When it comes to cleaning the grill in general, the cooking grates remain to be at the core of it all. It’s these parts that gets into contact with grease, food residues and even ashes to some extent, in case you’re using a charcoal grill. For cast iron, there’s more than just the layers of dirt to deal with because the material is prone to rust, which can sometimes make it deteriorate drastically.
However, there’s a solution to this drawback and it’s all about how well you clean the grates. This article will show you how to clean cast iron grill grates by following 5 simple steps.
How to clean cast iron grates in 5 simple steps
Scrape the grates
When cleaning the grates after use, it’s important to allow them to cool down until it’s fairly warm in order to keep your hands safe. The first step is to remove the visible grease and food particles, and this is made simple with a grill brush. Most of them are designed with a scrapper on one end and a brush on the other, making it useful for both softer and stubborn stains.
With the brush, it also easier to clean the sides of the grates, which most people often tend to overlook. Please note that if you’re dealing with grates that had been previously stored before cleaning, you might need to warm up the grates a little bit, so that peeling off the accumulated layers of dirt becomes simpler. In the event that it was cleaned prior to storage and you only need a quick fix before you start grilling, a home-made sanitizer will come in handy.
For this you’ll spray the grates with a solution of water and either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, then wipe off everything with dry paper towels or rag. And after oiling the grates, you can get the cooking started.
Clean grates with soapy water
By now you understand that water happens to be the greatest hazard to these grill grates. But this shouldn’t get you worried because you can cover your grill from rust by adding some bits of vinegar to your soapy water. Depending on how greasy the grates are, you can soak the whole of it or just use a soaked rag to wipe the remaining layers that couldn’t be brushed off.
Once soft, use a sponge or mild scouring pad to scrub the grates thoroughly until perfectly clean. Talking of mild, you should always use mild soap when cleaning, an example being a dishwashing liquid soap. However, if you have a grill spray cleaner with you, that would do fine instead of soapy water. These cleaners could be costlier compared to regular soap, but the good thing is that they cure the iron and also make cleaning effortless.
Leave them out to dry
Your cast iron grill grates will probably start rusting if you keep them or start cooking with them when still wet. You can choose to air them out in the sun if you want to go the natural way and also have enough time. On the other hand, if you need it prepped-up for the next meal, you can simply use dry paper towels, a rag or even a drier to get it fixed in no time. However, when you use paper towels, ensure that there are no pieces of paper sticking on the grates afterwards.
Season the grates
The best way to improve on the durability of cast iron and prevent rusting is by seasoning it after cleaning and before grilling. Apart from using vinegar, another option is using olive oil or any other cooking oil. To coat the grates evenly, apply the oil using a brush or a clean kitchen towel until every part of the grates is generously coated.
Heat the seasoned grates
Now for other types of grates, we would have stopped at the previous step, but with cast iron, there’s more to that. Coating only has the outermost layer protected, but you need the oil to infuse properly into the iron, and that’s where the heating comes in. When you realise that the oil coating isn’t enough upon heating, you can add another layer and repeat the heating process until you end up with a shiny and new look. At this point, you can proceed to keep the grill, or start grilling.
Frequently Asked Questions | How to Clean & Season Cast Iron Grill Grates
1) How do I know if my cast iron grate needs cleaning?
One of the easiest ways to know if your cast iron grill grate needs cleaning is simply by looking at it. If you notice rust spots, a dusty or dirty appearance, or that it has started to lose its shape and form then chances are good that it does need a good cleaning. Before you consider throwing out your cast iron grates though, clean them thoroughly to see if this solves the problem. You may just be surprised with how easily they can be restored.
2) What kind of cleaner should I use for my grates?
When you’re choosing a cleanser for your cast iron grill grate, look for something that specifically mentions cleaning items made from similar materials. Gentle soaps and detergents in liquid form are usually best since they are easy to wash off. You should also avoid anything that contains chlorine as it can damage the surface of your grates. Regardless of what you choose in terms of cleanser, be sure to read and follow the directions closely since these types of cleaners are more prone to leaving residue on your grill grates than other options.
3) What about using an abrasive cleaner?
Many people prefer cleaning their cast iron grill grates with something like steel wool or a fine mesh pad. While this is perfectly acceptable, it’s important to remember that you’ll need to apply some extra TLC when handling both items so as not to scratch your grate’s surface and remove any seasoning that has been applied. If you decide to take this route, just be sure you’re applying a thin layer of oil after cleaning as this will help preserve the seasoning and prevent rust from forming.
4) How do I season my cast iron grill grates?
Once your grate has been cleaned, it’s time to start seasoning it again. For this step, you’ll want to apply vegetable oil (or another type of oil specifically mentioned by the manufacturer) to your grate in a thin layer. After allowing the oil to sit for about 30 minutes or so, you can begin using it on your grill like normal. This process needs to be repeated multiple times before you can consider yourself finished with cleaning and re-seasoning your cast iron grill grate.
5) How often should I clean my cast iron grill grate?
The frequency with which you’ll need to clean your cast iron grill grate will vary depending on a number of different factors. For starters, if you’re using your grate regularly, it’s safe to assume that it will require more frequent cleaning than someone who uses theirs a few times per year. If you notice any rust forming or that the color is starting to change in any way, then you’ll likely want to give them a good scrubbing sooner rather than later. In general though, we recommend making sure they are cleaned at least every couple of months in order to maintain their appearance and function.
6) How do I care for my cast iron grates once I am done using them?
Your grates should be stored in a dry location that is free from possible contaminants. This might mean placing them in an old pantry or on a shelf inside your garage, but the idea is the same. As long as you are taking the proper precautions with keeping them out of extreme temperatures and away from moisture, they should continue to function properly for years to come.
With these tips in hand, cleaning and seasoning your cast iron grill grate will be a breeze! By following this guide you’ll make sure that your grates remain rust-free and ready for use each time you set up your grill.
7) Does using charcoal or gas affect how often my grates need cleaned?
There really isn’t any difference between using charcoal vs gas when it comes to cleaning your grill grates. In fact, many people prefer gas sources as they tend to have a bit more control over their cooking environment by adjusting elements like temperature and flame strength.
There’s nothing that can outdo the greatness that comes with owning a cast iron grill; not even the cleaning struggles that comes with it. We have seen that the greatest hack to this menace is regular cleaning and seasoning. This is definitely not going to be a problem anymore, having known how to clean cast iron grates. One thing that cuts across all cooking grates is that their durability depend on how good your maintenance skills are, in addition to the quality of the material used.
Therefore, as we familiarize ourselves with cleaning the grill after every use, let’s not also forget to keep them in rooms with no moisture and dust. This minimizes chances of rusting and also accumulation of dirt over time. Alternatively, you can grab one of these grill covers to save the day.
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