How to Clean a Cast-Iron Grilling Grate

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Published August 18, 2009 | Updated June 17, 2015

A cast-iron grilling grate is the perfect material for grilling because of its ability to heat evenly and retain heat for long periods of time. Generally, cast iron is extremely tough and durable. It can withstand all kinds of punishment, but it cannot withstand water, the natural enemy of cast iron. Water can cause rust and deterioration, but this guide will help you care for your cast-iron grill while preventing rust.

Cleaning Cast-Iron Grills:

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Things You'll Need
Clean cloths or paper towels
Aluminum foil
Stiff wire brush
Spray bottle
Clean water
Apple cider vinegar
Sponge
Mild soap
Vegetable oil or shortening
  1. Clean Right After Use

    It is best to clean your cast-iron grilling grates as soon as possible after you finish grilling. Allow the grates to cool down a little, but make sure they are still warm. You can still follow these steps if you've left a dirty grill to sit, but it will take more work.

  2. Scrape the Grate Clean

    Use a wire brush to scrape all food particles off the grate. Spray the grate down with a solution of four parts water to one part apple cider vinegar to sanitize it; then wipe it off with a paper towel. You may need to repeat this process several times until you can get most of the food residue off the grate.

  3. Wash with Mild Soap

    Apply a mild soap to a sponge and wash the grate to remove excess grease. Rinse the grate well with warm water to completely remove all the soap.

  4. Dry the Grate

    Use a clean cloth to make sure it's completely dry. Cast iron can withstand nearly anything except water. Water will cause your cast iron grilling grates to rust.

  5. Season the Grill

    Use a paper towel or clean cloth to lightly coat the grate with vegetable oil, olive oil, or vegetable shortening.

  6. Heat the Oiled Grill

    You want the oil to saturate every pore of the cast iron to protect it from rust. Heating the grate after applying the oil is the best way to make sure that the grate is fully covered. Once each grate is clean and oiled, wrap them with aluminum foil and place them on the grill. Fire up your grill on high, close the lid, and leave it for about 10 minutes. Turn off the grill and repeat step 5 while the grates are still hot. Make sure to wear protective gloves, so you don't burn your hands.

  7. Use It or Store It

    If you are cleaning the grate so you can use it, you are now ready to fire up the grill and start your barbecue. If you are cleaning the grate for storage after using it, make sure the grates are completely dry and well-oiled before storing them in a dry place.