Learn how to deep clean your Pit Boss in 4 Easy Steps, including how to easily remove rust.
We also include some bonus steps for cleaning the grates and flame broiler so well they look almost new again!
The best way to keep your Pit Boss pellet grill in good condition is to clean it thoroughly, especially if you are winterizing your grill before the end of the season.
Regular cooking on your pellet grill leaves behind food, grease, sauce, and seasoning on your cooking grates, flame broiler, and other areas inside your grill.
Unlike a gas grill, your Pit Boss may not get hot enough to do a traditional burn off, so we need to clean it differently.
We recommend cleaning the grates with a bristle free brush after each cook, but over time, residue can accumulate and require a deeper clean.
Being exposed to heat, humidity, and moisture can cause your grill to develop rust, which is important to remove.
We will show you how to clean your Pit Boss in 4 easy steps:
- Cleaning the Cooking Grates
- Cleaning the Flame Broiler
- Cleaning the Inside of the Pit Boss
- Cleaning the Outside of the Pit Boss
We include options to avoid harsh chemical for cleaning, as well as steps to take for a deeper clean using strong chemicals.
We also show you how to remove any rust that has formed and how to re-season the Pit Boss after cleaning.
Through proper cleaning and maintenance, your Pit Boss will continue to serve you well for many years to come.
Rather WATCH than read? Check out our Pit Boss Deep Cleaning video on our YouTube Channel:
Cleaning Product Considerations
Before using chemicals for cleaning your grill, ensure they are safe for the surface you will be cleaning.
Opt for non-corrosive and non-toxic chemicals like Citrus Degreaser, especially for the black enamel part, such as the Pit Boss grill grates and the interior of the barrel.
These chemicals cut through grease effectively without causing harm to your grill.
A surface like the flame broiler can stand up to harsher cleaning.
For heavy duty cleaning chemicals, ensure proper ventilation and protective attire such as chemical gloves.
Cleaning the Cooking Grates
While we recommend using a good bristle free brush like the BBQ Daddy after every single cook to keep the grates relatively clean, there likely will still be food residue or caked on seasoning/sauce that will require a deeper cleaning to remove.
A deeper clean should be done occasionally to keep the grates from building up too much residue and char.
While some people like to use a degreaser like CitruSafe directly on their cooking grates, we prefer to save that for the components of the grill that don't directly touch our food.
As a first step, we recommend scrubbing the grates with soapy water. You may find this is enough to clean your grates thoroughly.
We recommend using a large storage bin partially filled with water and mild dish soap. This will help keep everything contained and prevent grease stains on your deck or concrete.
If the grates are particularly dirty, let them soak in the soapy water for a while before scrubbing them on each side with se a kitchen sponge.
After scrubbing, rinse them off and allow them to air dry before replacing them in your grill.
We like placing them on a large oil drip pan to dry. This will help ensure all the moisture is gone before you put them back into your Pit Boss.
If you have cooked-on black char that won't come off with soap and water, you have the option of doing a deep clean if you don't mind using a harsher chemical on your cooking grates.
Seal the bag well by tying it shut, as it's the ammonia fumes that that help break down the oils.
You may need to double or triple bag the grates to ensure the ammonia does not leak out. Let this sit overnight in a well ventilated area, preferably in a garage or outside.
The next day, be very careful opening the bag, as the ammonia fumes can be dangerous if inhaled. Again, make sure you are wearing chemical safe gloves to protect your hands.
Open the bag in a very well ventilated area, preferably outside. Since ammonia is a base, adding an acid can help neutralize it so it is safer to dispose.
We prefer to pour some white vinegar into the bag to neutralize the ammonia before dumping out the liquid and removing the grates. Be extra cautious when pouring the vinegar so none of the ammonia splashed out onto your skin.
Rinse the grates with a hose and scrub them with a kitchen sponge to remove the black char.
Ammonia is water soluble, so spraying the grates with water should remove the chemical. To really make sure you have removed all of the ammonia, you may want to wash the grates with soap and water after the ammonia treatment.
