If you’ve just bought an electric smoker, you may be wondering how you’re going to keep it clean and even how often you need to clean it? Well, it’s very easy to keep an electric smoker in great condition and if you follow our guide – you should be able to avoid having to deal with the problems of maggots or creosote.
How to clean an electric smoker? In a nutshell, you strip out the inside, clean it with soapy water. Clean the outside with soapy water and any glass with glass cleaner. Then you wipe down any temperature monitors. However, things get tricky when you encounter mold, maggots or creosote.
The good news is that we’ve got everything you need to know to tackle the basics of cleaning your electric smoker and everything you need to handle the trickier issues you may face too.
Cleaning An Electric Smoker: The Basics
If you clean your smoker on a regular basis, then you’re going to find that things never really become challenging and that cleaning an electric smoker is no more difficult than cleaning any other device.
So, in this section, we’re going to assume that you’ve just used the electric smoker for the first time and you’re looking for a cleaning regime to keep your cleaning at a minimum.
If, on the other hand, you’ve already discovered that you have some more serious issues to tackle – you might want to skip ahead to the masterclass, below.
What You Need To Clean An Electric Smoker
We like to keep things simple and while you will find some wonderfully complex cleaning routines for a smoker online, we’d say that you only need:
- A brush for the interior
- Warm, soapy water
- A sponge (or a plastic bristle brush)
- Glass cleaner (for ceramic glass) – if you have a window on your smoker
- A cloth
- Vegetable oil
Yes, that’s it. As you can see, you’re not going to need to spend a fortune on cleaning equipment for your smoker.
How To Clean The Cooking Chamber
Before you start cleaning, make sure to unplug the device. It is unlikely that you’re going to cause any problems with a little water for cleaning but let’s make certain, OK?
Also, you must ensure that the smoker has completely cooled down before you start cleaning – you don’t want burns.
Once it is cool:
- Take out the water pan, the drip tray(s), the rack(s) and the smokebox
- Then take your brush for the interior and brush the inside of the smoker moving any particles that have accumulated to the base of the smoker
- Then sweep out all the residue
- Take some warm, soapy water on a sponge and give the interior a thorough scrub – then wipe it dry with a cloth or some toweling. If you used a brush with bristles instead of a sponge, just make certain that you’re not leaving any bristles behind as they will melt next time it’s used and make an unpleasant smoke.
- Wash your racks, pan, tray, etc. in warm soapy water.
- Rinse the racks, pan, tray, etc. and let them dry.
- [Optional] If you want your smoker to be really easy to use and clean coat the racks in vegetable oil before you use them. Food won’t stick to them and cleaning is much easier.
Note: You should be aware that you won’t get the cooking chamber back to new and it’s supposed to darken over time. This will help prevent rusting – so don’t go out and buy cleaners that are supposed to restore the shiny original appearance, they won’t do your smoker any good.
How To Clean The Outside
OK, now the inside is looking good – it’s time to turn our attention to the exterior:
- Clean the control panel with a cloth that is just a little damp (from warm, soapy water)
- Dry the control panel with a kitchen towel or a dry cloth
- If the smoker has a built-in window, clean this with the window cleaner (inside and outside)
- Wipe the door seal using a damp cloth (more warm, soapy water) to prevent any buildup of particle matter in it
How To Clean The Thermostats & Temperature Probe
The last part is easy. You want to clean the thermostats and the meat probe (assuming you have them and you really should):
- Use a damp cloth (more warm, soapy water) to clean the surface of your thermostats and then wipe them dry with a dry cloth
- Use a damp cloth (more warm, soapy water) to clean the meat probe and then dry with a dry cloth
Note: You should never immerse your meat probe in water or run it under the tap or soak it. Otherwise, you risk damaging it.
How Often Should You Clean Your Electric Smoker?
You may find some people advocating for occasional cleaning with just some minor jobs with each use. We’re not those people.
We think an electric smoker should be cleaned every single time it’s used. The process is simple and quick. There’s no need to risk germs collecting inside it.
Why You Should Season Your Smoker After Cleaning
Before you use a clean electric smoker, you should season it. This provides a protective coating on the inside of your smoker and helps it last longer. It’s easy to do:
- Plug the smoker in
- Turn it up to full heat
- Let it run without any food inside
This will provide a nice layer of soot that protects the surfaces inside.
Cleaning An Electric Smoker: The Masterclass
OK, now that we’ve handled the basics. It’s time to look at the three big challenges that you may face with a smoker that hasn’t been cleaned regularly or hasn’t been cleaned recently:
How To Clean An Electric Smoker With Mold
Mold will grow anywhere there is moisture including in your smoker. To clean your smoker if it has mold inside:
- Make sure all food residue has been removed
- Wear a face mask – you don’t want to inhale fungal spores
- Turn on the smoker and heat it to the highest temperature (this should burn off the mold and grease inside)
- Let it cool and then scrape the surfaces (don’t use metal, use plastic for this)
- Scrape out all the residue
- Wash the inside with a sponge and some warm, soapy water
- Fire up the smoker one last time to full temperature – if any grease or mold is left, this should kill it off
How To Clean An Electric Smoker With Maggots
This may make your skin crawl but if you don’t clean out the drip trays every time then the fatty juices and moist conditions may well attract maggots. (This is why we advocate cleaning every time you use a smoker).
To get rid of maggots:
- Put on a face mask and some safety gloves. You really don’t want to get covered in maggots.
- Get any residual food out and disposed of.
- Now, turn the electric smoker on at its highest heat and let it run. This will kill the maggots, their eggs, and any associated germs and bacteria.
- Now, mix some bleach with liquid soap in a spray bottle. Spray it all over the inside of the electric smoker. Leave it for about 10-15 minutes.
- Get in and scrub off the maggot debris with a scrubbing brush (plastic bristles not wire ones) and then use a damp cloth to get rid of the residue
- Finally, when it’s clean – heat your smoker up to full heat and let it run again for a few minutes
How To Remove Creosote From Your Smoker
Creosote is a toxic build-up that comes from the burning process of the meat. Essentially, some oils don’t break down properly when burned and when they combine with the smoke and soot that your electric smoker produces – you get creosote.
If you’re allowing this to build up inside your smoker, then we’d recommend that every quarter, you take a bunch of newspapers and fire them up in the smoking chamber (make sure to remove the thermometer and thermostats first).
You want the newspapers to burn as hot as possible to get rid of the creosote.
You may see some people do this with a propane torch, but we feel that you’re risking burning both yourself and your smoker’s housing with this method.
If you clean the smoker regularly with each use, however, you will not need to deal with maggots and creosote ever and mold is only a possibility if you store the smoker for a long period without using it.
OK, now you know how to clean an electric smoker. It’s a very simple business if you do it on a regular basis and it doesn’t cost very much, either.
However, if you do end up facing mold, maggots or creosote – it’s not the end of the world. You can easily clean these off without risking your health too.