How to Clean Your Pellet Smoker

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Snow was in the weather forecast this weekend in Boise. We’re about 15 hours in and we’ve been blessed with 50 degrees and sunshine. No sign of snow! The peonies we planted last year have poked up through the topsoil, and our lilies are a good eight inches tall. Spring has definitely sprung.

Time to Clean Your Pellet Smoker

Spring weather means more stable grilling temps – if you don’t have a blanket for your smoker. It’s also when we start spending more time outside our house than in. This year that means cleaning up the remnants of a mild Boise Winter, and pulling the first few weeds that have come up around our house. Spring is also a great time to give your grill a thorough deep clean. If it’s been awhile since you’ve cleaned your pellet smoker, there’s never been a better time to clean your pellet smoker.

Why You Should Clean Your Pellet Smoker

Before I share with you how I clean my Traeger, you might be wondering: Why should I clean my smoker? What are the benefits?

Well, first of all, keeping your grill clean will keep your food clean. You’re cooking meals for your friends and family with that pellet smoker in your backyard. The dirtier that smoker gets, the more pellet ash will circulate around the chamber. No one wants to eat pellet ash. Regularly cleaning your pellet smoker will also give you more consistent temperatures. The cleaner your grill is inside, the better the airflow will be inside the chamber.

What You Need To Clean Your Smoker

There are just a few things you’ll need to get this cleaning job done.

  1. Wet Dry Vacuum
  2. Wire Grill Grate Brush
  3. Cleaning Spray
  4. Putty Knife
  5. Small Wire Brush

The steps that follow will show you how to clean a Traeger Pro Series 22.

How To Clean a Pellet Smoker

Before you start, wheel your smoker onto a drop cloth in your yard. This is going to be a MESSY process. Remember, we’re going for a deep clean here.

The first thing we need to do is dump the pellets using the quick dump on the back of the hopper. You can put a five-gallon bucket under the dump to catch the pellets.

Next, you need to remove the grill grates, drip tray, and heat baffle. Spray the grill grates with the cleaning spray and then let the spray soak in for about ten minutes before wiping the grates with a washcloth and soapy water.

cleaning your pellet smoker
The inside of a neglected smoker that is in desperate need of a deep clean

If we were just doing a quick clean, all we would do now is vacuum all of the soot and ash out of the bottom of the smoker and call it good. Since we are going for a deep clean, there are a few more steps.

When you first purchased your grill the interior walls were smooth. Those smooth walls promote good airflow and allow for more consistent cooking temperatures. Over time, carbon builds up on the walls of your smoker, and eventually, the walls will look scaly.

Scrape the Walls

Using the plastic putty knife, scrape all of the interior walls of your smoker. Once all of the scales are gone on your smoker walls, go back over them with your wire brushes. Use the large brush for the larger walls, and then use the smaller brush for more difficult to reach nooks and crannies.

cleaning your pellet smoker

Don’t forget to spin the cap off of your smokestack. Use the small wire brush to clean the underside of the cap, and also the walls of the smokestack. Go into the smokestack from the inside of the smoker with the wire brush, and clean up that area as best you can too.

Run the wire brush the length of your temperature probe a few times too. A little bit of buildup on that probe can really affect how well it reads temperatures.

Vacuum Time

After you’ve cleaned all of the walls and thoroughly vacuumed out all of the old pellet dust, soot, and carbon build up, it’s time to reassemble the smoker.


Put the heat baffle back in first, followed by the drip pan. I always cover my drip pan with these disposable covers. The disposable covers are easy to remove when I do a quick clean, and they are cheap. I highly recommend them.

After the drip pan, put your grill grates back in, and close the lid. The inside of your grill is now clean! The last step is to clean the outside of your smoker. This is a much easier task. Using a washcloth and warm soapy water, wipe down the entire outer surface of your smoker. Take care not to get water into the controller area.

Now that your smoker is clean on the inside and outside, it’s time to celebrate. What better way to celebrate than by making a smoked fatty, or maybe a reverse seared steak?!

Cleaning a pellet smoker is a relatively easy task. I recommend a good deep clean 2 or 3 times per year, and a quick clean every 3 or 4 cooks.

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