How To Make Cast Iron Stovetop Grates Look New (Do This!)
The stove helps us turn out a lot of really delightful things. But while preparing those delightful things, the stove takes on a lot of grime and old food. And if you don’t stay up on cleaning it thoroughly, you could be left staring it down each time you use the stove.
For stoves that have cast iron grates, they can look magnificent when clean. And since we generally don’t scrub our stoves after each use, it helps to know how to make those grates look brand new again. It can be a process, requiring you to let them soak to loosen grime, using a tough powder cleanser, and putting in some elbow grease. But in the end, your grates should look good as new.
Before Starting the Cleaning Process
There are a couple of things to remember before you start cleaning those cast iron grates. The first is that you want to treat them with care. Cast iron can get worn down when cleaned with the wrong materials, so save yourself the hassle. Avoid using metallic or steel wool scouring pads during cleaning.
Use a non-scratch scrubber or even a sponge in tandem with a scouring cleaning product instead. Speaking of cleaning products, if you do go with something that has harsh chemicals, be smart. Wear gloves, rinse it thoroughly using soapy, hot water, and make sure that the grates are completely dry before you return them back to the stove.
How to Make Cast Iron Grates Look New
Step 1: Create Your Mixture
The first thing that you need to do is arm yourself with a cleaner. More often than not, hot, soapy water will go a long way. Unless you are dealing with years of caked-on grime that remains stubborn to remove, hot, soapy water should do just fine.
All you need to do is combine one part water for every part dish soap. You shouldn’t need a lot but ensure that you have enough to get the job done. Combined with a good kitchen sponge, it should be adequate to get rid of most grime and old food. It takes just as long as cleaning a black stovetop.
Step 2: Remove the Grates
To make things easy on yourself, remove all of the grates from the stovetop. Put them in the sink or even the bathtub if your sink isn’t quite big enough to work with. If you need more space to work and don’t want to use the tub, a plastic bin will work fine as well.
The odds are that you are going to have to do a bit of scrubbing. Make sure that you have proper elbow space so that you can really get in there if needed. This is not something people do for fun, so the key is to make the entire process the least frustrating that it can be.
Step 3: Soak the Grates
With the grates now resting in the sink, it is time to completely cover them. Use very hot to boiling water with a squirt of dish soap. Be careful not to use too much dish soap as the suds can get everywhere and create another mess for you to address.
Let the grates soak for about 10 to 15 minutes. Keep in mind that soaking the grates isn’t going to completely do the job; the point is to loosen up the grease and caked-on food bits. This will save you a lot of time and hassle as opposed to just tackling the grates without performing this step.
Step 4: Use Powder Cleanser
Remember, we don’t want to use a harsh, abrasive scrubbing pad here. Doing so could potentially damage and scratch the cast iron. That is why it is important to use a scouring cleaner to help get the remaining grime, grease, and food scraps off of the cast iron grates.
There are plenty of scouring cleaners on the market; go with the one you like best. Scrub and scour away what is left of the grease or baked-on food items. Depending on how long it has been since you last cleaned, this could take some time, or it could take a few minutes. It all depends.
Step 5: Rinse and Replace
Depending on the amount of built on grease and baked-on food that you are dealing with, you may need to repeat steps 3 and 4 before coming to a satisfactory conclusion. Make sure that you thoroughly rinse each time to get all of the soap and powder cleanser off.
When you are happy with the look of your cast iron grates, dry them off. You can either hand dry them or let them air dry; it is down to personal preference. You should make sure that the components of your stovetop have been cleaned as well before returning the grates back to their original position. Now your stove looks good as new.
Other Cast Iron Grate Cleaning Methods
There are, of course, tons of oven cleaners out there specifically created for this purpose. One of the most popular on the market today is Easy-Off and some people swear by it. This is especially true for the toughest of grime and food build-up.
The downside to using a commercial cleaner like this is that it does use harsh chemicals. Whenever you make use of a cleaner like this, do so safely. Open windows and use a fan to move the fumes out of the space. There are also some cleaners that can damage different materials, so be sure to read the packaging first before making your decision.
Soaking, as mentioned above, is one of the most crucial aspects of cleaning your cast iron stove grates. It helps to break down the stuck-on food and grease that accumulates over time. And sometimes you need more than soap and water to get the job done.
If you are looking for a more powerful way to get the job done, soaking is a good idea. Instead of soaking them for 10 to 15 minutes, fill a covered container or sealed bag with ammonia and let the grates soak for a couple of hours or even overnight.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind with this method:
- Rinse thoroughly. Whenever you use ammonia, make sure that you rinse the grates and then dry them thoroughly. Ammonia is not meant to be consumed in any way and the fumes can be particularly dangerous, so use caution.
- Don’t mix cleaners. If you do opt for ammonia during the cleaning process, never, ever, EVER mix ammonia with another cleaner. The result can be seriously dangerous (and even deadly) fumes. Make sure that you wear gloves when using ammonia and ensure that there is proper airflow and ventilation as well.
Seasoning Cast Iron Grates
Do I Need to Season my Cast Iron Grates?
Cleaning your grates is just part of the battle. It is important that you re-season them after cleaning. Why is this important? Well, re-seasoning will help prevent rust from building up on the grates in the future.
What is seasoning? Seasoning your cast iron is the process of a type of oil being baked into the very pores of the cast iron at very high temperatures. This helps to create a thin coat that prevents rust from building up and makes the cast iron non-stick for easier future cleanings.
Seasoning the grates. Seasoning is pretty simple. Just rub a thin layer of vegetable oil on the grates and then place them onto the heated stovetop. It could take a few minutes, just make sure that the grates have been heated completely. If you have done a lot of scrubbing, you might need to repeat the process again so that there is a good coating on the cast iron grates.
Can You Season Enameled Cast Iron?
There is another variation of cast iron out there, enameled cast iron, that presents a little bit of a challenge. The good news is that you don’t have to season enameled cast iron since they are naturally non-stick. That enamel coating helps to protect them from rust as well.
The downside to enameled cast iron is that they may not have the same longevity. Should that enamel start to chip off, there is no repairing it. Moreover, it is advised that you not use cookware that has suffered chipping because it could potentially wind up in your food.
Can You Paint Cast Iron Stove Grates?
Depending on the age of your stove and the grates, cleaning them may not be enough to restore their original look. That’s understandable; chipping, scratching, and wearing are a natural occurrence over time. That doesn’t make it better to look at but there may be an alternative.The good news is that you can actually paint the grates using a high-heat BBQ grill paint. Painting the grates gives them that brand-new look without having to completely replace them. Just make sure that you properly sand off any rust or build up so that you are not simply painting over the grime.
See How Cast Iron Compares to Other Materials
Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.
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