How To Keep Your Grill Grates From Rusting

If you want your kitchen equipment to last a long time, you must maintain it properly.

A rusty grill grate can be considered a sign that you’ve ignored the upkeep of your grill for too long. If left on, the rust can spread and destroy your equipment entirely.

Apart from destroying your equipment, it can also affect the taste of your food and how safe it is to eat.

One part of taking care of your grill is knowing how to keep your grill grates from rusting. Ready to learn how to do this? Read on and find out!

What Is Rust?

Rust results from a chemical reaction when iron or steel is exposed to moisture and oxygen. This is a common chemical reaction that many of us see day to day. Iron oxide is the leading culprit of why rust appears.

You can easily spot it as flaky material, usually between red-orange to brown, building up on the grates of your grill.

Loose rust is easily scraped off, even by using a brass brush. And the color is vibrant, so it’s easy to spot. Grill rusting is an easy sign that the grill isn’t well taken care of.

If your grill is rusted, particles can get onto your food if you cook on them. Rust is not food safe, so ingesting it can be dangerous. Also, it gives your food an unpleasant taste that you’d rather avoid.

Whether you’re a beginner griller or a master at the art, knowing how to keep your grill grates from rusting is crucial information that you should learn. 

How to Stop Your Grill Grates From Rusting

  1. Don’t Leave Your Grill Grates Wet

Iron or steel must be in contact with oxygen and moisture to form rust. 

Since oxygen is abundant in the atmosphere, keeping moisture away is the easiest way to prevent rust formation on your grill grates.

As such, it’s crucial that you don’t leave your grates wet long enough for the chemical reaction to occur.

Since grill grates are needed for cooking, moisture from sauces and marinades will likely come into contact with them, but there are steps that you can take to minimize this. 

To ensure you get the least amount of grease or moisture on your cooking grates, try applying the marinades and sauces in the kitchen when preparing your food for grilling. 

Never leave your grill grates wet after you’ve finished cooking. Instead, turn off the burners of your grill or open your grill vents to help them dry out. 

Doing so would help dry out the moisture from your grates, and it’ll also help incinerate grease and food particles. After 10 minutes, the grates will be dry, ashy, and easier to clean. 

  1. Clean Your Grill Grates After Use

If you want to avoid grill grates rusting, make sure to clean them. When you do, ensure that the burners are off and let the grill cool first.

Use a grill brush to remove any particles stuck on the grates. Consider using a bristle-free grill brush to reduce the risk of wire bristles getting stuck in your grates.

If you have a charcoal grill, clean the grates while they’re still hot, but be careful when doing so and avoid any burns. 

You can use a brush and a tiny sprinkle of cold or warm water to do so. The heat from the coals will dry out the small amount of water you’ve used, so you don’t have to worry about moisture. 

  1. Make Deep Cleaning Your Grill a Habit

A key thing to properly maintaining your grill and preventing rust on the grates is to do a regular deep and thorough cleaning once in a while. 

with baking soda

To do this, you can take out the grates and wash them using a washing solution. This can be a mixture of hot water (make sure it’s not just warm water), mild dish soap or washing powder, and baking soda. 

Once the grates have cooled down from the hot water solution, wipe them completely using dry paper towels. Make sure also to get rid of any leftover food residue or wire bristles.

After this, wash the burners and other parts of your grill using a towel and a mild cleaner.

You should also clean and varnish the outside of your grill to prevent those parts from rusting.

with Lemon juice

Lemon juice is known to be a great natural cleaner, and it can help remove grill grates rust.

First, add lemon juice and a squirt of dish detergent to hot water. Next, take the grates and soak them in this mixture.

While the grates are soaking, heavily spray a mixture of lemon juice and water on the grill’s outer part to clean them.

Let the solution sit for five minutes, and then start drying it. You can use paper towel for scrubbing and drying.

Next, go back to the grates. You can use a scrub brush or a scrub pad for stainless steel to remove excess rust on the grates. Once done, rinse with water and dry with paper towel.

  1. Don’t Use Soaps With Citrus On Your Grill Grates

If you use porcelain enameled cast iron grates or PECI, make sure to avoid cleaning products that have citrus in them. 

Citrus ingredients can potentially corrode metals. Instead, use warm water and mild dish soap with baking soda. 

  1. Properly Season Your Cast Iron Grate

If you want your cast iron grates to be protected from rusting while performing at their optimal state, you must season them.

In this case, seasoning your grates means you need to coat every inch of it with vegetable oil after cleaning them. You can also use aerosol vegetable oil for a quick application.

