We are reader supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Also, as an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
While else a rusty grill is a disappointment, understand that it is a normal phenomenon. Grills become dilapidated since they take a beating from sitting under the sun, being exposed to the winter weather, wear and tear from constant use and ash or grease that build up over time.
How do you refurbish a charcoal grill? Easy, the first step is identifying if it needs painting or some thorough cleaning to get rid of oxidation. This saves you the cost of re-painting the entire grill while the problem could be fixed by some good cleaning. Besides not all grills require painting, for instance, stainless steel grills and most enamel-coated grills do not need to be painted in the first place. Once you identify what your grill needs for refurbishing, painting, or cleaning- you can get down to the process
Keep reading to find out more about, how to clean your charcoal grill, how to paint it, risks of using a non-refurbished grill, tips to get rid of rusts and other charcoal grill related questions.
- 1 How to Clean Your Charcoal Grill？
- 2 How to Paint Your Charcoal Grill？
- 3 Reinstall Accessories and Hardware
- 4 Season the Inside of Your Grill
- 5 Preheat Your Grill before Use
- 6 What Happens If You Use a Refurbished Grill?
- 7 Tips on Getting Rid of Rust from Your Grill
- 8 How Should I Dispose of the Ash and Charcoal after Grilling?
- 9 How can I Dispose of My Charcoal Grill？
- 10 Related Questions
How to Clean Your Charcoal Grill？
As mentioned above, cleaning your charcoal grill is one of the ways to refurbish it and crank it back to life. If your grill has acquired an ashy look, the problem might be oxidation and what you need to do is scrub your grill thoroughly. The process of cleaning your grill for purposes of refurbishing is detailed as discussed below
- Disable the Removable Parts of the Grill
The first step is to remove any removable part of the grill. That is the cooking grates, grease catchers and any other removable part.
Once you remove them, soak them in some hot, soapy water for about 30 minutes to get rid of any food debris and easily removable grease. After the 30 minutes, start scrubbing old grease off. In case your grills are excessively rusted, you can replace them.
- Remove the Ash
Once you have removed the internal removable parts, you are at a better place to scoop the ash from your grill. Get rid of as much ash as possible, especially the big chunks, while placing it in a trash can. While removing the ash, it is recommended you put on a mask to avoid any respiratory problems as well as gloves to protect your hands.
Removing the ash is if importance since it accelerates the rate at which your grill will rust.
- Use a Shop-Vac to get rid of the fine ash Particles
After getting the big chunks of ash out of the way, use a shop-vac to get rid of the fine ash dust and the hard to reach bits.
- Scrape off the Grease and any Charred Flakes.
Still, on the inside of the grill, start scraping all the loose parts of the grill using a plastic putty knife. Be on the lookout for any lumps of grease and anything that come out easily. Get rid of all of it.
- Scrub the inside with steel wool and water
Once you are satisfied you have gotten rid of as much grease as possible, use a ball of steel wool and normal water to scrub the grill
Scrub off as much rust as you can. While scrubbing, avoid using any solvents or toxic cleaners. This is because a grill is meant for cooking food, so exposure to any toxins could result in food poisoning.
Alternatively, instead of water, you can use a citrus-based cloner. Once you are done scrubbing, wipe the grill using paper towels.
- Clean the Rust on the Exterior
Once you are done with cleaning the interior, leave the grill to stand in the open and dry properly.
The next step is removing rust that as formed in the exterior of the grill. This is among the toughest rust to handle. Depending on how severe the rusting is, there are several ways to deal with it
If the rusting is not severe, you may manage to get rid of it using a wire brush or a little sandpaper. However, for severe rusting, consider using an angle grinder with a ceramic pint removal disc. While getting rid of rust, put on protective clothing to shield yourself from any reparatory complications.
The above-highlighted 6 steps are how you clean your charcoal grill when refurbishing it.
How to Paint Your Charcoal Grill？
The other way to refurbish your grill is by painting it. Alternatively, you might have to clean and paint your grill where the damage is extreme. Whichever way, re-painting should be done once you have addressed all exterior cleaning if any. The following are guidelines you should consider when painting
- Make sure you use high-temperature barbecue paint due to the high temperatures the grill is exposed to
- It is also recommended that you use thin coats of paint rather than heavy coats. to bring out the best, use several thin coats. They come out more even and last for longer. However, as you are making the coats, allow each of the layers to dry well.
