How to Clean Pit Boss Vertical Smoker

how to clean pit boss vertical smoker

If you own a vertical smoker, you may start thinking about cooking those delicious smoked chicken breasts and pulled pork as soon as the weather gets warmer. Before you start working at the grill, make sure you give it a thorough cleaning. Regularly cleaning your vertical smokers and grills is essential to maintain their functionality.

Leaving the smokers uncleaned is an unhygienic practice that affects the flavor of your food and causes the machine to wear out prematurely. Cleaning your Pit Boss smokers briefly after every use and deep cleaning every so often will keep their performance intact and ensure you get delicious food each time.

We understand that thorough cleaning is not a fun task, but it’s not worth letting all that rust, debris, and grease accumulate in your smoker. We will tell you simple ways of cleaning your smokers and pellet grills so you can preserve their efficiency and longevity. Have a quick read about how to clean pit boss vertical smoker.

Pit Boss Vertical Smoker Cleaning Process

We will guide you through different stages of the cleaning process. It covers everything from cleaning the machine’s body to its internal components. You can clean any smoker or pellet grill through this method.

Cover the cleaning surface with a large plastic sheet or newspaper to protect it from grease drippings and dirt. Turn the smoker on for a few minutes at the maximum temperature and let the grill heat up. Heating the grill loosens the grease and dirt build-up and expedites cleaning process.

Start the cleaning process once the grills are cold and safe to touch. You need to heat the machine if you have a gas or electric smoker- skip this step if you have a hardwood pellet smoker.

Tools and Supplies

You need to remove the grease and ash accumulated in the smoker. You will need non-abrasive cleaning tools and free of harsh chemicals cleaning solutions to tidy the surface and cooking chamber of the smoker. Gather the following cleaning supplies and scrubbing tools for quicker and better cleaning:

  • Disposable gloves
  • Ash vacuum cleaner or shop vac
  • Sponge
  • Non-metal brush
  • Degreasing spray
  • Nylon grill brush
  • Paper towels
  • Putty knife
  • Plastic BBQ scrapper
  • Grease bucket
  • Soap, water, vinegar, and baking soda
  • Aluminum foil

Clean With the Scrapper

The best way to clean your vertical smoker is to begin at the top and work through the bottom. If you start cleaning at the bottom and move to the top later, the bottom areas you have already cleaned will catch grease and dirt, and you will have to start over again.

The first step of cleaning the smoker/grill is to erase thick pieces of food, grease, and ash with a plastic scraper. Make sure to clean from all sides and also the bottom. Remember to turn off and unplug the machine. Validate that the device is cold and idle before starting to avoid accidents. Avoid using a metal scraper, or you might damage the painted surface of the cooking chamber.

Scrub the Cooking Grates

When you finish scraping the smoking, you will notice the residue has made its way to the cooking grates. Scrub the cooking grates with a nylon grill brush and push the entire greasy, dirty residue into the grease tray. Thoroughly scrub the built-up food residing on the cooking grid. Once you have cleaned the grates with the brush, you can spray degreasing solution on them for a second round of cleaning.

We do not recommend putting them in a dishwasher as it could damage the porcelain coating. Empty the hopper before applying the degreasing liquid, as wet wood pellets could clog the auger. Clean the pellet residue and debris from the hopper with a vacuum.

Remove the grill grates from the grid and soak them in soapy water or spray degreasing solution. Soak them for about ten minutes, then clean gently with a nylon brush.

If you have cleaned your grills regularly, dishwashing liquid mixed with water would do the job. But if you haven’t deep cleaned the smoker in a while, you may need a degreaser to remove the stubborn fat and oil. Remember not to brush vigorously, or you might strip the paint.

If you do not have the time for a thorough cleaning, you can clean the grates after every use while they are still hot. It is easier to remove grease when they are hot, and all you have to do is to set your smoker to the highest temperature and let it burn for around fifteen minutes.

Blazing the grills softens the built-up grease, and you can conveniently scrap it off with a brush. Remember to wear protective gloves when working with hot grills.

Clean the Cooking Chamber

Deep clean the cooking chamber by generously spraying the degreasing solution. Ensure you thoroughly drench the lid, sides, and back with the spray for optimal results. Let it sit for a few minutes- allow the degreaser to loosen up the dirt and grease.

Use a sponge or scouring pad to wipe the residue from the smoker. Remember to use non-scratch scouring pads or paper towels to avoid damaging the paint finish. Repeat the process twice to give your smoker a nice and tidy finish.

Clean the Temperature Sensor

The temperature sensor inside the cooking chamber of a smoker is a critical component as it helps monitor the internal temperature and regulates the fuel feed. As we smoke food in the smoker, it also gets dirty and vanishes under a layer of grease, smoker, and food residue.

A dirty temperature sensor may not read the temperature accurately and could ruin the entire smoking experience and your food. Wiping it with a paper towel during vertical smoker deep cleaning is essential. Remember to be cautious and gentle while cleaning the RTD probe, as it is fragile and prone to failures and errors.

Use a soft sponge or cloth, and avoid harsh chemicals or hard-surfaced brushes for the temperature probe. We have seen users spraying it with degreasing solutions, but cleaning it with plain water is more favorable.

Degrease the Drip Tray

Clean the grease or drip tray after every use, as it exposes itself to the most stubborn deposits from the cooking process. Covering the grease tray with a disposable foil tray or drip tray liner helps keep it clean. If you do not want to purchase additional accessories, you can cover the area with aluminum foil.

Clean the surface of the drip tray by scrapping its contents with a plastic scraper. Wash it with soap and lukewarm water. You can use a cleaning solution if your drip tray has a lot of grease accumulated in it. Ensure the drip tray is dry before putting it back into the smoker.

