How to Clean an Electric Smoker is an essential task that every smoker owner should know. Whether you are a seasoned pitmaster or a beginner, keeping your electric smoker clean will ensure that it continues to operate efficiently and produce delicious smoked meats. Over time, smoke residue and food particles can build up inside the smoker, leading to unpleasant odors and affecting the flavor of your food. In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of cleaning an electric smoker, including tips on the best cleaning materials and techniques to use. By following these simple steps, you can maintain your electric smoker and enjoy delicious smoked meats for years to come.
What is an Electric Smoker
An electric smoker is a convenient appliance used for smoking meat and other foods. Unlike traditional charcoal or gas smokers, electric smokers use electric heating elements to produce smoke and heat. Electric smokers are very easy to use – you simply plug them in, select a temperature, and the smoker automatically regulates the smoking process.
Electric smokers also typically have tighter temperature control which leads to more consistent results. You can choose an exact temperature and the electric smoker will maintain it. Electric smokers come in both analog and digital models. Digital models often have more advanced temperature controls and timers, some with Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone apps. Common types of electric smokers include vertical water smokers, cabinet smokers, and pellet smokers.
Electric smokers produce smoked meat, fish, and other foods with great results, though some people prefer the additional flavor from charcoal or wood smokers. Electric smokers range from under $200 up to $500 or more for large commercial models. Overall, an electric smoker is a handy and affordable appliance for home smoking.
How Often Do I Need to Clean My Electric Smoker?
It is important to regularly clean your electric smoker to keep it in good working condition and produce the best results. How often you need to clean an electric smoker depends on how frequently you use it. For occasional use, a good rule of thumb is to do a deep clean after every 3-5 uses. For heavy or commercial use, you may need to clean after every 1-2 uses.
There are a few areas of an electric smoker that require cleaning. First, remove any leftover ash, wood chips, or pellets after each use. Empty the grease tray and wash it with hot, soapy water. Also, wash the grates or shelves in your smoker where the food sits after each use to avoid built-up residue. At least once a month or every few uses, wash the inside of your smoker with a degreaser or dish soap and water to remove grease and grime buildup. Use an abrasive sponge for stuck-on debris.
Also, check your electric smoker’s heating element at least once a month or if you notice uneven heating. Unplug the smoker and wipe down the element to remove any excess residue or buildup which can reduce heating efficiency. For water smoker models, change the water in the water pan every few uses and deep clean the pan once a month.
Maintaining your electric smoker with frequent cleaning will prevent the build-up of grease and ash, improve its performance, and produce better-tasting smoked meats. With regular use, most electric smokers should be thoroughly cleaned once a month or at least once a season. Keep your electric smoker clean and it will work flawlessly for years to come.
Should You Clean an Electric Smoker?
It is highly recommended that you regularly clean your electric smoker. While electric smokers are convenient to use, they still require proper maintenance to function efficiently and produce the best results. Cleaning an electric smoker has several benefits:
It prevents the buildup of grease, ash, and residue inside the smoker which can reduce its effectiveness over time. Excess grease and ash inside the smoker can change the flavor of your food and even become a fire hazard. Cleaning helps avoid these issues.
It improves temperature control and smoke generation. Buildup inside the smoker’s cooking chamber or on its heating elements can prevent it from reaching the proper temperature or producing an even amount of smoke. Cleaning restores the smoker to peak performance.
It extends the lifespan of your electric smoker. Regular cleaning and maintenance help prevent corrosion and damage to the smoker’s components like the heating element, control panel, and seals/gaskets. This keeps an electric smoker in working condition for many years.
It results in better-tasting food. Grease, ash, and another residue inside your smoker can make the smoke stale and impart a bitter taste to your meats or other foods. Frequent cleaning produces cleaner smoke and a better flavor in your dishes.
It’s easy to do and worth your time. While cleaning an electric smoker does require a bit of elbow grease, it is straightforward work that pays off with a high-functioning smoker and professional results. With frequent use, a smoker should be cleaned at least once a month or every few uses.
