Even the most expensive grill will rust when exposed to wind, sun, rain, humidity, and long-term use. So, if rust is inevitable, what can you do? Well, a lot.
I’ve been using grills for more than ten years. Several of them, even stainless steel grills, show signs of rust during this time. So, I started reading other user experiences, talking with friends, and trying out different methods to keep my grill from rusting.
Today I’ll give you all of my best-kept secrets on how to keep the grill from rusting and how to remove rust from grills.
Summary of the Key Findings
- Even stainless steel and cast iron grills rust when not properly cleaned and exposed to weather conditions.
- There are five ways to prevent your grill and cast iron grates from rusting.
- You can use several homemade solutions to get rid of rust.
Why Do Grill Grates Rust?
Grill grates rust because chromium gets removed from the grill surface.
Most grill users believe that if their grill is made of stainless steel, it can’t rust. But that’s not quite true. A stainless steel grill has chromium.
This is an element that protects the grill from stains. It needs oxygen to keep the grates from rusting, which is why you should clean all food particles and grease after each grilling session. Also, rust can become an issue if chromium gets disconnected from a surface.
“The easiest way to make sure your grill grates do not rust is to clean the grease and food particles away after every cook! Remember to put a light coat of oil on your cooking grids after cleaning to prevent them from rusting, and keep them seasoned.”
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Chromium most commonly gets removed because of contact with other rust-bearing metals, such as iron. These metals enter the stainless steel surface and infect it with rust.
On the other hand, a cast iron grill is rust-resistant if properly taken care of. But, if it’s in a moist environment, it’ll rust quickly because it’s very sensitive to changes in humidity levels. This means weather changes can cause rapid rusting.
According to the FDA, grilling on rusted grates is unhealthy, so this can be an issue .
5 Steps To Prevent Grill Rust
If your grill is currently rust-free, here are some tips I’ve perfected over the years that help keep it in a perfect state.
1. Don’t Pour Liquids on the Grill
The most important thing to remember is not to pour liquids directly on your grill. This involves both cooking and cleaning.
BBQ sauces, marinades, and glazing will make the food taste delicious. But the excess sauce will go into the grill’s burners and clog or rust them. You should apply marinades, sauces, and other liquids in the kitchen, not when grilling.
Also, you shouldn’t leave the grill grates wet when you’re done. Once you’re finished cooking, turn off the grill’s burners or open the vents.
The temperature should be as high as possible for about 10 minutes. You’ll notice the grates dry and become ashy. Then it’s time to clean them.
Also, when you clean the grill, don’t pour water and soap directly on the grill. Use a cloth or paper towels to dry the grill when you’re done cleaning.
2. Clean It
You should clean the grill after each use. Grease and leftover food can cause rust over time.
When doing grill cleaning of a gas grill, you should turn off the burners and use a grill brush to remove food particles stuck to the grates. You can also use a bristle-free brush, as bristles tend to fall off and get stuck to the grates of gas grills.
You shouldn’t turn the grill off to clean charcoal grills, but clean while they are still hot. Use a brush and a little water. Scrub the grease and food with the brush, and let the charcoal grill cool down. Once charcoal grills are cool, remove leftover ash and clean the cook box with soap and water.
You should also deep clean the grill after about every 15 uses. Here’s how to do proper cleaning:
- Detach the grates and clean with a solution
- Soak the grates for about an hour, then go over them with the brush
- When the grill cools, wipe the grates with a soft cloth
- Clean the burners with a cleaner and a cloth
- Empty the drip trays
- Clean the burner and inlet holes with a pipe brush
- Wipe the grill outside with soap, warm water, and a soft cloth
3. Oil It
Oil and water don’t mix, so oiling the grill is another good way to protect it. This way, the water won’t come into contact won’t the grill, and you’ll prevent the grill from rusting and food from sticking when grilling food.
Rub a thin layer of vegetable oil on the grill. Don’t use aerosol vegetable oil because it can explode when in contact with heat. Use a dishrag or a towel to apply vegetable oil.
4. Cover It
No matter how much you clean and oil an outdoor grill, it’s still exposed to elements. Moisture from rain and snow is one of the most common causes of a rusty grill. That’s why you should invest in a grill cover.
Go for a tight-fitting vinyl cover or a nylon grill cover that has a cloth lining over the grill. Most of these covers are cheap and can prevent ending up with a rusty grill once the winter is over.
Grill covers prevent rust because they cover the entire grill, are flexible, durable, and resistant to snow, rain, ice, and sun.
5. Store It
Finally, you can move the grill indoors when not in use. A garage, a screened-in porch, or a covered shed is a good place to store the grill, as the grill won’t be exposed to the elements.
If you live in a high-humidity area, storing the grill is very important to prevent rust.
How to Remove Grill Rust?
You can safely remove grill rust by using a grill brush, water, soap, lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda. Here’s how:
- Use a grill brush — Fire up the grill before you start scrubbing. This will make it easier to remove grease, food, and rust.
- Use water and soap — Works great on grill exterior and for removing superficial rust. Mix dish soap with warm water and use a cloth or a sponge on the grill.
- Use lemon juice — Mix the lemon juice with detergent powder and apply it on gas and charcoal grates. Wait about 10 hours and scrub with a brush.
- Use vinegar — Works for rust and corrosion. Spray it on the grates and cover the grill with a plastic sheet. Leave overnight and scrub with a brush.
- Use baking soda — Put a little baking soda over the grates. Fire up the grill so the baking soda bubbles up. Once it stops bubbling, turn off the fire and wait for the grill to cool down. Then scrub with a brush.
Why Does My Grill Keep Rusting?
Your grill keeps rusting because you live in a humid area or don’t clean the grease and food particles after using it.
Does Covering a Grill Make It Rust?
Yes, covering a grill can make it rust because the cover traps the moisture. If you live in humid and wet areas, it’s best to keep the grill inside without the cover.
Keep Your Grill from Rusting
Steel grates, drip trays, and even grill accessories can rust if you don’t take care of them properly. You should keep the grill clean with metallic cleaning tools.
If your grill already shows signs of rust, you can use several homemade solutions to get rid of it, such as baking soda, lemon juice, warm water, and more.
In case your grill is too rusted and you’re looking for a new one, check out our selection of the 10 best affordable gas grills.