Can You Use Oven Cleaner in a Smoker? Here’s What You Need to Know

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 23, 2023

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You might be a smoker enthusiast and have a smoker at home. But what if the inside of your smoker looks like this?

Before using oven cleaner in a smoker, there are some things you need to know. Oven cleaner is very harsh and contains strong chemicals that can damage the metal of your smoker. It’s formulated to remove baked-on grease and carbon deposits from ovens, and it can be very effective at breaking down creosote buildup in smokers.

So, can you use oven cleaner in a smoker? Let’s find out.

Oven cleaner in smoker

Why Cleaning Your Smoker After Every Use is Important

Cleaning your smoker after every use is essential to prevent damage and maintain its quality. The ash, grease, and dirt that accumulate inside the smoker can cause damage over time, especially if it’s not cleaned regularly. The residue left behind can also affect the taste of your meat, which is not something any chef wants. A regular cleaning process will ensure that your smoker remains in good condition for a long time.

Remove Creosote and Grease Buildup

Creosote and grease buildup can occur inside your smoker over time, and it’s essential to remove them after every use. Creosote is a black, tarry substance that can accumulate on the walls and racks of your smoker, and it’s difficult to remove once it hardens. Grease buildup can also cause problems, as it can turn rancid and affect the taste of your meat. Cleaning your smoker after every use will prevent these substances from building up and affecting the quality of your food.

Easy and Simple Cleaning Process

Cleaning your smoker after every use is a simple and easy process that doesn’t take a lot of time. Here are some steps you can follow to clean your smoker effectively:

  • Let the smoker cool down before cleaning it
  • Scrape off any ash or residue using a bristle brush
  • Wipe down the inside of the smoker with a damp cloth or sponge
  • Use a soapy water solution to clean the inside of the smoker
  • Rinse the inside of the smoker with water
  • Let the smoker dry before using it again

Benefit of Regular Cleaning

Regular cleaning of your smoker has many benefits, including:

  • Preventing mold growth
  • Removing stubborn residue
  • Ensuring a strong smoke flavor
  • Making it easier to set up for the next use
  • Keeping the size of the smoker chamber consistent
  • Making it easier to remove marinated meat from the racks

Best Cleaning Products

There are different cleaning products available in the market that are specifically designed for smokers. However, depending on your needs, you can use simple products that you already have in your kitchen. Here are some of the best cleaning products you can use:

  • Vinegar and water solution
  • Apple cider vinegar and water solution
  • Soapy water solution
  • Oven cleaner (for the exterior surfaces only)

Can Oven Cleaner Really Clean Creosote in Your Smoker?

Creosote is a black, tar-like substance that forms when wood or other organic materials are burned. It can build up in your smoker over time, especially if you use it frequently. Creosote can be dangerous because it is highly flammable and can cause chimney fires. It can also affect the taste of your food and make it bitter.

Are There Any Alternatives to Using Oven Cleaner?

If you’re uncomfortable using oven cleaner in your smoker, there are some alternative methods you can try:

  • Use a mixture of vinegar and water to clean the metal surfaces. This is a natural and safe alternative to oven cleaner.
  • Use a commercial smoker cleaner that is specifically designed for use in smokers. These cleaners are often less harsh than oven cleaner and are formulated to remove creosote and other buildup from smokers.

What Happens When You Use Oven Cleaner on Metal Grates?

Oven cleaner is a popular product for cleaning tough dirt and grease from ovens. It is designed to break down and dissolve the greasy material, making it easier to remove. The majority of oven cleaners contain powerful ingredients that work directly on the dirt, making the task of cleaning much easier.

The Effects of Oven Cleaner on Metal Grates

When oven cleaner is applied to metal grates, it can have both positive and negative effects. On the one hand, it can remove tough dirt and grime that has built up over time, making it easier to maintain the grates. On the other hand, the abrasive components of oven cleaner can harm the metal if used repeatedly or not used gently.

The Additional Step of Scraping

To ensure that all the dirt and grime is removed from the metal grates, an additional step of scraping may be necessary. This can be done with a small tool or brush, and it’s important to be gentle to avoid damaging the metal. After scraping, the grates should be rinsed with water to remove any remaining residue.

The Wet and Dry Method

There are two methods for using oven cleaner on metal grates: the wet method and the dry method. The wet method involves applying the oven cleaner directly to the grates and allowing it to sit for an extended period of time before rinsing it off with water. The dry method involves applying the oven cleaner to a wet sponge or cloth and then rubbing it onto the grates. This method is gentler and less likely to harm the metal.

Overall, using oven cleaner on metal grates can be an effective way to remove tough dirt and grime. However, it’s important to use it gently and not to use it repeatedly to avoid harming the metal. By following the main steps and being aware of the potential effects, you can maintain your metal grates and keep them looking their best.


So, can you use oven cleaner in a smoker? 

It’s not recommended because of the harsh chemicals and abrasives. It might damage the metal and make it look ugly. Instead, you can use a mixture of vinegar and water or a commercial smoker cleaner. 

So, don’t be afraid to clean your smoker now and then, and it’ll last you a long time. Thanks for reading!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.