It's that time of year when we drag out the Smoker or Grill from the shed or garage and get it ready for a busy summer filled with cooking great meals.
There’s nothing quite like the look and feel of a well-seasoned smoker. You just know you’re going to get quality barbecue from it.
But here’s the key – there’s a difference between a seasoned smoker and a dirty one. Nobody wants a dirty one. Everybody needs to know how to clean a smoker.
Here's a video showing you some maintenance for Humphrey's Smokers.
*Check your Gaskets, Degrease Cook Chamber, *Lube your Hinges, *Check your PID probes, Calibrate your thermometers!
For all other manufacturer, you should always refer to you user manual for manufacturing specific instructions.
What you’ll need for the task:
- Inexpensive plastic tarp for protecting work area
- Grilling gloves as well as heavy-duty rubber gloves
- Large plastic utility tub
- A good cleaner/degreaser, preferably organic, such as Simple Green or SAFECID; special cleaners may be required for smokers constructed of stainless steel
- Small wet/dry vacuum
- Water hose with a high pressure sprayer nozzle
- Heavy-duty scrubbing sponges and scouring pads
- Long-handled wooden spoon or paint stirring stick
- Plastic putty knife, paint scraper, or scraper with plastic blades
- Grill brush
Before proceeding, consult the owner’s manual that came with your smoker for specific instructions. Not sure where the paperwork is? Most large manufacturers publish their manuals online.
Note: The following instructions are for smokers without any electrical or digital components.
Unless you want to power wash your deck or patio after you’ve cleaned your cooker, put on rubber gloves and lay a large tarp down where you plan to work and move the smoker onto the tarp. (Remove any unspent fuel from the cook chamber first.) Recruit help if you need it—some smokers are heavy. Fill a plastic tub with hot water and dish soap or your cleaner of choice and set aside.
Brush the grates with a grill brush. (Use a brush with brass bristles if the grates are porcelain-coated so you don’t nick them.) Place in the tub to soak. Scrape and brush the heat diffuser plate, if your smoker has one. Unscrew the dome from the chimney and add the dome and the diffuser plate to the tub.
Using a paint stirring stick or long-handled wooden spoon or stiff brush, clean the inside of the chimney.
Scrape the inside walls and rack slides to remove debris and grease. You've worked hard to get the black seasoning. There is no reason to scrap this off. Just get most of the grease.
If it's been a long time since your last cleaning and now you have a science experiment happening. No worry, scrape most of the mold out. Use a spray bottle with a diluted vinegar solution and spray the walls. This will help to kill any of the bacteria that has formed. You'll want to re-season and heat up the smoker to kill off the rest.
Towel out any excess water with rags or paper towels. With the lids up and the vents open, let the smoker air dry. If the smoker shows signs of rust, remove it with sandpaper or steel wool, prime, and spray with a good-quality high-temperature paint.
In the meantime, scrub the smoker parts you’ve soaked in the soapy water, replacing the water as needed. Allow to air dry. Reassemble the smoker. Oil it inside and out with vegetable oil. Lubricate the vents if they’re sticky. (Tip: For easy clean-up, line the grease bucket with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Replace after each use.)
Maintain your grill by doing the following after each smoke:
- Immediately after smoking, brush the rack clean with a grill brush.
- When the smoker is barely warm to the touch, scrape out any grease that’s accumulated in the bottom of the smoke chamber. Empty the drip pan or grease bucket. Wipe off the gasket that surrounds the lid with a damp rag.
- When the grill is completely cold, clean out the spent ash, preferably into a metal ash can.
- To prevent rust, occasionally re-oil the smoker.
Louisiana Grill Spring Clean
CLEAN YOUR GRILL
The first thing you want to do is get your grill nice and clean, especially if it hasn’t been used in a while.
Let’s start with the grates. Before removing your grates from the grill, give them a hard scrub with your grill brush. After brushing the grates, take them off the grill and lay them on a towel or cardboard box that’s placed on the ground. While wearing protective gloves, spray your grates with a cleaner/degreaser.
Let it soak for about a minute, and then wipe and rinse with water. Be sure to scrub your grates with a mild detergent and water to remove any residue left behind by the cleaner. Then rinse again and set aside to let your grates dry.
After you remove your grill grates and any heat deflector plates, it's important to first use a wet/dry shop vac to remove any loose debris or ash before using cleaner or spraying it down with a hose. This can help prevent the dry debris from caking after being exposed to moisture.
While the grates are drying and after you’ve vacuumed up any loose debris, you should wipe down both the interior and exterior of the grill.
Using a cleaner/degreaser, spray the entire interior surface and repeat the same steps used to clean your grates. Once again using a cleaner degreaser, spray the entire exterior surface of the grill including the hood and shelves, and let it soak in for about a minute. Then wipe it down, rinse with water, and dry with a towel.
BURN OFF AND SEASON
This step is important because it will help protect your grates and heat shields from rust as well as prevent your food from sticking. After cleaning, rinsing, and drying your grill put the heat shields and grates back on. Next you will want to perform a burn off. This is the same process as when you first received your grill. You will want to fire your grill up at 350°F and let it run for 15 to 20 minutes.
Then, with a tong or oven mitts, place one of your grates on top of the other and brush or spray the exposed heat shield with a high temperature oil, such as canola. As the surface cools, it will seal the oil. Then put the grate back on the grill and stack the other grate on top of it so you can spray the other heat shields or end of the heat shield. Finally, with all grates on the grill in their proper place, spray or brush the oil onto the grates. Your grill should be ready to use after it cools down completely.