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Did you know that stubborn, pesky food residue stuck to your grill can seriously impact cooking times and lead to uneven heating? Understanding how to properly care for the cast iron grates is not only important for maintaining grilling effectiveness but also vital if you don’t want to ruin an expensive culinary find.

How to Clean Cast Iron Grill Grates? Grill Cleaning Tips
How to clean cast iron grill grates?

A grill is one of the most popular items on a summertime wish list. Whether you’re looking to buy a new one or just want some tips for taking care of your current grill, we’ve got you covered. Cleaning cast iron grill grates is a lot of work and gets to be a chore. There are many ways to clean cast iron grill grates, but most people don’t know the best way. How to clean cast iron grill grates? This blog post will show you how to clean your cast iron grill grates with ease by using simple items found around your house! The end result will be an amazingly cleaned set of cast-iron grill grates that are ready for use all summer long!

How to Clean Cast Iron Grill Grates

It is fairly easy to clean cast iron grill grates. For this article, I used the grate from my trusty old Weber Genesis, but the process is identical for many other brands of gas grills that use interchangeable cast iron grill grates. The following instructions are mostly directed at cleaning spills on the top surface of the grate, but with some modification can be applied to bottom surfaces as well.

– Turn your gas grill to high heat or close all air intakes except one so you have stable temperature in excess of about 800°F (426°C). I usually turn off half of my burners since I don’t need full power under normal conditions anyway so this isn’t really an issue here.

– After about 10 minutes, carefully remove the grill grate from your grill and place it over a metal trash can or other suitable surface where it will get plenty of air flow on all sides. In my case, I placed it on top of my Weber’s built in work table directly under one of the stainless steel ventilation plates which does a good job distributing heat to allow me to do two things at once;

– Carefully dump out any ash and loose debris and give the grate a quick brush with a wire brush (I like using this kind since I can turn them perpendicular when they get full of ash). 

– Then coat the entire surface generously with some type of cooking oil such as vegetable oil, olive oil or even warm bacon fat (I like bacon and use it often).

– Using a clean rag or paper towel, rub the entire surface of the grate vigorously to ensure good even coverage over all surfaces. Be careful with any type of cloth rag not to leave strands on the grate that will end up stuck in your food later. It doesn’t take much oil to coat cast iron well but be generous, don’t worry if it looks too oily at first; once heated this excess will quickly cook off leaving you with enough residual oil to season your grill for next time.

– If you are like me and use an infrared thermometer check the temperature of the cast iron grate after you finish rubbing it down, chances are it has dropped significantly (in my case, down to about 450°F/232°C). If you want your cast iron grill grates seasoned enough to put on food right away (and don’t mind the smell), take them back inside and place them in an oven preheated to 275°F (135°C) for at least 15 minutes.

– Once thoroughly heated, remove the grate from the oven using pot holders or thick insulated gloves since it will be very hot to the touch. Allow it cool until you are able to handle it without fear of severe burns, then repeat step 2 again until the grate’s surface has cooled to room temperature all over. Your grill is ready for normal use except now your cast iron grill grates have been thoroughly cleaned and seasoned.

How to clean cast iron grill grates? To maintain a well seasoned cast iron grate, simply follow the above steps whenever you use your grill and your grates will last for years with little or no maintenance required to keep them in good working order. 

How to Remove Rust From Cast Iron Grates

Grates are the base of any successful cast iron cookware. They protect your food from direct heat and distribute that heat evenly, making sure that it cooks evenly as well. The better the grate is, the more even cooking you’ll have, which will lead to better tasting food. Unfortunately, over time your grates can warp or rust through unless they’re looked after properly. Below are several ways on getting rid of rust from cast iron grates without damaging them further in the process.

– Soak

Before trying any other method for removing rust stains from your cast iron grates, consider trying this one first. Fill a plastic container with water until it covers all of your grates completely. Add some dish soap to the container and mix it around. You can also use detergent if you have some around the house as well. Leave your cast iron grates to soak overnight, or at least for a few hours, then scrub them clean with an old sponge or brush after rinsing them off with fresh water.

