So you're wondering how to clean a flat top grill, huh? I get asked this question all the time so obviously it's not clear cut.
Which is why I'll share my top 7 methods that range from totally normal to slightly strange to downright weird...
Because, whether you have a professional-grade flat top in a professional kitchen or a cheaper countertop flat top grill at home, keeping them clean is important for several reasons.
First and foremost a clean kitchen keeps illness away. You do not want to contaminate your delicious smash burgers by cooking them on a flat top grill crawling with bacteria.
Similarly, it doesn’t matter how tasty your hash browns are, if they carry germs or bugs, people will only remember the vomiting.
Another reason to keep your grill clean is to prevent grease fires. Flat top grills will often have a grease trap that can get too hot and catch fire. Also, older grease on the grill can overheat, start to smoke, and cause a fire.
Finally, you need to clean your flat top grill to prevent flavors from one dish from leaking into the next dish.
If you’re making one big fry up then it’s not much of an issue.
If however, you made a salty, greasy fry up yesterday and now you’re aiming for a more delicate chicken dish, you probably want to cook on a fresh slate.
So, how do you clean these flat top grills?
How To Clean A Flat Top Grill Basics
There are lots of different methods for cleaning flat-top grills. A huge variety of substances can be used to shift grease and oil off the grill from plain old soap to beer!
Most of these methods require a bit of elbow grease and so you need to let the grill cool down before you begin. It doesn’t need to be stone cold. If it cools too much, bits of food can cake onto the surface. It should be cool enough to work with.
Another thing to bear in mind is the material of your grill. Stainless steel grills are tough and can withstand a bit of scrubbing. You can use harsher materials on these grills.
Blackstone or chrome griddles are a bit softer and need a more tender touch. Avoid hard abrasives and harsh chemicals when cleaning these grills. Usually, some soap and paper towels are the best option for Blackstone grills.
What You’ll Need
There are lots of different cleaning liquids you could use. We’re not going to list them all here.
Instead, we’re going to give you a rundown of the utensils and tools you’ll need to clean your grill.
- Grill scraper
- Spray bottle
- Grill brush
- Clean towels
- Clean oil
Grill brushes should be copper but these should not be used on chrome or Blackstone grills.
Here's The 7 Different Methods For Cleaning Flat Top Grills...
1. Dish soap and Sponge
This method is a bit labor-intensive but it is the kindest method. It is ideal for chrome grill and Blackstone grills.
With this method, you take a bottle of liquid dish soap and coat the grill. Use a sponge to wipe away the oil and grease.
It’s best to use neat dish soap first as this really cuts through the grease. Once you’ve removed the majority of the oil you can start splashing water onto the grill to rinse off the soap and water.
If you have stubborn patches, you could use the scrubber side of the sponge. The spongy scrubbers tend to be soft enough to use on chrome grills too.
2. Vinegar and Water
This method uses the heat of the grill to remove the gunk. You’ll need a spray bottle and a grill scraper for this method.
First, fill the spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. White distilled vinegar is the best kind to use.
With the burners turned up high, spray the mixture over the grill. You want to give it enough of a coat so that when you start scraping the gunk it turns into a goop.
Use the grill scraper to get all the gunk moving. The idea is to separate it from the grill. You want to get it nice and viscous before turning the burners off.
Once the burners are off, spray more of the mixture over the grill and leave it to sit for about 10 minutes. This gives the vinegar time to eat away at stubborn bits of grease.
After 10 minutes, turn the burners right back up and let the goop heat up. You want to use the scraper to drag the grease, vinegar, and water mixture into your grease trap.
Once the majority of the gunk is off, turn the burners down and let the grill cool a little bit.
You’re now going to pour the rest of the vinegar and water mixture onto the grill. It will spit at you so do wear long sleeves.
With the grill swimming in the mixture, you can use a grill brush to tackle stubborn stains before sluicing the mixture into the grease trap.
Once the grill is clean, use a wet cloth to rinse off the grill. The burners should be off at this point.
To finish up use some paper towels to buff the grill with fresh oil ready for the next day’s use.
3. Lemon and Water
This method is identical in practice to the vinegar and water method.
The only difference is that instead of a 50/50 vinegar and water mixture you want a 25/75 lemon juice and water mixture.
4. Hot Oil and Pumice
This should not be used on chrome or Blackstone grills.
For this method, you need to add fresh oil to your dirty grill and get it hot. You don’t want it so hot the oil spits but you want it hot enough to loosen the grime and grease.
Use a grill block, which is actually just a large pumice stone, to scrub the fresh oil into the used grease in small circles. This will loosen up the grime.
Once loose, scrape the oils into the grease trap and discard.
5. Soda Water
Pour seltzer or club soda onto a hot grill. The liquid will fizz and boil. The carbonization from the seltzer will help to loosen baked-on grease and grime.
Use a scraper or grill brush to move the grease towards the grease trap before switching the grill off.
Once the grill has cooled, rinse with water and buff with oil.
Use beer in the same fashion as your soda water.
The bubbles will help dislodge the grease and give you a sparkling grill top.
7. Onion Scrub
This method is more useful for keeping the grill clean while in use.
Cut an onion in half and keep it handy. When grease or drippings build up on the grill, use the onion half to scrub the grill. If it’s too hot to handle, stick the onion on a long fork.
The onion soaks up and removes grease and drippings easily thanks to its acidic nature. It also gives the grill a nice onion flavor.
How to Clean a Flat Top Grill Final thoughts
Cleaning your flat top grill doesn’t have to be a hassle. You can use the heat to your advantage and boil off a lot of the baked-on grease.
You’ll notice that we haven’t mentioned any commercial grill cleaners here. They are available but they need a lot more rinsing and cleaning after use to prevent toxicity.
We prefer to go with natural alternatives that you have laying around the kitchen!