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How To Clean Cast Iron Grill Grates (When Rusty & After Grilling)

cast iron grates

If you’re like many of us, you may have cooked with cast iron grill grates. They’re easy to clean, can withstand high heat, and are versatile in that they can be used on the stovetop or in the oven.

But what happens when your grates get dirty?

If you don’t clean it properly, the surface will become pitted and dull, affecting its performance.

In addition, if the surface gets too rusty or sticky, it could start to rust or stick to food—which is not good at all!

That’s why we’ve put together this guide on how to clean cast iron grill grates when they are rusty or dirty.

Let’s dive in!

What Are Cast Iron Grill Grates?

cast iron grates

Cast iron grill grates are made of cast iron, a type of nonstick material used for cooking.

Cast iron was first made in China around the 6th century BCE, but only around 200 BC did cast iron cookware start to be widely used in kitchens. The unique properties of cast iron make it perfect for grilling, especially when you’re using it on your gas or electric stovetop grill.

They’re designed to be heated and used on an open grill or stovetop.

The benefits of using cast iron grill grates include:

  • They’re sturdy, durable, and can withstand high temperatures without melting or cracking—even under direct flame!
  • They can be used over and over again with little maintenance required.
  • They’re easy to clean and maintain.

Why We Use Cast Iron Grill Grates For Grilling?

charcoal grill

We use cast iron grill grates because they allow you to grill your food evenly and quickly.

You can reduce the time it takes to get your food done, which is especially important if you’re trying to cook something quickly.

They also provide a durable and long-lasting surface that allows you to grill without worrying about how quickly your food will burn.

Cast iron grates also help you control your grill’s temperature and ensure that your food is cooked evenly.

Cast iron grill grates also have advantages over other materials when it comes to cooking.

Cast iron is non-porous, which means that it doesn’t absorb any flavors from the food being cooked on it, so you can use them with any kind of meat or vegetable, no matter what kinds of spices or seasonings.

This makes them an excellent choice for anyone who wants to cook with a variety of flavors without having to worry about whether their food will taste good after cooking or not!

How To Clean Cast Iron Grill Grates?

clean grill grates

Cleaning the cast iron grate of your grill is something you should do after every use.

Not only will it help keep your grill looking new and shiny, but it will also help you avoid rust from forming.

This is also especially important if you’re grilling meat or fish—you don’t want any bits of gristle from those proteins stuck in the pores of your grate!

When you’re done using your grill, it’s a good idea to give it a quick cleanup. Here’s how to do it:

First, burn off the cast iron cooking grates with an open flame at a temperature of around 350°F.

This process will help loosen up any remaining food particles stuck to the grate. Let it burn for 15 minutes, then turn off the grill.

When your grill grates are still warm, use a grill brush to scrub away any remaining food residue from around the edges of the grate—but make sure not to scrub too hard!

You want to avoid gouging out any grooves in your grate or causing damage that will cause rusting over time.

When the grate is dry and cool enough, apply a thin coat of cooking oil to season it, so it doesn’t rust as easily over time.

To apply the oil, just take a paper towel and dab some oil onto it. Then use that paper towel to rub over all areas of the grates.

How To Remove Rust From A Cast Iron Grill Grate?

The first step to removing rust from your cast iron grill grate is ensuring you have all the necessary supplies.

You will need:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Soapy Water
  • Scraper, Steel Brush, Steel Wool, or Crumpled Aluminum Foil
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Oven Cleaner (Optional)
  • Garbage Bag (Optional)
  • Protective gloves (Optional)

When you have prepared all the supplies, let’s start cleaning!

Step-by-step Instructions to Remove Rust From Your Cast Iron Grates

remove rust

Rust is a foe of cast iron. It ruins the look of your grill, making your cast iron grill grates unusable.

But don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Here are five ways to remove stubborn rust from your grill grates:

  • Option 1: Soak your grill grates in vinegar and water.
  • Option 2: Steel Wool & Soapy Water
  • Option 3: Grill Cleaner or Oven Cleaner
  • Option 4: High Heat on the Grill
  • Option 5: Self-Cleaning Oven

Now, let’s go over each option so we can easily show you how to remove rust step-by-step!

Option 1: Soak your grill grates in vinegar and water.

Soaking your grill grates in a vinegar and water mixture is a great way to remove rust from your cast iron grill grate. The acid in the vinegar helps to remove the rust.

You can soak your grill grates in a sink for as long as you like, but we recommend leaving them there for at least 1 hour.

After soaking your grill grates, clean them thoroughly with a wire pad. This will eliminate all remaining rust and any residue the soaking process has left behind.

Then, rinse off the grate with soap and water and dry thoroughly in a low oven before using it again.

Option 2: Steel Wool & Soapy Water

It’s important to note that you should not clean your grill grate with dishwashing soap unless you want to remove the seasoning layer applied before and re-season it.

Soak your grill grates in hot soapy water for at least ten minutes before scrubbing them with steel wool or a stiff brush.

Steel wool is good because it won’t scratch the grill’s surface; it’ll just get rid of the rust and make sure there’s no more buildup in the future.

