How to Easily Clean a Rusty Grill and Get That New Grill Feeling Again

Jason Webster
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What you’ll need to clean your grill

Grates and maintain the shiny black surface.

Being grilled is on pretty much every guy’s food bucket list. It’s manly, it’s delicious, and my body is prepared for the next natural disaster just so I can have one more opportunity to make a grilled-cheese sandwich.

A dirty grill, however, not so much. If your grill glistens as nicely as your Volvo and as there’s one thing you do not want it to do, is spit hot bits of food straight into your culinary creation.

Ease of Action:

As you’re about to change your oil, remove the bottom grill. There should be two bolts on each side of the grill that you can unscrew. Take the heat protect glove and use it to unscrew the bolts.

This is a good chance to reveal whether or not your grill is rusted. If it is rusted, it is time to replace the grill entirely.

After you’ve removed the grill, proceed to remove the metal trays. You can either use a Phillips head screwdriver or pliers. Clamp the metal trays in the V shape made by the grates and unscrew them. The trays should come out and expose the fire.

How to clean your grill with salt and vinegar

In this video, we show you how to clean a rusty grill with salt and vinegar and fire it back up. This will get rid of a lot of the rust that’s on there. This is an acid solution, and it works wonders. If you want to get your self-cleaning oven in order, this is the same thing you use to clean your self-clean oven.

This is great to try on some of the barbecue stoves where you have some rust on the side of it. We’re just going to take some salt and make a little paste. We’ll make some paste out of salt, fire up some charcoal and get some fire on here to help it out a little quicker.

Sprinkle this on top of your rust. Sprinkle it on there really good. Notice how it’s kind of bubbling up? You can get the charcoal going, and it’s going to start to bubble away.

You want to do this fairly quickly. We’re going to go ahead and get it to a pretty good temperature here. The nice thing with salt and vinegar is it takes rust off, but it does not take paint off. So you can do this to your painted grill, and there will be no problems there.

Mix one cup salt with two cups vinegar

And tear off a sheet of newspaper. Secure the newspaper with rubber bands.

Place grates in a garbage bag

Carefully carry the bag out to your grill. Kill power to the unit and allow to cool completely.

Place the grates inside a thin garbage bag with the bottom touching the bottom of the bag.

Place the garbage bag inside a second garbage bag. Double bagging helps prevent oil stains.

Seal the top of the bag, leaving one corner open for your hand.

Pour in a cleaner of choice.

Secure one end of the bag with a heavy object. Close the top.

Shake until the rust dissolves.

Let stand overnight.

Flush with soapy water and dry.

Add vinegar mixture to bag

Take a large plastic trash bag and mix up a batch of vinegar and water. Aim for a mix of a 50/50 vinegar solution to water.

Place the extent of rust in the bag. Try to include as much of the iron as possible in the plastic bag.

Seal the bag up and place it in your freezer for two weeks.

The vinegar and water mixture will break down the vinegar as time goes on. The water will help to freeze the iron fast and will allow the vinegar to erode the rust away. After the two week time period, remove the bag and check its contents.

If the rust still needs more time to come off, put the bag back in the freezer and allow it to continue to work its magic. When you take the bag out of the freezer, the rust should be soft enough to scrape off.

Alternatively, the rust should come off with simple cleaning with a mixture of water and vinegar. If the rust is not completely gone, put the bag back in the freezer for another week. Repeat the process of taking the bag out and scraping off the rust until the rust is all gone.

Once all of the rust is gone, heat up the grill on the stove to approximately 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This should cause the remaining vinegar solution to evaporate quickly and will not cause any damage to your grill.

Lay flat and allow to soak overnight

You can disassemble a lot of a grill, which is great when attempting to clean out various parts that have rusted. Using a wire brush, scrub any built up gunk. Take special care when cleaning out the burners. Use water and a wire brush to clean them out.

If you find yourself with a cast iron grill, you have been blessed. These grills are naturally self-cleaning and resist rust. It’s important to remember to oil these occasionally and use steel wool to give it a nice scrub if it’s dried up.

Remove the remaining rust with cloth or old rag

Rusting can not only make you feel bad but also ruin the look of your grill. For those of you who have an old rusted grill and want to get it looking like new, you can find a range of products on the market specifically for this purpose.

These include spray on rust removers that you use with a scraper to remove the rust from the grill. The one thing to keep in mind if you’re using this method is to not let the substance get into the grill itself.

Other methods to clean a rusty grill

There are many other methods of cleaning a rusty grill. Some are easier than others.

Use nothing but soap

Simply soap up the grates with all-purpose or grill soap and hot water. Let it soak for 5 minutes or more. Give each grate a quick scrub using a light abrasive pad. Drain the soap water, then use a garden hose to rinse the grates thoroughly.

Use baking soda and vinegar to help remove rust

Grab your gloves, and turn on the grill. Let it good and warm over medium flame to high flame.

Sprinkle baking soda on the grates. Pour on regular white vinegar.

