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how do you clean up your smoker?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Howdy gang...

First of all, I know all of this is pure fiction since there's no Q-view...but I assure you I'm left with a messy smoker! It's gonna be a tough job to get her back into shape.

I just completed a 24 hour marathon smoke yesterday for the wife's birthday picnic. I'm new to smoking but I jumped in head first on this one. I modded my CGSP to the gills and went right to it.

I started Sunday noon-ish with a pork butt, followed at 4PM with 2 fatties for dinner that night. When the butt finished, I threw on a brisket at about 10PM and rolled smoke all night long. About 7AM it was up to 200 and in the cooler. Next up was 6 racks of ribs with the 3-2-1 and a double batch of Dutch's wicked beans, minus the jalapenos. Used Jeff's rub on everything.

Everybody raved over the beans and the meat. Everything turned out wonderfully, except I should have rubbed the brisket earlier so the rub saturated the meat better (I thought). But I got no complaints.

Which leads me to my question. How do you guys clean up your smokers? All that sticky brown sugar and fats has really made a mess of the grates and the bottom of the smoker.

I think my best option is to just take off the grates and wire brush them, then wipe them down. Then scrape everything down with a putty knife and paper towel out the insides. I don't think I want to use soapy water because it will cause rust. The grease should help protect it, as long as there's no big clods that will cause mold and rot to get in the smoker.

What do you think?

post #2 of 13
I use 2 tools to clean: the wooden handle from an old hammer, and a wire brush. Wack the box with the handle and brush the grates. What doesn't fall off from the wacking or come off from the brushing is forever known as "seasoning".
post #3 of 13
This don't help you now, but the more tin foil you use, the less you gotta clean!
post #4 of 13
When you're done cooking, and everything is still warm, go over your grates with a wire brush. Then leave them. The next time after that when you smoke, take a look, and brush again if needed, after everything heats up. For now, I would brush them cold. Next time make sure your brush them as they get hot.

Inside, I'm not sure what the best way would be. But for the future, Aluminum foil is your friend, if you can get it in the botoom of your smoker.
post #5 of 13
When cleaning the microwave, I boil a 50/50 mix of h2o and white vinegar, let it sit on there for a couple minutes, all the crud wipes right off. I wonder if you filled your water pan with a similar mixture and let it boil and steam up in your cooker, if that would aid in clean up??
post #6 of 13
I have learned to buy lots of heavy duty foil for my CGSP. I suggest a puddy knife and a shop vac.
post #7 of 13
That's what I do with my SnP. The drum too for that matter.

A plastic scraper works fine. You don't want to scrape the "seasoning" off of it. If the grates look dry I would spray with a light coating of Pam as well.

post #8 of 13
The grates should be your biggest concern. I use hot soapy water and soak them until the waters gets cold and then brush them with steel wool or a wire brush.

Dry the grates well, coat with a thin sheen of olive oil or something like that, heat in the smoker or in the oven for an hour or so, cool and wipe off and you're good to go.

The crud on the inside of the smoker should be knocked off and then hosed out, but don't scrape too much. After you hose it out, let it dry in the sun and anywhere you scraped, throw some olive or other cooking oil on it and then heat that sucker up for an hour or so.
post #9 of 13
After a smoke I'm typically busy eating and then it's sleepytime so the grates don't get cleaned immediately.

The next day, I scrape 'em down. Then the next time I smoke I scrape 'em again, burn the remaining stuff off in my gas grill, and coat 'em with vegetable oil. This keeps them quite clean and definitely keeps them from imparting old residue onto the new food.
post #10 of 13
After I finish smoking, I pull the grates and water pan (charcoal upright vertical smoker) and throw them on my gas grill. Crank it up as hot as it will go. Within a few minutes it will all be burned off and then hit it with the grill brush. With the water pan and grates out of the smoker, I let the charcoal burn out. It usually gets hot enough to clean it up. Reassemble and I'm good to go the next time.
post #11 of 13
are u suppose to clean these things??????????
post #12 of 13
I leave all the aftermath on the grates until the next time i smoke to keep things from rusting. Mostly this is in my grill but i treat the smoker grates the same.
post #13 of 13


I don't CLEAN the inside of my OK Joe LongHorn very often. At the very least I do use a wire grill brush on the grates every time I smoke. I have never experienced any rotten food sitting in there nor has there ever been mold. When the occasion does arise when even I can't stand to look in there any more, I just use a plastic scraper to pull everything out. Then if the mood suits me I might start a bed of coals just to kind've re-season the smoker with the remaining oils or grease.

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