How to clean a rusty grill

Get your grill sparkling before the first barbecue of the season.

Credit: Getty / Giang Nguyen
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

What You Need:

Time Needed

1 hour, 30 minutes

Difficulty

Easy

So you’re preparing for your first barbecue of the season. You’ve got ice in the coolers, your grilling essentials are at the ready, and you know which mistakes not to make when the big day comes. But is your actual grill in good shape? If it’s been sitting untouched for months, whether it was stored properly or not, chances are the grates have developed some rust.

To keep from serving your guests some dangerous burgers, you’ll need to treat those grates before cooking anything. But don’t fret—cleaning your stainless steel or cast iron grill grates is a simple process that only takes about an hour and a half, soaking included.

What to do

1. Scrub off as much loose rust as possible with a grill brush

How to clean a grill - scrubbing
Credit: Getty / EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER

Scrubbing loose rust off first will save you time—and keep from muddying your water.

Before you take the grates off the grill, try to remove as much rust as possible with a grill brush. There’s a chance that the rust isn’t set very deep, and scrubbing will solve your problem. If your grates are stainless steel, avoid using steel bristles or wool, as they could scratch them.

2. Remove the grill grates and set aside

If you’re worried about getting rust or debris on yours hands, you can wear work gloves.

3. Fill the leaf bag, trash can, or large, shallow bucket with 1 cup dish soap and ¼ cup baking soda

A trash can or large bucket will work best here, but a large leaf or trash bag works in a pinch—just be careful not to spill all over yourself.

4. Place the grill grates inside, and fill with hot water until grates are submerged

Don’t overfill with water, or the baking soda will be less effective.

5. Soak the grates for one hour, and then scrub clean

How to clean a grill - soap
Credit: Getty / SKatzenberger

These ingredients are cheaper and better for the environment than commercial rust cleaner. You can also try swapping in salt or vinegar for the baking soda and dish soap.

This part could get messy—use the same grill brush or the scratchy side of a sponge to scrub off any remaining rust.

6. Rinse the cleaned grates with cold water, dry, and place back on the grill

Make sure you dry the grates completely to prevent more rusting.

7. Heat up the grill and season with vegetable oil

Like a cast iron pan, grill grates are going to become more nonstick, more resistant to rust, and better all around the more you season them. Dip some paper towels in a cooking oil (like vegetable or canola oil) and rub on your heated grill grates to season them. Let cook before cooking again.

8. Enjoy grilling!

How to clean a grill - cooking
Credit: Getty / recep-bg

Make sure to keep your grills seasoned and clean all summer long.

Your grill is now ready for your first barbecue of the season. To prevent future rust, make sure to fully clean your grill after each use, reseason when possible, and cover and store during any bad weather. Cleaning not enough to salvage your grill? Check out our roundup of the best grills on the market.

Related

11 grilling essentials you need for your next barbecue
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

What's Your Take?

All Comments
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below