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How to Remove Rust from Cast Iron Grill Grates

Are you wondering how to remove rust from cast iron grill grates?

With proper care, a cast iron grill can last an incredibly long time.

However, since cast iron tends to rust easily, the grill is usually coated with a layer of enamel or porcelain. The coating also makes the grill non-stick and eliminates the need to season it every time.

If proper care is not taken, the coating on the grill may come off over time and expose the grill grates to rust.

Luckily, it is possible to remove the rust and even restore the grill grates to their normal working condition using cleaning agents that are readily available at home like baking soda, vinegar, and salt.

Before we talk about how to remove rust from the cast iron grill grates, it is important to first look at what causes the cast iron grill grates to rust.

Why does cast iron grill grates rust?

Cast iron is strong and durable, but a little neglect can easily destroy it and render your skillet, pan, griddle, or grill useless.

Your cast iron grill grates will easily rust if;

  1.  It’s stored in a damp environment.
  2. You season it the wrong way.
  3. You don’t clean and dry it properly after use.
  4. The grill has not been used for a long time.

Is cooking on a rusty grill harmful?

A rusty grill is not safe to use because rust can get into the food and you ingest it.

While ingesting the rust from one meal may not cause immediate harm, you may face health problems down the line after continuous ingestion.

How to remove rust from cast iron grill grates

Thus, it is important to quickly remove the rust from your grill as soon as you notice it to protect your health and that of your loved ones.

How to remove rust from cast iron grill grates

As earlier stated, cooking on a rusty grill once may not be harmful. However, some people tend to be too sensitive such that even consuming rust once can lead to digestive complications.

So before you grill that steak for your family, ensure your cast iron grill is clean and rust-free.

Below are some ways you can use to remove rust from cast iron grill grates:

1. How to get rust off cast iron grill grates, griddle and skillet with vinegar

This is one of the easiest and safest methods for removing rust on cast iron cookware.

You can use white vinegar to do a deep clean or just regular cleaning of your grill grates to remove food particles and any traces of rust.

White vinegar is very effective on rust because it is acidic; hence, it dissolves it.

To clean off rust from the grill grates;

  • Fill the sink with water or any container that is large enough to fit the grates.
  • Add a substantial amount of the white vinegar and soak the grates.
  • Leave them to soak for several hours or overnight.
  • Once done, remove the grates from the water/vinegar mixture and rinse thoroughly.
  • If notice traces of rust that did not come off after soaking in vinegar, you can scrub them using steel wool.
  • Rinse once again and dry the grill grates with a dry towel.
  • Don’t forget to apply a layer of vegetable oil on the grates before storing the grill.

2. How to remove rust on cast iron using baking soda

Baking soda also works great in removing rust from cookware. It is a mild abrasive so as it dissolves, it scrapes the rust off.

  • You can mix the baking soda with white vinegar and follow the process discussed earlier or simply mix it with water to make a paste.
  • Apply the paste on the rusty areas on the grill grates then let it sit for about an hour.
  • Gently scrub the paste covered grates using a scrubbing pad. If there are some stubborn rust stains, apply another layer of the baking soda and let it sit for a while before scrubbing again.
  • Once all the rust is removed, rinse thoroughly with clean water and then dry the grill with a dry towel.
  • Apply a layer of vegetable oil to protect it from rusting again and then store it in a dry place.

3. Cleaning a rusty cast iron grill/griddle with kosher salt

Apparently kosher salt is also a mild abrasive like baking soda that works great on removing rust.

You can also mix it vinegar or baking soda or make a paste with water.

  • Mix the salt with water to make a paste and then rub it on the rusty areas on the grate.
  • Kosher salt is more effective than baking soda so you don’t need to wait for it to sit. Salt will also cause the grill to rust if left on it for long that’s why you need to start scrubbing right away using a scrubbing pad or steel wool.
  • Once you are satisfied that all the rust has come off, rinse with clean water.
  • Dry the grill grates with a towel and season it with vegetable oil to maintain its quality and prevent rusting.

See also: Best griddle for glass top stove

How to prevent cast iron grill grates from rusting

Prevention is better than cure, so they say. And I agree.

When it comes to a cast iron grill, it is better to take the necessary precautions to prevent it from rusting rather than struggling to get rid of rust.

Once you have cleaned your grates and removed rust, it is important to ensure that you don’t face the same problem again.

So here are some of the ways you can keep your grill grates from rusting.

1. Clean the grill immediately after each use

After grilling your chicken or steak, the next logical thing to do is to sit down and eat. Cleaning the grill is usually not a priority at that moment.

How to Remove Rust from Cast Iron Grill Grates

So most people just close the lid of the grill without cleaning it until the next time they need to use it.

What they don’t know is that the grates are likely to start rusting due to the food residue stuck on them.

It is therefore important to clean the grill grates immediately after use and dry well before putting them away in storage.

2. Dry the cast iron completely after cleaning

Water or moisture is the number one enemy of cast iron.

If after cleaning you don’t dry the grill completely, even a single droplet of water will cause it to rust while in storage.

This is based on the fact that the oxygen in the water molecule combines with iron to create iron oxide (rust).

So, ensure you dry the grill grates completely using a dry towel or cloth.

See also: Best stainless steel sink protector rack

3. Season the cast iron grill grates regularly

Cast iron griddles, skillets, and grills need to be seasoned regularly to keep them from rusting.

To season the grates, apply a layer of oil such as vegetable oil, animal fat, flaxseed, or grapeseed oil.

You can apply the oil using a soft brush or paper towel and then bake grates in the oven at 400 degrees F for about an hour.

After baking, let the grates cool down before storing. This not only prevents the grates from rusting but also makes them non-stick.

How to Remove Rust from Cast Iron Grill Grates
Well seasoned cast iron grill grates

It is advisable to apply a thin layer of oil every time after cleaning and drying the grates so as to prevent them from rusting. You don’t have to repeat the whole baking process each time. Just applying a coat of oil is enough after cleaning the grates.

See also: Why is cast iron sticky after seasoning?

4. Store in a moisture-free environment 

As earlier stated, a cast iron grill or griddle will rust easily if stored in a moist place.

So to be on the safe side once you finish seasoning the grates, it is best to cover them with a tight-fitting plastic bag and store them in your covered grill.


The above are ways on how to remove rust from cast iron grill grates using products that are readily available at home.

Vinegar, baking soda, and salt are not only safe but also affordable. So there is no need to purchase rust removers that often contain toxic chemicals.

Try any of these products to clean and remove rust from your cast iron grates to find out which works best for you.

Most importantly, apply the preventative measures we have discussed in this article so that you don’t have to keep scrubbing off rust from your grill every time you want to use it.