The Virtual Weber Bullet - Your best source for Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker information & discussion on the Web
Cleanup, Maintenance & Storage

Originally posted: 04/01/2000
Last updated: 09/24/2014

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Proper cleaning, maintenance, and storage of your Weber Bullet will keep it operating well and looking good for many years. Just follow these tips to get the most out of your investment in Weber quality.

Cleanup Before Cooking

  • Check the condition of the inside of the lid. If the seasoned surface appears shiny and smooth, do nothing. If it appears dry and flaky, spray it with the garden hose, scrub with a stiff bristle brush, and rinse. You don't want those flakes falling onto your barbecue.
  • Brush any ashes or flakiness on the inside of the middle cooking section down into the bottom of the cooker.

You're now ready to assemble the cooker and start making barbecue!

Cleanup After Cooking

After you've finished cooking in your WSM, you should:

  • Clean the edge of the lid & middle cooking section
  • Clean the cooking grates
  • Dispose of the water pan waste
  • Clean the water pan
  • Dispose of the ashes safely

Clean The Edge Of The Lid & Middle Cooking Section

While the cooker is still warm, use a paper towel to wipe off any grease from the edge of the lid and from the lip on the middle cooking section where the lid rests. This prevents the lid from sticking to the middle cooking section.

Clean The Cooking Grates

There are several approaches to cleaning the cooking grates:

  • Wash the grates in the sink using hot, soapy water and a scrub pad, then dry thoroughly. A short 15 minute soak helps to loosen the gunk.
  • Soak the grates overnight in a shallow tub of soapy water, then scrub, rinse and dry.
  • Spray the grates with oven cleaner or a degreaser like Dawn Power Dissolver or Greased Lightning, then scrub, rinse and dry. When using oven cleaner, place the sprayed grates in a plastic garbage bag for 30 minutes to help the spray work better and to control odor. Note that repeated use of oven cleaner will cause pitting of the grate surface.
  • Burn off the grates over hot coals, on a gas grill, or with a propane-fired weed burner before or after a cooking session. A grill brush or a wad of crumpled aluminum foil can be used to scrub large debris from the grates. Note that burning off the grates at high temperatures will speed the breakdown of the nickel-plated finish.

To prevent the cooking grates from rusting after washing, dry them thoroughly and store them in the garage or other dry location. Grates left in the cooker out in the weather are likely to rust over time.

To make cleaning the grates a little easier, spray them with non-stick cooking spray before use. Make sure every part of the grate is sprayed—top, bottom, edges, and handles.

Dispose Of The Water Pan Waste

Let the water pan cool enough to handle safely before removing it from the cooker. There are several proven methods for disposing of the contents:

  • Separate the fat from the liquid: Allow the fat to solidified on the surface of the water, skim it off and place it in the trash, and pour the remaining liquid down the sink. The success of this method depends on the type of fat and whether it gets cold enough to solidify.
  • Bottle the fat and water: Using a funnel and ladle, put the pan contents into a plastic milk jug, cap it, and dispose of it in the garbage.
  • Bag the fat and water with the cold ashes: Put several plastic bags one inside the other, place the cold ashes in the bag, and then carefully pour the pan contents into the bag. The ashes will absorb the liquid. Tie the bag shut and dispose of it in the garbage. Thanks to Doug D on The Virtual Weber Bullet Board for this idea.

Do not dispose of cooking fat by running it down the drain. This can clog your plumbing and your neighborhood sewer system over time.

Some folks that live in wide open spaces simply dump the pan contents somewhere on their property. This practice can attract a variety of insects and critters that you probably don't want around.

Clean The Water Pan

Soak the pan in hot, soapy water to loosen gunk inside the pan and smoke residue on the outside of the pan. A non-abrasive cleanser like Soft Scrub can also be used. Scrub, rinse, and dry thoroughly.
To make cleanup of the water pan easier, cover it with heavy duty aluminum foil before use. See Using A Water Pan In The WSM for details.

Dispose Of The Ashes Safely

Remove the middle cooking section and set it aside. Remove the charcoal chamber and charcoal grate and brush them off.

Ashes that seem cold on the surface may still be hot deep inside, even after sitting for two days, so take care when handling and disposing of them.

The safest way to dispose of ashes is to put them in a small galvanized metal trash can that is dedicated to the purpose of ash storage. Keep the can away from any flammable materials, including your house, wood pile, dry grass, or weeds. Let the ashes sit for a good, long time until there is absolutely no doubt they are fully extinguished, then dispose of them in your regular household garbage.

If a dedicated ash can is not an option, stir through the ashes to make sure they are absolutely cold before placing them in the garbage.

Periodic Maintenance

There are several things you can do on a periodic basis to ensure your Weber Bullet provides years of dependable service.

