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how to clean an electric smoker

How to Clean an Electric Smoker: Easy Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Delicious smoky flavor comes at the expense of maintaining your maintaining your electric smoker well. That’s because electric smokers are prone to accumulate burned grease or rust, especially when you use them too often.

If you’re wondering how to clean an electric smoker, you’ve come to the right place.

To properly clean an electric smoker, take soapy, warm water and scrub the inside of the smoker gently with the help of a soft bristle brush (non-metal) or a sponge. Make sure you wipe everything nicely with a soft cloth and let it dry prior to cooking. Do this process of cleaning after every 4 to 5 cooking sessions to maintain the performance of the unit.

Here are the comprehensive methods on how to clean electric smokers. Let’s dive right into them:

Clean an Electric Smoker in 3 easy steps:

1. Cleaning the internal parts of the electric smoker

Detach all the internal parts

If you have just used the electric smoker, make sure it cools down before you start cleaning it. If the unit is kept idle and unused for days or months, it is better to heat it up to its maximum temperature and let it cool down before you clean it.

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Note: Cleaning just used electric smokers is much easier than cleaning an unused unit, as the accumulated dirt in the drip tray and other parts is warm and easy to scrap to clean electric smoker

Once it’s cool, remove all the detachable parts from the inside of the unit such as racks, smoker box, drip pan and water pan drip. Soak these parts in warm soapy water to loosen up the accumulated oils and dirt.

If you find hardened debris on any of these parts, use a scraper and a soft sponge to clean it up. Since the components were soaked in hot water, cleaning them should be a breeze.

Cleaning the grill or racks

Cooking grills or racks are highly prone to collect oils and grease, which become rancid with time. Such rancid grease (mostly carbon) on the grill can make your food taste really nasty. If the rancid grease is accumulated at the bottom of the grill, it can smoke your food and degrade its flavor as well. This is why, it is extremely important you make sure you clean the racks thoroughly.

  • For that, soak the racks in warm soapy water (normal dishwashing detergent) and allow the grime to loosen up.
  • Clean the racks with the help of a scraper or sponge and wash them thoroughly under running water. Let them air dry before putting them back inside.
  • To make cleaning easier and prevent your food from sticking, grease the racks with vegetable oil each time prior to cooking.

Cleaning the smoker box

Next comes cleaning the smoker box thoroughly. The smoker box is the part where you place wood chips to get that signature smoky flavor.

To clean it up, first make sure you discard the soot or ash into a trash bag.

Once you get rid of the loose ash, mix apple cider vinegar with hot water in ½-½ proportions and spray it onto the box.

Let the solution sit for a while, and then wipe the box with a soft cloth nicely to get rid of any residues.

2. Cleaning the main internal chamber

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Cleaning debris off internal chamber

In the inside of the electric smokers is where you’ll find most accumulated junk.

For thorough cleaning the inside, here you’ll need a soft bristle brush (non-metal one) along with sponge and water. Make sure the water is hot.

Place a sheet right beneath the smoker to collect debris efficiently and make cleaning to clean electric smoker

  • To get rid of the hardened grease, make sure you use a soft brush or plastic scraper to scrape off stubborn dirt from the surfaces of the smoker box.
  • As you discard it, the loosened debris will get collected at the bottom surface of the smoker.
  • Use a brush to pile up debris and slide it onto the sheet or tarp placed below. Discard the sheet.
  • Once done, now it’s time for the wet cleaning process. Take a wet sponge and thoroughly wipe the inside walls of the smoker chamber.
  • This should remove the grease buildup easily.

Note: The inside walls of the electric smoker might look dark with time, which is natural. This process of darkening of inside walls is known as seasoning, which prevents the chamber from catching rust and also enhances efficiency of infrared cooking method. So, do NOT try to scrub the dark walls, simply wipe them off with soft sponge, as it will never return back to its sleek silver color.

Also, avoid using caustic soda or other harsh chemicals for cleaning, as it might ruin the taste of your food later on.

Tip: Using aluminium foil inside the cooking chamber helps to reduce the amount of cleaning required.

Cleaning the glass door from inside

The glass door might become oily, greasy and dark with time as you use your electric smoker to cook foods.

