How to Clean Rusty Grill Grates

Ready to be done with rusty grates forever? Invest in a Grilla Grills grill with stainless-steel grates that never rust.

When you buy a Grilla Grills grill, rusty grates are never a problem. That’s because ours are made from rust-proof stainless steel. But if you’ve got an old cooker that’s still in otherwise great shape, don’t roll it out to the curb on account of rusty grates. There are some clever things you can do to bust the rust and get your old guy grilling like new again. No matter if it’s your prized kamado grill or basic backyard charcoal number, these methods will spiff them right up. 

a close up of a grill with a rusty grate

Source: Kenneth Keifer/Shutterstock.com

Are Rusty Grill Grates a Big Deal?

If your grill components are rusty, you’re probably dealing with cast iron or enamel-coated iron grates. Anyone who has ever owned cast iron cookware knows that while they’re amazing in many ways, even a little bit of moisture can cause them to rust. But does that mean you should just pitch your expensive cookware and start anew? No! 

With that said, you don’t want to cook on any surface or use any utensils that are currently rusty. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), ingesting rust is not safe. In fact, the USDA warns against cooking with rusty utensils and discarding all food stored in rusted cans. While ingesting small amounts of rust likely isn’t a huge cause for concern, it is not food safe and can contain harmful bacteria.

On top of that, rust can compromise the flavor of your food. You love your pellet grill or charcoal grill because of the smoky or charred flavor it imparts on your dinner, and you don’t want anything getting in the way of that. Rusty grill grates can infuse your food with a bitter, metallic flavor and season it with inedible speckles. That’s why switching to a rust-proof material like stainless steel is probably a smart move.

Upgrade to a Kamado Grill with Stainless Grates

Removing Rust from Grill Grates

Luckily, there are some relatively simple techniques you can use to clean rusty grill grates, so they don’t wind up ruining your food. Here are the best ways to do it.

  • The Vinegar-Baking Soda Method — The vinegar-baking soda paste is the original DIY grime-buster, and it can do wonders on rust. When mixed, these two components create carbonic acid. This substance is slightly acidic and highly abrasive, which will help dissolve and break up the grease so you can easily scrub it off.
    • Mix baking soda with distilled white vinegar in a 1:2 ratio until a thick, spreadable paste forms.
    • Cover the grill grates in the paste and allow it to sit for 15 minutes.
    • Using steel wool, a stiff-bristled brush or an abrasive scrubber, scour the rust from the grates.
    • Wash with warm, soapy water and allow it to fully dry.

a cleaning set up with gloves brushes and baking soda and vinegar

Source: JPC-PROD/Shutterstock.com

  • The Salt-Vinegar Soaking Method — This is another simple way to bust rust with ingredients you’ve already got in the pantry. It uses distilled white vinegar and salt, two ingredients that work together to dissolve oxidized metal so you can scrub it off.
    • In a large utility sink or plastic tub, mix regular table salt with distilled white vinegar in a 1:2 ratio.
    • Lay the grates in the mixture and allow them to soak overnight.
    • In the morning, you’ll see that much of the rust has been dissolved. You can use steel wool or leftover salt to get rid of any remaining rust.
    • Wash the grates in warm, soapy water and allow them to fully dry. 
  • The Grill Brush Method — If you notice that your grates are only rusty at the surface and that the rust is flaking off, you can always use a high-quality grill brush to remove that surface rust before doing one of the above methods. We always recommend brushing your grates after each use while still warm to help prevent dirt and grime from settling in.

a metal barbecue brush on a grill

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Banish Rust Forever with a Stainless-Steel Pellet Grill

Preventing Rust on the Grill

By far, the best way to prevent rust from eating into your cooking appliances is to swap them out for rust-proof materials like stainless steel. However, if you’re already working with cast iron or other rust-prone grates, make sure to keep them as dry as possible, always keep the lid on when not in use and invest in a heavy-duty cover if storing outdoors.

The type of grill you have doesn’t necessarily matter when it comes to rust prevention. For example, there’s no real difference between a pellet smoker vs. a charcoal smoker in terms of rust. If it’s made of a rust-resistant material and you keep it dry and away from moisture, it should resist the rust.

Done with Rust? Grilla Grills or Bust

We don’t blame you if you’re frustrated by grates that keep on rusting. Cooking with a Grilla Grill is the best way to ensure that your equipment doesn’t wind up ruining your food or making you sick. Explore our complete collection of grills with stainless-steel grates to discover low-maintenance options that never leave you rusty.

Grilla Grills
558 E. 64th Street
Holland, MI 49423
Email: grillmaster@grillagrills.com
Phone: 616-392-7410
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