat.

You can also use this technique when re-seasoning grill, just simply apply thin coat of oil on your cleaned grates before heating it on the oven for about 10-15 minutes.

4. Use an oven cleaner

When none of the tips above worked for you, or if the rust buildup is too stubborn to be removed with solutions we can always opt to use an oven cleaner.

An oven cleaner is a chemical that will provide deepest clean for our grates. Since it’s a chemical some precautionary measures should be looked upon when handling it.

Here are the steps on how to properly handle an oven cleaner.

  1. Make sure to use the cleaner in an open ventilated area.
  2. Spray the oven cleaner on your grill and make sure that the whole thing is well coated with it.
  3. Set aside the grate in a plastic bag/ trash bag and seal it properly.
  4. Find a safe are to store it, a container can be used.
  5. Avoid exposing the item on high heat.
  6. Make sure that the cleaner is away from children and pets.
  7. Look at the instruction written on the cover of the cleaner, it usually takes days or week before it’ll allow you to rinse out the grill with soapy warm water.

After such, your grill should be ready for the next grilling sessions.

Seasoning your cast iron grill grates

As mentioned above, seasoning your cast iron grill is one of the most effective preventive maintenance to keep rust away from building up.

Seasoning your grates is simply applying a thin layer of vegetable oil, and rubbing it around the surface of your grill. It is also important to keep the cast iron grill seasoned all the time, which means to do the same thing before and after using it. Repeating the seasoning process periodically helps prevent rust buildup.

Re-seasoning your grill after thorough cleaning should also be practice, this is done through heating up the grill for 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit; then applying vegetable oil thinly on the grates using cloth or brush; put them back again to the grill and repeating the process until the cast-iron grill grates are black and shiny again.

 Following these tips on how to take good care of your cast iron grill will save you a lot and give many years of service from this inexpensive outdoor cooking tool.


Cast iron grill grates is one of the appliance in your home that last longer, most especially when it is taken care of accordingly, which might be a lot of work for you but the maintenance will be all worth your time when you see the that the efforts you have given will give you good results.

In taking care of your grill, taking your time on seasoning and re-seasoning your grill and cleaning your grill after every use might be your greatest savior from having to undergo deep cleaning and removal of the rust build-up. Though if things go way south just refer to the tips given above and get ready for a battle that would arise between you and the grill.

Best of luck, and happy grilling!

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