– Vinegar

Vinegar is another natural rust remover that’ll help get rid of any rust stains from your cast iron grates. This method works best when done on just one grate at a time but you can do multiple pieces together if there are no other kitchen implements in the sink. Add vinegar to each piece of cast iron cookware one by one and let them sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing them down with a sponge or brush. If you’re not in a rush to use your cast iron grates after removing the rust, then leaving them in the vinegar is fine. Just be sure to rinse them off with fresh water if that’s the case.

– Bar Keepers Friend

Bar Keepers Friend has been used for years by housewives and professional cooks alike because of its ability to get rid of tough stains from metal cookware. The only concern with using this product however is how it may affect your seasoning on cast iron grates, especially if you’ve gone through a lot of trouble keeping a good coat on there over a long period of time. You can choose to leave your cast iron grates submerged in a paste of Bar Keepers Friend and water overnight or just scrub them with it directly. If you notice that the seasoning on your grates has been stripped away then it’s best to repeat some of the other methods on this list instead.

– Acidic Solution

For those who don’t mind using some harsh chemicals, an acidic solution can also be used as a way to remove rust from cast iron grates. While some people suggest using hydrochloric acid (HCl), it is incredibly dangerous and highly reactive with organic matter, meaning that inhaling its fumes or ingesting it can cause death due to respiratory failure or cardiac arrest. Instead, opt for a solution of either white vinegar, citric acid, or even lemon juice. While they’re not as potent as HCl, they can still get rid of rust effectively while being safer to handle and store.

– Electrolysis Rust Remover

An alternative method for removing tough rust stains is electrolysis. This appliance uses an electric current to remove the mineral content from pieces of metal, including iron cookware. However, this process does require special equipment so if you don’t have it on hand already then this isn’t the best option for you. The best part about using electrolysis however is how it’s non-toxic and only requires the use of water (and electricity) to work its magic on rusty cast iron grates. You can read more about using electrolysis if you want to go this route to remove the rust.

How to clean cast iron grill grates? Now that we’ve gone over a few ways on how to get rid of rust from cast iron grates, it’s time for you to try them out for yourselves and see which one works best in your home. You’ll be able to take advantage of these tips if ever your own cast iron cookware becomes rusty in the future as well so don’t forget to bookmark this page today!

How Do You Restore Cast Iron Grill Grates?

Cast iron cookware is durable, efficient and aesthetically pleasing. However, cast iron grates are not. Most cast iron grates are enameled with white or black finish that can chip or crack over time, leaving the metal underneath exposed to rust and corrosion if neglected. This article will provide you with information on restoring your cast iron grill grate by removing the existing paint so it may be recoated in a protective layer of oil or enamel spray paint.

– Method 1: Removing Cast Iron Grill Grate Paint With Fire

If your cast iron grate has chipped enamel causing rust, heat up the grill until it is very hot (the hotter the better). The intense heat from the flames helps to loosen the remaining enamel on the grates, allowing you to wipe it off with a paper towel. If this doesn’t work, try removing the grate from the grill and heating it over an open flame on your stove top until all of the enamel has been removed. Let stand for several minutes to allow excess heat to dissipate off before placing back onto your grill or other cooking surface.

– Method 2: Removing Cast Iron Grill Grate Paint With Chemical Cleaner

There are many types of chemical paint removers available at hardware stores that can be used on cast iron grates. To apply, first make sure that all remaining pieces of enamel have been completely removed by either using hot flames or direct heat from your stove top as mentioned above. Then simply spray the paint remover onto the grate and let stand for a few minutes. Once the enamel has been loosened, wipe with a paper towel or scrub with a non metal pad until all of the remaining enamel is removed.

Once your cast iron grate has been completely stripped down to bare metal, use a clean rag dipped in vegetable oil to coat all surfaces very lightly. Make sure you do not coat too heavily as this will make it difficult to achieve proper seasoning later on after cooking several times over high heat. Also make sure that no excess oil gets into any of the inside crevices–any excess can result in an unwanted, foul smelling smoke when heated over high heat which may also impart an off flavor into your food.