Allow the grates to dry completely before replacing them in the grill.
Cleaning the Flame Broiler
Scraping the Flame Broiler
To clean the flame broiler, you can use a wooden grill scraper to remove all the charred pieces.
The edge of the wooden scraper fits well in the bottom corner, ensuring everything gets scraped off.
Remove the flame broiler and flame broiler sliding plate and soak them in a large bin of soapy water.
Then scrub them with a kitchen sponge.
Depending on how much food and char build up you have on your flame broiler, you may need to allow it to soak for a while.
If your flame broiler and plate are clean after washing with soap and water, assess them for any rust.
Skip down to the section on rust removal if you have some.
Alternatively, if the soap and water did not clean the flame broiler to your liking, consider following the deep clean instructions.
To more thoroughly remove burnt on food, sauce, and ash, you can treat the flame broiler with oven cleaner.
While we do not recommend using oven cleaner on the cooking grates, we feel comfortable using it on the flame broiler, as it does not directly touch your food.
We always recommend doing a burn off at the very end of a cleaning to remove any chemical residue and also to re-season the cleaned surfaces.
If you think about it, oven cleaner is designed to be used inside an oven, and a pellet grill is more or less an outdoor oven!
Wearing heavy duty chemical gloves, spray the flame broiler on both sides with the oven cleaner. We recommend protecting the surface underneath your flame broiler with some cardboard.
Follow the directions on your oven cleaner to indicate how long to allow the cleaner to sit on the flame broiler. This is usually in the 40-60 minute range.
The flame broiler can then be scrubbed and rinsed with a hose.
Repeat as needed until you are satisfied with the results. We did two rounds of oven cleaner.
You can do an overnight treatment with the oven cleaner by placing the flame broiler in a large, sealed trash bag if you prefer.
To be extra cautious, you could then wash the flame broiler in soap and water to remove any oven cleaner residue. We did not feel this was necessary because of the burn we perform after cleaning.
Make sure to immediately dry and re-oil the clean flame broiler to protect it from rusting. We find the easiest and least messy way to do this is to spray it with high heat grill spray.
If your flame broiler already has some rust that was not removed by either washing with soap and water or treating with oven cleaner, you can proceed to remove the rust now.
Rust Removal Method
If there is rust on your flame broiler, you can remove it by soaking paper towels in distilled white vinegar and placing them on the rust for about 30-60 minutes.
Depending on the weather, you may need to add more vinegar to the paper towels if they start drying out. It is best to keep them wet.
Over time, you should see the rust start to transfer to the paper towels, which is exactly what we want.
Afterward, remove the paper towels, rinse off the dissolved rust with soap and water, and repeat the process if necessary.
If the rust has been removed, immediately dry and re-season the flame broiler with a high heat cooking oil or spray.
Re-Seasoning the Flame Broiler
Once the rust has been removed, immediately dry the flame broiler well and treat both sides with high heat cooking oil. We prefer to use a grill spray.
Rub the oil into the metal to distribute it evenly, preventing the metal from oxidizing and rust from reforming.
While the flame broiler may never look brand new again, it should look MUCH better than when you started! You're now ready to clean in inside of the grill.
Cleaning Inside the Pit Boss
To clean the inside, we need to remove all the ash and debris, clean the grease, and re-season the interior surfaces.
Empty the Hopper, Auger, and Ash Pot
It's important to empty the hopper and auger of pellets empty anytime you won't be using your grill in the immediate future.
We highly discourage storing your pellets in the hopper.
Pellets exposed to heat and humidity absorb moisture from the air and become less dense which makes them burn more quickly.
They can also swell and jam the auger.
Use a good airtight pellet bucket to store your pellets at room temperature indoors. We have many of these buckets to keep each type of pellet in a separate bucket.
For in depth instructions on how to empty the hopper and auger, see our article How to Empty the Pit Boss Hopper and Auger, which also includes instructions on how to clean out the ash pot.
Clean the Flame Broiler Rod
Brush off the flame broiler rod with a steel wool scouring pad to remove any build up.
