Grilling 101: Cleaning a Pellet Grill

Cleaning a pellet grill needn’t be a dreaded chore. Start the project with a plan of action and you’ll be finished in 20 minutes or less. Keep your pellet grill (Traeger!) functioning at the highest possible level with these helpful tips and how-tos. 

How Often to Clean Your Pellet Grill

A pellet grill needs maintenance. Clean your grill once for every 5 times you use it or after 20 hours of use, whichever occurs first. Cleaning your pellet grill will keep it burning hotter and more evenly. More importantly – cleaning your grill will keep it safe and free from dangerous and damaging flare-ups. 

How To Clean Your Pellet Grill

Lid: To begin cleaning your pellet grill, spritz the lid with Traeger Cleaner and leave to soak for five minutes before wiping clean with a wet rag. 

Grill Grates: The first step is to determine what material your grates are made of. Traeger grates are either stainless steel (silver metal) or porcelain-coated steel (black). Stainless steel grates can handle cleansers and scouring pads to remove any food residue. You can also use a wire brush for maintaining the grates. Coated grates need more tender care. Stay away from harsh cleansers and abrasive tools. Stick to soap, water, Traeger Cleaner, and a wooden grill scraper. 

Once you’ve determined how to best clean the grates, maintain their cleanliness every time you use the grill. When the grill is warm, the grates will clean the easiest. Let the grill preheat before using, scrape the grates clean, and then place your food on the grill. Or clean after each use. Either way, this will keep the cooking surface ready to use. 

To further clean your grates, remove them completely and wash them thoroughly.

Drip Pan: The next area to clean is the drip pan. When the grates are removed, the drip pan is exposed. We highly recommend using the Traeger pan liners to make this step a breeze to clean up. If you have a pan liner in place, simply remove it and dispose of it. If there is no pan liner, use a plastic spatula to scrape off any leftover food residue. 

Remove Interior Pieces: Now, you’ll remove any piece that is removable. Use a plastic spatula or rag to wipe any ash into the firebox. It can be tricky to remember where all these pieces belong, so we recommend taking a pic of each piece before taking it out of the grill. 

Clean Firebox: Next, pull out your shop vacuum. Remove all the leftover ash in this area. Also, remove any unused pellets that may be in or around the firebox. You’ll want to vacuum this area as clean as you can. To further clean your pellet grill, you can use a wet rag to wipe out the firebox. You can also use all-natural Traeger cleaner, but do not use any other cleansers in your grill. We usually call it quits after vacuuming, as our goal is not to create a spotless grill – just a safe grill! 

Grease Bucket or Tray: This job is simple if you have used disposable grease pan liners. Simply remove the cooled grease pan and dispose of it. If a liner has not been used, scrape the cooled grease into something disposable (like a plastic cup) and dispose of it. Wipeout grease tray and replace.

Replace Interior Pieces: One by one put all the pieces in place. And feel excited and relieved that your pellet grill is going to work more effectively and efficiently. Don’t forget to use the drip pan and grease liners for easier clean-up next time.

Grill Exterior: Keep your pellet grill looking like new by removing and grease or ash from the exterior of the grill. Again, Traeger Cleaner is the best choice for cutting through the grease, but you can also use warm, soapy water. Do not use harsh chemicals or abrasive tools to clean your grill 

Cover your Grill: A grill cover is essential to preserve the form and function of your pellet grill. If stored uncovered outdoors, the grill will get wet, including the hopper which houses the pellets. If the pellets get wet, they expand and clog the auger

Products and Tools to Use

When it comes to cleansers and grills, stay away from harsh chemicals. There are two reasons for this. First, this is a cooking surface! Therefore, harsh cleansers must be removed completely from the grill. You should never spray a hose inside the grill, so it is difficult to clean out the cleanser residue entirely. Second, the hard cleansers may damage the surface of the grill.

Bottle of Traeger All Natural Cleaner

We recommend using Traeger Cleaner for all grill and smoker cleaning. Made from plant-based materials, this cleanser is non-toxic, non-flammable, biodegradable, and food safe. It works best when sprayed on the surface, left to sit for five minutes, then wiped with a wet rag. It works wonders on the inside and outside of your pellet grill and you can rest assured knowing it is safe for you and the grill.

When it comes to tools for cleaning a gas grill, stay away from abrasive scrubbers and metal scrapers. These tools can remove finishes on the inside and outside of the grill, leaving it susceptible to rust and corrosion. The only exception is stainless steel grill grates. This surface can handle cleansers (like our fav: Bar Keeper’s Friend) and scouring pads. But stay away from aggressive cleaners on all painted/coated surfaces.

A plastic scraper is used to clean the pellet grill.

We love this plastic spreader for small spaces. And this sturdy spatula works wonders on large surfaces. This grill brush is the best for grill grates. The tightly wound steel fibers remove stubborn food residue from the top and the side of the grates. This brush (available with a short or long handle) will be your trusty companion for every grilled meal.

Need to clean your gas grill? Learn how here.

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