How to Clean an Electric Smoker | How Do You Clean Your Electric Smoker by Doing Less?

Cleaning an electric smoker doesn’t have to be hard or cost a fortune. Proper maintenance reduces your work and keeps your smoker as clean as new. 

I learned the necessity of keeping my electric smoker clean the hard way. In the beginning, I was lost on how on earth do I clean this thing? But, over the years, I tried almost everything people suggested to me. Believe me; there were some bizarre ones. What I’m trying to say is, not every method works. So, I rounded up the things that worked the best for me.

I own one from Masterbuilt, but you can clean almost all other smokers using the same way as long as it’s an electric smoker. Before getting to how to clean an electric smoker part, let’s learn why you should clean your smoker in the first place.  

Why You Should Clean Your Electric Smoker

This may sound obvious, but you should know why you need to clean your smoker and how frequently you should do it. When you keep using your smoker without cleaning it, the cooking performance disappoints you over time. Not to mention, eventually, it’ll cost you money and labor to replace your old smoker with a new one.

If you are using a smoker for quite some time and it’s not serving you as it used to, then maybe a smooth and good cleaning is what your smoker needs. Also, you must know what elements you can use on your smoker and what you can’t.  

In other words, cleaning and maintaining your smoker keeps it clean and ensures that it lasts a long time. The later you clean your smoker, the harder it will be to clean. I’ll discuss later in a chapter how frequently you should clean your smoker.

What is an Electric Smoker?

Do you ever wonder how an electric smoker differs from a regular one? Well, for starters, there is no actual ‘fire.’ Electric smokers draw power from electricity to heat up and create smoke with the wood chips inserted inside. The heat produced inside the cooking chamber uses the wood and air to cook with convection.

Convection is when something creates smoke without flame. There’ll be a water pot, a wood chip tray, and racks to put your meat inside the cooking chamber. The water will keep the meat juicy, and woods will create a smoky flavor.  

How To Clean An Electric Smoker – A Complete Guide

As I mentioned earlier, I own a Masterbuilt electric smoker. The following ingredients and methods are most compatible with my smoker. For your convenience, I’ll include how you can clean other electric smokers as well. 

When I got my new smoker, I thought it would cost me a fortune to clean this up. In reality, you only need a few things that are most likely to be found in your kitchen. You don’t need all of them to clean your smoker, so pick something available at your convenience. 

Things You Can Use to Clean Your Smoker and Ways to Prepare Them

There are other chemical substances to clean a smoker. But I don’t recommend them because as quick and effective they sound, they can harm your smoker with harsh elements. 

Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is a combination of acids that happens to be great at cleaning dust and grease. You must have heard of using apple cider vinegar for cleaning other things. Well, it works on your electric smokers too. 

This ingredient is handy to clean the cooking chamber of your smoker. All you need is a spraying bottle, apple cider vinegar, and warm water. Mix equal portions of vinegar and warm water and load it into the spray bottle. 

Now, spray the mixture into the cooking chamber and wipe it clean with a cloth.    

Soapy water: Even if you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you must have a dishwasher soap. It’s an easy and convenient one but only works if you clean your smoker after every use.

Take a cup of warm water in a spray bottle and add one tablespoon of grease-cutting dishwasher soap. Mix well and spray it into the cooking chamber. Wipe the smoker with a clean cloth. 

You can use this technique to clean the exterior part, the thermostat, and the door too. 

Oven Cleaner: Not all oven cleaners work on your smoker. Make sure the cleaner you choose is specially made to be effective on your electric smoker. The process is the same as soapy water and vinegar. You don’t have to mix water with the cleaner. Just spray some, and wipe clean.

Bristle Brush: You can’t use a metal brush to clean your smoker because it’ll scratch or damage your smoker. Instead, use a plastic bristle brush. Bristle brush comes in handy when there is stubborn dust that won’t come off with mild ingredients. 

If you don’t clean your smoker after every use, the residue gets hard and need some scraping. That’s where the bristle brush comes in. 

Wooden Grill Scraper: A grill scraper will also help you remove harsh residue. You can use either one depending on which one is available near at hand. Using a wooden grill scraper doesn’t require a lot of effort to remove the dust from cooking chamber walls. 

Cleaning the Interior Of Your Electric Smoker

I’ve demonstrated every step separately to make you understand the process smoothly. Follow the steps to make your electric smoker clean without making it a labor-intensive chore. 

The first step is to remove all the parts that can be removed. For a Masterbuilt Smoker, there will be smoking racks, ash box, and drip tray. 

Smoking racks

Smoking racks are where you place the meats for cooking. To clean the shelves, remove them from the chamber. You can clean the racks using two ways. You either spray a soapy mixture, wipe them with a cloth, or wash them in the dishwasher. 

If you’re washing the smoker after several uses, I’ll recommend soaking the racks in a sink filled with soapy water for at least 30 minutes and then wash them. 

