How to Clean Rusty Grill Grates & Make Them Shine Like New

Canva Rusty Crusty Grill

If you’ve got unsightly rust on your grill grates, you may be thinking about purchasing new ones. Before you go out and spend hard-earned money on new grill grates, try one of our methods for safely removing rust. Chances are one of them will clean your rusty grill grates and make them shine like new. 

Which rust-removal method you try depends on how bad your rust problem is. The further down our list you go, the tougher the solution is. So, if your grates are caked in rust all the way around, maybe skip down toward the bottom. If you’re looking to remove a few rust spots, start here at the top.

Clean Rusty Grill Grates with Soap and Water

For a few spots of rust on your grill grates, soap and water is the way to go. Simply mix warm water and some regular dish soap. You can soak your grates in the water for a while, or you can use a sponge to scrub away the rust on your grates with the help of the soapy water. If the rust doesn’t come off quickly with a sponge, try using steel wool dipped in the water. 

Clean Rusty Grill Grates with Vinegar and Baking Soda

For more stubborn or more significant rust spots on your grill grates, make a baking soda and vinegar paste. Mix two parts baking soda and one part vinegar until you have a thick paste. Using a brush or a rag, apply the paste to the rust spots on the grates. Let it sit for an hour. 

When you come back to it, some of the paste should be absorbed. Scrub the affected areas with the rough side of a sponge, steel wool, or a scrub brush. The rust should come off quickly. If it doesn’t, try the next method. 

Clean Rusty Grill Grates with Lemon Juice and Salt

Lemon juice alone is capable of removing rust because it is so acidic. If you want to try it without the salt, simply spread some lemon juice over the rust spots and let it sit for a few minutes. Then wipe it away with a sponge.

Don’t have any lemon juice? You can also do something similar by using kosher salt. 

Mix salt and water until you have a paste. Apply the paste to the rusty areas of your grill grate. Don’t let it sit! Start scrubbing the paste away immediately, as salt is potent and can cause damage if you let it sit on your grill grates. Scrub the salt away with a sponge, brush, or steel wool. After you’ve removed the rust, rinse the grates off with water to make sure all traces of the salt paste is gone. 

For more resistant rust spots, mix the lemon juice with some salt to create a paste. Apply the paste to the rust. Let it sit for no more than a few minutes, then wipe it away. You can use a brush to scrape away the rust if the sponge isn’t tough enough. 

Clean Rusty Grill Grates with Food-Safe Rust Remover

If you’re looking for a ready-made solution to your rusty grill grates, you’ve got some options. Number one is Evapo-Rust. It’s non-toxic, biodegradable, safe on skin, and non-corrosive. You don’t need any special gloves or eye protection to use it. Plus, if you have any other rusty cookware or cast iron pans, you can use Evapo-Rust on them as well. 

Another great rust remover is Bar Keepers Friend. Not only does Bar Keepers Friend help to remove rust, but it can also bring a scratch-free shine to almost anything that gets scuffed or scratched— including plates and cookware.

Cleaning Rusy Grill Grates with Vinegar and Salt

While one of the methods above should work well for you, here’s an all-natural option for those adamant rust stains. This method requires that you soak your grill grates overnight, so don’t plan on grilling anytime in the next day if you opt for this solution. 

Mix two cups of vinegar and one cup of salt in a bowl. Place your grill grates in a large trash bag and then pout the salt and vinegar mixture into the bag, coating the grates. Seal the bag and set it somewhere safe for 24 hours. 

When you remove the grates, you should be able to wipe away the rust with a sponge or a cloth. If there are still some stubborn spots, use a sturdy brush, or repeat one of the above methods until the rust is gone.

Prevent Rust On Your Grill Grates

Cleaning rusty grill grates can be a pain. But you can prevent the rust from invading your grill in the future by seasoning your grates. Once your grates are clean and rust-free, simply coat them in cooking oil of your choice. Make sure they’re fully covered and then fire up the grill. Let it heat the grates on high for about an hour. This serves to solidify the oil on the metal, resulting in a protective sheen.

To maintain your seasoned grates, apply a layer of cooking oil before and after you’re done cooking. It’s also a good idea to buy a grill cover if you don’t already have one. Before the winter hits, put your grill in a shed or your garage, if possible. All these things will help keep your grill in the best shape possible for years to come.

In Conclusion

Rust happens. Especially on those metal objects that we keep outside much of the year. Luckily, there are many different ways to remove rust using regular household and non-toxic items. Salt, vinegar, lemon juice, soap, and water can all help remove rust.

For tougher rust stains, soak your grates overnight in vinegar and salt. Once you have your grates clean and shiny again, don’t forget to season them. Scrub your grates after every use and give them a coat of cooking oil before and after you grill!

Enjoy your shiny, like-new grill grates. Happy grilling!

Justin Childress

Justin Childress is the creator of He is also a devoted husband and father of his 1-year-old son Gabriel. Justin enjoys spending time with family, reading, and, of course, contributing to Read more about me or follow me on Pinterest to stay connected.

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