How Do YOU Clean Your WSM?

KToliver

TVWBB Fan
I’ve owned my 18.5 for about 4 months and have had many great cooks. It is truly a great machine!

I’ve seen many opinions from not cleaning at all to power washing. For the vets out there; what are your tips, tricks, and lessons learned?

For me, I clean after every pork butt for sure, but also every few cooks. I consider it more of a maintenance cleaning at this point; I’ve never touched the inner walls with the exception of the base. For all the notes below, I use pop-up cleaning wipes and maybe a little 409 and paper towel.

LID
Clean the bottom flange thoroughly. If I don’t, I will eventually find the lid stuck onto the center flange of the body. I also use 409 or a degreaser to clean the top vent; that too will eventually get glued in place if I don’t.

BODY
Clean the top flange thoroughly, it is the dirtiest and stickiest spot. Also clean the outside rim of the bottom flange. I don’t clean between the door edges and the body since I believe that fats just help with that seal.

BOTTOM
Take a grill brush to the inside and gently scrape off any fat or dripping buildup into the bottom and then empty it out. Clean the top flange thoroughly. I don’t do any further cleaning of this area.

Then I just spray the exterior lightly with 409 and clean it off with paper towel.

I am curious to see how many of you do a serious interior cleaning and what method you use. Is it a good idea to clean off that beautiful, smoky patina from the inside?

EDIT; For sure, I foil the water pan, water or not, before every cook. Afterwards I dispose of the foil and scrub the pan with dish-soap and a 3m sponge-pad.
 
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MikeS in Alaska

TVWBB Fan
I foil the water pan every cook, water or not. That made a huge difference.
I brush the inside of the lid and barrel and use a cheap plastic putty knife about two inches wide that has worn to match the contour of the base to scrape the bottom out.
I use clean hot water to wipe the joints clean between sections. No chemical cleaners. Same for exterior. Just a wipe down with hot water. I’ll use hot water on the grate support straps and the probe grommet.
The cooking grates get a hand scrape to get the bits loose then into the dishwasher.
I try not to let the water pan or drip trays stay in it over night. Particularly if the weather is hot.
I will scrub the interior down to porcelain if it gets funky enough.
 

BillSmith

TVWBB Pro
I just scrape the grates and change the foil on the water pan. Sometimes I use the same foil for a few cooks depending on how much grease is on it. Otherwise no other cleaning.
 

Dustin Dorsey

TVWBB Platinum Member
I've got the gasket so I don't worry about the lid sticking. I knock off anything trying to flake off on the under side of the lid. I refoil the water pan and get any gunk that somehow always manages to seep under the foil off. I brush off the grates. I find at the temperatures I cook out that stuff doesn't get stuck to the grates as much as on a regular grill. I empty the ash. That's about it for me. If I've got some mold, then I'd do a much deeper clean and burnout, but that not happened in a long time, especially with the new style weber cover that I have. I rarely clean the exterior.

I think just do what makes you happy. I think what I do is probably bare minimum.
 

Bob Bass

TVWBB Guru
With a foiled pan the foil gets changed after each use. Some balled aluminum foil works wonders on the grates in knocking off any left over bits. A quick brush with my hand is all the interior gets.
 
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Dustin Dorsey

TVWBB Platinum Member
I think some people get too OCD with their cleaning. It's fine if you enjoy that. If it's keeping you from enjoying your smoker, then it's a problem.
 

MartinB

TVWBB Pro
Clean?

Why?

