Pellet grills are designed to run with ease, with precise temperature settings. However, even with all the features, they don’t come with a setting for self-cleaning. Cleaning a pellet grill isn’t all that difficult or time-consuming. We encourage you at least clean your grill grates after every cook so leftover food debris and grease don’t eat away at them.
To do so, turn your pellet grill to its highest heat setting, close the lid, and let it sit for about 10 minutes. The high heat will convert all the stuck-on, caramelized food into carbon, which is much easier to scrub off the grates. Once this process is complete, just do the following:
- Turn the grill to around 250–300 degrees Fahrenheit
- Open the lid and let the temperature come down
- Using either a grill brush or loosely wadded ball of paper towels held in tongs, scrub each grate back to front once
A stainless steel brush on grill grates made from the same material are safe to use, but be sure to have a nylon-bristle brush handy when cleaning porcelain-coated grates. The stiffness of stainless steel bristles can damage the porcelain coating on your grates.
Deep-Cleaning a Pellet Grill
Before starting the process of cleaning the grill, it’s crucial to make sure the unit has completely cooled and is unplugged before attempting to remove and clean internal parts. Lightly lit embers and hot ash can hang around the body of your pellet smoker after the shutdown cycle, so it would wise to give your grill 24 hours to cool down before starting.
The first step is to clean the grill grates if they have not been cleaned already, once done set them aside. Next, remove the heat diffusers and all other internal components, placing them off to the side as well. Ding so allows you access to the entire grill body and the fire pot, both of which need to be cleared of ash. To do this, either scoop the ashes into a non-combustible container, or use a shop vac or specially designed ash vac to pull them all out of the grill. It’s extremely important that the fire pot is thoroughly cleaned because ash can coat the hot rod ignitor, creating a layer of insulation that makes lighting your pellet grill needlessly difficult.
To clean the internal parts of your pellet smoker, you need to scrub it with hot water, dish soap, and a sponge. If your heat diffusers are especially dirty, clean them with your grill brush before using soapy water. The soapy sponge can also be used on the interior of your grill, but make sure your pellet hopper is empty so your fuel doesn’t get wet and become unusable. Make sure all inner parts are completely dry before returning them to your pellet grill in reverse order of how you took them out.
The last step is the exterior of your pellet smoker, which can be covered in dust and grime. Simply wipe the outside of the smoker with a damp towel. It’s important that you never use chlorides, bleach, or caustic cleaners on any part of your pellet grill as these chemicals can do serious damage in the form of corrosion. And, as usual, check your owner’s manual to see if you should be following any specific cleaning instructions in addition to what’s listed here.
If you grill often, it’s a good idea to conduct a deep clean on your pellet grill once every 2–3 months. If you only use it occasionally, you may be able to get away with an all-over clean once a year. Either way, establishing a routine for pellet smoker cleaning will help extend the life of your unit and protect your investment.