Vacuum the Ash and Debris
The easiest way to clean the inside of the Pit Boss is to use a Mini Shop Vac to vacuum out the ash, dust, and pieces of debris from the bottom of the grill barrel.
If you scraped the flame broiler inside the grill, you may have some larger pieces of ash that need to be removed.
Use Citrus Degreaser
To clean the inside of your Pit Boss, start by spraying a degreaser like CitruSafe on the black enamel.
Since it's non-corrosive and non-toxic, it's safe to use and effective in cutting through grease.
Spray it all over the interior, paying extra attention to the areas where grease tends to collect, such as the grease chute, ledges, and inside of the lid.
Rust Removal Inside
If there are any rusty areas inside your Pit Boss, now is the perfect time to address them. We had rust developing on the inside of our lid and a few other areas.
You can use white vinegar-soaked paper towels to remove rust from various parts of your grill.
Drape the saturated paper towels over rusty spots and let them soak for about 30 minutes to break down the rust.
Wipe off the loosened rust with another vinegar-soaked paper towel, and then dry the area thoroughly.
Immediately spray those areas with a high heat cooking oil to re-season and prevent the rust from forming again.
This is important to do promptly because rust can reform very quickly as the metal oxidizes.
Re-Seasoning Inside Surfaces
Cleaning the Pit Boss, even with mild soap, can remove some of the seasoning you may have done when the grill was new.
To protect the surfaces and prevent rust from reforming, apply a thin layer of high heat cooking oil to the entire interior of your Pit Boss, avoiding the temperature probe. Use a dry shop towel to spread the oil evenly and rub it into all the surfaces.
Make sure to cover every corner and ledge.
Replace your flame broiler and cooking grates.
Wipe Down the Probe
It's essential to clean the temperature probe to avoid distorted temperature readings.
This will help maintain accurate temperature control while cooking with your Pit Boss.
Cleaning the Outside
First, unscrew the chimney cap and remove it. We had built up rust on ours, so we first cleaned it with white vinegar-soaked paper towels.
Then we quickly re-seasoned the chimney with high heat cooking oil spray and rubbed it in using a shop towel.
Clean the Grease Bucket
To clean your Pit Boss grease bucket, simply remove it from the hook and wash it in the kitchen sink using soap and water.
For easier cleanup in the future, consider using a foil bucket liner that fits right inside the bucket.
After cleaning, just place the bucket back in its position.
Remove and Clean the Shelf Plate
Remove the piece of metal under the front shelf and scrub it with mild soap or degreaser. Wait to replace it until you've finished washing the exterior of the Pit Boss.
Wash and Dry the Exterior
Maintain the exterior of your Pit Boss by gently washing it with a sponge and mild soapy water. Ensure that you cover all the exterior surfaces, including the lid and sides.
After you've washed the exterior, use a hose or a bucket of clean water to rinse off the soap, making sure it is completely removed.
Once you've washed and rinsed the exterior of your Pit Boss, dry it thoroughly with a clean towel or a microfiber cloth.
Be sure to get into all the crevices and corners to avoid any residue or moisture that could lead to rust. Properly drying your grill not only enhances its appearance but also helps to extend its lifespan.
Re-Seasoning Burn Off
We highly recommend doing a burn off at this point to remove any chemical residue and to seal in the seasoning.
Take a moment to do one final check to make sure all of the interior surfaces are well-oiled.
To do the burn off, run the Pit Boss at 450°F or the highest your grill will go for 1-2 hours. Open up the exhaust chimney all the way to allow for air flow and release of the chemical fumes.
If you need more detailed instructions on a burn off for re-seasoning the Pit Boss, see our article How to Season a Pit Boss Pellet Grill.
Remember to cover it with a high quality grill cover to protect it from the elements and preserve all of your hard working!
Looking for Other Pit Boss Resources?
