How to Clean an Electric Smoker


Electric smokers are very popular because they make it easy to enjoy smoking meat at home. Cleaning an electric smoker is usually pretty straightforward, but there are still some things you should keep in mind. If you aren’t careful or if you don’t clean the smoker properly, then all your hard work to smoke your meat will be wasted when fat and juices leave the unit and clog up your smoke box.

So, in case you are one of those people who need to be told how to clean an electric smoker more than once, this article will give you a step-by-step guide on the process.

Step 1: Prepare Your Tools

  • Wire brush
  • Bottle brush
  • Scraper
  • A scrubbing pad of some sort
  • Aluminum foil
  • A dish or wash basin
  • Paper towels
  • A bottle of wood chips, chunks, or pellets
  • A lint roller
  • A bucket of water
  • Dish soap
  • Food grade mineral oil or beeswax
  • Vacuum

Step 2: Cool Down the Electric Smoker

It is important to wait until the electric smoker has cooled down before you start cleaning it. A hot smoker can release dangerous chemicals like carbon monoxide, which isn’t good for anyone.

Step 3: Remove any Large Chunks of Food

The first thing that needs to be done is brush off any large chunks of the old food in the electric smoker. Keep in mind that the bigger the chunks, the longer it will take.

Remove anything that isn’t loose dirt. For example, if there are fish bones left from a previous smoking expedition, feel free to remove them.

Step 4: Remove any Stuck-on Food Particles

Once you’ve gathered all of your trash and debris, the next step is to carefully run a wire brush over the inside of your smoker in order to dislodge any stuck-on food particles or debris.

Step 5: Dump Out the Water Pan

From here, you can either dump out your water pan or remove it and scrub with soap and hot water. You’ll need to scrub both the top and bottom of the water pan. Once you’ve removed the pan, be sure to check around the seal of your door as food particles are likely to have accumulated there as well.

Step 6: Use Aluminum Foil

Once you’ve successfully rinsed out the water pan and brushed off any loose debris, you can use aluminum foil to cover both food grids on top of your smoker. You don’t want to use loose foil, but rather large sheets that cover the entire grid.

Once you’ve covered your food grids, turn on your smoker and let it heat up for about 15 minutes in order to ensure that the oil residue is removed. Once you’re satisfied with this process, remove the aluminum foil so that it doesn’t come in contact with your food.

Step 7: Clean the Inside of Your Smoker

Now that you’re satisfied that all loose debris is gone, it’s time to get down and dirty. For the rest of this process, use a bottle brush (the same tool that would be used for washing baby bottles) because it allows you to really get into each nook and cranny.

Start by taking off the top rack of your electric smoker. Then, you can use your dish scrubbing pad to remove any caked-on grease or debris from the inside of the main housing as well as around your heating element and switches. You may also want to use your bottle brush for this process.

For the bottom of the main housing, you’ll need a wire brush. Make sure that you’re careful not to damage any part of your smoker’s structure. You should also be careful about where you put loose debris as it can impact your smoking experience if it falls into one of the drip pans.

Step 8: Clean the Food Grids on the Top of Your Smoker

Since you just went through the trouble of removing them, you might as well clean your food grids while they’re off. For this step, use a scrubbing pad and dish liquid soap since it has more cleaning power than regular liquid hand soap.

There are some commercially available products on the market that remove food residue from deep down in grill grates but considering how easy it is to make a DIY version of the same thing. Using dish soap works just fine.

Once you’re satisfied with your scrubbing session, rinse off all of the remaining soap and dry your grids thoroughly before replacing them on your smoker.

Step 9: Clean Around the Door, Buttons, and Switches

As you’ve probably noticed while taking apart your smoker, there’s a lot of grease and grime that accumulates in the “hard to reach” areas. For this process, use a lint roller. It’s no secret that these little guys are pretty handy for cleaning up pet hair and other household messes, but they’re also great at grabbing loose pieces of debris and dirt from around your door.

Use the lint roller to remove any gunk that gets stuck in hard-to-reach areas such as the door handle, buttons, and drip pan. Never use abrasive scrubbing pads for this process as they can scratch the surface of your smoker and cause corrosion down the road.

You can also use a vacuum with a narrow attachment to get into any nook or cranny that you might have missed.

Step 10: Wipe Down Your Smoker

Your next step is to wipe down any remaining areas with an alcohol-based cleaner in order to sanitize your smoker. Use 2 tablespoons of alcohol, 1 teaspoon of dish liquid soap, and 2 cups warm water.

Be sure to give all surfaces a quick rinse before letting them dry thoroughly with a clean cloth in order to prevent any corrosion over time. A little prevention goes a long way when it comes to keeping your electric smoker clean and free from rust.

Step 11: Clean the Outside of Your Smoker

Follow this step for some general tips and tricks on how to keep your electric smoker looking shiny and new. For starters, if you’ve just used it for smoking meat, you should always be sure to let it cool completely before cleaning it. The last thing that you want is to burn yourself on a hot grate or side plate.


By following these steps, you should be able to keep your smoker looking new for many years. What methods do you use to clean your electric smoker?

Have any interesting tips and tricks you’d like to share? Comment below!

Bobby Johnson

When he's not writing about barbecue, you can find Bobby smoking meat for friends and family. He's been a backyard pitmaster for roughly half his life, and has worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands-on guide to teach them BBQ, but that's what Bobby hopes to do with Electric Smoker HQ. He wants to help people create amazing food that they can be proud of.