Must You Clean an Electric Smoker Before First Use?
It is highly recommended that you clean your electric smoker thoroughly before using it for the first time. New electric smokers often have residues left over from the manufacturing and shipping process that need to be cleaned off before cooking in them. Cleaning a new electric smoker before first use has several important benefits:
It removes any chemical residues that may have stubborn packaging materials, paints, solvents, or oils used in the manufacturing process. These can impart a chemical taste to your first smokes if not cleaned properly. It is best to wash the entire inside of a new smoker with hot, soapy water before seasoning it.
It cleans grates, water pans, chip boxes, and other accessories. Removable parts on a new smoker also need cleaning since they may have been coated in packing oils or grease to prevent rusting during shipping. Wash them with soap and water and dry them completely.
It allows you to season your electric smoker before cooking. After cleaning a new smoker, it’s best to season it as directed in the manual. Seasoning means coating the inside of the smoker with oil and running it at a high temperature to create a protective patina. Seasoning a smoker before using it helps seal it and prevents your food from sticking.
It gives you a chance to familiarize yourself with your smoker’s components. Going over all the parts of your electric smoker from top to bottom during cleaning allows you to see how everything fits together before using it for cooking. This helps you get acquainted with proper use and maintenance.
Cleaning a brand-new electric smoker before you use it for the first time is one of the most important steps to start right. It removes any contaminants from the manufacturing process, allows for proper seasoning, and helps you get to know how your new smoker works. Always follow the specific cleaning instructions in your smoker’s manual for the best results before you start cooking in it. With some simple cleaning and care, your electric smoker will be ready to start making delicious smoked food!
How to Clean an Electric Smoker in 10 Steps?
Cleaning an electric smoker is an important task that should be performed after every use to ensure that it continues to function properly and produce tasty smoked meats. Here are the steps to follow to clean your electric smoker:
What You Will Need
To properly clean an electric smoker, you will need the following supplies:
Dish soap and hot water – For washing the interior cooking chamber, grills, water pan, chip tray, and grease tray. The degreasing dish soap helps cut through stuck-on grease and residue.
Degreaser (optional) – For stubborn grease stains or buildup inside the smoker, a commercial degreaser can be helpful. Follow directions carefully and rinse thoroughly with water.
Abrasive sponge or scrubber – Useful for scraping off any debris caked onto the smoker’s interior surfaces or parts. Also good for stuck-on ashes on the heating element.
Wire brush – Helpful for cleaning electric heating elements by loosening ash and debris before vacuuming. Be very careful not to damage the coil when brushing.
Vacuum cleaner – Used after wire brushing the heating element to suction away any remaining debris before reassembling the smoker. A shop vac with proper attachments works well.
Fresh grease liner or drip tray liner (if applicable) – Replace the liner or tray that catches grease drippings at the bottom of the smoker. Line with aluminum foil for the easiest cleaning next time.
Silicon sealant (if re-seasoning) – Only use food-grade silicon sealant to patch any cracks or holes in the smoker chamber before re-seasoning. Check your smoker’s manual for parts.
Cooking oil (if re-seasoning) – Requires oil with a high smoke point like canola or peanut oil to coat and season the inside of the smoker.
Grill racks, grates, trays, water pan, chip box, etc. – Remove all parts possibly from your smoker to wash separately and reassemble once fully dry.
Clean cloths, and paper towels – Have on hand to dry all parts and wipe down the smoker’s interior after washing. Speeds up the cleaning and reassembly process.
Seasoning instructions (if re-seasoning) – Follow the directions in your electric smoker’s manual for properly re-seasoning and coating the unit before the next use if washing fully. Prevents sticking and adds a protective patina.
With a few basic tools and some elbow grease, you can easily get your electric smoker sparkling clean and back in working order. Keeping these essential supplies on hand will make maintenance quicker each time. Let your electric smoker cool completely first before cleaning for the best results.
