How to Clean Cast Iron Grill – A Comprehensive Guide

Those who own a cast-iron grill can tell right away a list of facts that make their grill superior to other competitors. It conducts heat quickly, retains temperature, provides a non-stick cooking surface and is easy to operate. 

However, your main concern is probably how to clean cast iron grill. Especially due to the fact that it can corrode easily, saving it from deteriorating elements is crucial. Considering this, we have formulated this detailed guide to make the job easier. 

Follow it, clean your grill religiously, and there’s nothing that can stop you from cooking on your cast iron grill for years. 

How to Clean Cast Iron Grill – Step-by-Step Guide 

Gather the Essentials First! 

Tools for Cleaning 

  • Nylon scrubber 
  • Plastic scraper 
  • Paper towels and cotton cloth 
  • Large plastic bucket (2) 
  • Newspaper or tarp 
  • Plastic wrap 
  • Rubber gloves 

Additives For Cleaning Solutions 

  • Vegetable oil
  • Warm water 
  • Grease-cutting dishwashing liquid 
  • Vinegar or baking soda or salt
  • Lemon juice 

Step 1: Decide Your Cleaning Space 

Cleaning your cast iron grill is not as simple as washing utensils. It will require space and can create a mess especially if you are cleaning it after a long time. So, choose a spacious cleaning area and spread tarp or newspapers over it. 

Move the cast iron grill in the center so that all the mess is collected on the newspaper or tarp. Also, wear rubber gloves to protect your hands and nails from grease and dirt. 

Step 2: Prepare the Cleaning Solution 

Fill a bucket with warm water and add one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid per gallon. Swish to form lather. Next, fill the other bucket with warm water only. 

Step 3: Prep the Grill for Cleaning 

For a charcoal cast iron grill, start cleaning when the grill is completely cool. There should be no embers or ash inside the grill. Dispose of the coal and jump to the next step. 

 For a gas cast iron grill, start by disconnecting the gas supply and letting the grill lose all heat. 

Step 4: Scrub and Scrape the Grates 

Pull out the cooking grate from the grill and place it over the tarp or newspaper. Take the nylon scrubber and brush it on the grates to loosen the stuck-on food. If there is still some burned-on residue left, scrape it away using a plastic scraper. 

Next, soak the scrubber in the water-soap mixture and rub it on the grates. Rinse the grates by submerging them in the plain water bucket. Now, take a rag and dry out the grates. 

Your grilling grates are clean now, put them aside and move to your grill. 

Step 5: Clean Your Cast Iron Grill 

There is grease, food particles, and other residues accumulated on the inside of the grill. Take the plastic scraper and remove them from the interior. Also, the inner side of the lid collects a lot of fuel residue and dirt. Scrap it as well using the plastic scraper. 

Once done, remove all the scraped down residue using a scoop or vacuum. To give the final touches, dip the scrubber in a soap-water mixture and rub it on the interior and exterior of the grill. Rinse using warm water and dry the grill thoroughly. 

*Do not leave your cast iron grill to dry in the air or you will increase the chances of corrosion. 

Step 6: Remove Rust (Optional) 

If you can see traces of corrosion on your grill, removing it as soon as possible is the only way to prolong its useful life. Otherwise, the corrosion build-up will deteriorate the grill. 

For this, you can either rub an abrasive tool like steel wool or wire brush over the grill or target the rusty surface with a cleaning solution. Since using an abrasive tool requires a lot of muscle power, it is not a desirable option for many especially, if there’s high corrosion. In that case, you can opt for the following cleaning methods: 

Baking soda: Mix baking soda and water to form a thick paste. Apply a layer of it over the corroded surface. Leave it for a few hours. Rub away the rust with an abrasive tool. Repeat if required. 

OR

Vinegar: Rub undiluted white vinegar on the rusty surface with full strength. Wait for a few minutes and check if the vinegar has started to dissolve the rust. Use a wire brush or steel wool to clean away the rust. Apply again if necessary. 

OR

Kosher Salt: If there’s heavy corrosion on your grill, this method will probably work out to remove it. Mix coarse salt and water to prepare an abrasive mixture. Apply it and rub using steel wool or wire brush. Repeat until the thick layer of corrosion has been removed. Later, you can switch to applying vinegar or baking soda paste to clean out the remaining rust. 

Step 7: Season Your Grill Again 

Once you are done cleaning and drying your grill thoroughly, season it by using vegetable oil. Just apply a thin layer of it and spread using a paper towel. Seasoning will keep the grill and grates from rusting or corroding in the future. 

Step 8: Reassemble Your Cast Iron Grill 

Replace your grates in the grill. Reconnect the gas supply if you have a gas grill. Or for a charcoal grill, fill coals in it. Light up the cast iron grill and heat at 400°F for an hour. The heat will strengthen the seasoning by letting the oil bind to the surface.  

Finally, your cast iron grill has been primed and ready to use again!

Maintenance Tips for Cast Iron Grill 

Following these tips every time you cook in your grill will prevent residue or corrosion build-up. Hence, extending its life and making your outdoor grilling experiences as wonderful as they could be. 

  • After you are done cooking, let the grill lose some heat. Use a wire brush to clean residues while the grill is still warm. Delaying the task will allow the grease to harden and hence, will make the cleaning task difficult. 
  • If your grill contains cast-iron grates, remember that they are more prone to corroding. So, always season them after rubbing away the residues. 
  • In a charcoal grill, clean the fuel residue regularly after grilling. Find if there’s any stuck-on food, remove it using a brush or scraper. Wash with soapy water and rinse every time. 
  • In a gas grill, do the regular cleaning before and after cooking. Plan to dig in deeper and clean the burner tubes and area below the grates once or twice a year.  

The Bottom Line 

The key to locking the durability of your cast iron grill is cleaning it consistently. Worry not if you have been avoiding taking care of your grill. You can make up for the lost time by starting to clean it from now onwards. 

The cleaning may seem hectic in the beginning, but as you continue doing it, the task becomes simpler, and you start enjoying it in the name of delicious, aromatic food.