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Spring Cleaning Your Smoker (OFFSET BARREL SMOKERS)

March 15, 2017

here are people on Planet Barbecue who wouldn’t dream of cooking in an oven crusted with carbonized grease and spills, but who persist in calling the same detritus “seasoning” when cooking outdoors on their smokers or grills. No. Just say no. By-products of the smoking process—tar, creosote, soot, and so on—can accumulate to the point where they flake off on your food.

 

Annual maintenance needn’t be a chore if you have the right equipment, not to mention some tunes and an adult beverage. And for motivation, host an epic barbecue once the work is done.

(Note: The following advice applies to smokers. Also see our spring cleaning tips for gas grills and charcoal grills.)

 

What you’ll need:

-Inexpensive plastic tarp for protecting work area
-Grilling gloves as well as heavy-duty rubber gloves
-Large plastic utility tub
-A good cleaner/degreaser, preferably organic, such as Simple Green or SAFECID; special cleaners may be required for smokers constructed of stainless steel
-Small wet/dry vacuum
-Water hose with a high pressure sprayer nozzle
-Heavy-duty scrubbing sponges and scouring pads
-Long-handled wooden spoon or paint stirring stick
-Plastic putty knife, paint scraper, or scraper with plastic blades
-Grill brush

 

Before proceeding, consult the owner’s manual that came with your smoker for specific instructions. Not sure where the paperwork is? Most large manufacturers publish the manuals online.

 

 

 (Note: The following instructions are for smokers without any electrical or digital components.)

 

Unless you want to power wash your deck or patio after you’ve cleaned your cooker, put on rubber gloves and lay a large tarp down where you plan to work and move the smoker onto the tarp. (Remove any unspent fuel from the cook chamber first.) Recruit help if you need it—some smokers are heavy. Fill a plastic tub with hot water and dish soap or your cleaner of choice and set aside. Brush the grates with a grill brush. (Use a brush with brass bristles if the grates are porcelain-coated so you don’t nick them.) Place in the tub to soak. Scrape and brush the heat diffuser plate, if your smoker has one. Unscrew the dome from the chimney and add the dome and the diffuser plate to the tub. Using a paint stirring stick or long-handled wooden spoon or stiff brush, clean the inside of the chimney.

 

Scrape the inside lid of the firebox and cook chamber with a putty knife or paint scraper. Loosen any pools of grease and/or carbonized food in the bottom and wipe up with paper towels. Scrape the bottom half of the cook chamber, making sure to get into the corners. Clean the grease gutter with the paint stirring stick. Vacuum the loose ash and debris with a wet/dry vac. Remove the grease catcher and clean out any drippings. Add the grease catcher to the tub. Using hot water, hose out the firebox, cook chamber, and the outside surfaces of the smoker. A pressure washer works even better. Remove any stubborn debris using a scrubby and degreaser. Wipe off the gasket.

 

Towel out any excess water with rags or paper towels. With the lids up and the vents open, let the smoker air dry. If the smoker shows signs of rust, remove it with sandpaper or steel wool, prime, and spray with a good-quality high-temperature paint.

In the meantime, scrub the smoker parts you’ve soaked in the soapy water, replacing the water as needed. Allow to air dry. Reassemble the smoker. Oil it inside and out with vegetable oil. Lubricate the vents if they’re sticky. (Tip: For easy clean-up, line the grease bucket with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Replace after each use.)

 

Note: The following instructions are for smokers without any electrical or digital components.

Unless you want to power wash your deck or patio after you’ve cleaned your cooker, put on rubber gloves and lay a large tarp down where you plan to work and move the smoker onto the tarp. (Remove any unspent fuel from the cook chamber first.) Recruit help if you need it—some smokers are heavy. Fill a plastic tub with hot water and dish soap or your cleaner of choice and set aside. Brush the grates with a grill brush. (Use a brush with brass bristles if the grates are porcelain-coated so you don’t nick them.) Place in the tub to soak. Scrape and brush the heat diffuser plate, if your smoker has one. Unscrew the dome from the chimney and add the dome and the diffuser plate to the tub.

 

Using a paint stirring stick or long-handled wooden spoon or stiff brush, clean the inside of the chimney.Scrape the inside lid of the firebox and cook chamber with a putty knife or paint scraper. Loosen any pools of grease and/or carbonized food in the bottom and wipe up with paper towels. Scrape the bottom half of the cook chamber, making sure to get into the corners. Clean the grease gutter with the paint stirring stick. Vacuum the loose ash and debris with a wet/dry vac.Remove the grease catcher and clean out any drippings. Add the grease catcher to the tub. Using hot water, hose out the firebox, cook chamber, and the outside surfaces of the smoker. A pressure washer works even better. Remove any stubborn debris using a scrubby and degreaser. Wipe off the gasket.

 

Towel out any excess water with rags or paper towels. With the lids up and the vents open, let the smoker air dry. If the smoker shows signs of rust, remove it with sandpaper or steel wool, prime, and spray with a good-quality high-temperature paint.

In the meantime, scrub the smoker parts you’ve soaked in the soapy water, replacing the water as needed. Allow to air dry. Reassemble the smoker. Oil it inside and out with vegetable oil. Lubricate the vents if they’re sticky. (Tip: For easy clean-up, line the grease bucket with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Replace after each use.)

 

 

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