- Do not paint on the interiors of the grill to avoid food poisoning.
- Once you are done painting and the entire refurbishing, fire up your grill to high temperatures. The high temperatures will dry the paint and make it favorable for cooking.
- Make a habit of repainting your grill to build its resistance against rusting.
After painting the exterior of your grill, identity exterior accessories such as handles and hardware, which need to be repainted. Unbolt the accessories and repaint them. Besides, in case of any rusted bolts, you can replace them with new bolts. You do not want your charcoal grill to be at the mercy of a rusted bolt now do you?
Related Article: How Long Does A Charcoal Grill Stay Hot?
Reinstall Accessories and Hardware
This is the part where you put back the handles you had unbolted. It is recommended you do so when accessories are is dry from the repainting.
You can also take this opportunity to install hardware that did not exist in your charcoal grill including a thermometer o some TV trays. The pint is to increase the surface on your rill. Just like the kitchen, the bigger your cooking surface the better, this also applies to your grill.
The TV trays are bolted on the grill to form what appears like side tables. You can use the trays to place food before and after smoking provided the raw and cooked food does not come into contact.
Moreover, remember to put back the interiors of the grill at this point. That is, cooking grates among others. When placing back the accessories tighten the bolts to avoid any future accidents.
Season the Inside of Your Grill
Refurbishing your grill does not end at painting and cleaning. You need to oil the inside of the grill once you are done with all the work of cleaning and painting your grill.
Preheat Your Grill before Use
This is the final step of refurbishing your charcoal grill. Other than curing the paint and making it suitable for cooking, the preheating helps to.
- Bond the oil to the inside surface. This can only be achieved under strong heat
- Burn any remaining ash, grease, rust, debris that you may not have cleaned
After you have heated your grill, allow it cool before cooking anything. Once it has cooled down, your grill will be back to life and you can go back to smoking your favorite dishes.
What Happens If You Use a Refurbished Grill?
Cleaning, repainting and fixing new accessories to your charcoal grill are a critical part of owning one. If you do not want to clean your grill, you might as well not purchase one. This is because, one, the grill will not last long and you might be exposing yourself to many risks. Here is what happens if you do not refurbish your grill.
- Your Food will have a Weird Taste
If you do not clean your grill, pieces of meat and any other food are left stuck on the grates and all over the grill. That food rots with time. So when you are grilling your fresh food, you expose it to spoilt food hence the weird taste.
The weird taste can also be because of the smoke coating coming from the grill. Usually, due to excessive leftover grease, fats and food debris, the grill begins to remove excessive smoke which when it lands on your food, it gives it a not so fresh coating leading to the weird taste.
- Cooking with Carcinogens
Smoking meat with high-fat content produces carcinogens. So on top of that carcinogen, when your grill has excessive grease and food remains, the grease and remains to burn and the grill begins to produce excessive smoke.
When this smoke makes contact with your food, it loads up cancer-causing PAHs (carcinogens) to your food, therefore, exposing you to cancers.
- Your Grill may have Molds
If your grill is old and dilapidated, it may have grown some molds. The molds like to grow in dark place ,especially with wetness such as that of grease. So, if you have a grill cover, your grill may be the perfect place for the growth of molds.
If you do not remove these molds effectively and go about the business of grilling your food. You are risking food poisoning.
Food poisoning can also be because of the spoilt food stuck in the grates, being exposed to freshly smoked food. Unless you are looking forward to the stressful aftermath of enjoying your grilled steak, I suggest you thoroughly get rid of the mold.
- You will have Bacteria in your Grill
Greases and meat chunks trapped in your grease may eventually rot and become bacteria under the warm temperatures of a used grill. Cleaning the grill is barely enough, as sometimes you may not reach below the burner where the grease and debris are stuck. So, eventually, the bacteria grow exposing you to potential food poisoning.
To curb this problem, you need to refurbish your grill constantly. Make it a routine to disassemble clean and re-paint your grill every occasionally.
