How to Clean a BBQ Smoker

May 25, 2020

I was at my friends getting ready for a BBQ, and he asks me how to clean a BBQ Smoker. 

To clean a BBQ Smoker, start by removing the ashes from the fire pit, and get a big bucket of soapy water. Brush the grates, remove them, and remove any other removable components of the BBQ smoker and put them into the bucket. Scrape any gunk or build-up on the inside and vacuum it out. Wash and scrub the smoke, then spray it down, allow everything to dry, and reinstall any components and the grates. Re-season the smoker and is ready to use.

Why Do I Need to Clean a BBQ Smoker?

A smoker is slightly different than a standard BBQ grill because it cooks meats over multiple hours, allowing the flavor to seep in so that it is tender and delicious in the end. Some foods have to smoke for up to 24 hours to achieve the right taste, and that means your smoker is working that whole time. It’s not too complicated if you were wondering how to clean a BBQ smoker. All you need to do is follow a few simple directions, and your smoker can look good as new in no time. 

If you want to learn how to use a BBQ Smoker, view our post on how to use a BBQ Smoker.

Different Types of Cleaning

Two things should happen to keep your smoker clean. First, you should check the smoker after you use it and remove any built-up gunk or stuck-on foods or seasonings. If you do a little cleanup work after each use, it will make things easier when its time to do a deep clean. Don’t forget to remove the ashes each time you clean it because this is an integral part of your cleaning job. Second, you should conduct an extensive cleaning once or twice a year to ensure that every crack and crevice is super clean and free of gunk and dried-on food or grease. This task is a little more challenging than regular cleaning. Still, when routine cleaned correctly, the annual cleaning job won’t be nearly as unpleasant.

Your Annual Deep CleaningScrape and Remove

Just how should you get started with your once- or twice-a-year cleaning? Ideally, you should put a tarp down underneath the smoker and put gloves on because this is a messy job! Get a big bucket, put water and dish soap in it, and then set it aside for now. Then, brush your grates with a grill brush. If the BBQ grates are porcelain, be sure to use a brush with brass bristles, so you don’t nick or scratch them. Place the BBQ grates in the water bucket to let them soak for a while.

If your smoker has a heat diffuser plate, scrape and brush that as well, then unscrew the dome from the chimney and place both the dome and the diffuser plate in the bucket. Clean the inside of the smoke chimney with a wooden stick of some type or even a stiff brush. The interior of the chimney must be extra clean since this is where smoke build-up can occur.


Scrape and Remove

Grab a paint scraper and scrape both the cooking chamber and the inside lid of the firebox. Check the bottom of the cooking chamber to make sure that you get any dried food or grease out of the smoker. Use paper towels to wipe up the mess and make sure that you don’t miss anything. You can clean the grease gutter with the same wooden stick used earlier, and you can take a wet/dry vacuum to scoop up any loose debris.

putty knife

At this point, you can clean out drippings from the grease catcher after removing it. Go ahead and put that into the bucket as well. Then use a hose to thoroughly clean your smoker, including the cook chamber, firebox, and the exterior surfaces. If you have a pressure washer, now is the time to use it. You can use a degreaser to remove any stubborn dried-on messes. Make sure that you wipe off the gasket as well.

grill cleaner

Finishing the Job

Learning how to clean a BBQ smoker thoroughly includes making sure that you complete the job by doing the little things. To put the final touches on your cleaning job, you should go ahead and scrub all of the parts that are inside the bucket of soapy water. When you finish, let them air dry before you put them back where they’re supposed to go. If you’re cleaning these parts and the water gets too dirty, make sure that you replace it with clean soapy water. It would help if you also let the smoker itself air dry. If there is any excess dampness or moisture, you can usually use a paper towel to get rid of it. Once you reassemble the smoker, you should season it again by applying cooking spray inside. This seasoning will protect your smoker from rust and remove any contaminants on the inside. After your smoker is seasoned, it will have a subtle shine on the inside and is ready to use. Essentially, you are taking apart the grill for this super cleaning job, cleaning out each part thoroughly, and then putting the smoker back together again. If it sounds time-consuming, it may indeed be just that. But if you do this regularly, it can provide a lot of nightmares from occurring in the future. And, it will keep your food tasting much yummier!

A Few Tips That May Help

If you need additional tips to make cleaning your smoker a little easier, here they are:

  • The outside of your smoker should not be forgotten. You can clean it by using a towel and some hot soapy water every month or so.
  • Since the hot plates can get food stuck on them rather quickly, you can crumple up an old newspaper to clean them, and does a great job of cleaning the smoker without scratching it.
  • Your drip tray is one of the messiest parts, and clean it after every four or five uses.
  • Avoid using Wire grill brushes because they can break off and get stuck to the food, increasing the odds that you’ll swallow the pieces, and this can be dangerous. If you refuse to give up your wire brush, make sure that you replace it every season because the older ones tend to break more often.

Regular cleaning can increase your grill’s lifespan, not to mention allowing it to work more efficiently and making your food taste better. A little bit of cleaning after each use and a deep clean at least once a year goes a long way in ensuring that your BBQ smoker works better and lasts for you to use year after year.

To lean how to clean your grill after use, view our post on how to clean a grill.

We hope you found this info helpful, and please follow us to stay up to date on all of our latest posts., Inc.

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