One of the best parts of rolling out the flat top grill for sunny weather cooking is the relief you get from the mountain of dishes that follow. With a single surface handling the work of several skillets you might otherwise use on the stove, you can complete your cleanup in only a fraction of the time – that is, if you know how to clean correctly.
As a home chef, who loves the sizzle of the grill but dreads doing dishes, I have found my culinary haven in outdoor grilling. Over the years, I have tried and perfected techniques for maintaining my flat top grills. And, I own several. I do it not just for the love of cooking but also because my grill is always the centerpiece of countless meals from family gatherings to neighborhood cookouts.
Refreshing a flat top grill surface is less challenging than many people realize. When you do it consistently and follow a few basic principles, you’ll never overcomplicate the process with lengthy cleaning steps or unnecessary solutions. Save time and effort during your next cookout by following these tips and insights into how to clean flat top grill surfaces.
Before You Begin: Essential Tips and Mistakes To Avoid
- Clean every time you cook. Preventing settled buildup will simplify cleaning and maintain your griddle for future use
- Keep paper towels and two squirt bottles (one with water and one with your favorite cooking oil) with your flat top grill at all times. With an appropriate scraper, these are all you need to keep your griddle surface clean
- Maintain the seasoning layer. Stay aware of abrasive tools that will strip the seasoning, and add extra layers after cleaning as needed to protect against rust
- Don’t use cold water or ice cubes on a hot griddle surface. The sudden temperature shift could cause the metal to warp or crack
How To Clean Flat Top Grill
Household flat tops usually come in three general varieties – stainless steel, cast iron, and carbon steel. While each has unique cooking benefits and a few nuances when it comes to cleaning, the typical technique is similar no matter the material.
The secret is thorough maintenance after every cookout. Preventing food debris buildup will help you avoid extra-stubborn messes when the griddle cools and the rigorous deep clean needed to restore it. The cleaning process is straightforward and satisfying. And when done well, it’s an effective way to get many years of dependable performance from your flat top grill.
Top Recommendation: Clean Your Flat Top Grill When You Cook!
Cleaning while you use it is the most efficient way to keep your flat top grill in tip-top shape. While some situations may require a deeper clean to prepare it for action, maintaining the habit of cleaning as you cook will stop you from ever having to spend extra effort tidying your grill.
Maintaining a flat top is less about clever cleaning solutions and more about applying elbow grease. Simple items like a metal scraper, non-abrasive scrubber, and steaming water are the best tools for cleaning a flat top. With these, you can efficiently refresh your grill surface when you give it prompt attention after cooking.
Tools and Supplies
- Metal scraper (use wood, silicone, or nylon scrapers for ceramic griddles)
- Paper towels
- Water (room temperature or warm)
- Cooking oil
- Heat-resistant gloves
Note: Keep these items with your flat top at all times. A pair of squeeze bottles will store your water and cooking oil, and having them handy will encourage better cleaning habits.
How To Clean Your Flat Top Grill After Cooking
- Turn your flat top off after cooking, but work while you let the grill cool, using heat-resistant gloves, tongs, and your grill scraper to protect against burning your hand
- Scrape leftover food particles and excess oil on the cooking surface into the grease trap
- Pour water over stuck-on bits of food and stubborn grease to let the steam loosen it before scraping it away
- