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The Ultimate Guide for How to Clean an Electric Smoker

Updated
Cleaning electric smokers regularly = much tastier food.

Have you just opened your electric smoker to find a nasty sight? Burnt food particles, grease, grime, nasty stains — maybe even mold!

We’ll show you how to clean an electric smoker using various cleaning solutions. This guide will focus on the interior, exterior, removable parts, and glass door. We aim to provide you with a deep clean!

Afterward, your electric smoker will be free of gunk. So next time guests come round, you’ll have a hygienic and well-functioning place to do your cooking.

How to Clean An Electric Smoker Interior

  1. Remove and soak removable parts in soapy water for one hour before wiping clean.
  2. Empty the tray into the garbage can.
  3. Heat the smoker for one hour, then let it cool slightly.
  4. Scrape off the grease with a wooden grill scraper.
  5. Wipe clean with a 1:1 solution of distilled white vinegar and warm water.


Should I Clean My Electric Smoker?

The bottom line is that whatever you use to cook your food with, should be clean. Whether this is an oven, a barbecue, a frying pan, or your electric smoker, you should always clean it.

Electric smokers accumulate food debris, such as grease and grime. Also, because the electric smoker sits outside, it’s exposed to moisture. And what grows in moist, dark places? Mold. To combat mold and mildew build-up, you must clean your electric smoker regularly.

How Often to Clean an Electric Smoker

If you have the time, we recommend cleaning it after every use. This may seem like a lot of effort, but the more often you do it, the quicker it will be to clean it. Plus, it gets rid of any dirt and grime immediately.

If you don’t have the time to do this, we suggest cleaning the electric smoker at least every five uses.

What is the Best Way to Clean a Smoker?

There isn’t just one way to clean your electric smoker and you don’t need to buy a specific product. In fact, you might already have a few of these cleaners in the house. So, you can get to work right away.

With Vinegar

You can use distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar for this method. The acid will bust out grease and grime.

Mix equal parts of warm water and vinegar into a spray bottle. Apply the spray to the dirty chamber and let it sit for 10-30 minutes, depending on how filthy the device is. Wipe the area with a damp cloth afterward and watch the loosened grime lift off.

With Dish Soap

This is an excellent method for regular cleaning. If you’re going to clean the smoker after each use, try dish soap.

Mix four cups of warm water and ¼ cup of dish soap to create a soapy solution. Use a cloth to wipe the solution throughout the dirty chamber. Scrub hard to remove build-up and stains.

You can also dilute the mixture a little more and put it in a spray bottle for easier application.

With Oven Cleaner

Oven cleaners work wonders at removing stubborn grease, grime, and dirt. You’ll need to follow the instructions for your specific cleaner. But in general, you will apply the cleaner to the smoker, and leave it for the recommended time before wiping with a cloth.

Expert Advice

Always check with the manufacturer that the oven cleaner is also suitable for an electric smoker. Some of the fumes can linger, creating foul smells or potentially damaging your smoker.

With Degreaser

You can use specialized degreaser solutions, such as Easy-Off, to remove heavy grease and grime from your electric smoker. Always check with the manufacturer that it’s suitable for your smoker. For instance, some general degreasers aren’t suitable for grills or stainless steel.

The instructions may vary, but in general, you can spray the degreaser onto the smoker, wait the recommended time, then wipe clean. Repeat if necessary.

How to Clean an Electric Smoker

Knowing how to clean your electric smoker is essential to owning one of these grills. These steps work for all kinds of smokers, including Masterbuilt Gravity, Bradley smokers, and more. We’ll show you the best methods for cleaning the interior, exterior, removable parts, and glass door.

  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty: Intermediate/Expert

What You’ll Need

  • Newspaper or tarpaulin
  • Garbage can
  • Protective gloves
  • Wooden grill scraper
  • Dish soap
  • Large basin
  • Water
  • Vinegar (optional)
  • Cleaning cloths
  • Bristled brush
  • Towel
  • Paper towel

Interior

Let’s start with the interior, which is the most filthy part of your smoker. Wait until your smoker has cooled down before progressing.

1. Prep the Area and Remove Parts

Set out newspaper or tarpaulin around your electric smoker to catch dirt and debris that will drop when you’re cleaning. The last thing you need is more stains on your decking or driveway!

Next, take out removable parts from the smoker. This includes the grates, shelves, and pan.

2. Empty the Ash

Remove the chip tray or smoker box from the smoker. It will be full of ash, burnt debris, and other dirt. Empty the tray into a garbage can.

3. Heat the Smoker Back Up

It’s easier to clean the electric smoker while it’s warm inside. Heat the smoker to the maximum temperature, let it run for an hour, then let it cool down slightly before moving on to the next step.