Step 1: Let the Electric Smoker Cool Down
The first and most important step in cleaning an electric smoker is to let it cool completely after its last use before disassembling or wiping down any parts. This means you should wait at least 2-4 hours after cooking in it to start the cleaning process. Attempting to clean your electric smoker when it is still warm can lead to burns, damage to the smoker, and improper cleaning.
Letting an electric smoker cool down fully before cleaning has several benefits:
It prevents burns from hot surfaces inside the smoker like the heating element, grills, and trays. The internal temperature of a smoker right after cooking can remain extremely hot for some time. Waiting for it to cool avoids painful burns while cleaning.
It allows grease and oils to solidify for easier cleaning. Warm grease will remain liquefied and can spill and splatter more easily when removing trays/liners. Once cooled, grease hardens and can be scraped away cleanly.
It is safer for the smoker’s materials and components. Wiping or handling heating elements, electronic displays, or other parts when excessively warm can cause overheating, short-circuiting, or other damage. Letting cool avoids the risk of harm to the smoker.
It eases the removal of stuck-on residue. Baked-on grime and debris inside a smoker will loosen as it cools, making it less difficult to scrub away. Using tools to pry away residue from a still-hot smoker can also cause damage. Waiting for it to cool softens stubborn residue for cleaning.
It allows fats and juices to thicken for easier disposal. Pouring out grease and drippings from a smoker when warm makes them flow too quickly to contain. Letting cool until hardened allows them to be scraped out more easily without the mess.
Step 2: Remove the Interior Components and Wash Them
After allowing your electric smoker to cool fully, the next cleaning step is to remove any detachable interior parts like grills, water pans, chip trays, grease trays, racks, etc., and wash them thoroughly with hot, soapy water. Detachable components accumulate grease, ash, and residue with frequent use and need regular cleaning for optimal performance and food taste:
Grills and racks – Remove any racks, grates, or shelves in the smoker where your food sits during cooking. Scrub away built-up debris and wash with a degreaser and water. Rinse thoroughly and dry completely before placing back in the smoker.
Water pan (if applicable) – Remove the water pan which provides moisture during smoking foods. Dispose of any standing water, wash with soap and water, and dry fully. Scrub mineral buildup if needed and refill with fresh water for next use.
Wood chip tray/box (if applicable) – Remove the tray or box that holds wood chips for generating smoke. Dump out any ashes or remaining chips, then wash the container with a degreaser to remove residue. Rinse and dry before adding more wood chips.
Grease tray/drip tray (if applicable) – Dispose of any grease in the tray below the smoker that catches drippings. Wash the tray with hot water and a commercial degreaser or oven cleaner. Scrub any stuck-on bits and line with foil before reusing or drying completely. Replace the tray if overly dirty.
Additional accessories – Remove and wash any other parts like temperature probes, covers, etc. following the product manual.
Washing all detachable components from your electric smoker is key to properly cleaning it. Built-up residue on grills, trays, and other parts will continue contaminating your smoker’s interior and affect the taste of food if not removed regularly.
Be sure to dry all parts fully before putting them back into your smoker to prevent future grease and grime buildup. Handle all components with care when removing and washing to avoid damage. With frequent use, wash removable parts at least once a month or when cleaning your electric smoker chamber.
Step 3: Clean out the Smoker Box
After removing all detachable components from your electric smoker, the next step is to thoroughly clean out the smoker’s main box or chamber where the cooking happens. The smoker box accumulates grease, ash, and grime with each use and needs a periodic deep cleaning to function properly. To clean out your electric smoker’s chamber:
Wipe down the entire interior. Use hot, soapy water or a degreaser and abrasive sponge or scrubber to wipe away stuck-on grease and debris from all interior surfaces – top, bottom, and sides. Scrub away any caked-on bits. Rinse thoroughly with water and pat dry with paper towels.