Leave it for about 5 minutes. Brush or scrub, then rinse with water.

Dish soap to the rescue again

Spray both the grates and the inside of the grill with the household disinfecting dish soap. Wipe dry. You have fresh smelling grill in about 20 minutes or less!

Use citric acid, paint remover, or oven cleaner to dissolve rust

If nothing works, then try an acidic cleaner like lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar, citric acid, spray paint remover, or rust killer. Spray generously, and scrub with a scouring pad. Let it sit for 30 minutes to a few hours. Follow with a thorough rinsing.

Soap and water

Most standard grills use a stainless steel body for the main structure. That means that you can easily wash your grill by hand with a soapy sponge. This will ensure that the area around the burner box and the drip tray are completely clean and free of grease or dirt.

Keep in mind, that the main structure of the grill can easily stand the heat of a cleaning using this method, but the lid stays closed at all times, or you will most certainly have an extensive clean up afterwards.

The steps to getting a clean grill are quite easy to follow:

{1}. use a soap-based, stainless steel friendly cleaning product on the grills, drip tray and main frame. Use water to keep the product from leaving streaks.
{2}. Wipe the inside of the lid and surfaces, like the inside of the hinge, clean with a dry towel.
{3}. Using a scrap of cloth or paper towel, ensure that the grease trap is thoroughly cleaned using boiling water if necessary.
{4}. Let the grill cool down and then turn the range control knob to the off position.
{5}. Use a soft sponge and a warm, soapy solution to wash the inside and outside steel surfaces of the grill.
{6}. After rinsing the steel surfaces thoroughly with clean warm water, wipe up the excess moisture with a dry towel.
{7}. Let the grill air dry for fifteen minutes.

Lemon juice and powdered detergent

Can be used to clean a rust stained grill.

To start out, make sure the grill is cleaned properly. This means that you need to scrub it clean from the inside. The easiest way to do this is by boiling water or throwing an entire bag of ice cubes into the grill to cool it down.

You can use steel wool to scrub the inside. You can then use a grill canvas to scrub the outside.

Once you’ve cleaned the inside and outside of the grill, it’s time to tackle the rust stains. You can neutralize rust stains by placing a lemon half in the grill and filling it with water.

Leave the lemon in the grill in order to treat the rust stains. Don’t forget to periodically prune out moldy or rotting parts.

In order to make sure that the rust will come out, wrap table salt around the rusted cowling. When the salt starts to darken, that’s when you know that the chemical reaction is taking place.

Remove the rusted cowl with a cowl wrench and let it sink in a bucket of powdered detergent. Don’t worry about all the rust, since you’re going to cover it with the powdered detergent.

Vinegar and baking soda

Clean your old grill before putting it away for the next grill season. They will last longer if you keep them in good condition. Clean your grill with a three-step process.

First, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure your propane tank is completely empty.

Second, clean the grate of the grill with a wire brush to get rid of small bits of food or rust.

Third, follow this easy vinegar and baking soda method:

  • Fill a plastic mixing bowl with warm water
  • Add 1 cups of vinegar
  • Add 2 cups of baking soda
  • Step back. Your grill will fizz and foam

Safe rust removers

In my experience of owning grills for more than 15 years (yes, it’s only a little bit of shameless bragging) I can say the look and condition of the grill is what makes people ask “Hey, who cleans your grill?”.

Most people don’t know that you can effectively clean a classic cast iron grill without having to throw it away.

The best offense is a good defense

When it comes to rust.

The fastest way to prevent rust is to remove as much water from the grill as possible as soon as you notice it.

First, turn off the propane tank.

Then, spray the rust with a rust-killing solution.

Using a brush, scrub the rust spots gently until the rust goes away.

Next, dry the grill surface with paper towels.

Finally, apply the same solution that you applied for the rust to the entire grill surface.

Leave the solution to sit on the surface for 10 minutes.

Once the ten minutes are up, wipe the grill off. The grill will be free of rust and ready to grill up some more delicious meat!

If your grill has rusted spots larger than a quarter, you will need to take a more aggressive approach.

Spray the spot with the rust removing solution, then use a wire brush to scrub it.

Scrub the rusted area until it stops releasing rust and can dry normally.

Let the area dry for 10 minutes.

Apply the rust removal solution to the entire surface.

Leave the solution to sit on the surface for 15 minutes.

Once the solution has sat on the surface for 15 minutes, use a sponge and scrub the entire surface of your grill. The more you scrub, the more rust you will remove, but be sure to take your time.

Clean your grill directly after each use

One of the most important things to remember is to clean your grill after each and every use. If you build a fire, let it burn out, and then go to sleep, the ashes will still be hot for hours. The same is true for any grilling that remains longer than an hour or two.

The combustion of any substance creates ash which will settle into the crevices and grasp on to every surface. If you grill on a regular basis with an accumulation build-up of grease and food residue; your griller will be a repository for rust and your grill will smell like a fast-food restaurant.