- Fire Hazards and other Accidents
Excessive grease and fatty oils can cause fire flare-ups, which in extreme cases may lead to fire hazards. You should take your time to get rid of the grease once they begin to build-up
Refurbishing your grill is not just about cleaning and painting. It is time to inspect your grill. Look at the hosepipes; if they are leaking, have them fixed to avoid a fire menace. If the old grates are rusted, replace them, among other things to avoid accidents
- A home of Rodents
A deteriorated grill could easily double up as a home to rodents, especially if it has a lid. Due to the presence of food remains, a small surface area and darkness, grills make the best place for rodents to live.
Since they are animals, as you would imagine, they take a dump in your precious grill. So if you are to use your grill after a long time, without cleaning it well, you stand a chance of marinating your smoked food with, feces and urine from rats, mice, and squirrels. Therefore, do yourself a favor and make refurbishing your grill a culture.
Tips on Getting Rid of Rust from Your Grill
Although we have discussed how to get rid of rust as part of refurbishing, there are easier ways to say goodbye to a rusty grill. The following are tips you should consider when removing rust from your grill.
- Use Vinegar– rub white vinegar on the rusted surface at full strength for a few minutes. Allow the vinegar to sit on the surface for some time. When the vinegar begins to dissolve the rust parts, use your wire brush or steel wool to scrub off the rust. You can repeat the procedure until all the rust is removed.
- Use Baking Soda Paste- another method is applying a thick paste of baking powder on the rusty surface. The paste is made from baking powder and water. Just like with vinegar, apply the baking powder paste on the affected surface allow it to sit for a few hours then start scrubbing the rust off using a wire brush or steel wool
- Vinegar and Baking Powder- another alternative of removing rust from your grill is by making a thick paste made of vinegar and baking soda. Make sure the paste has a good consistency. Apply the paste on the rusted surface and let it sit for about half an hour. After the 30 minutes, use a soft cloth or sponge with warm water to rub off the rust.
- Salt Paste- if you need a tougher paste to get rid of the rust, you may consider the salt paste. Mix salt with water to make a thick paste. Apply the paste on the rusted area and use a wire brush or steel wool to scrub the salt away. The salt paste is helpful for stubborn rust.
- Soap and Water- in this case, use a mild, non-toxic detergent and add it to warm water using a soft cloth or sponge, rub off the rust. This method is only efficient for newly formed rust and not stubborn rust
- Lemon Juice and Detergent- This may sound funny but lemon juice can dissolve rusts. So to get rid of the rust, mix the juice with a mild powder detergent and add water to form a paste. Apply the paste on the rusted surface and let it sit overnight. Use a soft cloth and warm water to scrub off the rust in the morning. Soda- You can also use soda to get rid of rust from your grill. Soda contains phosphoric acid which is the main ingredient used in many rust removers. So apply soda to the rusted surface and leave it to soak overnight. In the morning rinse the surface with water and a sponge
- Commercial Rust Remover- alternative you can choose to use a commercial rust remover if the above-discussed methods do not produce your desired results. If you decide to use a commercial rust remover, be keen to follow the instructions given.
How Should I Dispose of the Ash and Charcoal after Grilling?
When cleaning your grill, although almost ignored, the first step is to take out the used charcoal and ash from the grill. So how do you dispose of it?
To start, allow the grill to cool down as well as the charcoal for about 48 hours, lest you get burnt. When the grill has cooled completely, scoop the ash and the remaining charcoal from the grill and wrap it in an aluminum foil. Place it in a trash bin for disposal with other trash.
If you do not want to dispose of the ash to your trash bin, you can set aside a bucket to store the ash after your grilling sessions. Once the bucket is full, you can dispose of the ash directly to the nearby landfill. If you choose to use this method, store the bucket in a secure place from the rich of children.
Alternatively, you can recycle your charcoal ash. Here are ways for recycling used ash and charcoal.
- If you used free-limp charcoal, you can recycle it to fertilize your plants. The charcoal ash contains potash, potassium carbonate, a vital nutrient for plants. The potash is also important since it increases the PH of the soil.
- ash is best for plants that do not like acidity or for freshly planted seedlings. Also, the best ash to use is ash from wood-based charcoal
- You can use charcoal remains to kill foul odors in the refrigerator. All you have to do is place a few pieces of charcoal in a perforated bag and place it in your refrigerator
- Charcoal can be used mulch to conserve soil moisture and suppress weeds
- You can also store the charcoal for fun activities like making the winter snowman face
- Charcoal ash can also be recycled to make natural bug spray to kill pests such as beetles. To prepare the spray, mix an ounce of ash with some hydrated lime and a gallon of water. Place the mixture in a bottle and spray it where needed.