If not cleaned periodically, you won’t be able to see your food from the glass door as it is getting smoked.

To clean off the grease buildup, again use a scouring sponge and gently scrub the glass door. If the grease is too stubborn, you can use hot soapy water to scrub it off. You can also use spray grill cleaner for the same.

Once done, wipe off the glass door with a paper towel and let it dry.

Tip: It is recommended to NOT use a cloth to clean the glass door of electric smokers, as it might cause streaks. You can use paper towels or a newspaper for the same.

3. Cleaning Exterior of your Electric Smoker

Wiping the exterior of your electric smoker

Most electric smokers nowadays are equipped with a thermometer on the outside to keep track of the temperature inside the chamber. Hence, you need to take extra care while cleaning the exterior.

Wipe the outside surfaces of your electric smoker with a clean, damp cloth. Check the door seal if there’s any buildup present and make sure you clean it for better performance of the smoker. Wipe the thermostat with a dry towel and let it dry naturally before putting the smoker away.

Tip: Do not place the smoker directly under running water or do NOT immerse or soak it in water.

Place the parts back again

Once you wash all the detachable parts, allow them to dry completely and place them back inside the smoker.

It is better to wash the removable parts (including the drip pan, racks, water pan) after every cooking session to make overall cleaning much easier.

To prevent your smoker from mold, make sure it is completely dry before storing it away.

That is all. This brings us to the end of the simple cleaning process of an electric smoker. Now, here are some other scenarios where your electric smoker might need cleaning:

Need to Clean an Electric Smoker that has caught Mold?

Mold is likely to grow on moist, dark greasy surfaces. Which is why, your electric smoker is prone to catch these ugly spores. This might happen especially during winters, if you let your smoker sit idle and do not use it for days, weeks or to clean electric smoker

Too much mold will prevent moisture from escaping the chamber.

Here is how you can clean up the mold in 3 easy steps:

1. Detach all the parts

The very first thing you need to do is detach all the inside components from your smoker including smoker box, drip tray and water tray.

Once you do that, wipe the smoker with the help of soft cloth.

2. Heat up the smoker

To burn the mold away, heat up the electric smoker up to its maximum temperature. This will burn most of the spores away and also help loosen up the grease or oils that may have accumulated inside. End result is that you will see burnt black dirt onto the grill.

3. Clean it up

Final step is to allow the smoker to cool down and clean it meticulously.

Once it is nice and cool, cover your mouth with a mask so as to prevent inhaling the harmful fumes. This way you won’t get any allergic reaction to the spores.

Now start cleaning the interior chamber as follows:

  • Take a soft bristle brush, a scraper/sponge and warm soapy water.
  • Scrap off the residual mold, grease or hardened dirt from the walls and chamber of the electric smoker with the help of a scraper or bristle brush.
  • Brush off the dirt completely and wipe the interior chamber with a damp cloth again.
  • You can wipe the smoker again with a dry newspaper and allow it to air dry completely.
  • Do not use harsh chemicals to clean the interior, as it might affect the flavor of your food.

Tip: If you want to use your electric smoker right away after cleaning the mold, all you need to do is pre-heat it again. This will dry out any residue or water off the internal smoker.

The cleaning procedures mentioned above are ideal to clean electric smokers of any brand, be it Cuisinart, Masterbuilt or any other.

Cleaning Maggots in the electric smoker

Since electric smokers cook juicy meats or veggies, the drip tray is likely to collect moisture, grease or oils.

Too much moisture creates a great environment for maggots to breed eggs.

To get rid of maggots in the electric smoker, follow these steps:

  • Wear a face mask as well as gloves for protection against maggots or undesirable allergies.
  • Clean off any loose residues of food, if any, from the smoker.
  • Preheat the smoker up to its maximum temperature to burn the maggots, germs and their eggs.
  • Allow the smoker to cool down.
  • Mix bleach, liquid detergent and hot water in a spray bottle.
  • Spray this warm solution on the inside chamber of the smoker and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  • Scrub off the burned maggots, eggs, debris and any other residues with the help of a scrubber.
  • Take a damp cloth to wipe off the entire smoker.
  • Heat the electric smoker once again to its maximum temperature to sanitize or disinfect it completely.
  • You’re ready to use the smoker to cook foods now.

