How to Clean a Pellet Grill

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As an avid BBQer, my grill is often in need of a good cleaning. In order to be a BBQ hero and cook delicious food for the people you love, you need to know how to clean a pellet grill. Today, I’m sharing all my tips and tricks for how to deep clean a grill and get it ready for that next big cookout.

Putty scraper scraping out the inside of a pellet grill with text overlay - How to Clean a Pellet Grill.

Deep Cleaning Your Grill

Today, we’re talking all about getting your pellet smoker back in pristine shape. After smoking delicious food all week, your grill is likely in need of a little love.

My smoker of choice is my Camp Chef SmokePro SGX, but this post applies to any smoker that you have, and the tools we are using work all across the board. No matter what is on your back patio, these tips and tricks can help you figure out the best way to clean your grill.

Vacuum cleaning out the interior of a pellet grill.

How to Clean a Pellet Grill

Let’s get cleaning! I always recommend beginning at the top and working your way to bottom.

  1. Clean the lid. Use a putty knife and a nylon scrubber to scrape the buildup on the lid. These two items are must-haves when cleaning all the carbon and residue from your grill.
  2. Empty it out. Remove most of the components in your grill, including the grates, drip pan, and the deflector plate. Use your putty knife and scrubber to rub them down and get that extra gunk off.
  3. Scrape everything! Scrape the inside of the barrel. Rub your putty knife on all the lips and edges as well. Make sure you hit the area in the back where the chimney is attached to the barrel because there will a lot of buildup in there. Also spend plenty of time cleaning the chimney. If you have a drip tray that has vents in it, use the corner of your putty knife to get these nice and clear so none of them are blocked.
  4. Clean the grates. If you have grates that break apart into smaller pieces, you can wash them in dishwasher. If your grill does not have grates you can put in the dishwasher, use a nylon scrub brush (on cold grates only!) or balled up tin foil between a pair of tongs (for hot grates) to scrape them clean. Check out more details on cleaning grill grates in the next paragraph.
  5. Don’t forget the thermometer and grease chute! Use a paper towel to clean the thermometer inside your grill. This is what dictates how frequently your grill feed pellets, how hot your grill gets, and it can impact temp swings. Also make sure you thoroughly clean the grease chute. It connects the drip tray to the grease bucket. Grease spillage can occur if this gets blocked, and it can set you up for a grease fire, so use your putty knife to get this nice and clean.
  6. Vacuum out all the gunk. Once you’ve scraped off all the residue in your grill, grab a wet/dry vacuum to suck out everything that you’ve worked loose.
  7. Clean the exterior. I use a degreaser and Windex to get my smoker sparkling clean. If your grill is stainless steel, use a stainless steel wipe or spray to get your shine on! You can also use a thin oil like vegetable oil to wipe down the exterior of your grill and it conditions everything and makes it look brand new.
  8. Reassemble. Put your grill back together and you’re ready to get smoking again!

I end here, but if you’re really wanting a sparkling clean, you can use a degreaser to break down more residual buildup inside your grill. This is not necessary, but if you want it as clean as possible, you are welcome to go the extra mile. Just note that it is unlikely you will get EVERYTHING off your grill, so don’t stress if it is not 100% perfectly clean like the day you brought it home.

Woman placing grill grates in a dishwasher.

How to Clean Grill Grates

Cleaning grates on your pellet grill is a bit tricky, but here are some tips to get them clean fast.

  • Use appropriate cleaning products. The grill grates on my Camp Chef SGX come off, and I put them in the dishwasher to get all the baked on gunk off. If yours don’t come off in small enough sections for your dishwasher, use a nylon scrub brush for cold grates, or balled up tin foil between a pair of tongs for hot grates. Both of these can get into the grooves and knock off the bigger pieces of burnt on gunk.
  • Degreaser works wonders. I can fit my grates in my dishwasher, so I wash mine through with a degreaser. You can also use a spray degreaser to break down the buildup. You can also remove the grates and soak them in a plastic bin or in your bathtub with blue dish soap.
  • Avoid using water inside your smoker. Almost all smokers have metal components inside them that can rust. Avoid this and only use water once you remove the grates.
  • Avoid abrasive grill brushes! Do not use the grill brushes with wire bristles. They can damage the protective coating on your grates and rust them out. These bristles may also flake off, and you run the risk of ingesting them and getting seriously hurt.

Cleanser being wiped off the exterior of a pellet grill.

Recipes for Your Clean Pellet Grill

Once your pellet smoker is clean, let’s get it good and dirty again with these delicious smoked recipes:

How to Clean a Pellet Grill Video

Watch the video below and I’ll show you step-by-step how I get my grill beautifully clean. I’m here to help you make better BBQ, feed the people you love, and become a backyard BBQ hero. Check out more of my smoking and grilling recipe videos on YouTubeInstagram, or our Facebook Page.

 

**This post was originally published on October 22, 2015. It has been updated with more tips and content to help you achieve better results.

About

FOUNDER/BBQ BOSS LADY

Susie is the BBQ Brain behind the Hey Grill Hey website. Her passion for smoked meats and developing fun, new recipes have landed her on the Food Network, cooking turkeys with Shaq, and on a couple of Guinness World Records. When she’s not grilling, she is hanging out with Todd and their three kids, preferably outdoors!

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Reader Reviews

23 Reviews

  1. Tracy says:

    Scrubbing Bubbles is the best and easiest way to clean our PitBoss vertical smoker. The remaining residue on the glass door is removed with Mr. Clean pads. Very little scrubbing needed.

  2. J.J. Miles says:

    Love the tutorial. I am guilty of waiting to long in between cleanings so when I do it probably takes longer than it should. One tip you might add – don’t wear good clothes when doing it. LOL

  3. Jonathon West says:

    I found that an easy way to remind how long I’m cooking is to use an app. A new one came out that works well for me called pellet grill minder.

  4. G says:

    So, degreasers are okay to use on the inside of a Traeger Grill?

    1. Hey Grill Hey says:

      Yes, mild greasers. You don’t have to use any chemical if you don’t want to.

  5. James says:

    Excellent video. My pellet grill gets used year round and was in need if a deep clean. Followed your advice and it is like new!!

    1. Hey Grill Hey says:

      Thank you so much James!

  6. Chris smith says:

    What degreaser do you use?

    1. Hey Grill Hey says:

      I use the Mean Green Super Strength Degreaser

  7. Like says:

    Good job. Although Traeger suggests using a wooden paint stick to scrape grease instead of metal scraper.

  8. Popeye says:

    Even LP grills need cleaning. I generally do mine in the early spring before serious grilling season kicks off.

    1. Hey Grill says:

      I usually clean mine out then too. It’s surprising how many people don’t clean them at all.

  9. Trish Craig says:

    love the primer! I have a powder coated smoker. I am wondering if you oiled the outside of a powder coated one also, or did I read that wrong? I used a damp cotton tube sock to wipe mine down but it has lost it’s luster. Wondering if there isn’t something other than oil….which could become sticky to use on it. Thanks!

    1. Hey Grill says:

      I did use a really really thin coating of oil. It was a little tacky after the first use, then not tacky anymore after that. I think if you went too thick it would stay sticky for a long time. I think there is also a clear spray varnish you can put over powder coated grills but I haven’t used it.

  10. Donnie says:

    Nice to see that I’m not the only one to deep clean my grill. Nice tip with the light oil. Thanks for the recipes.

    1. Hey Grill says:

      Thanks Donnie! A clean grill is a happy grill, right? ????