- You can charcoal ash to make lye soap. Lye soap is a natural soap that is very useful for all your household cleaning duties.
- Charcoal remains can also be used to start up your grill in the next smoking session. Place the fresh charcoal pieces on the chimney then sprinkle the charcoal remains or the ash. Be careful not to sprinkle excess ash, which may choke the fire forcing it to be put off. After sprinkling the ash or charcoal, add papers and light u your grill
How can I Dispose of My Charcoal Grill？
Even though refurbishing your grill is an option, sometimes the condition of your grill may be irreversible. In this case, it is okay to dispose of your grill. You can dispose of it by handing it to the solid waste garbage collectors. However, in these modern times when conserving the environment is key, it is recommended that you recycle your grill.
Although the majority of the gill is made of metal, it contains other materials such as wooden and plastic parts. This makes it hard to recycle the entire grill as an entity. The solution is dismantling the grill and recycling it as per material used.
Other than that, before dismantling your grill, you must take time to clean it. This is done to get rid of food and grease that may have built up when it was used. If you dismantle the grill with the dirt and rust, the recycling company may reject the material. Once you have one that you can get down to the process of recycling your grill
Step 1: Use your hacksaw and screwdriver to dismantle the grill.
Step 2: once the grill is completely dismantled, take your time to arrange the materials according to their type.
Step 3: Start with the metallic parts since it is the material in abundance, for example, grates, grill lid, racks. Bolts, grill body among others. If you can, sort out the metal into, aluminum, copper, brass, and steel. Note that not all metals are recyclable, but some are, for instance, grill body and grill shelves are usually made of recyclable metal
What is the point of sorting the metal? Well for starters, most recycling companies organize their material in terms of type. So once you sort your metal it is easier for them to get accepted for recycling. However, if you cannot tell between brass and aluminum or tell the difference between any two different types of metals, you can always submit them as a group. In that case, cross your fingers and hope they get accepted.
Step 4: Move to the plastic parts, look through the plastics and identify if they are recyclable. Plastic with a recycling symbol shows that they can be recycled. A good example is the plastic side shelves. It is important to check through your plastic since not all plastics can be recycled.
Before trashing the unrecyclable plastic, consult the local waste management agency about the plastics. On some rare occasions, they may have used for what we may consider unrecyclable plastic. Plastic parts that are not recyclable include knobs and handles. For a propane grill, the hosepipe is also not recyclable.
Step 5: Proceed to the wooden parts. In this case, most wooden parts of the grill are not recyclable. As you may already know, woods are mostly recycled by burning it into compost or mulch.
However, wooden parts of a grill are mostly made of treated wood. This treated wood contains all kinds of chemicals. Due to the chemical, the woods cannot be burnt for recycling like other woods. On the other side, if you have untreated wood you can recycle by burning.
Step 6: Once you have followed each of the steps above to the latter, contact your local solid waste management agency to have the materials recycled.
How do I get rid of molds from my Grill?
First, before getting rid of the molds, put on a facemask to protect you from contracting any respiration complications due to the mold spores. Most people are allergic to mold spores. However, if you cannot handle the molds completely, you should call a professional to do the job.
Once you have your protective gear on, get rid of the removable molds, the large chunks. After that, fire up your charcoal grill to extremely high temperatures to kill the spores.
Once the grill cools off, use warm water to scrub it. This is done to get rid of remaining molds. You should also be on the lookout for grease. This is because, if you leave grease around in your grill, the molds will grow again and spread to other areas.
After scrubbing your grill, crank it up to high temperatures. This will kill any molds that may have survived the first time. Leave your grill to cool off before using it to cook.
Related Article: What Causes Mold on Grills?
Should I repair or replace my Grill?
Grills especially charcoal grills tend to last for very long. The warranty for grills may extend for up to 10 years and sometimes the grill may last for 5 years more than the warranty period. However, the question of should you repair or replace your grill is dependent on a wide array of factors.
At an early stage repairing your grill may work, but later on, you might have to replace one part after the other. At this point, you need to consider questions like the expense of replacing parts and buying a new grill altogether.