Clean door seals or gaskets. Wipe down any rubber door seals around the smoker chamber to remove excess residue which can prevent proper sealing. Check for any damage or wear and replace as needed.
Brush the heating element. Carefully use a wire brush to loosen ash and debris stuck to the electric heating element at the bottom of the chamber. Vacuum away the remaining residue. Ensure the element is completely clean to prevent overheating or fire risk before the next use.
Empty ash and grease trays. Dispose of any remaining ash, wood chips, or grease left in the grease drain tray or chip loading tray on the bottom of your smoker. Scrub the trays clean or line them with foil to make emptying easier next time.
Check for rust or holes (if needed). Examine the smoker chamber for any signs of rust or holes developing and scrub/sand away before the next use. For larger damage, patch using high-temperature sealant and re-season the smoker according to product directions.
Re-season (as needed). For initial use or after doing a deep clean of the smoker chamber, re-season the interior according to the directions in your smoker’s manual. Wipe away any debris, then coat all parts with high-heat cooking oil to prevent sticking and build up a protective seasoning patina.
Cleaning out the main chamber or box in your electric smoker is key to getting it clean and ready for future smoking. the built-up residue will continue to make smoke stale and bitter if left alone. With regular use, aim to do a deep clean of your smoker’s chamber at least once a month or every 3-5 uses. Keeping the chamber clean will ensure delicious results for years to come!
Step 4: Brush the Grime out of the Interior Chamber
After wiping down the interior surfaces of your electric smoker’s chamber, the next cleaning step is to thoroughly brush out any built-up grease and debris. While wiping removes residue stuck to the chamber walls, brushing loosens caked-on grime and stuck bits within seams and corners. To properly brush out your smoker chamber:
Use a sturdy scrub brush. Choose a brush with tough, abrasive bristles that can withstand high heat and grease cutting. Popular options include grill brushes, wire brushes, or commercial oven/smoker cleaning brushes. Softer brushes will not effectively scrub away baked-on debris.
Scrub all interior surfaces. Use the brush to scrape away any chunks or thick grease and grime buildup on the chamber’s top, sides, bottom, doors, seals, racks, elements, etc. Pay extra attention to corners and seams where grime often collects.
Loosen debris on the heating element. Very carefully brush the electric heating element in the bottom of the chamber to loosen any built-up residue. Make sure the smoker is unplugged and has cooled completely first to prevent damage or electric shock. Vacuum away remaining debris when done brushing.
Remove built-up ash. Use your brush to loosen any thick layers of ash remaining in the chamber from previous smokes. Vacuum away the ash or wipe it out with damp paper towels.
Check door seals again. Brush away any debris caught in or on the rubber door seals to ensure proper sealing before the next use. Replace seals if damaged or heavily worn.
Vacuum out the remaining residue. Use the brush to loosen as much stuck-on grease and grime as possible, then vacuum out the remaining debris from all areas of the chamber using a vacuum equipped to handle ashes and grease.
Thoroughly brushing out your electric smoker’s chamber removes built-up residue from all surfaces and restores it to proper working condition. Caked-on grease and grime will continue contaminating future smoke if left in the chamber. For best results, brush and vacuum your smoker chamber at least once a month or every 2-3 uses. Keeping your electric smoker’s interior clean and brushed free of debris will produce better-tasting smoked foods for years to come! (
Step 5: Wipe Down the Interior of the Cooking Chamber
After thoroughly brushing out any built-up grease, grime, and debris from the chamber, the final step is to wipe down the entire interior to remove any remaining residue and leave your electric smoker sparkling clean. Wiping down the chamber interior:
Uses hot, soapy water or degreaser. Fill a bucket with hot water and dish soap or a commercial degreaser. Use according to the directions on the product and rinse thoroughly with water. For tough grease, you may need to scrub again.
Removes stuck-on bits and remaining residue. Use hot, soapy water and abrasive sponges, scrubbers, or steel wool pads to wipe away any debris remaining stuck to the walls, ceiling, or other surfaces after brushing. Pay extra attention to corners and seams.
