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Whether you’ve spent $100 or $1000 to purchase a grill, grills are an investment. To prevent your grill from rusting and keep it operational as long as possible before needing to buy a replacement, follow these simple tips to ensure that you will be grilling food in your backyard for many years to come.
While following these tips will help prevent rust from taking over your grill, it’s a good idea to inspect your grill for rust each time before cooking on it, as grilling with loose rust isn’t safe, and consuming rust can lead to health problems over time.
1. Avoid Pouring Liquids Directly Onto Your Grill
While many of us love BBQ sauce, to avoid excess sauce running into your grill’s burners and potentially clogging or rusting them, apply any marinades directly to your food while in the kitchen and not while grilling.
2. Keep It Clean
Grills should be cleaned after each use to prevent rust. Make sure to turn a gas grill‘s burners off before cleaning, and use a grill brush to remove any particles that may be stuck to the grates. You may also want to consider cleaning with a bristle-free grill brush to avoid any wire bristles coming loose and sticking to your grates.
For charcoal grills, it’s best to clean them while still hot, using a brush and a sprinkle of water. After cleaning the grates and allowing the grill to cool, throw away any remaining ashes or leftover coals in the grill and clean the cookbox with mild soapy water.
3. Give It A Deep Clean Every So Often
It’s also a good idea to do a deeper clean on a regular basis. To do so, detach the grates and then clean with a solution of hot water, one cup of mild dish soap, and 1/4 cup of baking soda. Soak them for an hour and then follow up with the brush. After the grill has cooled, wipe the grates down with a soft cloth to remove any lingering stuck-on food or brush bristles.
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Next, clean the grill’s burners with a non-abrasive cleaner and a cloth. You’ll want to keep drip trays dry and clean, as they can be especially vulnerable to moisture build-up. With a pipebrush, clean the burner holes and inlet holes too.
Don’t forget to clean the outside of your grill with mild-dishwashing soap and/or a polish that is suited to your grill’s exterior. Despite its name, even “stainless” steel is actually susceptible to stains and rust, depending on the grade and thickness of the metal.
4. Oil Your Grill
After cleaning, coat both gas and charcoal grates with a thin layer of vegetable oil to prevent food from sticking to them in the future. Doing this will also help repel moisture—and therefore rust. However, to be safe, do not use an aerosol can of vegetable oil, as aerosol cans have been known to explode near flames. Instead, coat a dish rag with a small amount of oil and use that to coat the grill.
5. Cover It And Move Indoors
Moisture is the biggest culprit that will rust your grill and reduce its lifespan. After grilling season is over, put a tight-fitting nylon or vinyl cover with a cloth lining over your grill. (You can find one on Amazon for around $20.)
If possible, move a portable grill indoors to the garage or a covered shed, especially if you live in a climate that is prone to high humidity, heavy rain or snow. If you live near the ocean, be especially vigilant about cleaning and covering your grill, as the high level of salt in the air may also corrode it.