Vegetable oil is not only food-safe but also affordable, and it does what you need it to do. Since oil repels water, this will form a protective layer around your grates against moisture. 

To do this, use a clean, soft cloth to apply a light coat and an even thin layer of vegetable oil on your grates. A clean, soft brush can also do the trick if you don’t have a rag.

  1. Avoid Scraping Your Grill Grates

Porcelain-enameled cast iron grill grates have a coating that protects the grates from rusting.

However, this can be removed if you scrape it using rough, hard-textured cleaning tools (like metallic cleaning tools) or cooking tools.

Even a tiny scratch on the surface can cause a big problem, as rust can spread quickly. So as much as possible, do everything you can to avoid having a rusted grill grate.

  1. Check Your Drip Trays

To prevent rust on your grill grates, make sure to check your drip tray and drain it.

The moisture that comes into contact with your grill doesn’t just include liquids – moisture is also present in the air.

Your drip tray catches a lot of grease and liquids that, if left uncleaned, can get into the air surrounding your grill grates. This can cause oxidation to happen and your grill grates to rust. 

Make sure to check your drip tray regularly before and after cooking. Also, if it rains, make sure to check if your drip tray catches any water. If it did, make sure to drain it. 

  1. Cover Your Grill 

Protecting your grill from the elements is an excellent way to prevent rusting. The environment can play a massive part in rusting, and you need to cover your grill to shield it from that. 

While grills have lids, this is not enough to protect them from corrosion. Instead, you can invest in a high-quality grill cover that fits tightly when put on your grill. You may opt for a nylon or vinyl cover.

Apart from the material, a tight fit is also crucial since you want to avoid humidity passing through small holes and spaces. 

  1. Store Your Grill Properly

Sometimes, covering your grill is not enough; you also have to store it properly.

To protect your grill further from the harsh outdoor elements, store it in a dry, covered area like a covered shed or a garage.

You can store your grill under an awning or deck if you don’t have garages or sheds. Just make sure it has a grill cover and doesn’t directly come into contact with rain or snow.

This is also a reason why people prefer using a portable or a small grill in the first place, especially beginner grillers out there.

They won’t have to worry much about where to store their grills and can easily find space for them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Causes Grill Rusting?

The most common answer to this is contact with moisture. This may happen if you spill liquid onto your grates and leave it on until oxidation occurs. 

Humidity also causes moisture to come into contact with your iron grates, which may lead to a reaction producing rust. This is why grill covers should be tight.

While these are the most common causes, other substances can produce rusted grates.

Contact with household cleaners with corrosive ingredients can cause rusting on your grill grates. Some such substances include concentrated bleach and chlorine.

How Often Should I Deep Clean My Grill?

Like other kitchen equipment, such as ovens, flat-top grills, and smokers, you should regularly clean your outdoor grill thoroughly to prevent rapid rusting.

It’s recommended that you deep clean your grill after every 15 to 20 uses.

How Do I Clean Rusty Grill Grates?

If there are rusty spots on your grill grates, there are still ways to save them.

Currently, there are several suggested methods for removing rust build-up on grill grates. The easiest one is to get a commercial rust remover and use it to clean your grates. 

If you’d like to opt for this method, please keep in mind that not all rust removers can work. Some such products have toxic chemicals that are unsafe to ingest.

Therefore, make sure to buy a commercial rust remover specifically formulated for grill grates and other kitchen items.

Other than this, there are other methods that you can use at home. These natural ingredients can work to safely remove grill rust.

You can make a vinegar and salt solution that can remove rust from the grates. Alternatively, baking soda is also a great cleaning product to remove rust.

You can also opt to use physical force to scrape off the rust. You can use wire brushes and sandpaper to do so, like how you would clean a flat-top grill.

After cleaning off the rust, keep in mind that it’s essential to season the grates so they’ll be protected from moisture when you cook. 

Is It Safe to Cook on Rusty Grill Grates?

The USDA deems rust as a substance that is not food safe, so there are dangers from ingesting it. It also gives your food an unpleasant, rusty metallic taste.

Therefore, avoiding cooking on top of rusty grill grates is best. Instead, clean off the rust from your grates before using them. 

Keeping Grill Grates Clean and Well-Maintained

To prevent grill grates from rusting and keep them in tip-top shape, you need to know how to take care of them.  Therefore, learning how to keep grill grates from rusting is essential knowledge. 

Maintain proper upkeep of your equipment for it to last. Plus, rust shouldn’t deter you from firing up your grill and grilling food for your loved ones!

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