Traeger Grill Maintenance: When Cleaning is Just as Fun as Grilling
Traeger grill cleaning should be done after every use to prevent leftover grit from sticking to the grill. The task of cleaning your Traeger grill is not very tedious, that is, if you’re doing it right from the beginning. Luckily, you have this post as your guide to make sure your Traeger grill stays in tip top shape and always ready for your next grill.
Traeger Grill Cleaning: 6 Steps to Do It Right
First and most important, be sure the grill is completely cool before cleaning, do not do the following just after you’ve cooked on your grill.
Step 1: Vacuum Out Your Traeger Grill
Start with vacuuming out your grill. I personally like to put on gloves for this entire process. Feel free to use disposable gloves, like the kind you find at Costco, or reusable dish gloves. I personally have an inexpensive pair of reusable dish gloves that I specifically use for cleaning out the grill.
Step 2: Wash Your Traeger Grill Grates
If they are really dirty and caked with food, I would encourage you to bring those in the kitchen and wash them with warm soapy water.
If your grill grates are the porcelain ones, like mine are, you’ll want to use a sponge with the nylon scrub rather than something abrasive so you avoid damaging the porcelain coating.
Though they may seem really greasy and grimy, the grates clean up quite well with warm soapy water. We like to use Dawn Soap for Traeger grill cleaning, I find it works quite well.
Step 3: Remove the Drip Tray and Dispose of Used Aluminum Foil
Re-wrap with fresh heavy duty aluminum foil. We buy the heavy duty extra-large size from Costco, this size seems to fit the drip tray perfectly!
Please, please be sure to always cover your drip tray with aluminum foil. Even if you don’t have the heavy-duty kind, use the regular kind. You can double up on the foil using the regular thickness if you’d like, though not needed, just be sure to cover it up!
This is definitely NOT the step you want to skip… LOL
Step 4: Take Out The Heat Baffle
The heat baffle is directly under the drip tray, it’s what cover’s the hot pot and disperses the flame.
If you don’t know what I’m referring to, the hot pot is where the pellets fall and ignite for your flame. Once you remove the heat baffle from your Traeger grill, you’ll see the hot pot, likely some fine dust in there along with surrounding dust particles.
What you’ll see doesn’t look like ash, it looks more like saw dust from a table saw, but darker in color. Bust out your shop vac or garage vac.
I wouldn’t suggest using your regular household one if you can avoid it. Not because the grill dust will harm your vacuum, more for the reason of avoiding getting any grease residue on your lovely household vacuum. Use a shop vac if you have one.
Vacuum all around the inside base of the barrel and the small little space in the hot pot. It’s ok if you vacuum up a few wood pellets, more will drop it when you turn your grill back on.
Step 5: Use Grease Bucket Liners
Let’s tackle the grease bucket. This should be VERY easy especially if you’re using a grease bucket liner like this photo above.
The other alternative to using a grease bucket liner, is to line your bucket with aluminum foil. Using aluminum foil isn’t the cleanest and easiest way to go though, simply because if there is a tiny hole anywhere, or there is a seam in your lining, the grease could leak through and still get into your bucket.
So, for that reason I’d suggest using the grease bucket liners, they make grease disposal SUPER easy, simply close the 4 tabs and toss.
Step 6: Put It All Back Together
Now it’s time to put everything back together in this order: 1) heat baffle, 2) foil covered drip tray, 3) grill grates and lastly your lined grease bucket.
Traeger Grill Maintenance: Frequently Asked Questions
1. How Often Should Traeger Grill Cleaning Be Done?
Super great question, and one that really depends on how much you use your grill. Are you a frequent griller? Do you grill daily, or are you more of a weekend griller?
In our house we use the grill sometimes daily, but usually 2-4 times a week. We definitely use it for pizzas! Have you ever grilled a take and bake pizza on your Traeger? If you haven’t this is a MUST!
