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How to Clean a Rusty Grill

Grilling season is upon you, and you want to start grilling up some burgers and steaks outdoors. You've got the grill out of storage though and discovered that it got rusty over the winter. Don't fret though, as it doesn't mean that your grill is unusable. You can clean that grill and get it ready to get cooking again. Here's how to clean a rusty grill.

Before You Start Cleaning

Before you get into cleaning your grill, you need to know what material the grates are made of. This is important, as some methods will damage some kinds of grates. For example, a stainless steel grate will be scratched if you try and use the wrong kind of grill brush on it. Ensure you know what material your grill is made of, before you pick the right cleaning solution for you.

Rust Cleaning Methods

Now you have several options as to how to remove that rust. The one you pick will depend on your own personal preferences when it comes to cleaners and the type of metal used in your grill. Here are some of the most common methods for removing rust.

Wire brush method

This is something you can try right away if you already own the right brush for your grill. To get the rust off, you'll need to take the brush and scrub it thoroughly. You'll need to be prepared to put some elbow grease into it, but it will work to remove the rust

If you don't already have a brush, you'll need to select the right one so you get the best results. There are three types of brushes for grills: steel, nylon, and brass. Brass and nylon brushes are good for some grills, such as porcelain ones, as they won't scratch them. A steel brush is great for a cast iron grate as it can really get into all the pores and clean it out.

If you want to do this but don't want to do all the work, try using a grill cleaning robot. They can be fitted with the right brushes, and they do all the hard work for you. They're good for regular cleaning too, so they're a good investment if you want to grill regularly. 

Vinegar and salt

Lots of grillers like this method, as it's all-natural but will still remove rust effectively. It makes a lot of sense, as you obviously want to eat food you've cooked on the grill, so you don't want to leave chemicals on it. It's also a good method to try first if you don't think the rust is too bad. 

To do this, you'll want to mix two cups vinegar and one cup salt into a bowl. Take the grates off your grill, and place them in a heavy-duty garbage bag. Pour the salt and vinegar mixture into the bag, and lay it flat so the whole grate can soak in it. 

Leave the bag on the ground overnight, and remove it the next day. Gently wipe the mixture off with a clean sponge. As you do this, the salt acts as a mild abrasive to get the rust off. 

Baking soda 

This is another great, non-chemical way to remove rust from your grates. To do this, first, you need to scrub your grates with a soft brush, to get as much rust off as you can. Then, sprinkle baking soda onto the grates liberally, and then set the heat on your grill to high. As the grill heats up, you'll see the baking soda begin to bubble and remove rust. 

Once this happens, turn the grill off and let it cool. Brush it again with a soft brush, and the rest of the rust should come away. 

Commercial rust cleaners

This is usually the last resort of a grill owner if they've already tried all of the other methods. There are plenty on the market, and you'll be able to find them in your local hardware store. If you're going to use this method, ensure you pick a cleaner specially designed for cleaning grills. Other kinds may contain chemicals that you don't want near your food. 

Preventing Rust

Once you've got the rust off your grill, you want to ensure that it never comes back. If you take good care of the grill, you shouldn't have this problem again. 

Firstly, every time you use your grill, give it a clean down. It's just like any other kitchen equipment, where it needs to be cleaned before it can be used again. It's quite easy to clean your grill, so take the time to do it to prevent any future problems. 

Every month or so you should do a deep clean of your grill, and that includes oiling it. Oiling your grill helps it work better, as it ensures food doesn't stick to it as you cook. It will also ensure that the grates are protected from rust. 

To oil your grill, turn the heat up high after you've cleaned it, and leave it for 15 minutes. Then, take a paper towel dipped in cooking oil with a high smoke point, and rub it onto the grates using a pair of tongs. Once you've done that, turn the heat up high again until the grates begin to smoke. Your grates are properly oiled and ready for the season. 

Once you're done using the grill for the season, ensure you store it properly. It's going to develop rust again if you leave it outdoors, so cover it and place it in a shed or outhouse where it's protected from the elements. 

It's easier than you'd think to get the rust off your grill if you find it. You can try natural methods like vinegar and salt or baking soda, or try scrubbing it off with a good brush. They usually work, but if not a commercial cleaner will do the trick. Get the rust off your grill and get ready to enjoy grilled meals this summer. 

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