How To Clean A Flat Top Grill (8 Simple Tips & Tricks)

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: March 8, 2024

If you’ve ever used a flat top grill, then you know how awesome they can be for cooking almost any kind of find. That’s why most restaurants use them. But, they can be tough to clean if you don’t know what you’re doing.

We decided to try out all the best methods to bring you a guide for deep cleaning your flat top grill.

Quick Summary

  • Cleaning a flat-top grill involves various methods, including using soap and water, lemon juice and soda water, vinegar and water, raw vinegar, grill bricks, olive oil, or even onion scrubbing.
  • Regular cleaning prevents grease build-up and food sticking, with routine cleaning after each use and deep cleaning every couple of months.
  • According to a 2020 study published in the National Library of Medicine, vinegar comprised of acetic acid at a concentration of 10% combined with 1.5% citric acid, is an excellent disinfectant against a variety of microorganisms, and can be used to clean grills [1].
  • Among the methods, using a grill brick is a personal favorite as it doesn't absorb any unpleasant odors from the food.

When To Clean Your Flat Top Grill

Not cleaning your grill affects the quality of your food; so if you notice any of these signs, it’s probably time to give your flat top grill some deep cleaning.

1. Grease build-up

If you see visible grease build-up on your grill, then it’s time to give a clean. Grease build-up results in flavor transfer between meats, and burnt grease also affects the taste of the food.

2. Food sticking on your grill

A hot, well-oiled grill prevents food from sticking; but if your flat top grill is dirty, your meat will stick and might cook unevenly.

Deep Clean Vs Routine Clean

cleaning a flat top grill

You should routinely clean your flat top grill surface by using a grill scraper every time you use it.

This will keep it relatively clean, but it may need a deep clean every couple of months.

There are a few signs that your flat top surface needs cleaned, including grease build-up, rust, and food debris. With the proper care, deep cleaning a flat top should be easy.

How To Clean A Flat Top Grill

Here are some of the best methods for cleaning a flat top grill.

1. Soap and Water

soap with water

This is one of the easiest methods. You can fill a bucket up with warm water and soap.

Use the soapy water and a sponge to scrub the grill. Make sure it is not hot while you scrub it.

Rub the sponge across the griddle to loosen up any food debris and grease. Wipe the griddle with a paper towel afterward.

2. Lemon Juice and Soda Water

water and lemon juice

For this method, you will use a hot grill. Heat the grill to loosen up any food particles. Mix some lemon juice and soda into a spray bottle.

Spray the mixture onto the griddle and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

Scrape the flat top with a wire sponge or a heat-resistant grill squeegee.

3. Vinegar and Water

Vinegar in glass and Water through sink

According to the National Sanitation Foundation, vinegar works as a disinfectant and can break down the structure of dirt, oils, and bacteria [2].

For this cleaning method, you should mix a solution of half water and half vinegar.

While the grill is still hot, spray the entire griddle with the water mixture.

Under high heat, get a stainless steel brush and spread the solution around the griddle. Don't forget to clean your grill brush once you're done.

Once it has become thick with grease buildup, pour the rest of the vinegar and water onto the grill to wash away the substance. Wipe the surface of the griddle with a clean rag.

4. Raw Vinegar

For this step, pour the vinegar over the entire surface of the flat top grill. We recommend using a scouring pad to make small circles around the flat top. The grease should loosen up right away.

5. Grill Brick

holding a grill brick

Grill bricks are useful tools for cleaning because they don’t absorb food debris and grease from the griddle.

Pour oil over a hot flat top grill. Using the grill brick, make front to back swapping motions on the surface.

The pumice from the brick should loosen up grease buildup. Once the griddle is clean, rinse it off with hot water.

"Flat tops are so much fun to cook with and experiment on.”

- Paul Sidoriak, Author, The Flippin' Awesome Backyard Griddle Cookbook [3]. 

6. Olive Oil

This step for cleaning is effective for seasoning a griddle as well. Oil is great for cooking, cleaning, and every day use with your flat top grill. Cover the grill surface with oil and use a grill brush, sponge, brillo pad, or other heavy-duty scrubbing pad to loosen up food debris. The next step is to scrape off any excess oil.

7. Onion Scrubbing

onion scrub cleaning

This may seem like a strange method, but it is proven to work for flat-top grills and dirty grease trays.

Ensure you turn the griddle up to high heat. Get an onion and chop off the outer skin and the end. Scrub the surface of the flat top grill with the exposed onion.

This step works because onions are known to have powerful cleaning properties.

They also have antibacterial properties. Once the grill is clean of food and grease buildup, rinse it clean with warm water.

8. Beer Cleaner

cleaning a dirty grill with a brush

Believe it or not, beer can also be used to clean flat-top grills. We recommend using a small amount of oil on a hot griddle combined with your beer of choice.

Pour the oil over the grill top. Once it is hot, then pour the beer over the whole surface.

This step will allow the carbonation in the beer to dislodge any food particles. Rinse off the beer before cooking.

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What should I do if my grill top is rusty?

We recommend that you avoid rust at all costs. If you see any rust, then you should follow each step before you cook on the surface again. You should scrape off any food particles first. The next step is to add some oil to the grill and scrape it using a stainless steel brush or scraper.

You need to put a lot of elbow grease into it to get it clean. You might also want to buy a rough stone or brick to scrape the rust off before cooking again.

What should I use to clean a chrome top grill?

You should use gentle cleaning solutions when it comes to chrome top grills. We recommend a simple solution to paper towels, soap, and water. You can also get a grill squeegee with a rubber tip to complete each cleaning step. After all the food is removed, wipe the grill surface down with a paper towel. Scrub with a mild detergent before cooking again.

Should I season the flat top after I clean it?

Before you cook, you should put a thin layer of oil onto the grill to create a protective layer. You should season your grill once every couple of months, depending on how often you cook on it. Seasoning a flat top requires you to rub it with oil, shortening, baking soda, and beef suet.


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About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy Woods holds a Kinesiology and Exercise Science degree from Jacksonville University and is CCC & GMU Certified. He's also the main man behind Carnivore Style. This food aficionado combines science and experience to spread the word about the carnivore lifestyle.
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