Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: April 28, 2022

Many people aren't sure how to clean an electric smoker, and the smokers end up getting clogged with dirt and grease over time.

This leads to food tasting badly or not cooking correctly.

Cleaning your electric smoker is easier than you may think. Here are some tips on how you can keep your smoker in good condition so that you can enjoy great-tasting smoked meat every time.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • Cleaning electric smokers is an important part of their routine maintenance.
  • Address the internal components, smoker box, interior walls, and outside chassis.
  • Electric smokers should be cleaned at least every two to three uses.

How to Clean Your Smoker

Woman holding cleaning materials with pink background

Cleaning an electric smoker is a reasonably straightforward process, but there are some steps you should pay attention to.

1. Preparation

First, collect everything you will need to clean your electric smoker properly:

  • Liquid Dish Soap
  • Warm Water
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Paper Towels
  • A Bristle Brush
  • Soft Sponge
  • Plastic Scraper
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Clean Damp Cloth

Make sure to remove the food from your electric smoker before cleaning it.

Let the smoker cool to a point where it is still warm but not hot before beginning any cleaning procedure.

You should be able to touch any surface comfortably, but the smoker should not be stone cold.

While the smoker cools, put down some protection for the surrounding surfaces.

It will prevent the area from getting dirty and allow you to clean an electric smoker quickly after the job. You can use newspapers or a tarp for this purpose.

2. Clean the Internal Components

Removing the drip tray

The internal components of an electric smoker are most likely to get dirty, so you should start with them.

Remove any components that can be taken out of the smoker. Usually, this includes: 

  • Drip Tray
  • Wire Racks
  • Water Pan

These items all need to be cleaned thoroughly before putting them back in the smoker. They all carry the risk of accumulating grease, which can become rancid and cause the food to taste bad.

Soak these internal components in warm soapy water. Soaking in hot soapy water will help loosen any debris or grease that is stuck to these components.

"The question is not whether we will barbecue, but how we will barbecue." - Joan Z. Borysenko, author

If the components are dishwasher-safe, you can transfer them over to the washer.

If not, remove stubborn gunk with a grill brush, scraper, or sponge. Clean the components gently, particularly if you are using a metal scraper, and be careful not to damage the underlying material.

Let the components air dry completely and consider applying vegetable oil to the cooking racks.

Seasoning your electric smoker will help prevent food from sticking to the racks and will make future clean-up easier.

3. Clean the Smoker Box

Before you start cleaning this component, remove all the wood chips, soot, and ash, and dispose of any warm coals safely.

Put a 1:1 mix of hot water and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it into the smoker box.

Wait for several minutes, and then wipe the smoker box down with a damp cloth. This should remove any stuck-on debris.

4. Clean the Interior Chamber

Spraying disinfectant to the electric smoker interior

Now that all the internal components are clean, it is time to turn your attention to the smoker's interior surfaces.

Make sure you have placed some newspaper on the bottom surface of the electric smoker in order to collect all the dirt.

Then:

  • Using a soft bristle brush or scraper, begin to remove any debris from the walls of the smoking chamber carefully. Start at the top and work your way down so that gravity does not bring dirty water onto previously cleaned areas.
  • If the gunk on the walls does not come off readily, you can use either warm soapy water or apple cider vinegar mixture to help loosen the debris. Using a spray grill cleaner is also an option.
  • Once the debris has been removed, a little elbow grease with a damp cloth and warm soapy water is enough for the cleaning process to be successful.
  • Place a thin layer of vegetable oil (like avocado or grapeseed) on the walls of the smoker to make it easier to clean in the future.
  • Make sure you cleanse the inside of the glass door thoroughly so that there’s no grease or anything else that reduces its transparency.

Do not use chemical-based window cleaners on the interior glass window as it may not be healthy when combined with food in a hot and confined space [1].

Avoid oven cleaners or abrasive chemicals on the inside of your smoker. They can leave residual chemicals and an unpleasant taste on your food.

If you have to use an oven cleaner in the cooking chamber, be sure to rinse everything down afterward with warm water and dry with paper towels to remove the caustic soda.

5. Clean the Smoker's Exterior

Wiping off the glass

Once the inside of the smoker is clean, the outside should be simple to take care of.

Apply soapy water or a window cleaner to clean the glass door. Then use a stainless steel cleaner on the outside to make the exterior sparkle like a brand new electric smoker.

Wipe everything with a dry towel, soft cloth, or paper towel and dry it thoroughly.

"Cooking and eating food outdoors makes it taste infinitely better than the same meal prepared and consumed indoors." ― Fennel Hudson, author

With the door open, take a moment to check the door seal and ensure that it has not become caked with grease and grime. A fouled door seal will result in uneven heating and poor smoking, so it must sit well.

Then, reinstall the drip tray and other internal components back into the smoker from bottom to top.

Since there may be some residual dampness within the smoker, you should turn it on at the maximum temperature setting for 30 minutes to ensure the moisture is removed. This prevents mold buildup.

Finally, put your protective cover back on your smoker.

How Often Does an Electric Smoker Need to be Cleaned?

Dirty electric smoker inside

Cleaning your electric smoker every two to three uses would be the best [2].

This ensures your smoker produces nice, clean smoke. It also reduces the chances of the smoker catching fire due to grease or creosote buildup.

Frequent cleaning also reduces the amount of ash in the smoker box.

Thanks to it, your smoker can maintain the high temperatures necessary for the best cooking performance. Ash will reduce airflow and prevent perfect smoke.

Finally, cleaning prevents the buildup of mold in the smoker. This is important because mold can produce dangerous byproducts that are transferred to everything you cook.

Related Articles:

Cleaning an Electric Smoker

Cleaning your electric smoker is key to keeping it in good working condition and maintaining the quality of your food.

After each use, the cleaning of an electric smoker is necessary to remove grease buildup on the surface of the drip tray, smoking racks, water pan, and other components.

If you don’t clean this residue, it can affect your food’s quality and cause uneven heating patterns.

Cleaning your smoker regularly will keep it in top condition. Learn how to clean an electric smoker using the methods outlined above, and it will last for a long time.


References:

  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11397-household-chemical-products-and-their-health-risk
  2. https://meatsmokinghq.com/how-often-should-i-clean-my-smoker/

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