How to Clean a Pellet Grill

Cleaning a Pellet Grill is a very important activity that everyone should perform. Of course, cleaning consists of several stages that you perform at specific times. How often to clean a pellet grill?

That depends on what you want to clean. The grill grates should be cleaned after each cooking, whereas a thorough cleaning of the entire grill is something that only has to be done once or twice a year depending on how much you cook.

Is cleaning a pellet grill worth it?

Of course it is. After each cooking, the grill collects more ash and grease. If you want your grill to function properly, you have to take regular care of it. A grill should be cleaned not only for the visual reasons, it should actually be cleaned so that it can function properly and that its lifetime can be longer and that it is kept in a good condition.

Luckily it is not a difficult task, you just have to know what to pay attention to once in a while and at what time intervals to perform particular activities related to cleaning selected elements.

How to clean a Pellet Grill Step by Step


clean ash from pellet grill

Depending on your model of a pellet grill, certain activities can be slightly different. Plenty of modern models come with different features that make things like ash removal easier.

Let’s divide the cleaning related activities into several stages starting with the ones that have to be performed the least often.

Very important! Remember never to clean the inside of the grill with water, a pellet grill is a technically advanced device equipped with plenty of electronics. The electric elements don’t take moisture well, which is why you should never clean the interior with water.

It is very important for the grill’s interior to always remain dry. You should also make sure that the pellets are dry, as wet pellets are very often the cause of the spinning spiral getting clogged.

Cleaning the Chimney – About Every 6 months


We start cleaning by making sure if the grill is completely cold. Next we take off the chimney cover and clean the chimney's interior using a soft cloth or a gentle brush ( like a nylon one, never a metal one ).

You can clean the chimney’s cover with water, just make sure you get it dried after you’re done.

Never clean the chimney’s interior with water, and if you already have then get the grill thoroughly dried before you start it.

Grease Bucket – Every 3-6 months


Of course first you should make sure that the grill is cold so that you don’t accidentally get burns from the hot grill or grease.

First remove the bucket from the grill and put it away somewhere. Then use a gentle non-metal brush to remove the grease remains from the drain on the bottom of the grease drip tray. You can remove the grease remains using paper towels.

Now you can clean the bucket, you should also use some brush for that in order to scrub the dried-up grease, and then remove the remains, preferably using paper towels. Now you can put the clean bucket back in its place.

In that case you should also remember not to use water to clean the drain on the bottom of the drip tray located inside the grill.

Cleaning the grill’s exterior – about every 3-6 months


First thing you have to do is to unplug the grill from the socket. Next use a soft cloth and warm water to clean the grill’s exterior of any dirt. Finally, dry the surface, preferably using paper towels.

Don’t use any strong chemical agents for cleaning, alternatively you can use a little regular soap with water.

You can only use a damp cloth to clean the grill’s exterior, never the interior.

Cleaning the grill’s interior – do it often


If your grill is equipped with an ash removal system then you should empty the ash container once in a while. It is the best to perform this activity after few cookings on a pellet grill.

Drip Tray

drip tray

Next move on to cleaning the grease drip tray. To do that, remove the grill grates and then use the right tool ( preferably a griddle scraper ) to scrub the grease off the tray’s surface. Throw away the pile of scrubbed grease and wipe the tray’s surface clean, we recommend using paper towels for that.

You can make this task easier for yourself by using thick tinfoil. Just place the thick tinfoil all over the surface and replace it every few times once it gets really dirty. That way you won’t have to clean the drip tray’s surface, but instead only replace the foil with new one once in a while. Remember to make sure that the drip tray is clean before placing the tinfoil.

Fire Pot

fire pot

After getting the drip tray clean, you can move on to cleaning the fire pot. To do that, take off the drip tray, and then remove the heat deflector. That way you’ll get access to the fire pit which has a lot of ash around it. The best and easiest way to get rid of the ash is using a vacuum cleaner. Once you get rid of the ash,  you can put all the elements back in their place.

Cleaning the grates – preferably after each use


pellet grill grates

It is something that has to be done after each use of the grill. You can do that after you’re done cooking or before you start cooking the next time ( the best option is probably before the next cooking ).

Cleaning the grill grates takes place when the grill is hot. To do that, start the grill, set the highest temperature and wait for 10-15 minutes until it gets hot. Then use a gentle brush ( like a nylon one, never a metal one ) to scrub the grease and food remains off the grates and let the grill burn away the remaining dirt on its own.

Done – never use any chemical agents or water. Just preheat the grill and let it burn the food remains, then clean the grates using a brush. That’s the best way to clean the grill grates in an easy and non-invasive way.

Thorough cleaning of a pellet grill


cleaning pellet grill

Thorough cleaning isn’t much different from the above methods, there’s just few more things to do here.

First make sure that the grill is cold and unplug it from the socket. Remove the pellets from the container so that they don’t absorb moisture or cleaning agents. If your grill is equipped with an ash cleanout system then empty the ash container/cup.

Open the grill’s lid and remove the grill grates, the drip tray and the heat diffuser plate ( remember how they were installed so that you know how to put them back in their place later ). That way you get a full access to the fire pot and the lower chamber of the grill. Get rid of the ash just like we described above, which is with a vacuum cleaner.

Next grab the right tools and move on to scrubbing the accumulated grease and any other dirt.

Do not use metal brushes or you might damage the surface, it is the best to use tools made of gentle materials ( like a nylon or wooden brush ). Another priceless tool here would be something with a soft tip, something like a griddle scraper, except not made of metal!

Such tools will help you get rid of the dried-up grease and dirt inside the grill fast and easily. If you still have a hard time, you can use a damp cloth, but remember not to clean the grill directly with water.

If you chose to clean the grill’s interior with water then make sure that no residue water is collected in the crannies. After cleaning, dry all the surfaces thoroughly, then put all the elements back in their place and leave the grill to fully dry.

It is the best not to start the grill for at least 24 hours. Before you start the grill, you should carefully check the interior to make sure no water is left ( like in the pellet container ).

Cleaning & Maintenance Tips


  • Cover the drip tray with thick tinfoil, and you will make cleaning much easier for yourself in the future. The foil can easily last for a long time, and once it gets really dirty you can simply replace it with a new one instead of having to scrub food and grease remains from the drip tray’s surface.
  • You should definitely buy a cover that will protect your grill from the harmful influence of water, dirt and most of all, moisture. Next leave the grill in a dry place to make sure that nothing bad happens to it. The cover is also crucial for protecting the pellets from moisture. If the grill stays in damp conditions outside without a cover, the pellets might get wet, you need to know that wet pellets are not good to burn and they clog the spinning spiral.

Regular cleaning of a pellet grill using the above methods will let you keep your grill in a great condition and prevent unwanted malfunctions. Let us remind again to be careful about cleaning with water.

Pellet grill is a technically advanced device that has plenty of electronics. As everyone knows, electronics don’t like moisture which is why you should avoid cleaning the grill thoroughly with water ( it is the best to use slightly damp cloths ). If you have chosen to do so, however, make sure twice that the grill really is dry before starting it again. 

You have the first contact with this type of smoker ? We recommend you read our how to use a pellet grill guide or the best pellet grills buying guide if you need a new one.