Grease, food residue, meat juices, and ash collecting on the grill bottom can easily break down the metal surface over time. Fortunately, cleaning a rusty grill bottom is relatively easy and uses simple non-toxic household items such as vinegar, salt, baking soda, and dishwashing soap. But prevention is the best method.
Additionally, you can replace a grill bottom that is too worn out by rust. However, you may have to buy a new grill if the old one stops being functional. Using the instructions below will get your grill sparkling, clean, and shiny in no time.
Why Does My Gas Grill Rust Out?
Even with the preventive measures below, rust can still form on your grill over time. But it is essential to understand why it happens to be able to avoid them from happening.
- Water: Moisture is the main culprit for causing rust on grills. It would be best if you protected outdoor grills from wet weather and snow. And always oil your grill after cleaning with water.
- Saltwater: Salt and humidity in the air, especially in places in the ocean, corrodes metal, including stainless steel grills.
- Food residue: When food particles stay on the grill for so long, they rot and become acidic, causing rust to form on your grill surfaces.
- Chemicals: Using concentrated bleach and cleaners containing chlorine to clean your stainless steel grill will form rust on the surfaces.
How to Fix a Rusty Grill Bottom
Usually, most grills are made of stainless steel to mean; they do not rust. However, the bottom of the grill is where all the meat juices and dirt collect, making it most prone to developing rust. Additionally, the level of damage determines the measures to restoring a barbecue grill.
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When the damage isn’t too much and is reversible
A grill that isn’t too damaged has a variety of solutions. The first step to any cleaning method is to turn off and disconnect your grill from the gas cylinder. Then, disassemble the grill to expose the rusty grill bottom. Below are some of the things you can do:
Scrapping off the rust
A quick and easy solution to removing rust is using an abrasive material such as a wire brush, steel wool, or sandpaper. Be cautious when using a wire brush because it can remove the protective layer from the grill surface over continued use. First, you have to dry brush to remove the ash and charred flakes and then wipe it down with detergent and water.
- Use a wire brush to scrape off the large lumps and dirt.
- Use a shop vac to remove the big chunks of dirt.
- Wet the surface using liquid dishwashing soap and scrub with steel wool or sandpaper. Pay close attention to the corners because rust attracts rust.
- Rinse it off with clean water.
- Wipe it down using a cleaning rag or paper towels.
- Spray some vegetable oil.
Washing with dishwashing soap and water
For less stubborn stains and after every use, you can always rely on some dishwashing soap and water to clean a rusty grill bottom. Do not use any toxic cleaning detergent as this part is also exposed to your food. It may also corrode your grill and worsen the rust.
- Mix some liquid dishwashing soap with water in a bucket or spray bottle.
- Spray the surfaces of the grill bottom, soak for about 15-20 minutes to dissolve the rusting grease.
- Scrub with a rag or nylon brush to remove any remaining rust particles.
- Rinse and wipe it down dry.
Vinegar and baking soda
The acid in the vinegar will lift the rust while the baking soda reacts with the acid and foam, allowing the acid to go into cracks and crevices.
- Mix some white vinegar and baking soda in the ratio 1:2 in a spray bottle.
- Spray it generously on the surfaces and allow it to soak for a couple of minutes.
- Use a soft bristle brush to scrub off any remaining rust stains.
- Wipe it dry with a clean rag.
The high levels of phosphoric acid in soda, particularly Coke, lifts rust from metallic surfaces.
- Pour a decent amount of soda in your grill bottom.
- After 30 minutes of soaking, scrub the surface with steel wool.
- Rinse and dry the surface with a clean cloth.
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Commercial rust remover
There are several commercial rust removers specifically for kitchenware. Get yourself one that is non-toxic like Evapo-Rust and effectively removes rust from surfaces that are in contact with food. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before use.
- Remove the grease and dirt from the bottom of the grill using a brush.
- Spray the rust remover on the surface and let it soak for as long the product manual instructs.
- Wipe off the product with a clean wet cloth.
The citric acid in lemons and limes is a substitute for vinegar. The mild acid dissolves rust from metal surfaces with ease. You can mix this with salt, dishwashing soap, or baking soda. However, this may take longer than vinegar; therefore, soak the grill bottom overnight for better results.
- Make enough of the citric acid mixture into a thick paste and coat the grill bottom generously.
- Let it sit overnight to loosen the rust particles.
- Scrub off any remaining rust stains using steel wool.
- Rinse and repeat the process if necessary.
When the damage is much and needs repair or replacement of the bottom
Due to regular use or low maintenance, the damage caused by rust on the grill bottom may be too extensive, therefore requiring a replacement or repair.
Examine the extent of damage on your grill bottom and check for any holes. You can quickly repair small holes while large ones may need the whole bottom replaced.
Repairing the grill bottom
One way of refilling the holes is using an epoxy filler like Blue Magic Quiksteel, which fills the gap and hardens like steel. It also withstands temperatures up to 2400°F.
Sand any loose rust and clean the bottom with a solution of dishwashing soap to remove any grease and dirt. Follow the product instructions to fill the hole and allow it to cure. Sand the area smooth and paint using high-temperature paint for a glossy finish.
Another solution is to patch the holes by welding steel. Make sure the surfaces are clean and sanded before welding.
Replacing the grill bottom
If you cannot repair the bottom damage, you can build a similar bottom shelf or purchase a matching spare part. Most recent models have relatively inexpensive spare parts.
When the damage is too much and not worth it
Though replacing grill parts can be a bit costly, you may have to consider replacing the whole unit if your grill has served its time and is too old and too damaged to fix.
How to Stop Your Grill from Rusting too Fast
Having a simple maintenance routine helps prevent your grill from rusting too fast. Remove any little amount of rust promptly to avoid spreading the damage.
Stainless steel grill and ceramic grates
Stainless steel is not 100% non-corrosive, but it is highly corrosion-resistant, slowing down the rusting process. Over time heat and regular cleaning will degrade the protective layer. Ceramic-coated grates are not only non-stick but also prevent water from getting into direct contact with other metallic parts of your grill.
Clean after each use
Always clean your grill after every use. Not just the grate but also, wiping down all the parts is essential in preventing rust. Food debris left on the metallic surfaces will quicken the rusting process.
Deep clean often
Do a deep clean of your grill to reduce the build-up of dirt and rust in places not often cleaned. Completely disassemble your grill and use any of the methods explained above to clean all the grill parts.
Season your grill
After cleaning your grill, apply a thin layer of vegetable oil on the grills inside and outside parts. The oil prevents water from getting in contact with the metallic surfaces to cause rusting.
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Weatherproof your grill
After seasoning, cover your grill with a nylon or vinyl cover, especially if you live in places with high humidity, frequent rain, and snow. It prevents damage from weather conditions. If possible, you can move your grill indoors.
Keeping off moisture from your metallic surfaces and regular cleaning will prevent rust from forming and damaging your grill in the long run. Fortunately, rust can be effectively removed from your grill using simple household mixtures. Whichever method you opt for, remember to rinse, dry, and season your grill surfaces to maintain your grill’s quality.