How to Clean a Flat Top Grill – Best Practices & Tips [Deep Clean & Regular Upkeep]

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The flat top grill one of the most versatile, fun pieces of cooking equipment you can have on your back patio.  Quality food, artistry, and good times all come with the territory of owning a flat top grill.

If you’ve had your flat top for a while and notice it’s getting a little grimey, you may have asked yourself – what’s the proper way to clean a flat top grill?

In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know for how to clean a flat top grill – whether it’s a freestanding, portable, or built-in unit.  That includes a step by step guide for deep cleaning, and a few tips for regular upkeep to extend the life of your grill.

Deep Clean or Routine Clean?

There are certain steps that should be taken after every cook – at least a quick wipe of the cooking surface and a couple of other things we’ll touch on in a moment.

Every so often, 3 to 6 months depending on how much use your grill gets, you should deep clean your griddle. This will extend the lifespan of your cooker, not to mention it will make performance better!

How to Clean a Flat Top Grill – Deep Clean

From time to time, you should take inventory of your grill and assess whether or not it needs a deep clean.  The deep cleaning process will more or less “reset” your cooking surface to its original form.

So, this is a very thorough cleaning process that will do a great job of keeping your flat top in good shape.

It’s important to note that after a deep clean, you will most definitely need to re-season your grill before its next use.  That’s because the deep cleaning process is thorough enough that it will take off any seasoning which has built up over time.  We’ll walk you through how to do that later in this guide.

Indicators That a Deep Clean Is Needed

If you’re unsure of whether or not you need a deep clean, there are a few tell tale signs to determine if it’s necessary.

  • Food particles are sticking to your griddle or burnt food particles are finding their way into your food.  Obviously burnt food particles in your food is bad.  But what will likely happen first is that particles will stick to your griddle top first and lose its non-stick qualities.
  • Flavor is transferring between foods.  Obviously you don’t want different flavors from different foods cross mixing on the grill top.  That’s a fast way to make a meal worse!  If you start noticing this, it’s probably time for a deep clean.
  • Your food is cooking unevenly, or there are hot spots on the griddle top.  If you notice it’s getting harder to cook food evenly or there are clear hot spots on the cooking surface, a deep clean might be the solution.
  • You start to see grease buildup on the griddle surface.  If the grease build up doesn’t come off with the day to day cleaning methods, your griddle is probably ready for a deep clean.

Pay Attention to Your Griddle’s Surface Material

Most residential flat top grills have a stainless steel cook top.  Commercial units, or higher end residential units might have chrome cook tops.

It’s important to know for sure because the process is different depending on which surface you have.  Most notably, you should never ever use abrasive cleaners on a chrome top griddle.  It could damage your grill and/or void your warranty – when in doubt check with your manufacturer.

Materials You’ll Need

Here’s a list of equipment and materials that will help you with how to clean your flat top grill:

Griddle Scraper

A must have accessory for any flat top grill/griddle owner is a griddle scraper.  These versatile tools are designed to easily remove burnt and caked-on residue that inevitably remain on your surface after cooking.

Best Griddle Scraper
Cuisinart CCB-500 Griddle Scraper
  • Easily removes burnt & caked on residue with minimal strokes
  • Splash guard keeps oil off of your hands
  • Ergonomic design means comfort even with extended use
Check Price on Amazon

Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is a common oil choice for griddle cooking and is also used frequently to season a flat top cooking surface.  You can also use canola oil, some olive oils, and other options if you don’t have vegetable oil on hand.

Cleaning Agent

Most griddle surfaces we come across are made of stainless steel, so a solid stainless steel cleaner is the way to go.  If your surface is cast iron, just be sure to grab a cleaner that works with that surface.

A Couple of Dish Cloths

It’s generally a good idea to have a couple of go to cloths or rags on hand for your griddle cooking area!  They come in handy in a variety of scenarios and of course are used for the cleaning process.

Warm Water

Nothing crazy here, warm water is just used at the end of a flat top grill routine cleaning!

How to Clean a Stainless Steel Flat Top Grill

Here’s a step by step guide for how to clean a stainless steel griddle:

  1. Turn the heat up to about 300-350 degrees.  After the griddle top is hot, take your griddle scraper and scrape the surface of your flat top grill.  Try to get all food particles, debris, and grease off of the surface to the best of your ability.
  2. Pour warm water on the surface.  This will help boil off the grease buildup.  Be very careful here to not let the steam burn you.  It’s also important to point out that using warm water is 100% necessary.  You don’t want to use cold water, which could potentially crack or warp your surface due to thermal shock.
  3. Once the surface has cooled a little bit (ideally still warm), assemble your griddle pad and screen onto your griddle scrub holder.  Scrub the entire surface of your flat top grill.
  4. Rinse the surface and wipe it clean.
  5. Use one of your rags to apply the stainless steel cleaner.  Most cleaners are a spray that you’d use then wipe off.
  6. After applying the stainless steel cleaner, make sure you’ve completely dried and wiped your surface clean.
  7. Your surface is now ready to be re-seasoned.  We’ll go over that process in a little bit.

