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Get expert advice on how to remove rust from a gas grill to restore its shine with tips from the pros on preventing future corrosion.

Ever wonder how to remove rust from a gas grill? Here at The Grilling Life, we’ve restored many grills in our day.

Because popping your grill’s lid only to be met with rusty grill grates is an obnoxious problem — but it’s not an uncommon one.

When you cook using an appliance that sits outside, exposed to rain and snow all day, battling rust at some point is an inevitable challenge.

The good news? It’s a challenge that’s pretty easy to overcome with a bit of elbow grease and some common household products!

We’ve honed in on some of the most effective ways to remove rust or oxidation from your gas grill, sure to help get rid of the issue and get you back to grilling in no time.

In this guide, we’ll cover ways to clean a rusty grill, how to keep rust from forming in the first place, and some frequently asked questions about rust.

Even if your grill cleaning skills are a little rusty, we’ll give you all the advice you need to say goodbye to oxidation and hello to delicious, safely grilled food.

Key Takeaways

  • All it takes to remove rust from a gas grill is a little elbow grease and some common household products you most likely already have on hand.

  • Your best bet for stainless steel gas grills is to use a little baking soda and white vinegar to form a paste which you then rub on the rust spots.

  • Salt and Vinegar or baking soda and vinegar work best for all other types of grills if you have those ingredients handy, but if not, we’ll also show you several other tried and true household products that work as well.

How to Remove Rust or Oxidation From Your Stainless Steel Grill

Removing rust or oxidation from your stainless steel grill is easier than you think. All it takes is a little know-how and some elbow grease.

Start with a general cleaning first by following the instructions below.

  • First, start with a cool grill that has been disconnected from the gas supply. Then, remove the grates and any other removable parts that are rusted.
  • Mix a solution of warm water and mild dish soap. This will be used for general cleaning to remove grease and dirt before tackling the rust.
  • Use a soft cloth or sponge soaked in the soap solution to clean the surface of the grill and its parts. Rinse with clean water and dry thoroughly.

Next, we’ll tackle the rust removal.

Rust Removal

  • For light rust: Use a cup of baking soda and add vinegar little by little until you have a consistent paste. Apply this paste to the rusted areas and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, use a soft cloth or non-abrasive sponge to gently scrub the rust away.
  • For stubborn rust: Apply white vinegar directly to the rust spots and let it sit for a few minutes to help break down the rust. Alternatively, use a commercial rust remover designed for stainless steel, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Always test a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t damage the finish.
  • Use a non-abrasive scrubbing pad or brush to gently scrub the rust spots. Avoid using steel wool or wire brushes, as these can scratch the surface of the stainless steel.
  • Rinse the grill and parts thoroughly with clean water to remove any remaining cleaning solution and rust particles. Dry completely with a clean towel to prevent new rust from forming.
  • Apply a stainless steel polish to the grill’s surface to restore its shine and provide a protective layer against future rust. Follow the product’s instructions for the best results.

You can also remove spots of rust or oxidation from a stainless steel grill by grabbing a towel and a bottle of Sidol metal cleaner or a similar product.

Place a small amount of the cleaner on your towel and rub it where you see rust or oxidation in the direction of the stainless steel.

Be careful not to get any of the cleaner on your grill’s plastic parts, as it can cause spots.

Other Methods to Clean a Rusty Grill

Soap and Water | Lemon Juice and Powdered Detergent | Vinegar and Baking Soda | Use Coca-Cola | A Safe Commercial Rust Remover

Rusty grills are an annoying issue to deal with. But the good news is they can be fixed with several different methods, many of which include products you probably already have lying around your house!

Soap and Water

First up is the same method you (hopefully) use to clean yourself — soap and water.

Use a mild detergent and warm water on a soft cloth or sponge, and rub away at the spots until they’re gone.

This method works best if your grill only has a few minor rust spots. If your spots are a bit more stubborn, grab a stiff-bristled nylon brush (only to be used on non-stainless steel grills) for a little assistance in scraping the rust off.

Lemon Juice and Powdered Detergent

Lemon juice and powdered detergent work together to create an acidic solution that can dissolve rust.

Mix the juice and detergent together until you have a paste, then place it on your grill’s rusty spots and let it sit overnight.

