How to Keep a Grill From Rusting? (5 Proven Steps)

Iva Carter
Published by Iva Carter
Last Updated On: December 4, 2023

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, showed 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 keeping the grill from rusting and removing rust from grills.

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.

Quick Summary

  • To prevent grill rust, don't pour liquids directly on the grill, clean regularly, apply a thin layer of vegetable oil, use a grill cover, and store it indoors when not in use.
  • Leaving grills exposed to elements can lead to rusting, even if they are made of stainless steel or cast iron.
  • Rust can be removed using a grill brush, water, soap, lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda.

Why Do Grill Grates Rust?

Sausages being grilled outside

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, so 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.”

Blaze Grills, Experts in Grill Manufacturing

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 susceptible to changes in humidity levels.

This means weather changes can cause rapid rusting.

According to the FDA, grilling on rusted grates is unhealthy, which can be an issue [1].

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

Pans of water being grilled

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 them 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

A grill cover covering a grill

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 or nylon grill cover with 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.

Storing the grill is very important to prevent rust if you live in a high-humidity area.

How to Remove Grill Rust?

Cleaning materials laid on a table

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 the 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.


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About the author

Iva Carter
Associate Editor
Iva Carter is a FBP certified foodie and influencer who loves to share delicious yet quick dinner recipes. When she's not in the kitchen concocting meaty delights, you'll find her playing with her dog, Sylvie.
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