How to Clean a Chrome Flat Top Grill

If you work in a commercial kitchen or have an expensive flat top, you may have a chrome plated griddle.  If that’s the case, here are the steps you can follow for a deep clean:

(Note – instead of a griddle scrub, you’ll want to use a griddle brush here that’s less abrasive)

  1. Turn the heat up to about 300-350 degrees.  After the griddle top is hot, take your griddle scraper and scrape the surface of your flat top grill.  Try to get all food particles, debris, and grease off of the surface to the best of your ability.
  2. Pour warm water on the griddle top and scrub using a less abrasive griddle brush.  Repeat until the surface is thoroughly cleaned.
  3. Let the surface cool down.  Once cooled, dry the surface with a rag and apply a food safe polish.  Make sure the polish is also non-abrasive.
  4. Wipe the surface clean with one of your dry cloths or rags.
  5. Make sure all polish is removed at the end. You can follow the polish manufacturer’s instructions here, typically a damp cloth will do the trick.

How to Clean Your Griddle – Re-seasoning

The last step in the process of deep cleaning your griddle is to re-season the surface.  This will prepare it for the next time you need to use the grill, and help to rebuild the non-stick attribute to your flat top grill.

Seasoning a griddle is very simple, really.  Just follow these steps:

  1. Heat your griddle to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Let it burn for about 30 to 45 minutes.
  2. Turn the heat off and let the surface cool a little bit.  While the surface is still warm, use a cloth to apply a thin coat of vegetable oil to the entire surface.  You want to be sure to coat the entire surface without using so much oil that it pools up.  You just need a thin film here.
  3. Crank the heat back up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  We’re essentially baking a layer of oil into the griddle, which helps food to not stick and gives you better flavor.  On top of that, it will increase the shelf life of your griddle.
  4. Once the oil begins to smoke, you can turn the heat off.
  5. After the surface cools, wipe off any excess oil with a rag.
  6. Now you’re ready to cook on your flat top again!

How to Clean a Flat Top Grill – Routine Cleaning

The processes we just went over outline a deep clean.  You may need to deep clean only occasionally if you don’t use your griddle much.  It might be more frequently if you work in a commercial setting or use your equipment at home a lot.

There are a few things you should do each time you cook that will help you to extend the life of your grill and make deep cleans less frequent.  Here are a few tips for routine cleaning of a flat top grill.

  • After each use, use a griddle scraper to scrape any leftover grease or food particles.
  • After the flat top cools down, spray with water and give the surface a good rinse.
  • Use a paper towel or rag to completely dry.  You don’t need to press too hard here.
  • Some chefs recommend that you re-season their griddle every day after use to continually build up the seasoning.  Some only do it after a deep clean is performed.  This part is completely up to you!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Clean a Flat Top Grill Without Chemicals?

There are many methods that you can follow to clean your grill, however, the majority use chemical-based cleaning products. It is possible to clean your grill without using any chemicals.

The first option involves a simple combination of water and steam. Use a grill brush to get rid of any remnants of food that you have recently cooked.

Add some water and continue to maneuver the brush along, working it into the surface. It is worth noting that when you add this water, after interacting with the heat of the grill, it is going to turn into steam so you will need to be cautious.

Another effective solution involves the use of an onion. You will need to scrub the surface of your grill with an onion whilst it is still hot.

Alternatively, you may wish to use carbonation mixed with soda water. The properties of both products will soften any hard food that is clinging to the surface of your grill. After pouring the solution onto your grill you will need to scrub it thoroughly.

How Do I Make My Flat Top Grill Not Stick?

Failing to prepare your grill ahead of cooking is likely to result in your food sticking to the surface. To avoid this issue, you will need to season your grill beforehand. Pour a small amount of olive oil onto the surface and rub it in using a rag.

The oil will form a shield between your food and the surface and will ultimately prevent your griddle steaks from sticking. A grill that is not sticky is going to be much easier to clean. You must make sure that you do not use too much oil because this can worsen the issue, leaving your grill stickier than it was to begin.

How Do You Restore a Flat Top Grill?

To restore your flat top grill you are going to require a few simple tools, they include oil, a scraper, a grill stone if you have one to hand (you can use steel wool or wet-or-dry sandpaper if you do not), a scraper, and some paper towel.

First, you will need to turn your grill on and allow it to heat up. Doing so will make it easier to remove any food debris. You will then need to turn the grill off to cool after around 20 minutes have passed. Take your scraper and scrape the surface. This will allow you to target the rust.

Next, you will need to pour some oil onto the grill and use your grill stone to rub it in. You will notice that your grill seems overly oily so you will need to use some paper towels to clean it.

Wrap Up

If you came into this post wondering what is the best way to clean a flat top grill, I hope you found your answer!  Follow these steps to ensure happy grilling for months and years to come.

Have any questions?  Let us know in the comments section below!