I highly suggest you clean your cooking racks after every use because the meat’s residue will get stuck permanently over time.

Ash box

The whole idea of the ash box is to clean without effort. The ashes produced from burning the wood goes to the ash box, so it doesn’t scatter around your cooking chamber, making it easy to clean. 

Remove the ash box, through away the ashes, and wash it using soap and water. Again, try throwing out the remains after every use. You’ll only make your work easier.   

Drip Tray

The drip tray is placed directly underneath the racks to catch any oil or sauce dripping from the meat. Remove the tray and wash it using soap and a washer. You can use apple cider vinegar if there’s any stubborn stain that won’t go away with soap. 

If you don’t clean the tray after every use, it’ll rust over time. That’s not going to be a piece of good news for the meats waiting to be barbequed.  

Cooking Chamber

Unlike other parts, you don’t need to clean the cooking chamber after every use. But the smoke does change the color from silver to black, so it’s better to clean the chamber now and then. 

Remove all the parts and make your cooking chamber empty. 

If there’s mold or strong dirt inside, use a grill scraper or bristle brush to scrape the dirt off. Then spray some soap or vinegar mixture into the chamber and leave it till the dirt loosens up. 

Wipe the chamber using a clean cloth, and you’re done.  

Thermostat

Your thermostat also requires regular cleaning. It shows the temperature, so if it’s not clean, you won’t be able to monitor and control the temperature properly. You can just wipe the thermostat clean with a wet cloth. The thermostat requires the least effort to clean. 

How You Can Clean the Outside of an Electric Smoker

You probably use your smoker in the backyard all the time. I know I do. It can get filthy with all the dirt that the wind carries. If you want to prevent the exterior from getting dusty, you can always use a protective cover. 

Cleaning the exterior is easier than the inside. Use a damp cloth to wipe the smoker clean. You can use oven cleaner if you want. But, it’s not necessary, to be honest. To clean the glass door, you can use a glass cleaner if you wish.  

I’ll advise you to clean the exterior regularly if you often use it outside. If you only use your smoker indoors, it won’t need as much frequent cleaning. 

Cleaning Other Electric Smokers

Cleaning most electronic smokers require the same steps. The only difference between electronic smokers is the removable parts. Some may not have a drip tray, and some may be missing an ash box. Other than that, all smokers can be cleaned pretty much the same way I described. 

Cleaning Your Smoker before First Use

A lot of users don’t think it’s necessary to clean an electric smoker before first use. I can’t entirely agree with them. Electric smokers are produced in mass, so there’s a chance that yours can contain residue from the factory. 

The process isn’t challenging, but it takes a long time. The time shouldn’t matter because you don’t have to sit with your smoker while it’s being cleaned. 

Turn the power button on, set the temperature to its highest, and set the timer for 3 hours. It’ll remove any unhygienic residue inside the smoker and make your smoker clean. Once it cools down, wipe it with a damp cloth, and your smoker is ready for some meat.

Mold Out of an Electric Smoker?

There’s always a barbeque season. People don’t use their smoker all year long. When the smoker sits unused, there’s a chance of mold growth. To remove mold from a smoker, heat up your empty smoker at the highest temperature for about 40 minutes. High heat will melt the mold. 

After cooling down, give your smoker a thorough cleaning. 

Vinegar helps to kill molds. Some people think bleaching can kill molding, but that’s hardly the truth. 

Stop Your Electric Smoker from Molding

The only way of stopping your smoker from molding is to clean it regularly. Especially the interior. If you’re about to use the smoker after a long time again, make sure to clean it before storing it. Give your smoker a full cleaning before storing it away for a long time. 

Clean Creosote from Your Electric Smoker

Smokers use smoke and heat for cooking food. You have to smoke the food, but you can’t keep it there for too long. The smoke that stays too long or becomes too dense can result in a substance called creosote. 

 The best way of cleaning creosote is to heat up your smoker. Heating an empty smoker will remove any residue like creosote and make your smoker as clean as new again. 

Always remember that prevention is better than cure. If you keep your smoker clean, the chance of creosote ruining your smoked meat taste is meager. 

Can You Power Wash an Electric Smoker?

You can power wash your smoker. But it doesn’t mean you should. Power washing may be an effective cleaning method, but it washes away all the flavors and seasoning from your smoker as a side effect. So, I will discourage you from power washing your smoker. It may be a shortcut to washing, but it has its downsides.   

How Can You Stop Dirty Smoke?

I can’t emphasize the importance of a clean smoker enough. Keeping your smoker clean is the only way you’ll stop dirty smoke. The smoke gets dirty because of all the dirt inside. If you have a clean cooking chamber, there is no reason for the smoke to get dirty.