Clean the Drip Bucket

The next step is to clean the grease drain and bucket. Remove the bucket from the smoker and scrub it with a scrapper to eliminate the residue. Brush the drain opening at the bottom of the tray.

Clean the inside of the drain tube with a paper towel to remove the grease. Scrub the dirt out from the bucket with a spatula or scraper- avoid using the nylon brush grill for this particular task. Once you have scrapped the residue off, wash it with soap and water.

Vacuum the Pellet Burn Pot

Now that the smoker’s body is almost clean, it’s time to tidy up the heat deflector and burn pot. Use the shop vac to remove the ash build-up gathered in the base of the burn pot. Some vertical smoker models have removable ash cups that are easier to clean. Others, you can clean with a vacuum cleaner.

Removing the ash from the burn pot is significant, as it affects the functionality of the smoker and could also lead to grill explosion in some cases. Vacuum the ash and dust from the pellet hopper after cleaning the burn pot.

Give your smoker’s base a cleaning do-over with a plastic scrapper or ash vac after the burn pot and pellet hopper. You can also clean the burn pot with a paintbrush or soft washcloth.

Clean the Smoker on the Outside        

While at it, cleaning the smoker’s glass from inside out is necessary to make it look nice and tidy. Leaving the glass window uncleaned will not let you monitor how your food is cooking. Use a dry or wet soft cloth soaked in soapy water to remove spots, dust, and grease marks from the glass.

You can use a BBQ degreaser if the glass is hard to clean and soap and water do not work. If you have not cleaned your smoker in a while, the glass might have stubborn smoke accumulation that will not be easy to clean. Also, the glass becomes messy and blurry if you use stronger wood pellets like Hickory, Oakmont, or Mesquite. You can use household cleaning supplies, like water and vinegar mixed together or baking soda.

While cleaning the exterior of the smoker, make sure the glass is cold to touch and the machine is unplugged. Let the cleaner sit on the glass for a few minutes so the greasy residue softens and wipes off smoothly. Wipe with a soft sponge or paper towel. Make sure to clean the glass door from both sides. Clean the metallic part of the door with a scraper, then wipe with a soft cloth.

Now that all the internal components of the smoker are clean, you can return them to their positions in the smoker. Ensure they are dry before they go back in. Practice caution when working with electrical elements of the machine, and avoid using water to clean them.

Avoid using your smoker for the next twenty hours after the cleanup. Use a wet cloth to wipe the smoker thoroughly after cleaning it with degreasing solutions. Do not rinse with water, especially the hopper and electrical components.

Re-season the Smoker

As important as it is to remove old food residue, grease, and smoke traces from the smoker, it is equally essential to re-season it after a deep cleaning session. Spray the inside of the cooking chamber with a high-temperature food oil and heat your smoker for twenty minutes.

Re-seasoning the smoker makes it easier to clean the food particles and greasy residue from the cooking chamber in the future, and carbonized oil will also prevent your machine from corrosion.

Frequently Asked Questions:     

Q: How do I clean rust from the grill?

Use Pit Boss degreaser if you have rust on your grills. Remove the grills from the smoker and spray the solution generously. Let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub the rust away with a scrubber. Cleaning rust from your grills may damage the paint, so you may have to repaint the affected area. 

Q: Why should I clean my Pit Boss vertical smoker?

The smoker collects grease and ash every time you use it. Leaving it uncleaned for long affects the smoker’s function and decreases its performance and lifespan. Keeping the smoker clean ensures the flavor and cleanliness of the food, allows for better temperature control and airflow, and increases it’s the smoker’s lifespan.

Q: How often should I clean my Pit Boss vertical smoker?

Clean your vertical smoker briefly after every use. It also depends on how frequently you use your smoker. If you grill food more than three days a week, the smoker will need deep cleaning weekly.

Clean the burn pot and drip tray once a month, brush the grills with a grill brush after every use, and clean the machine inside out with a degreasing solution once every two months. Regular cleaning and maintenance make the smoker more reliable and efficient.

Q: Can I wash the smoker’s window?

Avoid splashing water on the glass as it may reach the hopper or electrical components of the machine. Use cleaning sprays or solutions and wipe with a wet cloth or sponge. 

Q: How to clean vertical smoker grills?

The best and safest method of cleaning the grills is to brush them with a grill brush or wash them with soapy water, vinegar, or any other mild cleaner. 

Tips for Maintaining a Pit Boss Vertical Smoker

A vertical smoker is a practical investment for BBQ enthusiasts. It is costly, but you can use it for several years with proper care and maintenance. Here are a few tips to keep your vertical smokers functional and optimal for the longest time possible. 

  • Scrap the built-up residue from the grill after every use. 
  • Season your smoker with high-temperature cooking oil before every use. It ensures the food tastes great and makes the cleanup more convenient.
  • Keep your grills covered with a grill cover when not in use.
  • Keep your vertical smoker in a dry area to protect its electrical components, like the auger motor, temperature sensor, etc., from moisture. 
  • Line your drip tray and grease bucket with aluminum foil to save excessive grease accumulation. 
  • Some low-quality wood pellets produce blue smoke and significantly more ash, making the smoker dirtier and messier than high-quality cooking wood pellets. Make sure to use high-quality wood pellets at all times.

Take Away

Consistent cleaning and maintenance could elevate your Pit Boss vertical smoker’s performance and durability. You can avoid numerous probable errors and malfunctions by keeping your smoker nice and clean. The ash, food residue, grease, and smoke traces could affect the flavors and quality of your food and minimize the performance of different critical parts of the smoker.

Remember to clean your Pit Boss vertical smoker regularly and use accurate cleaning procedures and supplies to avoid damaging its functionality. With these cleaning hacks, your smoker will be at the top of its game and deliver flavorful smoked, roasted, and barbecued food for many years.

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