How to Season your brand new Electric Smoker?

The reality of your brand-new electric smoker is that the inside chamber or walls might still carry some residues from the manufacturing process.

It sounds creepy, but yes, it needs to be cleaned before you start cooking your food.

This initial procedure is known as ‘seasoning’ or ‘curing’ your electric smoker.

Here’s how you can season up your new electric smoker:

Pre Heat it

Set up your new smoker, plug it in and preheat it up to maximum temperature or 275 degrees without any food. You can even add wood chips to the smoker box after some time to maximize the heat inside the chamber.

This procedure will evaporate any undesirable manufacturer’s contaminants, oils, chemicals, etc. from the interior chamber. The preheat procedure can take up to 2 or 3 hours.

If you start cooking right away without seasoning your electric smoker, you might get a weird taste in the first use.

Wipe out the smoker

After the preheating session, you can wipe down the inside walls of the chamber with a cloth. And, you’re all set to use the smoker now.

Using Apple Cider Vinegar to Clean the Electric Smoker

Most of the food residue, tough stains and hardened grease caused due to smoking procedures are likely to be in the inner grill. If not cleaned regularly, the cooking racks will serve as an unhygienic house of many germs.

In extreme cases where your regular warm soapy water won’t work, you can go for apple cider vinegar for cleaning.

Apple cider vinegar is an amazing disinfectant as well as a cleaning agent. Here’s how you can use it:

  • To clean the inside of the smoker, take a spray bottle and fill it up with equal amounts of hot water and apple cider vinegar.
  • Spray this solution onto the interior walls and chamber of your electric smoker, and even on the racks or grill. Let the solution sit for 10 to 15 minutes to allow breakdown of stubborn debris or grease.
  • Use a plastic putty knife or scrubber to scrub off residues of oils and dirt off the internal chamber.
  • Lastly, wipe the entire smoker with a soft damp cloth.
  • Leave the electric smoker open for a while to get rid of the smell and air dry it naturally.

Can you use oven cleaner to clean your Electric Smoker?

As the name suggests, oven cleaners are deliberately designed to clean and sanitize ovens. But many people use them to clean the electric smokers as well.

Now it is important to consider the fact that oven cleaners comprise of caustic soda – which is extremely harmful for your health. If not washed properly, these chemicals can leave a residue behind, thereby contaminating your food.

Not just your health, but caustic soda can also considerably affect the flavor of your smoked foods if it makes direct contact.

Therefore, it is recommended to NOT use oven cleaners to clean the inside of your electric smoker. If you want to, you can use it to clean the surfaces that don’t come in contact with your food. Here’s what you can do:

  • Spray the oven cleaning solution on the components of your electric smoker.
  • Allow it to sit for about 3 to 4 minutes
  • Scrub off the debris or dirt with the help of a scrubber or a bristle brush.
  • Remove the racks or grills and wash them thoroughly under running water.
  • Wipe off the interior with a clean damp cloth.

NEVER use oven cleaning solutions to clean cooking surfaces or the interior of your electric smoker.

How often should you clean your Electric Smoker?

Foodies can agree- there’s nothing more heavenly and tasteful than smoked, charred foods. When your electric smoker is at its best, you can smoke salmon, charred chicken, and all other types of foods. But you also need to equally maintain the electric smoker to achieve optimal performance and best flavors every single time.

If you’re wondering how often should I clean my electric smoker, your answer is 2 to 3 times every year if you use it very often. If not, then you can clean it thoroughly once every year.

For best results, wash the removable parts after every use. This will also save you from hassle later on, as there won’t be much buildup of grease and debris.

Wrap Up

Hope this detailed post on how to clean electric smokers gives you valuable insights on its maintenance and cleaning tricks.

Every cleaning method mentioned above will do the job in most cases. But, if there’s too much buildup of oils, dirt and debris, you can go for the apple cider vinegar method explained above. You can try different cleaning methods and see which one works best for your electric smoker.

How to Clean an Electric Smoker: Easy Cleaning Tips and Tricks