How to clean cast iron grill grates: Best tips & tricks

How to clean cast iron grill grates

You should clean your grill grates to prevent rust buildup and to ensure that your food is delicious when you grill. At least once a year, you should do a deep cleaning of your grates as well as scrape them after each use. Although cleaning grill grates doesn’t need to be a chore, you should be mindful of how you do it depending on the type of grill grates you have. Let’s know how to clean cast iron grill grates.

Grates made of cast iron can last a lifetime if they are maintained properly. Taking care of them routinely involves cleaning, lubricating, and general maintenance. CI grates can be restored to their former glory using the following four straightforward methods.

Grates made of cast iron are ideal for grilling for a variety of reasons. The grills they make are incredibly durable and if maintained properly, they will last for a lifetime. Moreover, they produce fantastic grill marks on your food and are able to maintain an even temperature during cooking.

Moreover, they will eventually become non-stick once they are continuously used and seasoned; the same way a cast iron pan becomes non-stick.

The grates can become rusty and unusable if not stored and cleaned properly, just like cast iron pots and pans in your home.

As such, in this article we will discuss routine maintenance and how to properly clean cast iron grill grates in order to keep your investment looking great and working properly.

How to clean cast iron grill grates

How to clean cast iron grill grates?

You should give your grill a careful and thorough cleaning after every use to avoid rust. This may sound obvious, but it cannot be stressed enough.

If you are using charcoal, once you have finished cooking and removed your food, open all vents, or turn your gas grill up to high and close the lid to allow the grill to get hot.

In this way, you will be able to burn off much of the food and barbecue sauce stuck to your grill.

Following the cooking process, you can close your vents to extinguish your charcoal (which can be reused) or turn off your gas to allow the grill to cool to the point that you are comfortable cleaning it.

Brush the grates of your grill with a grill brush while it is still warm. You can easily remove any remaining food from your grates using a brush and scraper.

After you’ve cleaned and dried your cast iron grill grates, you should now apply a very thin coat of vegetable oil on top to prevent corrosion.

A good way to prevent this is to lightly dab a cloth or piece of kitchen towel in oil. A thin film should be applied to the grates, not a thick coating.

Rust Removal From Cast Iron Grates

Your grates may rust due to accidental damage or unintentional neglect from time to time.

Leaving your grill cover off for a prolonged period of time or not using it for a prolonged period can cause this problem.

Cast iron grates can become rusted over time, but do not panic – there are several ways you can remove rust and restore them to their former state.

Water & Steel Wool

Let me begin by stating that you must never wash your cast iron with soap and water unless you plan to completely remove its seasoning and reseason it.

Lodge Manufacturing, a company based in the United States and one of the largest manufacturers of cast iron cookware in the world, provides instructions on how to clean cast iron that has become rusty in the video below. Grates should also be treated as gratings.

As long as you and your spouse agree to it, bring the grill grates inside the house and wash them in the sink with hot soapy water and steel wool or a stiff brush. As well as removing any seasoning you’ve built up, this will also remove any surface rust, bringing the grate back to bare metal. 

Your grates need to be thoroughly rinsed after they have been cleaned before they are completely dried. You do not want any moisture left behind because that can cause the rust to return almost immediately, sometimes even overnight.

In order to make sure that there is no water left in any pores, you should dry them in a very low oven for a few minutes.

Adding Vinegar To Soak

You can soak your grill grates in vinegar to remove any rust if your sink is large enough to lay them flat.

To get started, combine 50/50 water and distilled white vinegar, and let the grates sit for an hour. After soaking in water, gently scrub any remaining rust with a wire pad or kitchen scrubber.

As soon as you are finished scrubbing, you’ll want to wash in soapy water to rinse off any remaining vinegar. Once that is done, you should dry everything in a low oven to complete the process.

High heat on the grill and a self-cleaning oven

Cleaning your grill with soap and steel wool or soaking it in vinegar may not suffice if it is heavily rusted.

Cast iron can be easily cleaned by running it through the self-cleaning cycle of your oven, which has been used for years. You can get the same result by leaving your grates in a very hot grill (600°+) for over an hour if you don’t have a self-cleaning oven.

When your grates have cooled (whether on the grill or inside the oven), you’ll still need to wash them with hot soapy water to remove any carbon that may have remained behind.

Cleaner for the grill or oven

When your grill has a lot of rust and/or baked-on crud, and none of the above methods will work for you, then using a specialized grill cleaner, or even an oven cleaner, is the best way to restore your cast iron to bare metal.

Oven cleaners usually contain lye, an alkaline solution that is used for cleaning and washing.

Assemble all materials needed:

  • Cleaner for ovens
  • Bags for garbage
  • Several large boxes or containers allow the grills to be stored for a couple of days while the oven cleaner works
  • Glasses and gloves for safety.

Place your grates for airtight sealing inside garbage bags and spray an even coating on them in a well-ventilated area. After storing them for a couple of days in a warm place where children and pets cannot reach them, you are ready to use them.

Following a thorough cleaning of the cast iron, wash it in soapy water once the crud has all broken down.


I am a barbeque specialist who can spend a lot of time, love, and passion on the grill. A barbecue expert is someone who is not only creating a great tasty steak on BBQ, but is skillful of using any pit or grills to do so, and able to offer appropriate advice on Barbecuing.

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