How to clean your food smoker

How to clean your food smoker

Posted on: January 11, 2023

Over the years, as I have used my Bradley Smoker, there are a number of friends and family who decided to take the plunge and purchased a Bradley for themselves.

Over the years, as I have used my Bradley Smoker, there are a number of friends and family who decided to take the plunge and purchased a Bradley for themselves.

It is hard to resist coming over for a BBQ and tasting some smoked ribs, jalapeno poppers or chicken wings and not be lured to the local store to grab your own smoker.

It is common for people to ask me many questions in those first few months of learning the ins and outs of smoking. Probably one of the most common questions I get asked, is about cleaning the smoker. So, I thought I would write this article up to share how I clean my smoker and its many parts.

How to Clean the Racks

It is important to scrub these racks after every smoke. Sometimes food can stick to the rack after a smoke, and there is usually a buildup of black smoke residue on the steel racks as well.

Simply wash in hot soapy water and scrub those racks clean. Depending on the buildup, I just throw them in the dishwasher to clean them right up. Other times, they require a little more work and I pull out the scrub brush to get them clean. Using the Bradley Magic Mats will make your life a lot easier, since the racks won’t get that dirty.

The Drip Bowl is Very Simple to Wash

Ok, I will be the first to admit. There are times that I leave the bowl full of burned bisquettes and water after a smoke. I mean, it is easy to forget to clean it out after smoking all that awesome food.

You are eating, visiting with friends, it gets into the evening and before bed, you put the cover on your smoker. Then, maybe a week goes by, you want to smoke something. You open the door just to discover the bowl is full of water and charred bisquettes – oops!

While I like to clean the bowl out after every smoke, if you didn’t do it, simply dump the contents and wash the stainless steel bowl in hot soapy water. Then it is ready for the next smoke!

The V Shaped Drip Tray Will Require a Scrub Brush

This slotted drip tray that covers the bisquette burner and drip bowl is probably the part of the smoker that gets the most junk on it. Anything that drips from the food being smoked falls onto this tray and, after smoking ribs, chicken or pork belly, the tray can be a mess!

Even though it can have a lot of junk built up after just one smoke, it is actually quite easy to clean. I wait until the smoker is completely cooled and remove the tray.

Then, using a grill/bbq scraper and scrub brush, I scrape all the junk into a bag and scrub it clean. If needed, washing the tray in hot soapy water can get it looking almost new again! I try to clean it after each smoke, especially if a lot of drippings fell on the tray.

The Seals of the Door

Running the smoker causes a lot of smoke residue to collect on the door. Over time, the seal of the door can get some gunk built up on it.

It is not a big deal at all, but it can cause the door to stick a little bit. I find that after a few long smokes, the seals on the door need a quick clean.

This is done by using a wash cloth and warm soapy water. Just wipe down the door seals and the frame of the smoker where they seals of the door touch. Cleaning these spots will keep the door opening and closing smoothly.

The Bisquette Burner

Over time, I have found that the bisquette burner can get some ash build up. I smoke a lot and it does not happen often. However, I notice it when the bisquettes do not burn through, as much as they should.

If the burner gets ash build up, it seems to reduce the heat transfer to the fresh bisquettes. And you may look in your drip bowl to find the bisquettes only 2/3 burned.

Cleaning the burner is very easy to do. Make sure that the burner is cool and remove the V Shaped Drip Tray to have lots of room. Then, on the base of the bisquette burner, use a tool to scrape any residual ash off.

While a grill/bbq scraper works, I personally use an old flat head screwdriver. It is small enough to get in the corner spots of the burner, and works like a charm for me!

The Smoker Walls Have Some Character. Don’t Clean Them!

This is the one part of the smoker that I try to never clean. I love seeing the black smoke residue all over the walls of my smoker.

It shows that I use it a lot. Besides, I feel that this ‘seasoning’ of the smoker will also enhance the flavour of whatever is cooked in the machine.

Now, over time, there may be a bit of flaking and I simply scrape any of the black flakes off the smoker walls. Other than that, there is nothing else I do. I have never washed or scrubbed my smoker walls clean. That would take away all of the character from my smoker!