How to Clean and Season a Smoker – Easy to Follow Guide

Whether it’s a barbeque party with friends or a quaint family dinner, food cooked in a smoker is a perfect choice to elevate the gathering. However, while cooking in a smoker one can expect grease and ashes among other challenges. Since smokers are expensive it is vital that you take the necessary steps to elongate its life.

How to Clean and Season a Smoker

Things You Will Need

But, before moving on to an effective cleaning regime, you will need a few handy tools. These include:

  • Water
  • Paper Towels
  • Dish Soap
  • A Sturdy Wired Brush
  • Sponges
  • A Barbeque Scraper
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
Cleaning the Smoker

Cleaning the Smoker

Once you have the following supplies, delve right into cleaning your smoker. Here are the necessary steps:

Firebox Cleanout

If your smoker comes with a heat sensor, begin by disconnecting it. Once you have disconnected the power, all you need to do is take the charcoal grate out of your firebox and sweep off all the ash and debris into the detachable drawer. 

Since the smoker has a separate firebox for burning coal and wood, this becomes easier. After removing the drawer, the water pan and the runny grease from the cooking compartment can also be emptied in the ash so that it gets absorbed and the dry waste can be discarded by removing the drawer.

Cleaning the Cooking Compartment

The cooking compartment covers a major area of the smoker. The problem is that it can fall victim to grease and soot which you do not want falling on your food at any cost. This makes that much more important to thoroughly clean your cooking compartment. This can be a little tricky though. It is best to avoid using any abrasive cleaning methods and chemicals since that can seriously damage the chambers and decrease its useful life.

Some Products that Can Help You Clean Better:

It is also important to clean out all the grease because it can induce grease fires. In case you are faced with such a situation, a small and manageable grease fire can be put out by pouring baking soda or salt on it. However, if things get out of hand, spraying the fire with a Class B dry chemical fire extinguisher can smother the fire. In any case, do not try to extinguish the fire with water.

The cooking compartment also has deflector plates. Often, food particles will stick to these plates. You can remove these stuck food particles using a barbeque scraper. However, take extra caution while using one so you do not scrape off the paint.

The grill of the smoker are the showstoppers and hence require cleaning before and after every cookout. Before cooking just wash them under running water to make sure that there isn’t any dust on them. Whereas, after the cookout, start by removing the stainless steel grills and scraping off loose particles using a sturdy wired brush. Then spray a copious amount of degreaser on the grill and allow the degreaser to stay on for 5 to 7 minutes as this will breakdown any of the solid bits stuck on them. This will render the cleaning process a lot smoother and fast flowing. Now, put the grills in hot water and wash them using the same wired brush, removing all the food bits, grease stains and soot. Finishing off, use any dish soap or detergent to sponge off the grease and water it out.

Cleaning the Exterior

Cleaning the exterior

The insides having been taken care of, wet paper towels can be used to clean and maintain the shiny exterior of the smoker. In case of varying changes in weather, one can keep the smoker covered with waterproof grill covers easily available on the market.

How often should I clean my Smoker

Most days, you only need to focus on cleaning the grills and firebox regularly, however one must maintain a  deep cleaning regime twice or thrice a year. To do so you can heat the smoker and heat clean it. 

You can also use water on the inside, lights the firebox and let smoke and fire dry the moisture out. Once or twice a year, you may also clean the chimney with relevant tools available in the market.

Another non-abrasive method of cleaning includes the use of  hot water and apple cider vinegar to clean your smoker. Dilute one part apple cider vinegar in one part water in a spray bottle and use a soft sponge to clean any dirt and grease. Water can lead to rust, so clean it off as soon as possible.

Tackling the Rust

The biggest enemy of any smoker is rust. If you maintain your smoker and protect it from rust, you can get many years of good use out of it. When it looks like there is a grease build up, clean them. 

But, why are smokers prone to rust? Moisture. Rust usually occurs in humid climate and when moisture in the air oxidizes the iron in the metal. Though not toxic in small amounts, rust can pose some serious health issues if consumed. To prevent rusting, season your smoker.

Charbroil helps you tackle rust on their official website

Seasoning the Smoker

Seasoning the smoker

Now that you know about cleaning, you should also learn about seasoning. Seasoning refers to the oiling of the smoker before use so that food doesn’t stick to it. Doing this often can prevent rusting. 

But what if the rust has already developed? Do not worry! Remove the rust by scrubbing it with a stainless-steel brush. Once that is out of the way, oil the smoker inside and out.

Seasoning is one of the most important aspects of maintaining your smoker. This is largely due to oil and water. Oil is less dense than water and therefore doesn’t mix with it. Water, contained in the meat, on the other hand is known to speed up the rusting process. 

Therefore, seasoning your smoker, especially in humid climate can prevent the rusting.

Smokers can vary from offset to digital ones  and while cleaning them is as simple as following a set of instructions, it is important to understand that different smokers have different needs. 

However, the general cleaning and seasoning process remains almost exactly the same.

Precautionary Measures
  • Unlike other smokers, you cannot use large amounts of water to clean your electric smoker since that can be hazardous. Therefore, you need to stick completely to the wet towels for cleaning and avoid immersing in water.
  • Similarly, smokers like electric smokers, vertical water smokers and propane smokers can be used without a lot of preparation.
  • Handle ceramic smokers with care since they can break more easily as compared to other smokers.
  • Though, electric smoker users recommend using a mixture of vinegar or lemon juice and water in the water pan and steaming the interiors, please make sure that you wipe down the insides so that it doesn’t leave behind stains.

For more safety tips, checkout Masterbuilt’s Guide to safety while smoking food

You’re all set!
If you follow these tips and tricks religiously, your smoker is in good hands! So sit back and enjoy your cookout! Do share it if you found it helpful!

Other then this if you would like to read some of our other guides related to choosing the best offset smoker, electric smokers, pellet smoker or a gas smoker. Go ahead and browse through, for anything else browse our website or use the search button.