How to Clean a Smoker
How to Clean a Smoker


What You Need

  • Cloths or paper towels

If you have a smoker, you're more than aware - and thankful for - the more flavor for less work benefits. But any type of cooking appliance can suffer from grease and food residue buildup over time, and a smoker is no different. This accumulation, paired with improper or infrequent cleaning technique, can hinder the signature flavor-maximizing abilities of your smoker over time.

It's best to clean your smoker pit with a non-abrasive cleaner. Most of the time, your standard soapy water just isn't strong enough to clean the grease buildup that can accumulate inside a grill.

Simple Green Heavy-Duty BBQ & Grill Cleaner's formula removes baked-on grease, food, and carbon deposits from a wide variety of grill surfaces. The powerful cleaner is clean-rinsing, so you can use it to deep clean the exterior and interior of your smoker without worrying about lingering chemical residue.

Directions for Cleaning a Smoker:

Make sure your smoker has had plenty of time to cool down before you begin cleaning.

Routine Maintenance

  • Remove the ashes after each use. Ash buildup can promote rusting since it holds onto humidity.
  • Wipe up spills as soon as you can safely do so with a warm, damp cloth.
  • Brush grill grates before each use with a grill brush.
  • Use a putty knife to scrape out any carbon, food, or grease buildup in the cooking chamber.
  • Buff out any spots that start to show rust with steel wool, then re-season the spot with high-temperature cooking oil. Although vegetable oil isn't as thorough as a full re-seasoning, you can use it in a pinch instead of ignoring the rust spot.

Deep Cleaning

  1. Clean burn. Load the coal basket, light the fuel, and start the smoker with the vents wide open. It's a good idea to keep an eye on your smoker during this process. Let it cool completely before moving onto the next step.
  2. Take out removable pieces. Remove the racks, water pan, drip tray, smoker box, and any other removable pieces before cleaning your smoker grill. Break down foldable grates and soak them in Simple Green Heavy-Duty BBQ & Grill Cleaner in a sink for 5 minutes before washing them. If your grates do not break into small pieces, use this tip.
  3. Scrape out buildup. Use a putty knife to scrape particle buildup downward towards the bottom of the smoker. Sweep all residue out of the chamber.
  4. Apply Simple Green. Apply Simple Green BBQ Cleaner all over the smoker's interior. Let it sit on the surface for a couple of minutes. Wipe away with a clean, damp cloth or some paper towels, then allow it to air dry.
  5. Clean the thermometer and grease chute. Spray Simple Green BBQ Cleaner on a couple of handfuls of paper towels to wipe down your smoker's thermometer and grease chute. The thermometer dictates how hot your grill gets, while the grease chute connects the drip tray to the grease bucket. If the chute gets blocked, you're in danger of a grease fire.
  6. Treat rust spots. Use a wire brush to remove deep rust and follow up with fine sandpaper until it's removed. Spray-paint any exterior rust spots with a high-temperature paint.
  7. Apply Simple Green to the exterior. Apply Simple Green BBQ Cleaner all over the smoker's exterior. Let it sit on the surface for a couple of minutes, then wipe away with a clean, damp cloth or some paper towels.
  8. Re-season your smoker. Wipe down all interior surfaces with beef tallow, lard, or another high-temperature cooking oil. Build a fire and run the smoker at 350° for a few hours.

TIP: The inside of your smoker will continue to darken with use and will not return to a shiny, silver color. The darkening actually slows rusting and improves overall performance.

TIP: This is also a good time to check your thermometer's calibration. Stick the stem in boiling water and see if it reads the correct temperature. If it's reading incorrectly, adjust using the nut at the back of the thermometer.


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