Let’s be honest; we all like to attend BBQ parties with our friends and family. The preparation of BBQ is not a hassle, but cleaning the aftermath is quite a struggle.
Whether you use a gas smoker or an electric smoker, both will make perfect smoked chicken. Most people prefer electric smokers because of its convenience. If you have one and want to know how to clean electric smokers, then we've got you covered!
It's essential to clean the smoker frequently. Otherwise, the smoker will have reduced efficiency. Simply put, you need to maintain an electric smoker properly to make sure it functions the best way possible.
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How an Electric Smoker Works
It's essential to understand the working of an electric smoker so that you know which part needs maximum cleaning. A thermostat is present inside the chamber, which is used to turn down the flow of electricity.
It works similar to a hot plate. The produced heat will cook your food to perfection.
People still like the traditional smoky flavor in the meat. Hence, there is an ashtray inside where some pieces of wood go. The heat will cause the wood to burn and produce smoke, giving the delicious smoky flavor to the meat.
How to Clean Electric Smokers
If you are wondering if cleaning might cost you more, then you are probably wrong. There are many cost-effective ways to clean electric smoker. You can even use the products from your kitchen for cleaning purposes.
Below we discuss a few ideas on how you can maintain your electric smoker for a long time, using different cleaning solutions.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
You can easily find an apple cider vinegar in your kitchen. Apple cider vinegar is made of acids, which clears out all the grease or dust in minutes. You have to take vinegar and warm water in equal proportion.
We advise you to spray the mixture on the dirty chamber for better results. After spraying, let the vinegar work for five minutes. Clean the chamber with a cloth; you will be amazed to see the final results.
Another benefit of apple cider vinegar is that the acidity kills and helps prevent bacteria and future mold buildup.
2. Soapy Water
If you clean your electric smoker after every use, a simple soapy mixture can do the job. Simply mix the liquid dish soap in water and wipe the chamber with a damp cloth.
We recommend a grease-cutting dish soap like Dawn or a comparable item. Mix 1 Tbsp. of soap to each cup of warm water. This will result in a mix that is easy to use and strong enough to remove all the grease you encounter.
For easy application to your smoker surfaces, transfer your soap mixture to a spray bottle.
3. Oven Cleaner
There are oven cleaners specially made to clean the stubborn dirt from the smoker. If you have a budget, invest in a good oven cleaner. The cleaner will not only clean your electric smoker but saves you a lot of time. Just sprinkle or spray some solution on your smoker, and wipe it down.
4. Bristle Brush
You can use a bristle brush to clean the dirty cooking chamber. The dirt on the walls gets hard when you do not clean the chamber from time to time.
However, the dust does not come out easily when you use a cloth. It's better to use a bristle brush that is more effective in this case. Only make sure the brush is made of plastic, not a metal one, or else, it will damage the walls of the chamber.
5. Wooden Grill Scraper
There are various grill scrapers designed to scrape off all the debris and grease from the walls of the chamber. Using a wooden grill scraper, you can easily scrape the stubborn dirt. In this way, you don’t have to put in a lot of effort to clean the chamber.
How to Clean Each Part
An electric smoker has cooking racks, an ash box, and a drip tray. While cleaning the chamber, you should remove all the things to clean the interior of the electric smoker properly.
1. Cooking Racks
An electric chamber can have up to five cooking racks depending upon the size of the smoker. The meat is placed on the top of a cooking rack, which is why it gets the dirtiest.
You can easily clean the cooking rack with a soapy mixture or place it inside the dishwasher.
If the residue is stubborn to remove, you can keep the rack soaked in the same soapy mixture for almost 30 minutes and then wash it. We advise you to clean the cooking racks after every use.
2. Ash Box
There is an ash box inside the electric smoker where ashes of the wood are placed. The best part about an ash box is the residue doesn’t get scattered inside but remains at a place. Therefore, it becomes easier to clean the excess.
Just take out the ash box, throw the ashes in the dustbin and clean the ash box with the soapy mixture. You should throw out the remains after every use. Thus, it will not be difficult to clean.
3. Drip Tray
As the marinated meat is placed directly on the cooking rack, the oil or sauces might drip on the bottom. The bottom will not get dirty if there is a drip tray. The cooking racks are above the drip tray, so all the dripping can be put in this tray.
The cleaning of a drip tray is vital and needs to be done frequently. You can wash the tray with a soapy mixture or an apple cider vinegar to remove all the stains. If you do not clean the tray properly, there are chances of rusting.
After taking out all the parts, you will be left with an empty chamber. That said, the cleaning of the chamber is a hard nut to crack. Not exaggerating, but a wooden grill scraper should be used to scrape all the dirt from the walls.
After this, you can spray the apple cider vinegar mixture and leave it for a few minutes so that the grease will get soft a bit. Next, you can clean the walls of the chamber with a cloth.
