How to Clean an Electric Smoker [BBQ Smoker Care Guide]


Electric smokers are easy to use and reliable, but clearing them up can be a whole different story. Learn how to clean your electric smoker properly with our easy step-by-step-guide.

cleaning electric smoker guide

The electric smoker is one of the best recent additions to the barbecue world.

While traditional charcoal smokers can be intimidating to newcomers, electric models allow you an much easier way to enjoy your favorite smoked meat.

Electric smokers are extremely easy to use, and allow you to smoke meat without needing to constantly check on your meat.

All you have to do is is set the temperature and timer, and then let your meat cook low and slow while you go off and do your own thing.

But just like all cooking equipment, dirt and grease can build up pretty quickly.

Whether it’s in the form of dust, soot or plain old food remains, it all has to go.

And I get it: It’s a chore. It takes a cleaning equipment and old fashioned elbow grease, but it will be the difference between your next meat smoking session being a hit or sinking without trace.

In this simple step-by-step guide, I’m going to show you exactly how to clean your electric smoker, and keep it in perfect condition for whatever your next barbecue throws at it.

But first, here are a few things you’ll need to help with cleaning. I’ve added a few Amazon links in case you’re short of anything.

Smoker cleaning tools

  • a soft bristle brush to scab off any stuck debris (like this)
  • a couple of pieces of wiping cloth (like this)
  • a spray bottle (like this)
  • a trash can
  • a basin of soapy water
  • glass cleaning detergent/spray (like this)
  • old newspaper

Quick preparation

If your smoker hasn’t been used in a while then you’re good to go, but if you’re cleaning it immediately after use then you’ll need to let it cool down completely.

Unplug your smoker or switch off at the power supply. Do not let it rest covered in dirt for long, otherwise you run the risk of mould growing inside the chamber, and any grease stains will start to stick to the surfaces and become stubborn to remove.

Once your smoker has cooled down, remove the racks and any other removable parts, including the water pan, drip tray and the smoker box. We’ll clean these separately.

Now lets get started with the cleaning!

grease inside smoker chamber
It only takes a few uses before your smoker gets coated in grease Photo:

How to clean the inside chamber of the smoker

Let’s start by getting rid of irritating leftover debris and loose dirt. Take a piece of cloth and dip it in the soapy water. Wring it to get rid of excess water and wipe the inner surfaces with the piece of damp cloth.

As well as giving us an initial sweep of the chamber, this will also soak bits of stubborn dirt and grease, making it easier to brush them off later.

using brush to clean smoker grates
Starting with a simple sweep of the smoker surfaces with a bristle brush can help remove loose dirt and debris

Dip the soft bristle brush in hot water and use it to wash out any remaining debris. do it gently. You can use moderately warm water as it makes it easier to wipe greasy stains. Avoid using a wire-brush or any brush with hard bristles. Such bristles are likely to damage the coating on the inner surfaces. This will expose them to rust.

Once you have brushed off the debris, wipe them out using the piece of damp cloth. Make sure you clean the corners and edges properly as more dirt is bound to accumulate in these nifty spots. Use your spray bottle to spray controlled amounts of water on the inner surfaces. You wouldn’t want to use so much water as this may damage your smoker should the water stand for too long or find its way to the circuit components.

Once you are done cleaning the inside chamber, wipe out any excess water using a dry piece of cloth or paper towel. You can as well just opt to leave the door open and let the moisture dry out on its own.

Don’t bother getting rid of the dark layer that forms on the walls. This layer increases over time as you use your cooker. It helps to insulate the internal surfaces from rust. Many people misconstrue it for dirt. Now you know! All you need to care about is removing the debris and oily stains.

How to clean electric smoker racks

You already took the racks out of the inside chamber. Cleaning them is pretty easy. Firs of all, brush off any debris that may be stuck on them. If the stains are not that resistant, all you need is warm soapy water and a piece of cloth to wash them off.

smoker door open showing clean cooking grates
Aaaah… That’s better. Photo:

If you are dealing with tougher stains, you can soak the racks in warm soapy water. You can also add a little baking soda to the water to enhance its stain removal abilities.

Let the stay in water for about thirty minutes and then use your brush to clean the racks. Rinse them in clean water and let them dry before putting them back in the chamber.

Another method that I have tried before and proven its effectiveness in removing tough stain is reheating in the oven at about 200 degrees Celsius for about ten minutes before washing them off with a brush. It sort of loosens the attachment between the stains and the metal bars and therefore making it easier to clean them.

How to clean the smoker box

Do you remember the trash can I asked you to bring along? Well, this is where it comes into play. Most of the soot an ash is collected into this small box. Pour out all the ash and suite into the trashcan for disposal. Wash the inside and outside of the box using your soapy water and brush and then wipe it dry.

A stainless steel smoker box is usually a lot more easier to clean. Make it a habit to empty the box as often as you can. You can also opt to use the newly invented disposable smoker boxes if you are not that diligent at cleaning. But how many of those would you have to buy especially if you are running a restaurant? In my opinion, emptying and cleaning the box seems pretty simple, straight forward and economical.

How to clean the temperature probe

First of all, this depends on the type of temperature probe your smoker uses. If its the inbuilt digital probe, do not tamper with it. You might end up ruining you smoker. Just wipe the outer part with a damp cloth and you are good to go.

If you are using the good old temperature probe that has two metallic pongs that stick into the smoker chamber, just clean the pongs. You can use a piece of cloth to wash out the stain. Do not dip the entire thing in water as you may end up messing it up

How to clean the chamber window

This is where the old newspaper and the lass detergent come in handy. In absence of the lass cleaning detergent, you can use a water and apple cider vinegar mixture in a spray bottle. It works just as well. Spray every part of the window with the detergent.

Some people would use the newspaper to wipe the window directly while the window is still wet. However, I prefer using a piece of cloth first to remove stains of dirt.

Once you have wiped it clean, spray the window with clean water without soap and let it dry for a while. Now take the newspaper sheet ans crumble it unevenly and use it to rub off the remaining moisture until the window is completely dry.

Use the same piece of cloth to clean the other part of the smoker door and use a brush to remove any remains and soot stuck in the crevices around the edges of the door. Finally, you are done with everything on the inner side of your smoker. Now its time tie to clean up the exterior.

How to clean the outside of the smoker

He outside should be the easiest part to clean. There are no much tough stain on the outer part. A damp clothe, warm water and your soft brush is probably all you need at this point. Just wipe all the outer walls clean. don’t forget to clean the vent of your smoker. If it is detachable, you can take it out and wipe all the soot that may have accumulated on it over time.

How to season your electric smoker

This is vital for a new electrical smoker. Your new smoker maybe lined with chemicals that may be harmful to your health or give your meat an undesirable smell. You have to cure your smoker to et rid of the foreign scents and chemicals. Here is how you should go about it.

First of all, plug it to the power source and switch it on. Preheat it at 275 degrees for about three hours. After heating, leave it open to air out. At this time, any chemicals and oils that would have otherwise affected your food’s aroma should have vaporized out.

As you heat your smoker for the first time, add in some wood chips to cure it further and to make it ready for use. Once you are done with the smoking and heating process, wipe the grills and inner walls of your smoker. Now it is ready for use.

Oil the racks before cooking your meat to prevent staining. You can also use vegetable oil on the inner surfaces. Now you can cook your meet with little worries. Taking care of your smoker is vital. The good thin is, it is as simple as its outlined in this article.

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.

Still hungry? Check out more BBQ posts