Prepares for new seasoning (if needed). Wiping removes all remaining oils, grease, and stuck particles from the chamber so you can re-season it properly before the next use. Re-seasoning fills in tiny cracks and pores to prevent sticking.
Rinses away cleaning products. Use fresh water to rinse all surfaces in the chamber and remove any remaining degreaser or soap residue before drying. Leftover harsh chemicals can impart a bitter taste if not rinsed properly.
Leaves interior dry. Wipe away excess moisture with clean cloths, paper towels, or an absorbent sponge, and leave the chamber door open to air out if needed. A dry chamber is key to preventing future rust or damage.
Restores to like-new condition. Thoroughly wiping down your electric smoker’s chamber after cleaning removes all remaining debris and residue left behind, making it clean and ready for next use.
Wiping down the entire interior of your electric smoker’s cooking chamber after brushing completes the cleaning process. Any remaining stuck-on bits or residue left in the chamber will continue to accumulate more buildup and contaminate future cooking. For best results, wipe down your smoker’s chamber with hot, soapy water at least once a month or every 3 uses. Keeping your electric smoker’s interior pristine after each thorough cleaning will produce mouthwatering results for years to come!
Step 6: Clean the Glass Door of the Electric Smoker
If your electric smoker has a glass door for viewing the cooking process, it is important to clean the glass thoroughly after each use. The glass door on smokers accumulates grease and smoke residue over time that can obscure your view and be difficult to remove if left on for too long. To clean your electric smoker’s glass door:
Wait for the smoker to cool completely. Allow several hours after use for the smoker to cool down before attempting to clean the glass door. The door and all other surfaces may still be extremely hot and can cause burns.
Use a commercial glass cleaner or degreaser. Apply a product specifically designed for cutting through grease and grime on glass oven or smoker doors. Follow directions carefully regarding proper ventilation, as many products contain harsh chemicals. For tough stuck-on bits, scrub with an abrasive sponge.
For stubborn residue, make a paste. For glass doors with heavy grease and tar buildup that commercial cleaners cannot remove, make an abrasive paste from baking soda and water and scrub it onto the glass with steel wool or a scrubby sponge. Rinse well with water.
Wipe clean with paper towels. Use fresh paper towels to wipe the glass clean after spraying or scrubbing to remove all remaining residue and leave the door streak-free and sparkling. Dry the surface of the door as well to prevent future drips.
Protect and condition the seal (if applicable). Wipe down any rubber seal around the edge of the glass door to remove excess grease and debris. Apply a high-heat seal protectant or lightly coat it with oil to prevent drying out. Replace the seal if damaged or excessively worn.
Inspect for cracks (if applicable). Examine the glass door for any visible cracks before the next use and repair or replace them accordingly if found. Cracks in the glass can allow heat and smoke to escape during cooking.
Cleaning your electric smoker’s glass door after every few uses will prevent grease and smoke buildup that obscures your view. For the best results and to maintain the clearest viewing window, aim to clean your smoker door glass at least once a month or every 3-5 cooks. Keeping a close eye on your smoking foods through a clean glass door will ensure the best results when cooking and the ability to thoroughly enjoy the process!
Step 7: Clean the Meat Probe and the Thermostat
If your electric smoker is equipped with a meat probe for monitoring internal food temperatures or an external thermostat for controlling the smoker’s temperature, it is important to clean them regularly for accuracy and proper functioning. To clean your electric smoker’s meat probe and thermostat:
Allow cooling completely if mounted internally. If the meat probe and/or thermostat are mounted within your smoker’s chamber, allow several hours after cooking for all parts to cool down before handling. Not doing so could lead to burns or damage.
Remove excess grease and debris. Wipe both the meat probe and thermostat with a degreaser or hot, soapy water to remove any stuck-on grease, grime, or residue from smoke and cooking. Pay attention to wire leads and probes that can collect buildup. Rinse well with water.
