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How to Clean Grill Grates, Including Cast Iron: To The Point and Simple

how to clean a grill grate

Dirty grates not only look gross but also can change the taste of your food, and old grease can stain your food. In this article, we will show you how to clean grill grates using different methods.

Grease, oil, marinades, and food particles get burned onto the grill grates while grilling, eventually hardening. The stuff gets on your food, changing its flavor.

So, let’s clean some grates!

Consider The Following Before Cleaning Grill Grates

Grill grates are found in different materials and coatings, and it is important to know what type of grates you have on hand before cleaning them. 

For example, some grill grates are porcelain coated, and porcelain can chip, exposing the raw metal. The exposed metal will rust, damaging your grate, and, yes, you can kiss it goodbye.

Choose the Right Tools to Clean Grill Grates

For Porcelain-coated grates

Porcelain-coated grates are great as they are rust-resistant, but the coating can be sensitive and be damaged by wire brushes. Instead, use soft or nylon brushes when cleaning coated grates.

For Cast iron grates

Cast iron grates are favored by many because of how durable these grates are. However, these grates do require minimal maintenance to last years. 

Cast iron grates can be cleaned using wire brushes but what’s most important is to keep the cast iron grates oiled to avoid rust. “Season” the grate with vegetable oil to keep it rust-free after every clean.

For Stainless steel grates

Cleaning stainless steel grates is similar to cleaning cast iron grates expect you don’t need to oil or “season” stainless steel grates. Stainless steel grates are relatively easy to clean.

A grill brush can be an excellent tool to clean stainless grates.

How to Clean Your Grill Grates Using: Guide

1. Use Your Grill to Burn Grease and Residue from the Grates

This method is easy and, if done often, should keep your grates in good shape. After grilling, the process is simple: increase the grill’s temperature to the highest safest temperature possible and close the lid.

You will see a lot of smoke, and old grease can and will light up. Keeping the lid shut and letting all this grime burn off is recommended. If you open the grill lid, you will feed air to the fire and can have a big flare-up! Be careful.

After about 15 to 20 minutes, shut off your grill, keep the lip shut and let any grease fire self extinguish. Grab a brush or cleaning tool and scrape off the grease residue. 

2. Wash the Grates Clean with Hot, Soapy Water ( once a month )

In addition to using the burnoff method, we recommend scrubbing your grill grates down with hot, soapy water at least every month.  

Burning off the grease and grime from the grates is a quick way of keeping the grates somewhat clean, but soaking the grates in on hot water and soap will ensure every inch of the grate is touched.

This method is straightforward. Fill a container with very hot water and add dish soap. Dish soap with grease removing additive works best.

Scrub the grate, give it a light wash, then let it soak in the hot soapy water for at least 30 minutes. After allowing the grate to soak, scrub and rinse the grate.

3. Use Baking Soda

Using baking soda is another method and a natural way of cleaning your grill grates. This is a preferred approach for those not wanting to use any chemicals on their grates.

The process is simple, create a baking soda paste by mixing about 1 to 1 and a half cups of ARM & HAMMER Baking Soda and a half cup of water in a small container. Adjust your mix ratio to achieve a nice paste viscosity.

Grab a sponge or rag and apply the paste to the grill grate. Let the baking soda do its job and after a few minutes, grab a brush or sponge to scrub the grate.

After the cleaning process, rinse the grate and place it back in the grill. Remember to season your cast-iron grates with vegetable oil to avoid rust.

4. Grill Cleaning Spray

Many people search how to clean grill grates looking for an alternative to chemical cleaners.

This is my least favorite method because it involves chemicals, and I like to keep everything involving my grills as natural as possible, including charcoal. However, there are some excellent grill cleaning sprays, and some are even natural.

This method is straightforward. Use a good grill cleaner, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, rinse, and repeat as needed.

5. Use Vinegar

Mix a one-to-one ratio of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the grill grates with the mix and scrub the grates. 

Rinse the grates and repeat the process until clean.

How To Clean Cast Iron Grill Grates: Specific For Cast Iron Grates

Cast iron grates require extra attention to preserve their lifespan. For the most part, using the first method we explain in this article ( burning off the grease and residue with high heat ) will keep cast iron grates clean.

However, at least once a month, you should deep clean grill grates with soap and water. Here is a method you can use and how to clean cast iron grill grates.

You can start the process right after cooking a meal. Let the grill burn off any excess food or grease off the grates. Brush the food ash residue with a brush and let the grate cool down.

Once the grate is cold, use the vinegar method or the baking method we mentioned earlier in this article. If the grill grates are very dirty, I like to do one round of vinegar and one round of baking soda.

Spray the grill grates with a one-to-one ratio of vinegar and water and let the mix sit for about 10 to 15 minutes. Scrub the grates and rinse. Then apply a paste of baking soda, let sit for ten minutes and rinse. Vinegar and baking soda are great aids to clean your grill without using harsh chemicals.

You can use paper towels to absorb excess grease during the cleaning process.

Cast Iron Grates Rust Prevention

Now that you know how to clean cast iron grates, you should know that cast iron needs to remain oiled, or it is often referred to as seasoning. Without any type of porcelain coating, the raw iron exposed to the elements will rust. This process is simple and will expand the life of your cast iron grates.

Grab an old rag and soak it in vegetable oil and apply the oil to the grate. Make sure you cover every inch with oil to prevent rust. You should “season” or oil at least every time you deep clean your grates with soap, vinegar, and baking soda.

Ways to clean grill grates without brushes

Grill brushes are not well-liked by some grill enthusiasts. Some brushes fall apart after a few months, and low-quality brushes leave small residue or bristles on the grates.

While it is easy to clean your grill grates using brushes, if the grill grates are not too dirty, or you simply do not want to use a cleaning grill brush, use these methods to clean your grill grates.

Use Aluminum Foil Technique:

You can use aluminum foil as a scrubbing tool for cleaning grill grates. Grab a piece of aluminum foil, form a small ball, use some sturdy tongs, and scrub the grates. You’re welcome! 🙂

Use Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Plastic Scrubbing Pads

Non-Scratch plastic scrubbing pads are great for cleaning grates, specially porcelain-coated grates, as the plastic material on these pads is non-brite and won’t scratch or chip the porcelain coating. 

Aluminum foil works great on stainless steel but can be as harsh as a grill brush on porcelain grates.

Use baking soda and plastic scrubbers for grate cleaning.

Baking soda helps break down food buildup on grates and works excellent when compared with plastic sponges.

These are simple ways of keeping your grill grates clean. The important point here is that you should have a cleaning routine to keep your grates clean.

Happy Cleaning!



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