There are many products specifically formulated to clean a grill. I use both a grill brush and a wire brush.

The wire brush is great for the chain-link mechanisms and for cleaning out a grease pan; the grill brush is great for the outside of the grill and for the grills with the open-grill structure.

Make sure to get in the crevices of the burners with the wire brush. Take a toothbrush, dip it in a pool of grill cleaning product, and use it to go into the crevices that the wire brush can’t get.

As you go around the grill, be sure to clean the excess cleaner off of the metal because you don’t want to leave cleaning product on.

Oil your cast iron grill grates

I’ll never forget the first time I cooked on a grill with a bed of sear marks, char lines, and grill slates.

It was a full moon on the grill and I was a man on a mission.

I seasoned the cast iron grates a day before, and I had cooked with high heat earlier in the day. I was there to fry up some oily hush puppies and an earthy smokey flavor was my mission. I was planning to use a thick coat of vegetable oil to achieve this. It didn’t work.

Apparently, a thin coat is best when trying to cover a lot of area. This way, you also get the flavor benefits of that oil.

The fire was raging; the grill was hot, and I was a man on a mission. I used about 20 drops of olive oil on each grate. A lot of the oil dribbled down towards the fire rather than onto the grates.

My mission failed. The hush puppies were not fried and I didn’t get the grill flavors I was looking for. That last part was probably a salad.

Before you say, “I’ll never make that mistake again!” you forget how hungry you are after a long holiday weekend and you make the same mistake again.

Buy ceramic

Using the best stovetop griddle an induction cooktop to make your favorite breakfast recipes is a satisfying experience. But imagine having a sticky griddle full of greasy stains that takes tons of energy and time to clean.

While manufacturers generally recommend not to put metal on your ceramic stovetop, these ceramic grill bricks are an exception you should make. The grill bricks effectively clean the grime and stains from your stovetop grill and leave it feeling new, shiny, and free from food debris.

The flatness of the bricks makes it resistant to damage to your cooktop. Rubbing it gently with the bricks will remove the stuck food particles. It will also give your grill grates a nice shine and make them look brand new.

Get a weatherproof cover

The first step is to get a good weatherproof cover for your grill. The cover will save you a lot of time in cleaning and hence, allows you to just use the grill a lot more often. This will also extend the life of your grill.

Unless you have a gas grill, you want to remove the burners from the grill to protect them from rust. This is something you should do after each season. Also, you can leave the cover on the grill during the off season.

If you have a gas grill, I recommend removing the burner covers after you shut off the gas and disconnect the gas line. It will probably take you between 5 and 10 minutes.

Try using a solid surface cleaner or some type of heavy rust remover for the burners.

Mix the cleaner with warm water and heat the water on the grill. Dip a rag into the water and rub it on the burners.

You can use a non-scratching brass brush to scrub some of the harder grime off the surface of the burners.

From there, use clean water and a cloth to wash off any remaining rust. You should now have a grill that looks like new.

Wrapping it all up

Now that you know how to clean a rusty grill and keep it that way, you have nothing to worry about.

Perhaps you’re one of the many who use a BBQ grill in your weekly routine. It’s been years since getting it last cleaned or maintained.

Rust has already developed on each grill grill’s component part and you’re having second thoughts of using it. Are your grills really rusty and in need of a thorough cleaning?

Have no worries, you can still bring the old grill’s nostalgic feel back to your kitchen. It only takes a little bit of elbow grease and some cleaning products. Let’s just hope you haven’t neglected your grill for too long, otherwise you might have to replace a number of its parts.

The first thing you need to do is determine the level of grills’ rust.

A minor rust usually doesn’t cause significant damage, and a minor cleaning will be enough. However, if you find rust that has eaten through your grills’ metal, you should replace the affected parts.

You can identify whether your grills’ rust levels need a complete cleaning, replacement or just a light cleaning by the simplest of tests.

Skirt Steak Vs. Flank Steak

Spicy skirt steak salsa with salty citrus, and a recipe for Seared Skirt Steak with Orange-Rosemary Pan Sauce. Go ahead and make your skirt steak caps into kebabs. See this fresh alternative to flank steak's beefy cousin.

Contrary to the common belief, skirt steak is not a cut of beef. On the contrary, skirt steak and flank steak are the same.

Skirt steak comes from the abdominal muscles of either side of the cow. It is part of the diaphragm of the animal. Hence the name diaphragm steak.

The flank steak, on the other hand, is part of the abdominal muscles. The diaphragm is a ten-centimetre-thick sheet of muscle separating the chest from the abdominal cavity.

Skirt steak is a relatively inexpensive cut of meat. You can find it at your neighborhood butcher shop. For some reason, most butchers will have the flank cut in the display case but not the skirt steak.

There is a place in the Washington, D.C. metro area that offers a combination of both skirt and flank meat that they call “flank steak” expressly for that reason. It is no secret that skirt steak is part of the diaphragm and flank steak comes from somewhere else.