Should you clean your smoker racks & grill grates? Why, how often & how

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  January 10, 2023

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Do you love smoking meat but hate having to clean the smoker racks afterward? Well, you’re not alone. Cleaning the smoker racks can be a real pain – especially if you don’t know why it is necessary and how to do it properly.

Cleaning your smoker racks is necessary because it prevents contamination and bacterial growth. Because you’ll be cooking food on them they need to be cleaned, at least after two or three uses with a grill brush or scraper and a deep clean every so often with vinegar and baking soda.

In this blog post, I’ll look at whether or not cleaning your smoker racks is necessary and give you a few tips on how to do it effectively.

Clean smoker racks

Is It Really Necessary To Clean Your Smoker Racks?

Smokers are a great way to cook food outdoors. They add flavor and texture that you just can’t get with an oven or grill. However, smoker racks can get quite dirty, especially if you use them often.

If you are wondering whether it’s necessary to clean smoker racks, the answer is yes.

Some people might think that cleaning the smoker racks is not useful because it will just make the smoke taste different or worse. But this isn’t true at all – the smoke taste won’t change and the only thing that will happen is that you’ll have a cleaner, healthier smoker that lasts longer.

Smoker racks can be a breeding ground for bacteria and other contaminants. The smoke, ash, and grease that accumulate on the racks can lead to serious health problems. This is why it is essential to clean your smoker racks regularly.

It’s not just about keeping your smoker clean and safe; it’s also about preventing the build-up of contaminants that can cause serious health problems in you or your family members.

What To Know About Cleaning Your Smoker Racks

Cleaning your smoker racks will make sure your smokers are working at peak efficiency. If you are a new smoker, it is best to clean your smoker racks before you even start smoking on them. If you plan on smoking a lot of meat, it is best to clean your smoker racks every time you smoke.

The key to a clean smoker is to ensure that the racks are thoroughly cleaned. This includes washing them with soap and water, scrubbing them with a brush, and then drying them with a towel.

Cleaning your smoker racks regularly will not only help you to avoid any potential health risks but also make sure that your food tastes better.

Tips For Quick and Easy Smoking Rack Maintenance

  • Brush or scrape the racks after each smoke, using wire brushes when necessary

After smoking, there can be food on the cooking rack, which is difficult to remove. It is always better to use a Brush or scrape to remove residual food and clean the smoker.

  • Rinse with a high-pressure hose to keep them clean between smokes

If food waste is stuck on the smoker, you need to use high-pressure water. It will clean smoker racks from unnecessary contamination and prepare the surface for grinding.

  • Keep your smoker’s interior as clean as possible 

Cleaning your smoker’s interior is a chore that many people find difficult and unpleasant, especially when the smoker is located outdoors. If you are going to use your smoker for a long period, it’s important to keep the interior as clean as possible by occasionally wiping it down with a damp rag.

  • Regular cleaning will help keep your smoker racks functioning properly, producing the best results possible

Having tasty smoked food is great but maintaining the smoker might be the hard part. A solution is to use a regular routine of cleaning and maintenance to keep your smoker racks functioning properly. This will produce the best results possible in terms of flavor and longevity.

How to Deep Clean your Smoker Racks

Even if a grill brush doesn’t do the work when you’re cleaning off food residue, you can use this cleaning hack to get your grill looking great again. You just mix vinegar and baking soda in a spray bottle and create an effective paste. Vinegar works with baking soda to dissolve the burnt food, and salt is a good tool for removing burnt food.

You will need to mix 2 cups of vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda. After you create the mixture, you should use it on smoker racks. Soak them overnight and rinse them off with water after. This is the best way to demolish all the stuck food. However, there might be something left still, and you will have to scrub off the rest. Finally, rinse them with cool water and dry them.

How Often Should You Clean Your Smoker Racks?

In general, you should clean your smoker after two or three uses. Clean your grill grates before each use. Remove all grease and cleaning lumps to prevent a fire from catching. This dirty smoke can ruin the meat you were trying to cook, so be safe and use this system every time. 

Charcoal smokers create a lot more mess than traditional smokers, so they need to be cleaned more often. Electric, gas, and pellet smokers produce less mess because they’re not used often. However, pellet grills should be vacuumed before each use to make sure the grease doesn’t build up.


Smoking racks need to be cleaned regularly to produce the best results. In addition to preventing flavor and texture issues in your meat, cleaning will also make smoking much easier. The process of cleaning them can be difficult, but there are a variety of methods that can make the job easier. 

There are many ways of cleaning; one is with wire brushes or scrapers followed by high-pressure hosing. You can also buy cleaners for your smoker rack that works great. Whichever method you choose, make sure to keep your smoker racks clean for the best results!

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.