How to Clean a Pellet Grill (in 5 Easy Steps)

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If you’re wondering how to properly clean your pellet grill, you’ve come to the right place!

In this TheGrillingDad.com guide you will learn:

  • How to clean your pellet grill
  • Pellet grill storage tips
  • And much more!
how to clean a pellet grill

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What You Need to Know About Cleaning a Pellet Grill

Just as you wouldn’t leave a mess on your stovetop without cleaning up, you shouldn’t leave a mess in your pellet grill. Keeping your pellet grill clean is the secret to having it last for you and your family for years to come. 

Now before you grab a sponge and start scrubbing your pellet grill from top to bottom, know that this is not the way to clean it. Your pellet grill, like a smoker, has (hopefully) been seasoned, therefore you will only want to clean certain parts of your pellet grill with frequency. 

The good news is, that the cleaning you will need to do regularly is quick and easy–it shouldn’t take you more than 10-15 minutes to complete! Read on to learn more. 

Why You Should Clean Your Pellet Grill

The main part of your pellet grill you need to clean after every use is the grilling grate. If you don’t clean this frequently you will start to run into some of the problems listed below. But this isn’t the only part of your pellet grill you need to clean with some frequency. 

Health Issues

Small bits of partially cooked food frequently get stuck to the grate. If you don’t clean this off, the next time you cook food these bits could get stuck to whatever you are making.

There have been several health studies that have shown that eating burnt food can have toxic effects on the body, including increasing your chances of having cancer. Therefore it is best to ensure you don’t consume bits of burned food regularly and clean your pellet grill.

Damage to Your Pellet Grill

There is also the issue that these burned bits, as well as ash, could build up in the bottom of your grill and in the firepot, affecting the ability of your pellet grill to cook food. You may find the grill isn’t able to hold the temperature you desire, or that it is burning pellets too quickly. 

To avoid this you will obviously want to clean the grate, but you will also want to take some time to clear out the excess ash build-up as well. 

The Food Can Taste Bad

Besides damaging your pellet grill and your health, not cleaning your pellet grill properly can lead to the food you are making tasting bad as bits of ash and previous burnt food bits make their way into your prized beef brisket. 

Why have a pellet grill if the meat you make isn’t going to taste delicious? That there should be enough to convince you to clean your pellet grill with some frequency.

What You Need to Clean a Pellet Grill

Before you can begin to clean your pellet grill, let’s take a look at some of the supplies you will need on hand to be successful. 

  • Grill Brush
  • Shop-Vac (or small brush and dustpan but know it won’t be completely clean with this method)
  • Sponge
  • Gloves (heat resistant recommended)
  • Water
  • Dish soap (mild is best)
  • Cleaning Rag or two (dedicated just to grill cleaning)

If you are using a shop-vac, you will likely need to be close to an outlet or move your pellet grill to the garage for cleaning. You can use an extension cord for the vacuum but never use an extension cord for your pellet grill. 

How to Clean Your Pellet Grill (5 Easy Steps)

Ready to tackle cleaning your pellet grill? Here is the step-by-step process to guide you.

Step 1: Safety Check

Before you clean your pellet grill, ensure that it is shut off (maybe even unplugged) and that it has cooled down enough that you will not burn your hands or the sponge, as you clean.

Step 2: Clean the Grate

Start by scrubbing the old food bits off the grill grate using the grate brush. Note that if you have a porcelain grate you will need to use a nylon bristle brush so as not to damage it. 

If you have food that you cannot seem to get off, you can burn it off by turning the grill to the highest setting and letting it run for 10 minutes. Keep the lid closed during this process. 

After the 10 minutes, open the lid, turn the heat down to 300°F and use tongs paired with a wet towel to help loosen the food. Then try using the grill brush a second time. 

Step 3: Clean the Diffuser

If you turned your grill back on to clean the grate, now is the time to turn it off and let it cool down a second time. Once it’s cool, remove the grates and set them aside on a non-flammable surface.

Use a wet sponge to wipe down your diffuser and scrub off any stuck-on foods. You can use a metal scraper wrapped in foil if there are any foods that won’t come off with the sponge.

Step 4: Clean the Chamber

Now that the cooking part is clean, time to take a look at the interior. Remove the heat diffuser and set it aside with the grates. If there are any other internal components blocking access to the fire chamber, remove these and set them aside as well. 

When the fire chamber is exposed, you will see bits of ash. Use your shop-vac to remove them. Also, check that the fire rod isn’t crowded with debris. 

After vacuuming, run a wet paper towel or sponge around all parts of the cooking chamber. Allow it to dry before you reassemble. 

Step 5: Clean the Exterior

Once your grill is reassembled, use your sponge and dish detergent to clean the exterior of your grill. Use a different cloth to wipe dry.

If you have stubborn food that won’t get off the exterior of your pellet grill use a non-bleach and non-caustic cleaner to lightly scrub it off. 

Now step back and take a look because you should have a beautifully clean pellet grill ready to cook your next roast!

How Often Should You Clean Your Pellet Grill?

How often you should clean your pellet grill depends on how frequently you use it. Without a doubt, you should use a grill brush on the grate after every use. Or at least use the burn-off method to remove stuck foods.

As for the rest of the cleaning process, you should be doing it every 2 weeks or 4 uses, whichever comes first. You should also be watching for dips in performance as this is a clear sign that your chamber needs to be cleaned.

At the end of the season, you may want to do an even deeper clean and remove the layer of ash you added to the grill during the seasoning process. Whether you decide to do this or not, you should re-season your pellet grill each season to get the best flavors from your meat.

Storing Your Pellet Grill After Cleaning

When you aren’t using your pellet grill, it should be stored under a waterproof cover. This way, if it rains, your pellet grill will be protected.

Pellet grills do not do too well in the elements, as even ambient moisture can cause the pellets to swell and damage your pellet grill. Therefore if you live somewhere with frequent rain or snow storms, you may want to consider storing your pellet grill in the garage when you are not using it to protect it from the elements.

Either way, you should remove unused pellets from your pellet grill and store them in water-tight containers whenever you suspect you will not use your pellet grill for an extended length of time.

Also ensure that electric parts of the grill, such as the cord, are tucked in an area where they will not end up in sitting water–which could possibly cause a short in the system or damage the pellet grill next time you turn it on. 

Final Thoughts on Cleaning Your Pellet Grill

Cleaning is never fun, but when it comes to your pellet grill, cleaning it after each use is important for keeping it in tip-top shape and keeping you and your family healthy. 

You don’t need to deep clean your pellet grill after each use, just ensure you take the time to clean the grate to preserve the food quality. After a few uses, that’s when it’s time to bring out the five-step process to make your pellet grill really shine.

At the end of the season, you should also do a final scrub before you tuck your pellet grill away for the winter. Make sure you store it somewhere where it will be dry, and plan to season it again when it’s time to pull it out again next season. 

Hope Davis

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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