How to Remove Rust From the Outside of a Barbecue Grill

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Barbecue grills take a lot of abuse, especially if they're left outside to battle the elements. When it's time to uncover your grill after its winter slumber, you might find an accumulation of rust. The good news is that rust doesn't have to be the end of your grill. With a little scrubbing, you can remove the rust so your grill looks as good as new.


How to Remove Rust From the Outside of a Barbecue Grill
Image Credit: Milkos/iStock/GettyImages

Video of the Day

Types of Barbecue Grill Exteriors

Not all barbecue grill exteriors are the same. Most popular gas grill models have a corrosion-resistant stainless steel exterior. They are still prone to rust and scratch easily. When cleaning a stainless steel grill, use a soft cloth such as one made of microfiber. Avoid steel wool or abrasive material that can damage the stainless steel grill.


Portable Hibachi grills and some smokers have cast iron exteriors and are more likely to rust. Unlike stainless steel, cast iron is more durable and can resist heavy scrubbing. When cleaning rust from the exterior of a cast iron grill, use an abrasive pad or cleaning brush.

Older charcoal grills have a porcelain exterior, but they're not so commonplace now. Porcelain is fragile and glass-like, so be gentle with your cleaning Always use a soft sponge or microfiber cloth to clean porcelain grills.

How to Remove Rust with Dish Soap

Dish soap is mild and won't scratch the different grill exteriors. Before you begin cleaning, use a cloth to rub away any loose rust. After brushing away the loose rust, fill a plastic container with 1 gallon of warm water. Add 2 tbsp. of liquid dish soap to the water to create a soapy solution.


Dampen a cloth in the solution and wipe the outside of the grill to remove dirt, grime and grease. Rinse your cloth and repeat until there's no more rust. When the grill is clean, wipe the area one more time with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue. Dry the outside of the grill thoroughly with a terrycloth towel or microfiber cloth.

How to Remove Rust with Vinegar

Vinegar is another mild cleaner that can remove rust from the outside of your barbecue grill. Start by using your cloth or brush to wipe away any loose rust from the grill's exterior. When you removed as much rust as possible, spray it with equal parts of vinegar and water. Let the solution sit for a couple of minutes to loosen the rust and wipe clean with a cloth. Rinse the cloth and repeat the spraying and wiping process until all there's no more rust. Wipe one more time with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue.


Prevent Future Rust Buildups

Keep your barbecue grill covered when not in use to avoid moisture. It helps to store the grill in a shed or under a roof during inclement weather so it doesn't get wet. Always clean rust as soon as you spot it so it doesn't spread. Staying on top of rust means a longer life for your grill.



April Dowling

April Dowling first started writing in high school and has written many news articles for newspaper and yearbook publications. She is currently pursuing a career as an online writer and affiliate marketer. Dowling writes for several websites and keeps many blogs.