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How to Clean Burnt Cast Iron Stove Grates

large stainless steel bowl on a stainless steel stove top

One of the greasiest things you will find in a kitchen are the grates on the stove. Perhaps the reason why is because they are often overlooked even when cleaning a stovetop. Unfortunately, overtime, the buildup of spills, grease, and burnt-on foods cover the cast iron and form a rather thick layer of black gunk on your stove grates. Obviously, the longer you wait, the harder greasy grates are to clean; however, with that said, if you have left them in a dirty state for a while now, there is a fairly simple way to clean burnt cast iron stove grates with a little effort and patience. 

First, let’s talk about the importance of keeping your stove grates clean.

Dangers of Greasy Stove Grates

top view of a cast iron stove grate

When you see your cast iron stove grates looking dirty and messy from the grease and charred food spills that are sitting on it, your reaction may be limited to thinking that they are unsightly and probably unsanitary too. Well, while that is true, the real concern here is safety.

Allowing grease to build up on the stove can be a fire hazard because the substance is flammable. Although this is not the number one cause of house fires, it is better to be safe than sorry by simply cleaning and maintaining grease-free cast iron stove grates.

Things to Keep in Mind When Cleaning Stove Grates

top view of a very old rusted and dirty stove burner

Cast iron grates typically have an enamel coating which must be cleaned carefully so as not to damage it. Harsh cleaning tools such as metal scrubbers or steel wool are not advisable, even though it may be tempting to use such scouring pads to remove stubborn, burnt-on grease. Instead, non-abrasive sponges and scrubbers along with gritty cleaners such as salt or baking soda to create a safe abrasion for cleaning your cast iron stove grates are all favourable options.

If you are using any type of chemical cleaner, even ammonia, it is critically important that you rinse and wash the stove grate with hot water and dish soap to ensure that there are no traces of the chemical left on the surface.

Keeping these dos and don’ts in mind, learn how to clean stove grates by following the simple cleaning guide from Maid For You below. 

Step-by-Step Instructions to Clean Cast Iron Stove Grates

top view of rusted old stainless steel stove top

As always, natural cleaning solutions are preferred wherever applicable due to their eco-friendly nature. Moreover, it is important to reduce the usage of chemicals in your home for health and environmental reasons. In this all-natural method to clean burnt cast iron stove grates, you can use ingredients and products that you likely already have at hand. 

What You’ll Need

  • Heat-resistant bucket/basin
  • Grease-fighting dish soap
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda/salt
  • Stiff cleaning brush
  • Non-abrasive scrubber
  • Clean dry towel

Gather up the items listed above and move on to the step-by-step guide below.

Step One: Remove Loose Debris

When the stove grates have cooled down completely, use the stiff brush to remove charred bits and other loose debris by brushing them onto a pan or sheet of newspaper. Collect the rubbish and dispose of it in the bin when you are done. At this stage, it helps to get off as much debris as you can so that there is less gunk to scrub off later on. Nevertheless, there is no need to use too much elbow grease here as the next two steps will help loosen the stuck-on debris thus making it easier to scrub off.

Step Two: Spray With Vinegar

Pour full-strength distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle, place the grates in an empty sink, and spray them generously on both sides. Make sure that you don’t miss any spots and that the stove grates are completely dampened by the vinegar so that it breaks down the hardened gunk. After spraying them, leave the cast iron stove grates aside for 10 minutes and then proceed to the next step.

Step Three: Soak the Grates

In a heat-proof basin or bucket, add a squirt of dish soap and pour in boiling hot water (enough to submerge the grates). If needed, stir the water with a wooden spoon to combine the soap and water. Then, carefully place the stove grates inside, ensuring that each one is properly submerged. Use tongs if you need to spread them around as opposed to piling them one on top of the other. Allow the cast iron grates to soak in this hot soapy water for at least 15 minutes.

Step Four: Scrub With a Natural Abrasive

To scrub the stoves grates clean after the cleaning solution has loosened the gunk, a mild abrasive like salt or baking soda is advised. The added benefit is that these ingredients also have cleansing properties so it’s win-win! Before you begin, drain the water out and refill the basin/bucket with cold water to cool down the grates. When cool to touch, clean them individually by dipping the dampened non-abrasive scrubber or stiff brush in the powdered scourer, and scrub the grates with a good amount of elbow grease.

NOTE: For very stubborn grease or burnt-on foods, soak the grate in hot soapy water for a second time before scrubbing again.

Step 5: Rinse and Dry

After successfully scrubbing your cast iron stove grates clean, rinse them under running water to remove grease or food remnants and all traces of the cleaners used. The last thing you need to do is wipe the grates dry with a clean towel as opposed to leaving them to air dry. This is because the longer cast iron stove grates remain damp, the higher the chance of them developing rust. Once completely dry, put them back in place. Don’t forget to clean the rest of your stove so that it is not just nicer to look at but more sanitary while eliminating the risk of a fire hazard. 

Remember, regular upkeep is much easier and faster than having to clean off weeks of buildup on your cast iron stove grates. Of course, if that’s what you are dealing with, all you need to do is follow the cleaning guide above to make your stove grates look great again! 

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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