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Rust developing on your grill isn’t an ideal or mouth-watering situation. The good news is that cleaning rust off a grill is a fairly easy process, one that you can do with non-toxic materials that you likely have on hand. The best option is to prevent it from forming in the first place. That, you can do with a grill mat like the ThermoPro Grill Mat.

How to Remove Rust from Stainless Steel Grills

If you need to leave your grill outside, then the outdoor exposure is what’s causing rust to develop. To keep it in good shape, clean your grill after every use. The longer you allow food debris to remain on the grill, the harder it will be for you to clean it off later. Choose your cleaning method based on the type of material that the grates are made from. Most of today’s grills are made from stainless steel or from another type of durable metal. Often, grill masters clean off their grills with a stiff wire brush after cooking on it. While this is an effective way to remove rust and food debris off most grates, it could damage the stainless-steel finish. Here are a few other cleaning methods that may be safer for the finish of your grates. cleaning bbq grill

Vinegar and Salt

Vinegar is one of those substances that can do just about everything including cleaning. Eliminating rust with a blend of vinegar and salt is a non-toxic method, and this is important with grills since you cook on them. Vinegar and salt are substances that you can safety ingest, but when you use them together, they can also remove rust. To use vinegar and salt to clean, combine two cups of vinegar with one cup of salt in a large bowl. Then, set your rust grates inside a big heavy-duty garbage bag, the kind that you use for your yard debris, and let the grill grates soak overnight. Once you’ve soaked them, wipe away the rust using an old towel or rag. The salt will operate as a gentle abrasive, making it possible for you to get rid of the rust. baking soda

Baking Soda

Baking soda is another non-toxic product that you can use to clean your stainless-steel grates. If you’re using baking soda, then the process includes brushing the grates with a soft bristle brush to remove as much of the rust that’s present as possible. Set the grates on the barbecue and sprinkle it with baking soda. Then, turn the barbecue on. The heat will cause the powder to bubble. The bubbling process is what eliminates the rust. Turn off your grill and give it time to cool down. Take the soft bristle brush and clean the grates again. Your grill will now be ready for the next time you want to cook.

Lemon Juice Combined with Detergent

Lemon juice has the ability to dissolve rust. To try this rust-removal technique, combine the juice with a powder-type dishwashing detergent and water. It should form a thick paste. Apply the concoction to the rust on the grates and allow it to sit overnight. Use warm water and a soft sponge or cloth to scrub the grates clean. Then, rinse them with warm water. wire brush

Wire Brush Method

If you need to remove rust from grill grates fast, then the wire brush method is the way to go. Just be sure to use this method infrequently and cautiously since it can damage the grates. For this technique, remove the grates from the barbecue and set them flat on your driveway or a concrete patio. Take the wire brush and slide it across the grates, removing the rust. Be sure to flip the grates over to remove the rust from the other side. It’s also a good idea to position the grates on their side. Then, brush between the metal of each rung. If any residual rust is present after you’ve brushed them, wipe it off with an old rag or towel.

Commercial Rust Remover

Commercial rust remover will eliminate rust. At the store, you’ll come across a number of different types. They effectively remove rust from grill grates, but they feature toxic chemicals, the kind that you may not want around your food. If you do go this route, then buy one that is designed to clean rusty grate grills on a barbecue. If you use a generic one, it could leave behind a chemical residue that would likely be toxic. You’ll find one meant for grills in the barbecue section of most local home repair or major department stores.


If there’s an excessive amount of rust on your grill, then you can use sandpaper to get rid of it, but sandpaper will scratch the surface of your grates, so only use it if no other method worked. For this technique, wrap a section of sandpaper around each rusty rung of your grill grates. Slide the sandpaper up and down. This will remove the rust.


While stainless steel is a product that resists corrosion, the metal will still rust if it becomes and stays moist for extended periods. Keep your grill grates clean by cleansing them with a mild detergent and warm water. Avoid using wire wool or steel wool to clean them. It’s best, and safest, to use a soft sponge or clean cloth. Grill grates should be maintained in the same way you would an iron skillet. This means lubricating and seasoning them with vegetable oil. The more you cook on your grill, the less food items will stick to the grates. This happens because the meat lubricates them. The fat from meat also prevents rust from developing. Vegetable oil helps the process. After cooking something on your grill, coat the grates with vegetable oil. Be sure to use vegetable oil from a bottle instead of the kind that comes in an aerosol can because the cans may explode when they are near flames. If you have the space, then consider storing your barbecue in your garage or tool shed during the winter and other extreme weather months. This will help protect it and keep it from rusting.

Prevention is Best

The best way to care for your grill is to prevent rust from forming, and the easiest way to do this is with a grill mat. Purchase one that fits properly. Having one that does will keep moisture off the grates. To keep rust from developing, be sure to clean the grates after every use. If you leave food on the grill, then the grates will form rust more quickly than they will if they’re clean. Once you’ve cleaned the grates, coat them with vegetable oil. The product is a natural water repellent. It will also further prevent rusting. During the winter, check your grill grates regularly to see if rust is starting to form. If you spot any, take steps to remove it quickly. That way, you’ll stop more of it from forming and protect the metal of your grates.

Protecting Your Investment

Along with being a significant financial investment, getting your grill to its top grilling shape takes time, making it a time investment as well. The last thing you want is to get your grates to a non-stick state that cook steaks perfectly only to see rust form and ruin it. If rust does form under your watchful eye, then use non-toxic removal methods before turning to rust removal techniques that introduce toxins to the cooking surface. When you remove rust from stainless steel grills quickly, you may be able to prevent damage. Maintain and protect your grill to keep it in good cooking condition.

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