Change foil with drippings
Scrape grate
Knock creosote off lid and shell with brush occassionally
 

Fred BW

TVWBB Fan
I put a clay saucer over my water pan,and foil over that so all I have to do there is throw the foil away.
I have a big plastic hot water heater tray I scrub grates with a wire brush in. After that I usually throw them in the dish washer.
I sometimes knock the flakes off the inside of the lid with wadded up foil.
Thats all the cleaning I do. Yes getting the lid open (I have one of those hinges that hold it open,and I keep my smoker in the garage) can sometimes be difficult.
As was said above. If it gets to be so much of a hassle that it keeps you from using it,then thats a problem. In my opinion all that gunk belongs there:)
 

CaseT

TVWBB Gold Member
I like to clean mine with Prime Rib. Especially after every turkey cook :D



In all seriousness I foil the water pan and remove the foil after each cook. Scrap the grate with wooden scraper. If there's any loose stuff on the inside of the lid I'll scrap that with the wooden scraper too. Once a year I'll soak the grates in vinegar, dawn soap & hot water.
 

Anne M.

TVWBB Super Fan
I quite often cook without the water pan, so no cleaning necessary there.
Other than that, just scrape the grates.
And as I often just use just the bottom part with ring and grid for grilling, it's a breeze as well. Fire up the little thing (mine's the 14.5" WSM) and then scrape the grid as it's easy when it's hot.
If the middle section gets mouldy (sometimes in the rainy season), I clean with hot water and then put it back on the bottom section with a big fire in it. Works for me
 

Ben Y

New member
Im not one for chemicals. I soak the grates and water bowl in dawn liquid soap overnight. (An inverted trash can lid works good for this) then scrub with wire brush.
The underside of the lid and body I’ll give a quick once over with a wire brush to knock off any flake, and then all parts get hosed off and hung out to dry. Smoker stays nice and seasoned and is clean at the same time.
 

Andy Berner

New member
Every fall I fully scrub mine down. Then 2 full chimneys to dry and kill anything. I actually did it today.

Question I have. I’ve had a gasket on mine and its been there for 4 or 5 years. Anyone ever do anything special to clean it? I think trying to remove it would be horrible. I figure the heat kills any germs/bacteria. Thoughts? Is a dark brownish reddish color. I assume it’s just seasoning and moisture from doing cooks
 
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Larry D.

TVWBB Gold Member
I foil the water pan (though I never use water), and I clean the grate(s) after every cook, removing anything that will come off with scraping and hot water/detergent. On the inside of the body and lid I use a brass wire brush to remove anything that will come off with that brush, which basically means anything that is beginning to get flaky, especially on the inside of the lid. The stuff that looks like black enamel I leave alone - I'm only concerned with the stuff that might fall onto the food. On those occasions when mold has grown on the inside I have built an extra-hot fire inside before the wire brushing. Those Amazon cardboard boxes are great for this purpose. ��
 

timothy

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Yea, I used to go all out when I first bought it, but over the years I kinda laid off.
Scrape the grates off but leave some residue on to protect it.
I also run waterless. so change the foil when needed, cause I usually use parchment paper or a foil pan for most of my smokes.

Tim
 

BobJ

TVWBB Fan
The vents on my 14 are getting pretty sticky, especially the lowers which never get cleaned. Tonight I went to close it down after finishing a butt and 2 of the bottom vents were stuck. Freeing them up the little tab they use to limit travel got bent out of the way, not cleaning can also lead to problems. Wish the vents were made to be removable.
 

Jim Mann

New member
https://www.virtualweberbullet.com/cleanup-maintenance-storage/#before

Back in the 90's, there was a guy named Mike Scrutchfield who won numerous prestigious BBQ contests with the WSM, and believe it or not, he would clean it to "out of box" condition between every contest! (I'm not recommending this!)
I tried to do that this morning with SOS pads. I cleaned it as best as I could, but eventually had to fire it up for a three hour turkey smoke. The turkey came out perfect, three hour smoke, bottom and top vents fully open. Ever since my son gifted me with a gasket kit, it has been hard to get the temperature up over 300. Today it did get to 325 for a while, then back down to 275, but the brined and rubbed bird came out perfectly. I will clean the WSM and my Weber grill again tomorrow while I am at home on quarantine. Any other cleaning methods that work other than just elbow grease I do welcome. Thanks, Jim
 

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