Check for damage (meat probe). Examine the meat probe for any visible damage like exposed wiring or crimps in the probe cable before reuse. The high heat within a smoker can potentially damage probes over time. Replace if any damage is found.
Test and re-calibrate (if needed). Plug in and turn on your electric smoker to test that the meat probe is still accurately reading internal temperatures and that the thermostat is controlling the chamber temperature properly. Recalibrate either device if temperatures seem off before cooking again. Follow the directions in the product manual for proper calibration.
Protect and seal (as applicable). Apply high-heat sealing or protectant to thermostat probes or the end of the meat probe to prevent future grease and debris buildup before reusing. Reapply sealing oil or balm after each cleaning.
Store properly. Wrap excess wire on the probe and thermostat securely when storing to prevent damage and tangling. Store meat probe with display for use next time. Store thermostat protected from elements if mounted externally.
Cleaning your electric smoker’s meat probe and thermostat after every 3-5 uses will allow for the most accurate temperature readings and controls when cooking. Built-up grease and residue can negatively impact proper functioning if left on for too long. For the best results when smoking meats, aim to clean all temperature control devices and probes at least monthly or every few cooks. Well-maintained and calibrated temperature tools are key to delicious smoked dishes!
Step 8: Clean the Exterior of the Electric Smoker
While thoroughly cleaning the interior components and chamber of your electric smoker is essential, the exterior also needs regular cleaning to keep everything in top working order. Smoker exteriors get spattered with grease and grime over time and cleaning the outside helps prevent permanent stains or rust. To clean your electric smoker’s exterior:
Allow adequate cooling time. Ensure your smoker has cooled for several hours with the power off before handling any exterior parts. Not allowing enough time can lead to burns.
Wipe side and top surfaces. Use a degreaser or dish soap and hot water to wipe down the side and top surfaces of the smoker cabinet. Scrub any stuck-on bits of grease or debris and rinse well with water. Dry to prevent rusting.
Clean the front viewing window (if applicable). Follow the steps for cleaning your smoker’s glass door to remove residue and grease spatter from any front viewing window. Use glass cleaner and scrub away the stuck buildup.
Brush ash and debris from around the elements. Carefully use a wire brush around your smoker’s element housing, vents, drip pans, etc. to loosen any built-up ash, soot, or debris. Vacuum away the remaining residue.
Scrub legs and wheels. Scrub any built-up grease, grime, or rust from smoker legs or wheels at the base with a degreaser and abrasive sponge or scrubber. Rinse and dry completely to discourage future rust.
Touch-up paint (as needed). Use high-temperature spray paint in your smoker’s shade to touch up any scratches, dents, or rust spots marring the exterior finish. Lightly sand first for best adhesion.
Apply sealant (as needed). Protect exterior metal or painted parts from elements by wiping them down with sealant, protectant wax, or weather-resistant spray-on product. Apply especially to any drip pans or grease catchers.
Store properly. Ensure all exterior vents, chip loads, water releases, etc. are tightly closed before storing your smoker indoors or under cover. Keep out of elements to maintain the exterior.
Cleaning your electric smoker’s exterior periodically will extend its lifespan and keep it looking like new. Built-up grease spatter and rust can be difficult to remove if left on for a long time. For the best results, aim to wipe down your smoker’s exterior at least every 3-5 uses. Consistently maintaining both the interior and exterior of your electric smoker will ensure delicious cooking results for years of use!
Step 9: Dry Everything
The final step in properly cleaning your electric smoker is to ensure that all parts – interior and exterior – are fully dried. Not drying components and surfaces thoroughly can lead to damage, rust, or other issues that negatively impact your smoker’s function and lifespan. To dry your electric smoker after cleaning:
Allow adequate air drying time. Keep your smoker’s doors, lids, chimney, vents, etc. open to allow for complete interior air flow circulation. Leave open for at least 2-4 hours. Running a fan in the chamber can speed up drying time.