How to Maintain Electric Smoker After Cleaning – Maintain Your Smoker

If you want your smoker always working as if it were new, you have to maintain it after cleaning. Your responsibility doesn’t stop with cleaning. Maintenance is just as essential as cleaning. Here’s what you do to maintain your electric smoker after washing. 

Clean Your Smoker After Every Use: As I’ve already said, like a million times, clean your smoker after every use. If not the whole smoker, at least the parts that get dirty after each use. The cooking racks for starters. The drip tray also needs regular cleaning, so does the thermostat. As for the ash box, at least empty it if you don’t want to wash it. 

The exterior and the cooking chamber don’t require regular cleaning but clean them when you feel like they need cleaning.   

No Abrasive Chemicals: There are cleaners with strong chemical elements. They might be useful for cleaning stains quickly but will damage your smoker in the long run. So I strongly recommend you use mild elements like the ones I’ve mentioned above. 

Cover Your Smoker: Keep your smoker covered when not using to protect it from dirt. 

Oil the Racks before Cooking: Even though your meat will contain oil and marinating ingredients, you must oil the racks separately before putting the meat in. It’ll prevent the meat from getting stuck on the racks making it easy for you to clean later.  

Dry All Parts before Putting Them Back Inside: After you clean the removable parts of a smoker, dry them all before putting them in.

Types of Electric Smokers

Depending on how an electric smoker works, its shape, and its uses, there are some varieties of electric smokers. 

Offset Smoker: An offset smoker’s main features include cylindrical-shaped cooking chambers with a smaller cylinder attached to one end of the bottom for a firebox. A little fire lights up in that firebox, where the wind is decisively controlled to cook meat. The smoke and heat from the fire draw through a linking channel or open into the cooking chamber.

Upright Drum Smoker: It’s exactly what it sounds like; a tall drum smoker. A sturdy steel drum intended to create pseudo smoking. An upright drum includes an ordinary steel drum with a bushel to contain the charcoal near the bottom, a cooking rack near the top, and a vented lid to secure the smoke and heat.

Pellet Smoker: A temperature-controlled smoker uses wood pellets made from dry sawdust, approximately one inch long and 1/4 inch wide. The wood pellets are placed in a gravity reinforced container that encourages the motor, restricted by a temperature controller.

This motor drives the pellets into a rotating drill located underneath the heat box. The starter bar inside the rotary drill touches the pellets, where the ignition fan prevents them from getting stuck. The motor and ignition fan control the smoker’s temperature, stimulating more pellets and expanding the wind current in the rotating drill.

Vertical Water Smoker: Also known as a slug smoker, a vertical water smoker is a variety of upright drum smokers. It uses charcoal or wood to produce smoke and heat, and there is a container of water between the fire and the cooking grate.

The water bowl maintains the ideal temperature for smoking and provides adherence to the smoke chamber. It also affects where water vapor and smoke meet, which adds flavor to smoked foods.

FAQs

  • Can you leave an electric smoker in the rain?

You can’t leave your electric smoker in the rain just as you wouldn’t any other electric device. Electric smokers are sensitive to water and will malfunction if left in the rain. 

  • What temp kills bacteria on an electric smoker? 

Temperature between 195o to 205o can easily kill dangerous bacteria. Preheat your smoker at more than this range just to be safe. 

  • Do I add water to an electric smoker? 

Yes. There’s a water tray included in your smoker to add water. Water will keep the temperature balance accurate and moist the meat too. 

  • How do you remove black smoke from glass?

Use a vinegar-water solution to remove black smoke from the glass. If the stain is too stubborn, use only vinegar.  

  • Is vinegar or bleach better for killing mold?

Vinegar, without a doubt. Bleach actually increases mold instead of killing it. 

  • Will Heat kill mold?

High heat kills most types of molds. In some cases, you’ll need to use chemicals to remove them. 

  • Can I use a hose to clean a smoker?

Yes, you can use a hose to clean your smoker. But remember to keep the water power low, or you’ll remove all good flavors from your smoker.  

  • Is it necessary to clean my new smoker before use?

It’s always better to disinfect your smoker before first use, even though many people prefer to skip this step. 

  • At what temperature does meat stop absorbing smoke?

There’s no time limit of when the meat will stop absorbing meat. It differs from smoker to smoker and meat to meat.   

  • Is white smoke bad

White smoke is a sign of bad flavors. But electric smokers smolder to smoke food, so it’s alright to experience white smoke with an electric smoker. However, it’s not the best you can do with your smoker. Thin blue smoke indicates good flavors and taste. 

Bottom Line 

Don’t you want your smoker to serve you always the same? Especially when you’ve invested a fair amount of money on it? I guess you do. It’s your primary responsibility to take care of your smoker after using it. If you want your smoker to treating you with juicy smoked foods, you have to treat your smoker with cleanliness. Follow the instructions I’ve left for you, and your smoker will be forever grateful to you.

Happy smoking!

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