Make sure to wear heat-protective gloves for the next few steps.

4. Scrape Off Grease

Use a wooden grill scraper to remove caked-on grease and grime. It’s typical for grease and grime to cake thickly onto the interior walls of your smoker.

5. Deep Clean With Solution

You don’t need to buy some expensive cleaning product. You can make your own with dish soap or vinegar.

If you’re using dish soap, mix a ratio of four cups of warm water with about ⅛ cup of dish soap. Alternatively, mix a 1:1 ratio of distilled white vinegar and warm water.

Dampen a cleaning cloth into your solution and scrub the inside of the smoker. Remove all grease, grime, and build-up. If there are stubborn bits, use a bristle brush to work the grime off.

If you’re specifically wondering how to clean a Masterbuilt smoker, the manufacturer recommends the vinegar solution. So that’s worth a go!

6. Dry Smoker

Use a separate dry cloth to wipe down the smoker’s interior.

Removable Parts

You should have removed the tray, grates, shelves, and pans during the interior cleaning process. We’ll show you how to deep clean those parts.

These parts should be easy to slide right out of your smoker. If you’re struggling to remove them, look up the instructions in your user manual.

1. Pop Them In the Dishwasher

Many removable parts are dishwasher safe. You can put them in the dishwasher while you clean the rest of the smoker. However, if your parts aren’t dishwasher-safe, move on to the next steps.

2. Scrape Off Grease

Using your wooden grill scraper, remove as much excess grease and grime build-up as possible.

When you’re focusing on how to clean a Masterbuilt electric smoker, make sure to always leave the hole on the drip pan unobstructed. Grease can easily build up over this hole, preventing access to the drip tray.

3. Soak In Soapy Water

In a large basin, combine hot water and ½ cup of dish soap. Soak the removable parts in the water for about an hour to loosen up the grease and grime.

4. Clean Off Loose Residue

After soaking for an hour, the grease and grime should be loose. Use a sponge or cloth to remove it. Scrub well for a deep clean. Don’t worry if the grill and other parts are discolored. This is normal for a smoker.

5. Dry

Dry well with a dish towel or let the parts air dry in a warm breezy spot.

Exterior

Moving onto the outside of the smoker, we’ll show you how to wash an electric smoker’s bottoms and sides. It might be tempting to tip your smoker upside down to reach the bottom, but always keep the smoker vertical.

1. Make Soapy Water

Combine hot water and ½ cup of dish soap in a basin.

2. Wipe Exterior

When cleaning the electric smoker’s exterior, make sure never to saturate it with water. Dampen a cloth in your soapy solution and wipe down the outside of the smoker. Don’t forget the door seal, as buildup can occur there. Let the smoker air dry.

Glass Door

Last but not least, you should clean the glass window. This ensures all build-up is removed, giving it a nice clean finish. Plus, you’ll see how the food is cooking if the glass is clean.

You’re nearly finished learning how to clean an electric smoker, so hang in there!

1. Scrape Off Excess Grease

Use a wooden grill scraper to remove excess grease and grime. This quickly builds up on the inside of the window. Never use a metal scraper as this can scratch the glass.

2. Wipe With Soapy Water

Using your soapy water from cleaning the smoker’s exterior, you can clean the glass door, too. Saturate a sponge in the soapy water and clean both sides of the glass door. You may need to spend extra time on the inside as it will be much greasier.

3. Dry With Paper Towel

Use a paper towel to dry the glass door. Using a cloth can cause streaks, so always use a paper towel or newspaper.

4. Heat the Smoker Back Up

Once you’ve completed deep cleaning the entire smoker, it’s good practice to heat it back up. Set it to the highest temperature and let it go for 30 minutes. This evaporates excess water so that the smoker is dry and free from any moisture. If you’re planning on storing the smoker, this step is 100 percent necessary. Otherwise, moisture can linger in the smoker, which can lead to mold.

How to Clean an Electric Smoker With Mold

As embarrassing as a mold issue on an electric smoker can be, it’s actually pretty common. Mold builds up in dark, damp places, which is exactly what an electric smoker can be. Let’s walk you through how to clean an electric smoker with mold problems.

  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

What You’ll Need

  • Smoker safe bowl.
  • Boiling water.
  • Protective mask.
  • Wooden grill scraper.
  • Damp cloths.

1. Heat Up With Boiling Water

Place a smoker-safe bowl of boiling water into the appliance. Heat it to the maximum setting for one hour. The steam from the boiling water will kill the mold and loosen stubborn bits of mold.

Make sure to be wearing your protective mask if you’re waiting nearby. The mold spores can irritate your eyes, lungs, and skin.