In the morning, grab some water and a soft cloth or sponge to scrub the paste and rust away. Give everything a rinse with warm water, and your grill should be looking good as new.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

Vinegar and baking soda — the key ingredients to an awesome science fair volcano — can also work together to remove rust from your grill!

Mix a 2-1 ratio of baking soda to vinegar until it’s a thick paste, then quickly apply it onto your grill while it’s still bubbling.

The acidic vinegar will eat away at the rust, while the baking soda helps the solution foam up and get into your grill’s nooks and crannies.

Use Coca-Cola

Cola isn’t just a refreshing drink you can enjoy while grilling — it can also help remove stubborn rust from your grill.

Coca-Cola contains phosphoric acid, which is also used in many of the rust removal products you’d find at your local hardware store.

If your grill has rust on a part that can be removed, take it off of your grill, place it in a container, or plastic trash bag, and soak it overnight in cola.

The next day, remove the part from the container, rinse it with water, and give it a quick scrub with a sponge or cloth.

A Safe Commercial Rust Remover

If home remedies haven’t worked, it’s time to call in the big guns — a non-toxic rust remover.

Many commercial rust removers contain toxic chemicals, but since we’re cleaning off something that food touches, we want to go the safe and non-toxic route.

Look for a product that’s water-based, non-toxic, and biodegradable, as these will be the safest to use on your grill. Follow the instructions on the package, and rust should soon be a distant memory.

How to Clean Rusty Grill Grates With Salt and Vinegar

Removing the Remaining Rust

If your grill’s grates are rusty, there’s another incredibly simple way to remove the rust using two ingredients you have in your pantry — salt and vinegar.

The salt acts as an abrasive for scrubbing away rust while also increasing the natural acidity of the vinegar so it can dissolve oxidized metal without damaging it.

You’ll also want to grab some disposable clothes or rags and a large, heavy-duty garbage bag. This method is a little messy, but it will have your grates sparkling clean in no time.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Mix One Cup of Salt With Two Cups of Vinegar in a container.
  • Next, grab your heavy-duty garbage bag (or two) and place your grill grates inside. Make sure it’s a strong bag with ties or some other way to secure it since you won’t want salt, vinegar, and rust leaking out.
  • Take your vinegar and salt mixture and pour it into the bag, sprinkling it over the grates and moving it around a bit to make sure the entire grate is covered.
  • Place your bag somewhere it can lay flat and not be disturbed overnight.

Laying the bag flat will ensure that your salt and vinegar concoction is in contact with the grill grates as much as possible.

Remove the Remaining Rust With a Cloth or an Old Rag

The next morning, you should find that the salt and vinegar ate up most of the rust. If there is any remaining rust, you’ll want to grab a rag or disposable cloth and give the grate a good scrub.

Remember, the salt is your friend here — it’ll act as an abrasive to make your elbow grease a little more effective.

If your grates are really rusty, it may take more than one sleepover with salt and vinegar to completely remove the rust spots.

For more tips and tricks for cleaning rusty grill grates, check out this guide: The Ultimate Guide on How to Clean Grill Grates

How to Prevent Your Gas Grill From Rusting

Clean Your Grill Directly After Each Use | Oil Your Grill and Grates After Use | Apply Protective Coatings | Maintain Proper Ventilation | Get a Weatherproof Cover | Store Properly

Knowing how to remove rust from your gas grill is great, but what’s even better is understanding how to keep it from rusting in the first place.

Preventing your gas grill from rusting requires a combination of regular maintenance, proper cleaning, and protective measures.

With a bit of TLC, you’ll be able to keep your grill rust-free even when it’s exposed to the elements.

Routinely check your grill for signs of rust or corrosion, especially in areas that are not easily visible. Early detection can prevent minor rust spots from becoming significant issues.

Here are the best steps to help keep your grill in pristine condition:

Clean Your Grill Directly After Each Use

The first tip is one we hope you’re doing anyway, but be sure to clean the grease and food off of your grill with a sponge, rag, or wire-free grill brush every time you cook.

After each use, once the grill has cooled down, brush off any food particles and grease from the grates.

Periodically, perform a deep clean of the entire grill, including the burners and interior surfaces, to remove grease and residue that can contribute to rust.