You can use a bristle brush for cleaning the chamber, as well. The chamber will not become silver again after cleaning because the smoke turns it to black. As such, there is no benefit of cleaning the chamber after every use.
A thermostat is located inside the rear wall of the cooking chamber and tells you about the temperature readings. Make sure the thermostat is always cleaned to ensure correct temperature readings.
This part requires minimal effort. Just clean the thermostat with a damp cloth, and you are good to go. You also need to clean the thermostat regularly.
6. The Exterior
The electric smoker is usually placed outside in the backyard. Due to the direct exposure to sun and wind, it gets dirty quickly. This is why you should always clean the electric smoker from the outside.
No need to get into complicated stuff, you can rinse it with a damp cloth or spray an oven cleaner though it is not mandatory.
There is a mirror on the door of the electric smoker, which most people don’t bother to clean. Like every other part, it needs proper cleaning as well. After all, you also want to keep checking the meat being cooked.
You can clean the mirror from the outside with a damp cloth. From the inside, you have to use the soapy mixture as it becomes greasy.
How to Clean Electric Smokers After Mold Growth
Most people like to grill in summers, so in most cases, the electric smoker remains unused during winter days. If you're not using the smoker for a few months, there is a high chance that there will be mold growth.
Imagine you open your smoker for a grilled feast and find mold inside, how would you feel? If this kind of situation happens, you must know how to clean an electric smoker.
Just for assurance, check if there is any residue that needs to be cleaned. If there is, clean it before doing anything else. If not, you can simply move onto the next step.
Molds hate the heat, so turn on the smoker to its highest temperature for about 40 minutes. This is the easiest yet time-saving way to disinfect your smoker from molds. After burning the molds, clean the smoker with a cloth to make sure the chamber is clean thoroughly.
Why Do You Need to Maintain a Smoker?
Many people ask why we need to maintain an electric smoker. Well, it is pretty obvious. The cleanliness of the smoker will help you maintain the hygiene level. There will be no chance of mold growth or rust formation if you clean the smoker regularly.
Another factor that will give you the reason to maintain your electric smoker is that the maintenance increases its capability. The efficiency of the smoker will not decrease over time if you clean the smoker regularly.
Although people dread the cleaning part, it saves you money as well. You will not have to buy a new piece every other day.
Is Curing the Electric Smoker Important?
Whenever you buy a new electric smoker, there are chances of residue clinging on the walls of the chamber. This is due to the massive production of units at once, so it is essential to cure a newly bought electric smoker for hygienic purposes.
The process is long, but not too difficult. When you buy the smoker, set it up at the place where you want to keep it. Clean the inside using cloth.
After that, turn on the smoker to its highest temperature and let it burn all the debris. The process may take three long hours, but it is essential to do this process. Again clean the chamber with a cloth after it cools down.
Tips When Maintaining Electric Smokers
The cleaning of an electric smoker is an essential part, but there are a few safety measures that should be taken during the cleaning process.
1. Let the Chamber Cool Down
This is the first point you should remember every time you tend to clean your electric smoker. After you have cooked your chicken, let the machine cool down before cleaning while you enjoy your meal. If not, your hands will burn.
2. Use Gloves
Using gloves while cleaning the smoker can save your hands from getting burnt or hurt. Your hands might get scratched while scraping, so it is better to wear gloves and protect yourself from the hassle.
3. Don’t Use Abrasive Chemicals
If you want to use your smoker for a longer time, make sure to avoid using abrasive chemicals. These chemicals will damage the steel body of your chamber from both inside and outside. Hence, you should not use them.
4. Use a Protective Cover
If you are placing your electric smoker outside, it will get dirty soon. You can buy a protective cover to place on the top of the smoker. This way, the smoker will be free from dirt, and you don’t have to clean it regularly.
5. Oil the Cooking Rack
Before putting the meat on the cooking rack, brush the oil on the rack to avoid meat sticking onto the rack. If you do not put oil, the meat will attach to the rack and become difficult to detach. The rack will be harder to clean, as well.
6. Let the Parts Dry
After you have thoroughly cleaned every part of the electric smoker, let them dry before putting them inside. It is necessary to dry them, or else, there is a high chance of rusting.
The rusting usually takes place where there is slight moisture. Thus, always makes sure to put everything inside after properly air-drying each part.
After you have invested a substantial amount in purchasing the electric smoker, you also have to maintain the machine. There is no perfect material that can totally clean the electric smoker.
The easiest yet affordable method is using apple cider vinegar. It cleans up to 80% of the dirt and grease.
The second option is a soapy mixture that will clean the debris and grease from the smoker. It is better to buy a protective cover so that you don’t have to clean the electric smoker more frequently or keep it inside.