With routine maintenance and storage, your cast iron grill grates will be like fine aged wine. Sounds perfect to us! But, a little laziness can cost you more on having to replace the grates.

So, let’s not focus on the loss. Instead, we’re going to prepare you with the necessities required for maintaining those grills. And why not?

Just like how rust starts to rear its head around your iron pots and pans that lacked proper care, similarly, your cast iron grill grates face the same issue. It’s not only about cooking and covering the grill, but you’ve also got to figure out the whole cleaning and seasoning process.

Moreover, you can maintain this incredibly durable product with a little knowledge and the right techniques. As you move on to the following discussion, we’ll help you do this job well with a few tips and tricks along the way. 

So, let’s begin, shall we?

How to clean the cast iron grill grates after every use?

Get your gloves on after you’re done cooking on the grill, because it’s time to clean them. This is probably the best way to keep the grill grates in perfect condition. So, you wouldn’t want to ignore this step at any cost.

You need to start by turning up the heat to the maximum level. After which you can close the lid to ensure the grill grates heat up accurately. For the charcoal grill, you need to open up all the vents. This allows the grill to burn off the stuck-on barbecue sauce and leftover food particles. So, most of the hard work is done by your grill itself!

When the bits and pieces have burned off, you need to allow the grill to cool down before sticking your hand inside. When the rack is slightly warm and comfortable for you to touch, you should begin scraping off the grates with a quality grill brush. 

Once the grill grates are dry, you can go ahead and get a thin kitchen towel for seasoning purposes. You need to use the cloth for dabbing the grates with a thin layer of vegetable oil or bacon grease.

Different ways to remove rust from your cast iron grill grates

Whether by accident or improper storage, your grates can start to get rusty. This occurs when moisture gets inside the grill, or if you’ve not covered the grill and it’s kept aside for an extended period.

When you’re welcomed to a rusty cast iron grill grate, it can get frustrating. But, you can use these tricks, as per the severity of the rusting situation. So, weigh out the issue and follow these techniques.

1. Steel Wool Soap

If you can see a build-up of a moderate amount of rust, you can bring your grates inside for a good scrub. You can use soap with steel wool or even a stiff brush to remove the surface rust. 

But, a word of caution, this will strip off all the seasoning from your grates as it brings it back to bare metal. And you’ll need to re-season the grates after you’re done cleaning and drying them.

Even if a little moisture is left behind, you’ll be waking up to a rusted grill grate once again. So, you should ensure to give the grates a good rinse before drying it inside the grill or a hot oven.

2. Vinegar Soak

This is one of the safest and standard methods to clean off the rust from cast iron grill grates. You can also use this method for your annual deep clean. For the mixture, you need one part baking soda and two parts of distilled white vinegar. This mixture helps to strip off any rust and breaks down the stuck on leftovers.

The grill grates should be soaked overnight; and so, you can place it in the sink if it’s spacious enough. If that’s not suitable in your case, try getting a large garbage bag to put your grates inside with the mixture and then seal it tightly. 

After soaking it overnight, you need to rinse the grill grates by scrubbing it thoroughly. This helps to wash off the remaining debris. You can follow it up by wiping the water with a thin towel and re-seasoning it with oil, before placing it on the hot oven.

3. Oven Cleaner

If none of the other methods are working to remove the rust, you can finally give the oven cleaner a try. Even though these cleaners contain harsh chemicals along with lye, it works perfectly to strip down the rusty seasoned grill grate to bare metal.

For the last resort, nothing can work better than the oven cleaner. However, when you’re using this product at home, its best to keep it away from your children and pets.

Take the grill grates to a well-ventilated area and spray it with an even coat of oven cleaner. Once you’re done, put them inside the garbage bags, and secure it tightly. You can let it sit for a couple of days in a warm spot, before washing them with soapy water. After the grill grates are devoid of moisture, you can season them like you did when they were brand new.

Why is it essential to season the grill grates?

With the use of oil or fat, you can give the right seasoning to cast iron grill grates. The high heat in the grill helps the oil to polymerize on the pores of the cast iron, by creating a tough coating which gives a non-stick finish by making them rust-free.

However, before putting back your cast iron grill grates, you should consider seasoning them. And if you’ve just completed a thorough cleaning session like the ones mentioned above, you’ll need to apply a thick layer of oil. But, if you’re cleaning your grates with a grill brush just when it’s relatively warm, then one thin coat of vegetable oil will get the job done.

Tips for maintaining the cast iron grill grates

We’ve covered the essential part of cleaning and seasoning your grill grates. And now let’s move on to some tips that you should bear in mind for the grill maintenance.

  1. You should cover your grill adequately while storing them. This helps prevent moisture from sneaking inside and keeps it from getting rusty. 
  2. Check the grill brush for some loose bristles before you start using it. And you should consider replacing your grill brush annually. 
  3. Avoid using synthetic and nylon brush to apply oil on the warm grates, as it melts when exposed to high temperature. Instead, you can use a natural bristle paint brush or a thin towel to apply oil for seasoning.
  4. To avoid a sticky film of burnt sugar on your grates, you should be mindful about the quantity of barbecue sauce that you’re using. It’s always better if you don’t use an excessive amount of rub because too much gravy can also mess up your grill grates.
  5. Do not attempt to wash your grill grates in the dishwasher. As the grease from the cast iron grill grates can leave behind a thick, greasy residue on the insides of your dishwasher. If you think of doing it anyway, you’ll be left with double the amount of work by having to clean two appliances.
  6. To avoid the food from sticking to the grill grates, you need to clean and season them after every use. With the right amount of seasoning, it helps build a non-stick coating over the grates, which will make the food stick less.
  7. If you want to store the grill for an extended period without using it, you should apply a heavy coat of vegetable oil or bacon grease on the grates before wrapping it in a plastic bag.

Final Words

Even though it requires a lot of effort and persistence to clean cast iron grill grates, it will operate safely for years to come, if maintained well. To depend on them for helping you make a wholesome meal, you have to take proper care of it. 

We hope this guide has helped show you the different ways to keep your cast iron grill grates clean and rust-free.

Until next time!