Wipe down all surfaces. Use clean cloths, paper towels, or chamois to wipe away any remaining moisture left behind after cleaning all interior chamber walls and components. Pay extra attention to corners and seams.
Remove excess grease. Wipe down drip trays, grease liners, or catchers again to absorb any grease that has dripped during the drying process. Failure to remove excess grease can lead to future fires if heated again. Dispose of grease properly.
Dry removable components individually. Remove grills, racks, trays, pans, seals, heating elements, etc. from your smoker and hand dry each piece individually to prevent rusting before reassembly and storage.
Protect thermostats and probes. Ensure any thermostats or meat probes have been dried and properly wrapped before storing them to prevent moisture damage. Apply a protectant balm or sealant if needed.
Inspect for remaining damp spots. Do a final check of your entire smoker interior and exterior for any remaining wet areas and wipe until completely dry. Lingering moisture can lead to rust, especially in unseen spots.
Tightly close and seal doors. Once confident your entire smoker unit is fully dried, securely shut all doors, chimney openings, vents, water pans, grease drains, etc. to keep humidity and pests out.
Move to a storage location. Return your smoker to its proper storage area indoors or under cover. Ensure all parts have adequate airflow for excess moisture to escape before the next use.
Thoroughly drying all parts of your electric smoker after cleaning is key to preventing issues and keeping it in top working condition. Lingering moisture leads to rust, mold, and other damage. For the best results, take time to fully air out and wipe down your entire smoker, inside and out, after each deep clean. Your diligence will result in delicious cooking results for years to come!
Step 10: Reassemble the Parts
Once you have cleaned, dried, and inspected all parts of your electric smoker, the final step is to properly reassemble everything before the next use or storage. Correctly reassembling all detachable components will ensure consistent cooking results and safe operating conditions:
Double-check all parts are fully dry. Confirm that the smoker chamber, grills, racks, trays, probes, seals, etc. have air dried completely to prevent issues when heated again. Lingering moisture can lead to damage.
Replace severely worn or damaged parts. If certain components like grills, seals, or probes show excessive wear or damage upon inspection, replace them before reassembly to avoid malfunction or cooking issues. Order parts from your smoker’s manufacturer.
Re-season the chamber (as needed). For initial use or after a deep clean, re-season your smoker’s chamber by coating all interior surfaces with high-heat cooking oil. This fills in pores to prevent sticking and builds up a natural non-stick patina over time with use. Wipe away excess oil before the first cook.
Replace foil or grease liners. Remove any remaining foil, grease liners, or catchers in your smoker and replace them with new ones to start with a clean base. This makes emptying and cleaning grease buildup in the future much easier.
Reassemble the remaining components. Return grills, racks, trays, water pans, chip boxes, heating elements, thermostats, probes, and any other parts removed during cleaning to their proper locations inside your smoker chamber and any exterior housing. Secure parts to avoid shifting during cooking.
Test all parts before first use. Run your electric smoker empty at a high temperature for 30-60 minutes before cooking again to test that all parts are functioning properly after reassembly and burn off any residue. Ensure proper sealing, heating, and thermostat/probe accuracy before adding food.
Do a final check. Do a final inspection to ensure all vents, doors, grease drains, chimneys, etc. on your smoker have been properly resealed and all components inside the chamber have been returned to the correct positions before the next smoke. Your smoker should look as if new before cooking in it again.
Properly reassembling all parts of your electric smoker after cleaning and maintenance helps ensure consistent cooking performance and safety for years of use. Taking time to replace severely damaged components, re-season the chamber, and test for proper function after reassembly will result in the best-tasting smoked dishes. Periodic deep cleaning and reassembly make all the difference!