2. Cool and Scrape

Let the smoker cool down completely so that you don’t burn yourself. When it’s cool enough, use a wooden grill scraper to scrape off the loosened mold and debris.

Empty all the loosened debris and put it in the garbage. Make sure to empty the tray, too, as some debris can fall in there.

3. Wipe With Cloth

Use a damp cloth to wipe down the interior now that the mold and debris have loosened. It should be super easy to wipe clean since the boiling water will have loosened all the stubborn grime and mold.

What to Avoid When Cleaning an Electric Smoker

When it comes to cleaning, it’s important to know what not to do so that you don’t damage your smoker.

Here are some important warnings you should note:

  1. Check your cleaning products: Always check that the cleaning products you’re using are safe for smokers. For instance, some oven cleaners are not suitable.
  2. Discoloration is okay: The smoker’s interior will darken over time. When cleaning, don’t try to scrub off the darkened colors or discoloration. It will likely never go back to the silver color it was when you bought it. This is okay! In fact, it’s a good thing because it prevents rust build-up.
  3. No caustic soda: Avoid harsh cleaning chemicals, including caustic soda. It can damage the interior and linger inside the smoker, which can affect your food the next time you cook.
  4. Storage tip: Never store your electric smoker while it’s still damp. This can lead to mold. Always ensure it’s 100 percent dry before storing.

Maintenance Tips For Electric Smokers

Maintenance is crucial whether you buy an electric smoker, an offset smoker, or another kind.

Besides knowing how to wash electric smokers, take note of these practical tips. They will help your smoker last longer and work to the best of its ability.

  1. Clean regularly: Give it a quick clean after every use if you have the time. Follow our deep cleaning routine every five uses.
  2. Oil up: Oil the shelves before cooking to prevent food from sticking to it. Vegetable oil is a good choice.
  3. Scrape after each use: After cooking, while the shelves are still warm, use a wire brush to remove food residue and grease to prevent it from clinging on. If you skip this step, it will be harder to clean later.
  4. Cover up: Use a protective cover between uses, especially if you keep your smoker outside. This will protect it from various weather elements and minimize moisture build-up, which can prevent mold.
  5. Clean removable parts often: If you can’t clean the entire smoker after every use, aim to clean out the removable components, such as the tray and grills.
  6. Temperature probe: Don’t forget to clean the temperature probe. Never saturate it with water. Instead, wipe it with a damp cloth.

FAQs

How Clean Does an Electric Smoker Need to Be?

You know how to clean an electric smoker, but how far should you go?

Your smoker has three main enemies: rust, tar deposits, and grease build-up. You want to avoid these at all costs, which is why we recommend cleaning every five uses.

Rust build-up can ruin your smoker. The best way to avoid rust build-up is to clean your smoker regularly and ensure that it’s 100 percent dry between uses.

Tar deposits occur with certain wood types used in a smoker. When the smoker heats up, the tar deposits can get back into the air and then your food. Not good!

Lately, grease can also combine with the heat in the smoker. This can affect your food but also lead to rust. Grease can even sit in the tray, so you should aim to empty that after each use.

So how clean does a smoker need to be? Pretty clean if you want to avoid rust build-up and nasty food.

How Do You Clean Maggots Out of an Electric Smoker?

If you don’t clean your smoker often, moisture, grease, and oil will build up, which is a maggot’s heaven. You can use the same steps for getting rid of mold to get rid of maggots.

As an extra measure, you can combine bleach, detergent, and hot water in a spray bottle. Use one cup of water, one tablespoon of detergent, and one tablespoon of bleach.

Spray the smoker’s interior and let it sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing with a damp cloth. Heat the smoker back up to the maximum temperature for an hour to sanitize the chamber.

Can You Put Smoker Racks In the Dishwasher?

Some manufacturers allow you to wash the racks in the dishwasher. Always check your user manual. You may get a deeper clean by hand washing them since soaking them in a solution is really effective.

For instance, when learning how to clean your Masterbuilt smoker, the stainless steel manifold cover kit is dishwasher safe. It’s a good option if you’re looking for something a bit easier to clean!


Washing Electric Smokers

Now that you’re all clued up on cleaning electric smokers, you can get down to business.

You should aim to clean your electric smoker after each use. But we recommend performing a deep clean every five uses. This includes the glass, grills, window., racks, and grates.

You can use a special degreaser, vinegar, dish soap, or a safe oven cleaner. While the deep cleaning process can take a few hours, it’s crucial to the maintenance of your electric smoker.

Plus, a clean smoker means much tastier food! With all the knowledge of how to clean an electric smoker, why not start today?

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!