How to clean cast iron grill grates? After applying a very thin layer of oil to all surfaces, cover with aluminum foil and place back on your grill. Heat the grate until it has reached its self-cleaning point (which is around 500 degrees F)–the aluminum foil helps trap the heat and protects against excess rusting while the black iron absorbs and holds onto the oil coating. If done properly, you should see that your grate is now completely free from rust and ready for use again!

Tips for Maintaining your Grill Grates

– Clean and dry your grill grates after each use: This is the simplest tip that I can give you because it applies to absolutely everyone regardless of how much time or money you spend on your grill. After cooking, brush any good bits onto a paper plate and discard them (a compost bin works great as well as long as they’re not covered in sauce). If your grates are hot, be careful when doing this – we don’t want anyone getting burned! Let the grates cool down for 5-10 minutes and then wipe them clean with a cotton towel. If there’s stubborn residue left on the grates after brushing, apply enough vegetable oil so that the cloth is just damp and rub it into place for another minute or so.

– Use the right amount of heat: Too much heat will damage your grill grates in a hurry – you want to sear off any remnants of last night’s dinner but not enough that the sugars in your sauce are burnt onto the surface. If there are blackened bits on your grates, they’re likely dried up marinade which have turned into carcinogens under extreme temperatures. This is only important if you want to maintain your investment past its first year of use! As long as no bits are stuck to the bottom side of your grate, you’re good to go with medium-high direct heat. If they are, scrape them off before heating up again!

– Use appropriate cookware: I don’t need to tell you how bad it is to cook on bare metal! As grill grates are only designed for direct-heat cooking, they will warp and melt if exposed to high temperatures with nothing in between. This means no grill woks, skewers (unless threaded onto the grate individually), or shish kebabs. Even chicken wings can fall through into that inferno of flames below – not something that any of us want to see happen. Remember: always place your food on either a perforated pan or directly onto the mesh side of the barbecue grate.

– Use appropriate utensils: It’s easy enough to brush sauce onto your meats with a basting brush but if you do so while holding the bristles against the surface of the grill grate for any period of time, you will scratch off an awful lot of that precious seasoning. It’s not just your meat that needs to be taken care of – always use tongs to flip or serve food onto plates!

– Don’t let your grill grates become overloaded: This is another thing that applies more towards the serious pit masters out there but it can affect us all. If you find yourself with some great-looking meats and veggies on the barbecue but there isn’t any room left on your grill grate, don’t panic! Place them in a disposable aluminum tray or foil-lined baking sheet instead so they won’t drop down between the slits (a perforated grill pan would work even better than your grill grate in this instance). If you find that your sauce or marinades are burning up before reaching the food, it might be time to invest in some aluminum foil.

– Clean and oil after each use: As long as your grill grates are still warm but not hot, they should wipe clean fairly easily with a damp paper towel (or dish cloth for stubborn bits). Before storing them away for the season, rub a small amount of vegetable oil into the surface – do NOT spray anything onto the surface unless you want it to drip down below! After rubbing them clean, let them sit for at least 15 minutes before storing – this ensures that there’s no chance of any moist surfaces rust against one another. See? It doesn’t take a genius to maintain your barbecue grate – just quick and easy steps repeated after each use.

TIP: Rotate your grates! Remember that the top and bottom of your grill grate will warp at different rates due to constant exposure to extreme heat. This means that the biggest pressure points (such as where hamburgers or steaks sit) tend to get pressed into one side more than the other. By rotating our grill grates every time they’re used, we can prevent warping – especially if you have cast iron barbecuing accessories rather than steel ones. There’s no need for fancy tools – just grab two pairs of tongs or gloves and turn them upside down! You’ll be amazed at how even cooking can become a reality once you master this simple task.

Why Do We Grill With Cast Iron Grates?

We grill with cast iron grates for a number of very good reasons:

Cast Iron can go directly on the coals or gas flames. No need to heat them up first. Cast Iron is pre-seasoned so they are ready to use right out of the box. They maintain high heat which sears your meat, reduces flare ups and helps prevent meats from sticking. Since there is no change in temperature throughout cooking you have an even cook from top to bottom & side to side. Cast Iron lasts forever! Many people inherit their grandmother’s cast iron pans and pass them down through generations as a family heirloom. There is a reason why most chefs consider their chef knives as “sacred” – because it takes time, effort and money to get them where they are. The same goes for cast iron grates, known for their durability and longevity.