How to Clean an Electric Smoker With Mold
If mold has developed inside your electric smoker due to excess moisture or improper storage, it is important to thoroughly clean and sanitize it before the next use. Mold spores produce mycotoxins that can contaminate food and cause illness. To clean mold from your electric smoker:
What You’ll Need
- Boiling water
- Rubber gloves
- Respirator mask
- Scrub brushes
- Steel wool pads
- Commercial mold remover (optional)
- Paper towels or rags
- White vinegar
Heat Up With Boiling Water
Fill your smoker’s water pan or tray with boiling water and close the door. Let sit for 15 minutes so the hot steam can loosen the mold’s grip inside the chamber. The heat will kill active mold and spores. Ensure your smoker is unplugged and has cooled before opening again.
Cool and Scrape
Once cooled, open your smoker door while wearing gloves and a respirator mask. Use scrub brushes and steel wool to scrape away any remaining mold from all interior surfaces – racks, walls, seals, heating elements, etc. Scrub away until all visible mold has been removed.
Wipe With Cloth
Use detergent and water or white vinegar and water to dampen rags and paper towels. Wipe down the entire interior of your smoker chamber several times to remove all mold residue left behind after scraping. Change or rinse clothes frequently.
Apply mold inhibitor (optional). For persistent mold issues, apply a commercial mold inhibitor, remover, or disinfectant according to directions to sanitize and protect your smoker chamber surfaces. Increase ventilation and carefully follow all guidelines.
Re-season and test. Before cooking in your smoker again, re-season the interior according to product directions and do a test burn-off with wood chips at 250 F for 30 minutes. Ensure no mold spots return before adding food.
Store properly. Going forward, store your electric smoker in a dry area away from weather and elevated off the ground. Keep the door propped open slightly to increase ventilation. Panels can collect moisture and lead to future mold – check and wipe down periodically.
Thoroughly cleaning any mold from your electric smoker before the next use will ensure healthy and safe cooking conditions. Paying close attention to proper storage and maintenance going forward can prevent recurrences. Your diligence will reward you with delicious smoked dishes for years to come!
What to Avoid When Cleaning an Electric Smoker
Here are some things to avoid when cleaning your electric smoker:
Avoid harsh chemicals. Do not use overly abrasive cleaners, degreasers, or chemicals which can damage the components in your electric smoker. These include oven cleaners with lye, strong ammonia, and bleach. Stick to dish soap, detergent, degreaser, and water or commercial smoker cleaning products.
Avoid excess moisture. When cleaning your electric smoker, be careful not to get too much moisture into thermostats, heating elements, or other electrical components which could short circuit or rust. Always wipe parts down and allow adequate drying time before reassembly or storage.
Avoid damage to the heating element. Take care not to damage the electric heating element in the bottom of your smoker chamber which can be fragile. Gently brush or wipe around the element to loosen debris and grease buildup. Do not soak or fully immerse the element in liquid.
Avoid damage to interior finishes. Harsh chemicals and too much moisture can damage the interior finishes in your smoker like powder coatings or paint. Stick to gentle, approved cleaning methods and avoid anything too abrasive which can scratch or peel the interior.
Avoid sealing vents or chimneys. When resealing and closing up your electric smoker after cleaning, be careful not to fully seal or block any vents, chimneys, or openings which can cause hazardous fumes or conditions during cooks. Always leave at least some small openings for airflow and to prevent pressure buildup.
Avoid neglecting door seals or gaskets. Pay close attention when cleaning door seals, gaskets, or rims in your smoker, and avoid neglecting these parts. Excess grease buildup or damage prevents proper sealing and airflow regulation. Wipe seals down after each use and replace damaged or worn-out parts when needed.
Avoid mold by improper storage. Avoid improper storage conditions after cleaning which can lead to mold growth before the next use. Keep your electric smoker covered in a dry, well-ventilated area. Leaving it damp in an unventilated space promotes mold and other issues.
By avoiding harsh chemicals, excess moisture, damage, and improper storage or neglect when cleaning your electric smoker, you will keep it in top working condition for many uses. Paying close attention to proper care and maintenance after each cook will result in safe, healthy, and delicious smoking experiences for years to come! Take the necessary time and your smoker will reward you well.