What You Need:
- A grill brush, like this bristle-free favorite from Kona
- A clean trash can or leaf bag
- Hot water
- 1 cup dish soap
- ¼ cup baking soda
- A towel for drying
1 hour, 30 minutes
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
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
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!
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.