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Everything You Need To Know About How To Clean a Smoker

Smokers have gained a ton of popularity recently. While not as common as a grill, they’re quickly becoming an outdoor barbecue equipment mainstay.

With the growing populatiry of TikTok, it’s hard not to follow along with professional pit masters and weekend warriors smoking up everything from zesty smoked chili queso recie to sweet and spicy smoked ribs.

Cooking with a smoker can be messy, which is where I come in to share my tips for how to clean a smoker! Like knowing how to clean a grill and how to clean a Blackstone, it’s a critical part of the process if you’re going to smoke meat.

How to Clean a Smoker Photo

My personal smoker is electric, which purists will say is cheating. To that I say – mind your business! Electric is convenient for those that don’t want to babysit the grill. Plus, it’s not like I’m entering any competitions.

If you have a smoker that’s like a grill, you may want to follow my grill cleaning guide. If your smoker looks more like a mini fridge, keep reading for my top tips.

How To Clean a Smoker

I find the smoker to be an easier piece of machinery to take care of out of when thinking about cleaning either your grill or your Blackstone or similar flattop.

However, it still requires the same necessary attention to stop the spread of bacteria. Much like cleaning a grill, you’ll need to clean the grates.

With the mini fridge style smoker that I have, I prefer to just simply remove the grates and clean them in a sink of hot soapy water. It’s easy and it works.

Same goes with your drip pan and heat deflector. You can even put everything in your dishwasher to make things even easier as long as you discard of most of the grease before doing so.

Crusted Smoked Ribs Photo

When it come to the inside of the smoker, not much needs to be done. The smoke helps cure the inside and you don’t want to scrape that off. Leave it be.

Eventually, the inside of your smoker will look almost black. Ultimately, that’s what you’re looking for. You don’t want to scrape that off, but you do want to remove any ash or debris that collects.

Clean up any chunks of food or anything stuck to the sides, top, and bottom.

Using the same vinegar solution that I use when cleaning my Keurig coffee machine, I spray the walls and wipe them off with a damp rag – just be sure you don’t scrub them completely clean.

Homemade Vinegar Cleaning Solution Photo

After learning about the many benefits of cleaning with vinegar, I realized you can use it for everything from cleaning a coffee maker to cleaning a microwave.

Vinegar is cheap, non-toxic, free of any harmful chemicals, eco-friendly and powerful making it a great all purpose household and appliance cleaner.

Steps for Cleaning a Smoker

  1. Remove any grates and clean them with hot soapy water in the sink.
  2. Remove and clean the drip pan and heat deflector as applicable. Hot soapy water will do the trick!
  3. Sweep out any ash or debri that may have collected on the interior of your smoker.
  4. Clean up any chunks of food or other scraps that may be present.
  5. Use a simple vinegar cleaning solution to spray down the walls and lightly wipe them down with a damp cloth. Do not scrub them clean.
Smoked Chili Queso Image

Additional Tips for How To Clean a Smoker

If you think buying a smoker with a glass door will be helpful, I can personally tell you that it is not. After two uses, the smoke has blackened the window, making it impossible to see inside.

If you happen to have one of those glass door smokers, you can scrape the window with a razor, but it really isn’t that important. Invest in a decent probe thermometer and you’re all set.

When you’re not using your smoker, make sure to keep it unplugged. Much like the grill, invest in a quality cover to keep it protected from the elements.

Following these simple steps will help prolong the life of your smoker and keep you and your family from any sort of food-borne illness.

Now you’re ready to smoke up a seasoned pork shoulder for some delicious pulled pork sandwiches. Just don’t forget to invite me!