How to Clean Stove Grates

updated May 3, 2024
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Caked-on marinara sauce. Weeks-old bacon grease. A collection of burnt crumbs and other unidentifiable food debris. If you’ve ever tried to clean a gas stove — or any type of stovetop with grates — then you know how problematic it can be to delay cleaning this pesky, stuck-on evidence of your favorite meals, but the one universal truth is it’s always better to get to the grate-cleaning job sooner rather than later.

Now, you probably don’t intend to skip out on scrubbing the stove grates every time you clean up the kitchen. Maybe you aren’t quite sure how to effectively de-gunk your oven grates. Perhaps you simply don’t make the time to do it. Either way, as with most of the chores looming on your to-do list, avoidance only exacerbates the problem.

The longer you put off the cleaning process, the more stubborn those burned-on spills and crumbs will become — making for a smelly reminder every time you cook on the stovetop. But cleaning stove grates is probably an easier job than you think, and it won’t take too much of your time.

Here’s how to clean stove grates, step by step. 

Things to Know Before You Start

Your stove grates are likely cast iron, so treat them with care to prevent damage. Avoid using steel wool or any metallic scouring pads to clean. Your best bet is to pair a heavy-duty brush, non-scratch nylon scrubber, or sponge with a cleaning product that scours, like a powder cleanser (like Bon Ami) or baking soda.

And it may go without saying, but if you use any harsh chemicals (like ammonia) to clean your stove grates, always rinse with hot, soapy water. Prevent rusting by drying your grates before putting them back on your stovetop.

What You’ll Need

  • An empty sink or bathtub
  • Dish soap
  • A heavy-duty brush, non-scratch nylon scrubber, or sponge
  • Powder cleanser (like Bon Ami) or baking soda
Credit: Joe Lingeman

How to Clean Stove Grates, Step by Step

Angela Bell and Georgia Dixon, Grove Guides at Grove Collaborative, prefer swapping out harsh oven cleaners for a simpler DIY method, which happens to be just as effective. This simpler route is the safest choice with cast iron, and you can use ingredients you likely already have on hand. If you aren’t seeing the results you want after the first try, you can try a second pass with ammonia (with caution! More on that below).

Here’s how to clean stove grates with a homemade soapy water mixture.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Remove the oven grates from your stovetop and place them in an empty sink.

The easiest part! Make sure they’re cool to the touch, then remove the grates from your stovetop and place them into an empty sink or bathtub. If you don’t have a sink or tub big enough, you can also use a plastic bin (even if you have to borrow it from under the bed).

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Mix a soapy water bath.

Cover the grates in the sink with boiling or very hot water, plus a squirt of dish soap. Allow the grates to soak in the soapy water for 10 to 15 minutes to cut through the grease.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Scrub with powder cleanser to loosen excess debris.

After soaking, and if necessary, use a scouring cleaner (like Bon Ami or baking soda) on a stiff-bristled (non-metal) brush, sponge, or non-scratch nylon scrubber and scour away any baked-on food or leftover grease.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Rinse, dry, and replace the grates.

Rinse the grates, dry them thoroughly with a clean cloth, and place them back on the stovetop. Good as new!

How Do You Get Burnt Grease Off a Stovetop?

Good news! The same dish-soap-and-powder-cleanser method can be used on a stovetop to loosen up set-in grease. 

Can You Use Easy Off on Cast Iron Grates?

Some people swear by Easy Off, a popular oven cleaner that can be used successfully to clean tough grime off of your cast iron stove grates when used according to the directions on the package. On the other hand, some cleaning experts, like Bell and Dixon, would not recommend this product line, citing harsh fumes and poor grades from the Environmental Working Group.

If you need a more powerful alternative to dish soap and powder cleanser, try soaking the grates for a few hours (or even overnight) in a sealed bag or covered container filled with ammonia. After soaking, rinse and dry the grates thoroughly. If you opt for this method, be cautious: Never mix ammonia with other cleaners, always wear gloves, and ensure you have proper ventilation throughout the process.

Why It’s Important to Clean Gas Stove Grates

It’s fair to say that any major appliance in your home, including your air conditioner or HVAC system, can benefit from regular cleaning and maintenance. After all, an appliance that’s free of dust, dirt, and other debris or residue will work more efficiently and last longer, which is excellent news for your household budget.

However, there’s something even more important at stake than having clean and sparkling gas stove grates: your safety. Every time you turn on your stove, the cooktop and gas grates are exposed to an open flame. The cooked-on grease and food residue can potentially catch fire, putting you and your home in grave danger.

While you likely don’t have to scrub down your gas stove grates every time you cook a meal, doing so regularly will make the work easier. This might mean once a week if you cook often. However, it’s a good idea to clean the grates any time you see grease and food start to build up. As you likely already know with other household tasks, it’s easier to create a habit when the work doesn’t take very long. Still, it’s arguable that it’s time well-spent if it means protecting yourself and your home from a fire hazard.