As the days warm up and the excitement of spending time outdoors increases, grill enthusiasts are already planning their first cookout. Getting your pellet grill ready in anticipation is a good use of time as you wait for summer.
Once grilling season begins, cleaning and maintaining your pellet grill regularly ensures it will last for years and continue creating those tasty meals you and your family crave. While there is occasional debate over how much cleaning is required, to get the best out of your pellet grill, consider a reasonably thorough cleaning every time you use it.
Know the Do’s and Don’ts
Following each use of your pellet grill, you’ll notice various levels of grease and ash build-up. The longer you let this residue build without cleaning, the more it impacts your grill’s performance and longevity.
By getting into the habit of practicing diligent cleaning and maintenance of your pellet grill after each use, you can ensure better grilling in the future. Here’s what you need to know.
The Do’s For Cleaning and Maintaining Your Pellet Grill After Each Use
Keep up with grill maintenance by practicing these to-dos after each use.
- Clean the grill grates
After cooking, set the grill to high. Wait 10 minutes to let the heat burn away grease and remaining food. Follow with scraping to remove stuck-on grease.
- Clean the grease drip bucket and tray
Remove the bucket and clean out the grease inside with a plastic or wooden scraper. Use soap and water for a better clean. You may want to consider adding a drip pan or bucket liner that is meant for pellet grills. You can also place a layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil inside to make your clean-up easier the next time you grill.
- Clean the grease drain tube
This tube connects to the drain bucket. Once the bucket is removed and set aside, wipe the bottom of the grease drip tray and remove any grease from the drain opening. Then gently scrape inside the drain tube and wipe it clean with a paper towel.
- Empty the ash collection tray
Only perform this step if your grill has a tray. Frequent emptying prepares your grill for the next cookout and allows for faster cleaning each time.
- Empty the hopper
Use the quick dump method to empty the hopper by catching the wood pellets in a bucket before cleaning it with soap and water.
- Use a utility vacuum or ash vac
For convenience, use a designated vacuum to remove internal ash build-up. An ash-vac is especially useful because it is heat resistant, avoiding damage from hot embers that are accidentally collected. It is also designed to pick up finer ash particles, giving your grill a better overall clean.
- Wipe out the smokestack
Wipe the smokestack with a rag or paper towel. You can do a more thorough cleaning after a few cookouts, which will be easier if you perform a primary wipe down after each grilling session.
- Allow the interior to dry
Ensure the interior of the grill is completely dry before closing it down.
- Clean the grill’s Exterior
Spot clean the pellet grill’s exterior using a dry cloth after each use to keep it looking its best.
- Cover the pellet grill after it cools down
Both the pellets and electronics are sensitive to excess moisture. That’s why it’s essential that once you’re done with your grill for the day you cover it with a waterproof protective cover, to shield it from the elements.
The Don’ts For Cleaning and Maintaining Your Pellet Grill After Each Use
While cleaning and maintaining your pellet grill after each use is essential, there are also a few don’ts involved. These include the following:
- Avoid cleaning when hot
Wait for the grill to cool completely to clean the individual parts. This does not apply to the grates, which are best cleaned when they’re still warm. Avoid using soap or cleaning solution anywhere on your pellet grill until it cools down completely.
- Don’t forget to unplug the grill
Never leave the grill connected to the power source when you’re cleaning. Make a habit of unplugging it before you start your maintenance to-dos.
- Don’t leave a full hopper in place when cleaning with water
If they get wet, wood pellets can expand and clog the grill’s critically important auger. If you’re going to clean with water, remove the wood pellets first.
- Avoid using a metal or abrasive scraper
It’s essential you don’t scratch the grill’s surface. Softer scrapers are available, so seek gentler material to get the job done. If your grates are porcelain-coated, use a nylon-bristle brush and avoid stainless steel versions.
- Don’t use a delicate cloth to clean
Avoid using thin, fancy dishcloths to clean the grill because the smoke residue and grease will ruin them permanently.
- Don’t dump grease down the drain
Instead, place it in a container to throw in the trash once it cools. Grease is highly flammable, so practice caution when disposing of it.
- Don’t leave the grease bucket exposed to rain
Rainwater can cause the grease bucket to overflow and spread grease across your patio, deck, backyard lawn.
Clean and Maintain Your Pellet Grill After Each Use
In the end, you want to prepare a delicious meal while also getting the most out of your pellet grill over the long term.
Starting with a clean grill is instrumental in creating that perfect meal. Pellet ash leftover from the previous grilling can collect and circulate during subsequent grillings, landing on your raw food and masking the flavors you’re hoping to bring out. Understanding how your pellet grill works will go a long way in knowing how to clean and maintain it properly.
While these do’s and don’ts are beneficial to protecting your pellet grill and ensuring a safe cooking environment, the frequency with which you clean your grill is subjective. Take into consideration how often you grill and the type of foods you make to set a schedule for keeping your grill in top form.