I digress. Back to what we were discussing, to avoid any sort of grease fires on your drip tray, I would suggest changing out the aluminum foil about every three weeks or so.
As for vacuuming out the barrel and the hotpot as part of your Traeger grill maintenance, I’d suggest doing this every month or month and a half, somewhere around there.
2. Is It Necessary to Dump Out the Fresh Pellets and Vacuum Out the Hopper and Auger?
No – we don’t.
The key factor in that is to make sure you sift your wood pellets before pouring them into the hopper.
It’s SUPER important to have dry, tight wood pellets for your grill, you NEVER want to use wood pellets that have expanded or the wood dust at the bottom of the pellet bag.
Those things are only going to cause issues with your auger and the pellets won’t burn properly. Which leads me to the next important point.
3. Can You Store A Pellet Grill Outside? With Or Without A Cover?
Yes, a Traeger or wood pellet grill can be stored outside.
Mild climates are best if the grill is not on a covered patio. If on or under a covered patio, leave it out all year.
At our house we have a covered patio and our Traeger grill sits outside without a cover year-round. Sometimes they do get a little rained on and maybe even some snow if it’s a heavier winter, but it’s never an issue for use.
That said, we use our grill on a regular basis. If, however, you split your time between two different houses in different parts of the country, one for summer and one for winter, and you won’t be using your Traeger grill for a season, definitely empty out the hopper and the auger of all wood pellets.
There’s nothing worse than trying to unclog an auger system that’s jammed full of expanded wood pellets because moisture crept in and caused them to expand while you were out of town for 6 mos.
4. Can You Store Wood Pellets Outside?
Yes, however not in the bag you’ve purchased them in. It’s super important to transfer the wood pellets to a closing or sealing container.
We have a bin that we use specifically for Traeger wood pellets, we do keep this bin outside with a scooper in it to easily scoop the pellets into our grill.
The bin has a lid that closes completely to keep the moisture out. It’s not air tight or anything like that, but it does a great job keeping the pellets dry.
5. Can Your Traeger Grill Have A Grease Fire?
Yes, this is entirely possible, yet not probable. A grease fire could occur if there’s too much of a grease buildup on the drip pan, this is why it’s very important to be consistent with changing out the aluminum foil on your drip tray.
To be completely transparent, we have had a grease fire in our grill, totally our fault, we hadn’t changed out the aluminum foil on the drip tray.
So, to avoid this all together, if the aluminum foil looks like it could be changed, then take the initiative and change out the foil.
6. How To Clean Your Traeger Grill Grates When the Grill is Hot?
First, there are a couple of different types of grill grates: porcelain and stainless steel, this is the difference of using a wooden grill scraper vs. stainless steel bristles.
I personally don’t like nylon scrub pads, when used on the hot grill grates, they melt, in all fairness, they’re not designed to handle such high heats.
Many people, myself included, tend to use the scrapers after the grill has warmed up when they’re getting ready to use their grill, rather than cleaning the Traeger grill immediately after the food comes off the grill.
Let’s be honest, at that point if you’re like me, you are ready to eat and don’t want anything to do with taking a few extra moments to clean the grill of food particles.
7. How To Clean The Exterior of Your Traeger?
There are a couple different methods to clean the exterior of your grill. If you need to do a bit of deep cleaning, which is an important part of Traeger grill maintenance you can make an easy degreaser with warm water, a few drops of dawn soap and vinegar, mix this in a spray bottle and spray the grill down.
We use those white towels that come in the large pack from Costco to clean off the grill. After you get the dirt and grime off, spray your grill down with clean water to make sure you get all the soap off and finish with End Dust, we love this stuff. It gives the grill a nice shine that lasts for a bit of time.
Now, before you start cleaning your grill, see to it that you have read the manufacturer’s instructions.
Owning a Traeger grill is such a wise investment. When cleaned and cared for properly, it will last for MANY years to come.
Follow the steps above and enjoy more grilling days ahead.
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