Should I Clean My Smoker?

by steve anglemyer
(fort wayne , indiana)

I have a Masterbuilt electric smoker and use it a lot. Should I clean the inside of the box?

I clean the the pans and the racks and the glass on the door. Should I clean the inside of the box or leave it for seasoning. If it needs cleaned what products and how should I clean it?


Steve, the biggest enemy of any smoker is rust. You should get many years of good use out of your smoker provided your maintain it and keep it protected from rust.

Before I go onto how to protect against rust let me first answer your point specifically about whether to clean the inside of the box.

For me the general answer to a torough cleaning is no. There are deposits (see below) that I would remove but after that I assume that you are familiar with how to season a new smoker and therefore understand that a natural smoke protective coating is good news.

You do need to keep your smoker tidy and clear of any food deposits. Scoop out anything that's loose but don't feel that you have to go at it with a scraper and scrape down to the metal.

Dependent on the wood that you have used you may get some tar deposits and these should be removed too. The danger here is if you are smoking in a humid environment (using a water bath) the when the smoker gets hot, the tar combines with the moisture to form black droplets that can drip down onto your food.

Big build ups of grease should also be removed because this could enable moisture to be retainined in the unit and so cause rust. The same goes for the ash in your firebox, ash absorbs water over time so always remove it because this is another potential rust hazzard.

If you do get any rust then treat it immediately by brushing gently with a wire brush, cleaning and then paint with a heat resistant paint.

Cleaning the internal equipment as you are already doing is good practice, what I would call normal food hygiene so keep doing this.

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Feb 28, 2016
Cleaning An Electric Smoker
by: Anonymous

I can't get my electric smoker completely clean. Is it still safe to use?, there is no mold in the smoker.

Let's break safety down into to two areas:
  1. Electrically safe

  2. Hygienically safe

Electrically Safe

I'm not an electrician but this is the process that I follow at the start of a new season.
If your smoker has been stored in the dry during the Winter then there's no reason why it shouldn't be safe to use but your best bet is to turn it on and do a dry run before cooking for the first time.
Things to check for first are that the unit is dry. If you've cleaned it then make sure that it is thoroughly dry before performing a test.
Secondly make an inspection of the basic electrical components (that doesn't mean take it apart) for example check the plug isn't cracked, check that the cable to the smoker is in good condition and no vermin have gnawed their way through it.
When you are satisfied, plug the unit in and switch on. Ultimately the fuse in the plug is there to protect you so if there is a short circuit then this fuse will blow.

Hygienically Safe

I clean my big smokers out with a power washer but for my electric smoker it's as simple as wash the cooking racks and wipe down the inside of the chamber.
Mold can grow, especially if your unit has been kept outside under a cover but if you have no mold then that's a good sign that your smoker has been kept clean and dry through the Winter.
The build up of debris on the inside walls of the smoker is inevitable and in my view it's entirely up to you whether you scrape all this off or not. Personally I don't, I just give everything a wipe down and get set for another season.
The only caveat to this is to make sure that your heater element isn't caked up with debris. It pays to make sure that you scrape the element clean, just make sure that the unit is not plugged into the power when you do this and you only need use a gentle scraping action so that you don't damage the element.

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