Cleaning and Maintaining a Smoker

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Cleaning and maintaining your smoker is an important part of owning one. We recommend cleaning  your smoker at least once a year. While a little grease and smoke can certainly add to the flavor, too much and suddenly all of that soot and ash is going right into your food. At this point your smoker or grill is in need of a serious deep cleaning.

What you’ll need

  • Heavy-duty work gloves

  • Scrubbing sponges and scouring pads

  • Warm soapy water

  • Putty knife or paint scraper

  • Degreaser (biodegradable option: Simple Green or Dawns dish soap will work as well)

  • Glass cleaner

  • Rags or washcloths

  • Wire brush/grill brush

  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Aluminum foil


1. Take out the grill grates, drip pan and water pan

If the grease is really stuck on there, fill water pan with some water and turn on smoker before cleaning, this will humidify and loosen the grease. Make sure to let it cool down before starting to clean.

2. Use the putty knife and scrubbing sponges to clean out the drip pan

Use soapy water or a degreaser to loosen up the grease in the pan. If you don’t want to have to clean so often, we suggest getting disposable pans that can be tossed when they’re too full.

Next, take the wire brush and start scrubbing the racks. Be careful here. When you’re done, make sure there are no wire bristles left over. These can sometimes fall off and end up in your food. If you use a grill brush or wire brush of any kind, not just for cleaning, make sure you’re always checking for any fallen bristles. You should change out your grill brush every season.

3. Wrap the heating elements inside the propane smoker with aluminum

This protects them while you start cleaning and offers a protective barrier between the cleaning products and the heating elements.

4. Put on your rubber gloves and start scrubbing the inside of the smoker

Once the heating elements are wrapped, spray some cleaner or degreaser inside and get to work, scrubbing thoroughly. This part should be much easier since you’ve already removed the pans and grill grates from inside so you’ll have a more open cooking chamber to clean. Use a combination of towels, putty knife and the wire brush to ensure you can get through even the worst of the build-up.

Note: If your interior is stainless steel, avoid using the wire brush or putty knife and opt for sponges, soap and elbow grease. The wires of the brush will likely damage the stainless steel.

5. Clean that dirty smoker glass window

If your smoker has a window panel in it, there’s a good chance it’s now covered in grease as well. Use some degreaser to weaken it and scrub it off with some towels or sponges. Polish it off by spraying some glass cleaner on and wiping it off with a clean towel. Don’t use a wire brush or putty knife here as you may damage the glass surface.

That’s it, you’re done!

Make sure to check around the inside of the smoker and wipe over all the surfaces of the smoker with a damp cloth to make sure you got everything out you could. Take the aluminum foil off the heating elements, place the racks back inside and replace the drip pan.

Maintaining your smoker

Now that your smoker is nice and clean, make a plan to maintain it to ensure it stays clean and you’re able to use it for years to come.

  1. Clean the drip tray (or replace with a new disposable tray) after every use.

  2. Take out the racks and scrub them down shortly after being used to take advantage of any build up to be softened and easy to get off.

  3. If you have a gas or propane smoker, regularly check all hoses and connection points before cooking to minimize any leaks or problems.



If your smoker is broken, beyond hope of being cleaned or you’re just looking for something new, now’s the time to start looking. Check out U-Haul’s variety of smokers.