Make sure your grill and its components are completely dry after cleaning. If you’ve washed or scrubbed any part of your grill, dry it with a towel before reassembling and covering it.

Oil Your Grill and Grates After Use

After your grill grates are clean, wipe them with a thin layer of cooking oil. The oil repels water and acts as a protective barrier against moisture.

This process works just like oiling a cast iron pan does — the metal surface will stay rust-free and allow food to release easily when it’s done cooking.

Apply Protective Coatings

For stainless steel grills, use a food-safe stainless steel cleaner and polish on the exterior surfaces of your grill.

These products can provide a protective barrier against moisture and reduce the likelihood of rust.

Maintain Proper Ventilation

Make sure that your grill’s ventilation systems are not blocked by grease or leftover food particles.

Proper airflow helps to keep the internal components dry and reduces the risk of rust.

Get a Weatherproof Cover

Mother Nature can throw a lot at your grill. Help protect it from the rain and snow with a weatherproof cover —you’ll save yourself a lot of scrubbing down the line.

Always use a high-quality, waterproof grill cover when your grill is not in use. This protects it from the elements, such as rain and humidity, which can lead to rust.

Store Properly

During off-season months or extended periods of non-use, store your grill in a dry, covered area.

If outdoor storage is your only option, ensure the grill is well-covered and elevate it off the ground to avoid standing water.

For more tips for properly storing a gas grill in the off-season, check out our guide: Winter Storage Tips for Built-in Gas Grills

How to Remove Rust From a Gas Grill – FAQs

Have a lingering question about removing stubborn rust from a gas grill? Check out these frequently asked questions!

Is It OK to Grill on Rusty Grates?

No, it is not ok to grill on rusty grates, as rust makes your grilling surface unsafe for cooking. Rust can compromise the safety and taste of your food. It’s best to clean the grates thoroughly to remove rust or consider replacing them if the damage is extensive.

What Is the Best Rust Remover for Grills?

The best rust remover for grills is a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda, known for its effectiveness and safety for food surfaces. These household chemicals create a powerful cleaning solution that eats away at rust. Commercial rust removers labeled safe for grill use are also good options.

Why Are My Gas Grill Grates Rusting?

Gas grill grates rust due to exposure to moisture, either from the environment or from food, combined with insufficient cleaning and maintenance. Regularly cleaning and thoroughly drying your grates, along with applying a thin layer of oil and using a grill cover, can significantly reduce the risk of rusting.

Can Coca-Cola Clean a Grill?

Yes, Coca-Cola can be used to clean a grill. Its acidic properties help break down rust and grease. Pour it over the grates, let it sit in a plastic bag overnight, then scrub and rinse. However, for thorough cleaning and sanitation, additional methods and products may be necessary.

Can You Restore a Rusty Grill?

Yes, you can restore a rusty grill with a little elbow grease, a non-toxic rust remover, or common pantry ingredients like salt, lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda. For severe rust, consider using a non-toxic commercial rust remover. Finish by rinsing, drying, and applying high-temperature resistant paint if necessary.

How to Remove Rust From a Gas Grill: Final Thoughts

Opening your grill up to find rusty grates can bring your barbecue to a grinding halt.

Thankfully, a rusty grill is a fairly easy solution to fix with products you probably already have in your house.

If one of the home remedies above doesn’t work, try another one — chances are one of them will get the job done.

As always, the best cure is a bit of prevention.

Clean your grill off after cooking, oil the grates, and cover it with a weatherproof cover to make sure moisture can’t get onto the grates in the first place. It’s a bit of work now, but your future self will thank you!

Remember, regular maintenance and prompt action at the first sign of rust are key.

Cheers,

Emily

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DisclosureAt The Grilling Life, I am committed to researching and writing thoughtful, informative and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your outdoor cooking needs.  If you like what I do, you can support me through my chosen links, which earn me a commission.  This allows me to continue sharing with you my love for all things barbecue.  Your support is truly appreciated.

Emily Lord

I’m a Wisconsin-based freelance writer and home cook who loves hosting parties and expressing my love for my family and friends through homemade meals and baked goods.

I blame Iron Chef and Chopped for my competitiveness in the kitchen.

In my free time, I occasionally run marathons as an excuse to eat more good food.