Check out these other articles:
Ultimate Guide to How Pellet Grills Work
How to Start a Pit Boss Pellet Grill
How to Season a Pit Boss Pellet Grill
How to Empty the Pit Boss Hopper and Auger
How to Easily Clean the Grates on a Pit Boss Pellet Grill
Pellet Grill Not Making Enough Smoke? 5 Proven Solutions
How to Fix Temperature Problems on a Pit Boss
How to Deep Clean a Pit Boss Pellet Grill
- 1 Pit Boss Pellet Grill
- Nitrile Gloves or Chemical Resistant Gloves
- Kitchen Sponge
- Mild Dish Detergent
- Large Bin or Tub
- Citrus Degreaser
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Paper Towels
- Ammonia optional
- Oven Cleaner optional
Clean the Cooking Grates
- Place the grates in a large bin of soapy water. Scrub them with a kitchen sponge to remove the food and sauce residue. If the grates contain baked-on food, you may need to soak them in the soapy water for up to 1 hour. Rinse the grates well with fresh water.
- Allow the grates to dry completely before replacing them in the grill.
Deep Cleaning the Cooking Grates
- If cleaning with soap and water is not enough to chunks of char from your grates, place the grates in a large trash bag with 2 cups of ammonia. Always wear chemical gloves when working with ammonia.
- Seal the bag and place it in a well ventilated area overnight.
- Carefully open the bag and pour white vinegar inside to neutralize the ammonia.
- Scrub the grates and rinse well with water. You may wash them with soap and water to be extra cautious.
- Allow the grates to dry completely before placing them back in the grill.
Clean the Flame Broiler
- Scrape off the charred on chunks of food with a wooden scraper.
- Remove the flame broiler and sliding plate and place them in a large tub of soapy water. Scrub both to remove all of the residue. If it's not coming clean, soak them in the water for about 30 minutes, then try again.
Deep Cleaning the Flame Broiler
- If your flame broiler is still dirty, place it on a cardboard surface in a well ventilated area. Protect your hands with chemical gloves and spray both sides of each piece with oven cleaner.
- Allow it to sit for 40-60 minutes, or the time suggested by your brand of cleaner.
- Rinse the flame broiler well with water.
- If you have any rust build up on your flame broiler, cover it with white vinegar soaked paper towels for about 30-60 minutes, making sure to re-moisten the paper towels if they start to dry out.
- Remove the paper towels and rinse.
- Immediately spray the flame broiler with high heat cooking spray to prevent rust formation. Rub the oil around with a shop towel to ensure even distribution across the surface on both sides.
Clean the Inside
- Empty the hopper and burn through the pellets still in the auger. Then empty the ash pot.
- Scrape off the flame broiler rod with a steel wool sponge.
- Use a mini shop vac to remove all of the dust and debris from inside the Pit Boss barrel.
- Spray the inside of the barrel with a non-corrosive degreaser like CitruSafe, paying special attention to areas that accumulate grease such as the grease chute.
- Scrub the degreaser and then rinse with water.
- Apply white vinegar soaked paper towels to any interior surface that has rust build up, such as the inside of the lid. Wash off the vinegar after treatment.
- Use shop towels to dry the interior surface of the barrel.
- Immediately apply a high heat oil spray to all interior surfaces after they are dry.
- Lastly, wipe down the temperature probe with rubbing alcohol to remove grease or food build up.
- Replace the flame broiler and cooking grates.
Clean the Outside
- Use a mild soap and water with a kitchen sponge on the outside of your grill, rinse with fresh water, then dry well.
- Remove the grease bucket from the hook and clean with soap and water. Fill with a disposable grease bucket liner to make clean up easier.
- Unscrew the chimney cap and wipe the surface with white vinegar if there is rust build up.
- Rinse off the vinegar and dry. Apply high heat oil immediately with a shop towel.
- Remove the metal plate behind the front shelf and scrub with soap and water or apply degreaser. Rinse and dry before replacing.
- After cleaning, it is best to do a burn off to remove any chemical residue and to seal in the seasoning.
- Run your grill at 450°F (or the highest it will go) for 1-2 hours with the exhaust chimney completely open to allow for airflow and release of chemical fumes.