It is true that something pre-seasoned will be ready for use out of the box, but what about having to clean it before each use? Not so quick! Cast Iron Grates can rust if you don’t dry them thoroughly after washing, especially after cooking with salty foods or acidic substances like citrus juices. To make sure your cast iron grates are in tip-top shape even in between deep cleans follow these 8 steps:

– Make sure your grate is clean & free of debris 

– Rub a light coat of vegetable oil all over surfaces including handle/handle supports.

– Place on grill.

– Heat grill to searing temperature.

– Let grate heat up for 5-10 minutes until it starts to glimmer & shine

– Turn off grill, flip grate upside down and leave overnight or at least 8 hours

– The next day your cast iron will have a nice dry coat of oil on the bottom which helps prevent rusting

– After you cook just wipe the top with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil. You can do this as often as you’d like or just once a month!

>> How to clean cast iron grill grates – Sear Test: Porcelain-Enameled, Cast-Iron Grates vs Stainless Steel

Related question

How To Prevent Rust From Cast Iron Gates?

How to clean cast iron grill grates? Here are some tips for how to prevent rust on cast iron gates…

– Keeping all exterior surfaces painted with an appropriate paint sealant like Thompson’s Water Seal is highly recommended. This will prevent moisture from entering into the metal and causing corrosion in the first place. However, even in climates that receive very little rainfall, eventually you will need to reseal your gate because once water penetrates into the porous structure of your cast iron materials – it becomes necessary to strip off all loose rust scale and apply another coat of paint sealant so rust doesn’t come back. If you don’t, then more sections of your wrought iron gate could begin developing rust which leads to more problems down the road.

– If you have a cast iron gate that has been painted with paint sealant – it is okay to scrub off all loose scale and apply another coat of paint sealant when needed, but do not use any harsh abrasive materials or metal scrapers because they will scratch the surface and leave deep grooves in your gate. This can be very discouraging when you try to repaint your cast iron gates because these grooves create uneven surfaces which causes a poor appearance after you paint them. You don’t want this! The idea here is just to remove rust scale so that no further damage will occur to the wrought iron panels.

– To prevent rust from destroying your wrought iron gate, place two lengths of polyethylene (plastic) pipe in the ground vertically on either side of your gate and about a foot away from it. This will keep moisture off your gate when you get snow drifts when there is snowfall in winter. It will also prevent dirt and rocks from building up beside it when people drive over them and then pile up against the fountain or decorative ornamentation by your wrought iron gate that contains water spraying out of it like in this photo:

– To prevent rust from destroying your wrought iron gates, place several landscape edging bricks along both sides of your cast iron fence to help water drain back into the grass so dirt does not build up behind it and damage panels or even weaken structural joints between sections of an ornamental gate that contains water spraying out of it.

– To prevent rust from destroying your wrought iron gates, place several gravel rocks between the brick edging along the sides of your cast iron fence so dirt does not build up behind it and cause damage to panels or even weaken structural joints between sections which could create a hazard if they fall apart when too much weight is applied. Cast Iron Fences are heavy! Also, placing bricks underneath them can really help to keep animals from damaging them by digging under the gate to get through unless you bury landscape edging in front of this location like I placed here:


Cast iron grill grates are a great investment for any backyard cook. They last practically forever and provide an even cooking surface that is perfect for burgers, steaks and chicken breasts alike. After all the good times you’ve had on your cast-iron grills, it may be time to think about how to clean them properly so they will stay in tip top shape! If you’ve ever tried to clean cast iron grates, you know it can be a daunting task. But we have the perfect solution for cleaning your grill and keeping them looking like new!

How to clean cast iron grill grates? I hope you’ve found this article helpful. Now that your cast iron grill grates are clean, do not forget to season them with vegetable oil before use. Seasoning will ensure they maintain their seasoning and prevent rust build up in the future. Cleaning won’t be necessary as often if these steps are followed correctly!

See more:

Are Wood Pellets Safe For Grilling? Grilling Safety Tips