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By Breanna Stark of @marriedtobbq

A clean grill is a happy grill, and that means it’s important to clean your pellet grill regularly. Whether you’re a daily griller or you only fire up the grill a few times a year, it’s still imperative that you keep your grill clean to prevent malfunctions and give you the best quality food possible.

After Every Cook

Make it a habit to clean your grill after each cook. Tackling small cleaning tasks regularly is far easier than waiting to clean everything at once after multiple cooks. By reducing grease, ash and buildup on your grill, you'll not only enhance its performance but also extend its lifespan.

  1. Scrape the grates with a grill brush while the grates are still hot. You can scrape the grill grates once the grill has cooled down, but it’s so much easier to scrape off grease, food residue, sauce, etc. when the grates are still hot.

It’s important to keep your grill grates clean. While some try to say that the residue left behind is “flavor,” it’s much better for your grill (and your food!) to clean them regularly.

  1. Empty the pellets from the hopper. Many people don’t realize you’re supposed to empty the pellet hopper after every single cook. Allowing the pellets to remain in the hopper and auger between cooks is the number one way you will end up with issues with the performance of your pellet grill.

Pellets are made of wood and when wood is exposed to humidity and/or moisture, they tend to expand and deteriorate. It’s best to store your pellets in a cool, dry place when they are not in use. And, since most people store their grills outside, it doesn’t tend to be cool or dry!

After 40 Hours of Cooking

Even as you keep up with the regular cleanings of your grill, you will still need to perform a deeper clean for about every 40 hours of cooking time. This could be every few months, once a year, or every week, depending on how much you’re using your grill and what types of food you’re cooking. That’s why gauging when it’s a good time to do a deep clean is best done by hours of smoking completed. When it’s time for the deep clean, these are the steps you should follow-

  1. Unassemble: The first step is to unassemble your grill. You can leave the hopper, body and auger intact, but you want to remove the grill grates, ash pan, grease bucket, and any other components that can be easily removed from the main body chamber of the grill.
  1. Clean removed components: My number one tool of choice when I’m deep cleaning my pellet grill is a bottle of Dawn Powerwash Dish S While there are plenty of other grill cleaners on the market, I find that Dawn Powerwash is an absolute game-changer.

You can lay all of the grates, drip tray, etc. out on a table or in the yard and spray them down with Dawn Powerwash. You want to let it sit and soak for 10-15 minutes, and the Dawn Powerwash will pull off all of that grease and junk with ease. Then you can just wipe away the residue with a wet sponge! Easy peasy!

  1. Scrape Interior Chamber: This isn’t always a necessity, depending on what you’ve been cooking, but it’s a good idea to take a look at the interior chamber of your grill and see if there’s any residue or build-up. If you tend to spritz your meat or use a lot of sauce, you may end up with some residue on the interior of the body that needs to be scraped away.
  1. Vacuum Out the Ash: Another thing you want to make sure to do when you are deep-cleaning your pellet grill is remove the ash from the bottom of the grill chamber. Hands down the best way to do this is with a Shop-Vac or similar style vacuum. The reason a Shop-Vac is so great is they’re waterproof, so if you end up vacuuming up some grease or liquid from the bottom of the grill it won’t hurt the vacuum.

Once you remove the grates and the drip tray, you will immediately see a good amount of ash down in the bottom of your pellet grill. This is leftover from the burning of the pellets during the cooking process. Just stick the vacuum hose down there and suck them all up, then you can continue wiping down the inside of the chamber.

  1. Reassemble the Grill: After you’ve cleaned all of the components, vacuumed out the chamber and cleaned the body of the grill, you can replace all of the grill components (grates, drip tray, etc.) and the grill is clean! 

By incorporating regular cleaning habits after every cook and scheduling deeper cleanings every 40 hours or so of cooking, you'll ensure your grill remains in top condition for years to come. Happy grilling!