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How to Keep Grill Grates from Rusting | Complete Guide

Written by Isabel Fernandez
Last Update: January 27, 2022

Grills are an investment, regardless of whether you spend $100 or $1,000. You’ll be grilling food in your backyard for many years to come if you follow these simple tips to prevent your grill from rusting.

Your grill will stay rust-free if you follow these tips. Before cooking on the grill, you should inspect it for rust every time. A rusted grill is not safe for grilling, and it can be harmful to eat rusted food.

How to Keep Grill Grates From Rusting

Things you will need

  • Oil
  • Wire brush
  • Bbq cover
  • Non-damaging scraper
  • Vinegarbaking soda
  • Lemon juice
  • Safe commercial cleaner
  • Sandpaper
  • Soap and water

1. Never pour liquids directly on the grill

Never pour liquids directly on the grill

BBQ sauce is a favorite among many, but you need to avoid spills if you’re using it on your grill. It may clog your grates or cause them to rust.

It is best to marinate while in the kitchen rather than grilling. Apply the marinade directly to the food.

2. Brush the grates

Brush the grates

Brushing your grates every time you use the grill will ensure that they last as long as possible.

Brush the grates clean with a Stainless Steel Grill Brush once the grill has been preheated on high for 15 minutes with the lid closed.

3. Avoid any soaps with citrus

Grates don’t typically require harsh washing but you should avoid using soaps that contain citrus cleaning agents unless there is a special reason.

Do remember that citrus cleaning agents can cause corrosion.

4. Oil the grill

Oil the grill

Cleaning your grill grates after each cook is the easiest way to prevent your grates from rusting.

Remember to keep your cooking grids seasoned by rubbing them lightly with oil after you clean them.

5. Don’t scrap the grates

If you use metal tools to scrape the porcelain enamel that covers the grates, you may damage it, opening it to corrosion.

6. Deep clean regularly

Deep clean regularly

Regular deep cleaning is also a good idea.

Remove the grates and wash with one cup of dish soap and fresh hot water with ¼ cup of baking soda added.  Soak the grates in the solution for an hour, then clean them with your brush.

To remove any lingering stuck-on food or bristles on the grates, wipe them down with a soft cloth after the grill has cooled.

7. Season your grills

Seasoning you grill the first time

Step 1:

Using the control knobs, set the barbecue grill to MEDIUM-HIGH and turn it on.. Close the lid and let it burn for twenty minutes to eliminate any residue. After twenty minutes, turn off the controls and wait a few minutes until the grate has cooled.

Step 2:

The cast iron grids should be coated with cooking oil in a thin layer using an oil mister or basting brush.  Ensure that all corners and surfaces of the grids are thoroughly coated. Your grill is now ready.

It is recommended you use vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil, or sunflower oil. Margarine or butter, however, should not be used. Their heat is too low to burn them off, so they won’t prevent grid damage.

Re-season your grill

When the lid is open, turn the knobs to medium high. Now shut the lid and wait for 10 minutes. By doing this, excess food and oil will be burnt off.

Turn off the control knobs once the lid is open. Utilize a stainless steel barbecue grill brush to remove excess oil and food from your grids.

Cleaning your grids should only be done with a stainless steel brush. Cleaning food particles is most effective using stainless steel bristles. The cast iron grids should be coated with cooking oil at a thin layer with a basting brush. It is important to coat every inch of the grid, including the corners.
Use the above advice, and don’t use margarine or butter due to their low heat.

8. Always preheat grills that you don’t clean often

Always preheat grills that you don’t clean often

Not cleaning the grates often is also a common mistake since the accumulated fat from other meals previously cooked is supposed to prevent rust from forming.

I would recommend leaving your grates dirty after cooking if you are going to use this method of rust prevention.

You can clean the grill grates before cooking with a wire grill brush after preheating it. Putting food on them will get them dirty again, continuing this cycle.

9. Use grates made of stainless steel

Use grates made of stainless steel

Grates made from stainless steel can help avoid this problem. My Weber kettle and smoker grates are stainless steel and never rust. I clean them in the dishwasher once a year.

Even though they cost more, they are extremely durable, long-lasting, and easy to maintain, making them a great choice.

10. Move indoors and always use a cover

Move indoors and always use a cover

Grill grates are most commonly corroded by water.  Keep a vinyl or cloth-lined cover on the grill when you are not using it. During periods of extreme humidity, heavy rain, or snow, leave the grill in a covered area or shed.

Can Grill Covers Prevent Rust?

Grill covers prevent rust, yes. Wind and water are exposed to a grill when it isn’t covered. As a result, corrosion and rust occur.

Rust may not seem like a big deal bit it really is because it cannot be easily removed from a grill and the quality of the grill slowly deteriorates.

When not in use, you should cover the grill. The moisture will be reduced and your grill will look great.

Can a Rusty Grill Be Fixed

1. Vinegar and baking soda

Rust can be removed with both vinegar and baking soda. Baking soda forms a paste when combined with vinegar.

Let the paste sit for approximately 30 minutes on the rust spots. Then rinse.

2. Lemon juice

Lemon juice and powder detergent are also useful in making a rust-busting paste. However, this method takes a bit longer. Leave the paste on overnight.

3. Rust removers

If the two previous DIY cleaners have not worked, you may need a commercial cleaner for rust.

Make sure you do not use a rust remover that is generic. The chemicals in them might end up in your food. You should always use products designed to remove rust from a cooking surface.

4. Plain water and mild soap

Fill a bucket with warm water and dish soap. Clean the grill using soft materials. A nylon brush can be used to remove stubborn rust particles from grill grates. Be careful to avoid abrasive materials.

5. Vegetable Oil

Use a paper towel to coat the grill grates with vegetable oil after each use. Grates on a grill will not rust as water will be repelled by the vegetable oil.

6. Sandpaper

Sandpaper. Rub the sandpaper up and down firmly on the rusty rungs. The rust will be removed at this point. However, be careful and use it gently as this can sometimes scratch the surface.

Safety Tips to Follow When Using Chemicals to Remove Rust

  • Always read the label and follow instructions carefully
  • Always ensure the product is safe for food surfaces
  • Use protective gear like gloves and a mask as some chemicals can be harmful to inhale or get on the skin
  • Always try DIY safe methods first before resorting to chemicals

Pro Tips to Keep the Rust Away From Grills

  • Get cast-iron grates made of stainless steel or porcelain-coated. The porcelain coating on many CharBroil® products prevents rust.
  • Keep your grills oiled and cleaned properly
  • Ensure you have a cover on your grill and it fits correctly
  • When you spot rust, get onto it asap before it spreads and becomes a bigger problem


1. Is it Okay to Grill on Rusted Grates?

Ans. If a grill grate has loose rust on it then it is unsafe since rust can mix with your food and make it unsafe to cook. If the surface rust on the grill grate is minor, then it can be cleaned and treated. Rust taken in one meal may not harm you but long-term consumption may be problematic.

About the author

Isabel Fernandez

A Beloved Wife with A Culinary Degree

Hi, I’m Isabel. Let me utter a few words to describe myself. I am not into cooking as a professional. Then why did I pursue institutional education in this field? To be honest, I didn’t want to be a typical woman who cooks to eat without putting much sense to the culinary factors. My husband and I’ve been conscious of our food habits (of the taste actually) since the time we tied the knot. Our primary goal has always been to tongue delicious and nutritious recipes. Although I’m not a nutritionist, I do care about those life-saving agents. I got immensely familiar with dishes, especially the ones based on meats and the different tools and ingredients that make what our senses desire the most. Do you want my experience to guide you through any of these? Follow my posts on this website!

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