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How to Clean Rust Off a BBQ

Updated February 21, 2017

Breaking out the grill for the first time in many long months brings with it a certain thrill, one that can instantly be dampened if the grill has rusted since its last use. Cast iron grates rust the easiest and must be kept coated with oil to prevent oxidation. Food cooked on a rusted grate will taste rusty, so unless you savour the flavour of iron, you'll need to thoroughly clean a rusted grill before you ignite the charcoal or crank up the gas.

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  1. Pour 2 cups of vinegar and 1 cup of salt into a large plastic trash bag. Twist the top of the bag shut and swirl the solution so that it properly mixes.

  2. Insert the rusted cooking grate into the trash bag and tie the bag tightly. Lay it flat on the floor so that the grate is immersed in the mixture.

  3. Soak the grate for 24 hours.

  4. Remove the grate from the trash bag and dispose of the salt and vinegar solution. Go over the grate with a cleaning rag. The solution should have loosened the rust, while any remaining grains of salt will act as a mild abrasive. Scrub the grate with steel wool if the rag does not remove all of the rust.

  5. Wash the entire grill thoroughly with soap and warm water. Wipe the cooking grate dry with a clean cloth.

  6. Spray rust remover specifically for BBQ grills onto the body and grate and wait for the amount of time stated on the product's label.

  7. Wipe the grill down with an old rag. Use a wire brush or fine-grit sandpaper if the rag does not remove all of the rust.

  8. Brush the grate with a wire brush or fine-grit sandpaper, making sure to cover both the top and bottom and in between the slats. Continue brushing or sanding until all of the rust has been removed.

  9. Wash the grill thoroughly with warm water and soap. Wipe it dry with a clean cloth.

  10. Tip

    Prevent future episodes of rust by cleaning your grill after every use. Use a soft-bristled scrub brush, warm water and soap to clean your grate after barbecuing. Before storing your BBQ grill for the winter season, coat the grate with a layer of vegetable oil. Then place the cover on the grill to keep moisture out.

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Things You'll Need

  • Two cups of vinegar
  • One cup of salt
  • Large trash bag
  • Cleaning rags
  • Steel wool
  • Spray-on rust remover (for severe rust only)

About the Author

Arthur Barnhouse has written numerous short stories, contributed content to various websites and was an invited speaker at a university symposium on creative writing. He began writing in 2002 and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Pittsburgh. Barnhouse has driven across the United States numerous times and draws upon his travel experiences in his writing.

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