How to Clean a Pellet Grill [Ash Cleanout & Smoker Maintenance]


Take care of your barbecue grill, and it will take care of you. Learn how to clean your pellet smoker grill the right way with our step-by-step guide.

pellet grill cleaning guide

Pellet grills are a common choice for people who are looking to have a smokey flavor in their food. But how do you keep it clean? In this article, we take a look at how to clean a pellet grill.

Best Way to Clean a Pellet Grill

Firing up the barbecue can be something to look forward to. The mouthwatering prospects that lay ahead are more than enough to get you excited. But after using a pellet grill, the prospect of cleaning it up can be a daunting one.

Most grill grates are made of non-stick material. This is made possible by non-stick coating. It needs to be maintained so that your meat doesn’t stick to the grates when you cook. This can be especially handy when cooking meat like fish, which is delicate and will break easily if not handled properly. That’s why you need to know how to clean your pellet grill properly.

Stay away from abrasive materials and methods of cleaning. Anything that will scratch the grill grates should be off your list of cleaning materials. You want to look for materials and detergents that can help lift dirt, and grease, almost effortlessly. Now let’s look at the steps to clean your grill.

You will need to take the grill apart to a certain extent. This means you should think about removing the components that can be removed so that you get enough space to clean out the grill. If you can, remove the lid so that you clean it separately. Once the cooking chamber is virtually empty, you can begin cleaning its walls. It is best to clean it both inside and outside at the same time. 

Then, clean the lid, using a putty knife, or anything that can remove the built-up grime without damaging the surfaces. When this is done, empty the grill and any large remnants of food in the grill. Then you can get started on the grill gates. Make sure that you get into all the nooks and crannies of the cooking chamber.

Your putty knife will be amongst your top tools for this exercise. It will help you reach hard to reach places. Also, remember to clean out the chimney as well as the thermometer and grease chute. Any place that the smoke passes through is probably dirty and will need to be cleaned out. You can use a vacuum to clean out the chunky and more significant bits.

To clean the outside of the grill, use an equally non-abrasive material and cleaning agents to lift the dirt easily. Also clean out the drip tray and the burn pot at the same time, so that you can return all the parts when they are clean. Once all the parts are sufficiently cleaned out, you can reassemble the grill. 

clean pellet grill

How to Clean Pellet Grill Grates

The grill grates on your pellet grill, are designed to be non-stick when cleaning them, it is essential to make sure that you don’t scratch the gates. For you to clean them properly and efficiently, you will need to remove them from the grill. This way, you can also clean the parts that are underneath and hidden.

Before you attempt to clean the gates, make sure that they are cooled down entirely. This way, you avoid getting burnt. You can soak the grill gates in dishwashing liquid. The detergent will gently lift the grease and grime (if it is any good), and as such there will be no need to scrape it off physically. Water also helps lift dirt that may be stuck on the grill gates.

Some grill gates are dishwasher safe. If yours are, you can wash them in the dishwasher. You can do this before cooking. If you want to clean the gates after cooking while still hot, turn the grill to the maximum temperature. Let the heat melt off the dirt and grease for you. Be careful when using this method, and make sure that you don’t get burnt.

Let the grill burn for about 15 minutes and allow the food remnants to melt. When the grease and food particles are melted, it becomes easier to wipe away. At this point, you can then clean the grill gates using soap and water and non-abrasive materials and brushes.

Clean the Fire Pot

Cleaning your pellet grill’s fire pot will help keep ignition smooth, as well as reduce the buildup of pellet ash and debris creating blockages further up the auger tube. If you’ve ever experienced your Traeger auger not turning, you’ll know that one of the main culprits is wet or damaged pellets jamming or slowing the auger.

Thankfully, this is easy to do. After removing the grill grates, drip tray, and fire shield, you should be able to see the bowl-shaped fire pot at the bottom of the chamber. Use a nozzle vacuum cleaner to clean up the ash. Then, use a small rod to remove any stubborn leftover pellets from the entrance to the auger tube that feeds into the fire pot.

How Often to Clean a Pellet Grill

You need to clean your pellet grill at some point. The question is, how often should you do it. Cleanliness is a personal choice, and this is why some people will vacuum their homes every day whilst others only find it necessary to do it twice a week. How often you clean your grill is influenced by how often you use it. You should ideally clean it after every use. This way, you avoid grease and grime build-up and subsequent heavy scrubbing and scraping.

If there is an ash collection tray, you need to empty this frequently. You can clean out the grease drip tray every couple of weeks, but you may also want to clean it after every use so that you are not rekindling flavors from previous cooking sessions. If you’re not one for frequent cleaning of the drip tray, you can save yourself the stress by laying a foil sheet in the drip tray.

Pellet Grill Cleaner & Degreaser

There are different ways to lift grease and grime. One of those, as mentioned above, is to use water and dishwashing detergent. Any detergent that can lift the grease and grime can help you clean effectively. You can also use a brush or scraper that is strong enough to remove dirt but not to damage the grill. A plastic putty knife can also do an equally good job.

Also, you may use non-abrasive cloths and nitrile gloves. The tools you use will depend on the type of dirt you are trying to remove and how long it’s been there. Ultimately the final decision is yours, but we hope this article helps you clean your pellet grill a little better.

About the Author

Ben Isham-Smith

A BBQ obsessive, Ben is behind 250+ of The Online Grill’s recipes, as well as countless barbecue guides to help barbecue newbies get to grips with the world’s best form of cooking.

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