Next, rinse your grates thoroughly with warm water before drying them off completely. You want to avoid any remaining moisture because it will quickly develop rust.

You can dry them by placing them in a low oven. Turn on the heat and preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Place your grates on a baking sheet, and put it in the oven for 1 hour.

Option 3: Grill Cleaner or Oven Cleaner

First, you need to coat your grates with oven cleaner. You can use a spray bottle or simply pour some oven cleaner onto protective gloves and wipe down your cast iron grates. Make sure that you cover all of the spots where rust appears.

Next, put the grates in a garbage bag and seal it off tightly so that no oxygen and water get into the bag during this time period (about 2 days).

After about two days have passed, take all of the items out of the garbage bag and rinse off the grill grates with hot water, dish soap, and a scrubbing pad until they shine like new again!

my top pick

Kona Safe/Clean Grill Grate Cleaner Spray

Kona Safe/Clean Grate Cleaner Spray is a powerful cleaner that removes baked-on grease and foodstuffs, keeping your grill looking new.

Just spray and scrub to clean grates of all brands, regardless of material or surface.

Option 4: High Heat on the Grill

The first step is to turn on your grill and heat it to maximum temperature (typically more than 600 degrees).

Then, place the cast iron grates on top of the grill and set them aside until they become hot enough to self-remove all the built-up rust.

Once they have cooled down again, use a wire brush with very little pressure to scrub off any remaining rust.

Finally, rinse any remaining residue with hot soapy water before drying and placing them back into storage until you next use them on your grill.

Option 5: Self-Cleaning Oven

Self-cleaning ovens are a great option for removing rust from cast iron grill grates. They’re easy to use, require no special tools, and they work well.

All you need is some soapy water and patience. Just place the grates inside the oven and run them through the cycle.

The heat will loosen any rust and make it easier to remove with a little scrubbing.

After that, you’ll want to let them cool down before rinsing them with hot soapy water. You can always use a scrub brush for this step!

Season Your Grill Grates After Cleaning To Prevent Rust

vegetable oil

You just cleaned your cast iron grates, and they look shiny and brand-new.

What comes next?

You now season them!

Seasoning helps protect your grills from rust and corrosion and also helps prevent the buildup of dirt and grease that can cause discoloration and damage to your grills.

You first need to make sure that the cast iron grates are clean and dry before you start seasoning them.

Seasoning cast iron grill grates after cleaning

To season your cast iron grills, follow the steps below:

  1. Heat up the grill over medium-low heat until you start to see the smoke go up.
  2. Put a little vegetable oil on a paper towel and rub it on the grill grate surface.
  3. Let the oil sit for about 15 minutes, then wipe off any excess fat with another paper towel.

If you don’t want to use oil to season your grill grates because sometimes it can be messy and greasy, you can replace it with a cast iron conditioner. I personally use Blackstone conditioner and I love it!

Repeat this process one or two more times until you have an even oil coating on your grills’ surfaces. This will help prevent rust from forming in the first place!

my top pick

rust from cast iron

Blackstone Cast Iron Conditioner

This two-in-one product is formulated to protect and condition cast iron cookware, keeping that illustrious surface ready for seasoning again.

Easily season multiple grill grate surfaces at once with this multi-favorite seasoning and conditioning product.

A thin layer of oil will be enough if you season the grill grates right after cooking.

If you used one of the four cooking solutions listed above, you must double coat your grill grates with oil because all previous seasonings are removed during the cleaning process.

How To Clean Cast Iron Grill Grates-FAQs

Why do my cast iron grill grates rust?

You’re probably wondering why your cast iron grill grates are rusting. It’s a valid question!

The answer is simple: the seasoning on your grill grates isn’t strong enough to prevent rust.

To season them properly, you must ensure that the grill grates are clean and hot before applying an oil layer.

If your cast iron grill grate gets wet or left under direct sunlight for a long time, it will crack—which means it will rust even faster.

Can cast iron grill grates go in the dishwasher?

Cast iron grill grates are not dishwasher safe because they have a nonstick and seasoning coating on them. This coating will dull and wear down if you put your grate in the dishwasher.

Which is better: cast iron grill grates vs. stainless steel?

Cast iron grates are more durable than stainless steel grates. They retain more heat, which means they can cook food faster and more evenly and have better nonstick properties.

Stainless steel grates resist rust and corrosion better and are easier to clean.

But both types of grates can develop rust if not cared for properly.

Wrapping Up and My Experience With Cast Iron Grates Cleaning

We hope you found our ultimate guide on how to clean cast iron grill grates useful, and remember that cleaning cast iron grates is a simple task that you can easily do at home.

When you’re done cooking on your cast iron grill grates, it’s important to clean them regularly. If you don’t, rust will start to build up and ruin the integrity of your grill. You can use special cleaners, warm water, and a little soap to get the job done after every use.

After your cleanup, apply a thin coating of cooking oil so it won’t rust again in the future!

A thin layer of oil will be enough if you season the grill grates right after cooking.

If you used one of the four cooking solutions listed above, you must double coat your grill grates with oil because all previous seasonings are removed during the cleaning process.

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