  • Clean the exterior of the cooker. Wipe the outside surfaces with a damp cloth while the cooker is hot. This does a great job of "steam cleaning" the cooker, removing dirt, grime, and smoke stains. Make sure to wear heat-resistant gloves so you don't get burned. As an alternative, when the cooker is cold, use Windex for a light cleaning, or a degreaser like Dawn Power Dissolver or Greased Lightning—spray on, let the spray work for a few minutes, then scrub, rinse thoroughly, and dry.
  • Inspect the cooking grates for rust. The nickel-plated finish will break down over time with normal use, allowing rust to set in. The rust tends to start on the bottom of the grates and works its way toward the top. Cooking grates should be replaced when the rust reaches the top surface where it would come in contact with food.
    The top grate can be purchased at (18-1/2", 22-1/2") and at most home centers and barbecue stores—these are the same grates used in Weber 18-1/2" and 22-1/2" charcoal grills. The bottom cooking grate must be ordered directly from Weber at 800-446-1071. See the Parts Schematic for part numbers.
  • Inspect the charcoal grate and charcoal chamber for rust-through. Since these parts don't come into direct contact with food, they can go for a very long time without needing to be replaced. In fact, they may last as long as the cooker itself. If they are in particularly bad condition—for example, the grate is completely rusted and about to fall apart—you might want to consider a replacement.
    The charcoal grate and charcoal chamber must be ordered from Weber at 800-446-1071. See the Parts Schematic for part numbers. Please note that WSM charcoal grates are not the same as those used in Weber 18-1/2" and 22-1/2" charcoal grills.
  • Check for loose screws that attach the legs and cooking grate flanges, tightening if necessary.
  • Check the fit of the access door. Bend the door gently by hand to ensure a good fit against the middle cooking section. See Parts Troubleshooting for details.
  • Check the access door knob and tighten if necessary (2008 & earlier models). Hold the door latch with pliers and turning the knob clockwise by hand, taking care not to over tighten.
  • Check the lid handle and tighten if necessary. If the handle is cracked or missing, replacement handles are available from Weber at 800-446-1071. See the Parts Schematic for part numbers.
  • Check the vent dampers. The lid damper can become sticky and difficult to turn with use. If so, apply a spray degreaser or white vinegar to loosen it, then rinse. If a damper on the lid or charcoal bowl is bent out of shape, see Parts Troubleshooting for instructions on how to replace it.
  • Wash the lid, cooking section, charcoal bowl, and access door with warm, soapy water. Wash these parts both inside and out. There is no need to wash the charcoal grate or charcoal ring. Dry the exterior surfaces with a soft towel to prevent spots. Allow the sections to dry completely before reassembling the cooker
  • Check the condition of the protective vinyl cover. Replacement covers must be ordered from Weber at 800-446-1071. See the Parts Schematic for part numbers.
Weber does not recommend waxing the exterior of the cooker, as this can cause streaks on the finish.

Burning Out The Cooker

Mold inside Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
Photo 1

If you find the inside of your WSM has been taken over by mold (Photo 1) or insects or mice, you may want to "burn out" your cooker.

Clean out any debris inside the cooker. Light at least 2 chimneys of charcoal and pour them into the charcoal chamber, spreading them evenly over the charcoal grate. Assemble the cooker and open all the vents top and bottom. Let the cooker run as hot as possible until the fire goes out and the ashes are cold.

Brush down the interior surfaces with a stiff bristle brush and discard the ashes. Any remaining "stuff" can be cleaned out with hot, soapy water (or a very mild bleach solution), a stiff bristle brush and some good old-fashioned elbow grease. Rinse, let dry thoroughly, and you should be good to go.

Mold needs moisture to grow, so keep your cooker covered or stored in a dry location when not in use. To keep critters out, store your cooker with all vents closed.

Storing The Cooker

The Weber Bullet can be stored outside all year around. Using the heavy duty vinyl cover that came with your cooker will protect it from most of the elements. However, the vinyl cover and WSM lid design are not waterproof—water will collect in the bottom of the charcoal bowl when it rains. Either store the cooker in a sheltered location or follow the tips in the Frequently Asked Questions to prevent water from entering the cooker. As mentioned earlier in this article, you may want to store the cooking grates in your garage or other dry location to prevent these parts from rusting.

Removing Grease Stains From Clothing

Finally, we have a tip from Keri C., a frequent poster on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board, about how to remove those grease stains that inevitably get on your clothes while barbecuing.

"My briskets always try to hug me to show me how much they love me," says Keri. "Buy a bottle of Dawn Ultra dishwashing liquid. Apply it full-strength to the grease stains on your shirt, rub it in, and then wash in warm water as usual. This has taken out every grease stain that I have managed to create so far."

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The Virtual Weber Bullet is your best source for Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker information and discussion on the Web. Popular with competition barbecue teams, the WSM is an easy-to-use water smoker that's equally at home in the backyard. See the WSM and its component parts; get recipes, usage tips, and modification ideas; check-out BBQ-related resources; and discuss the WSM with owners and enthusiasts in our online forums.
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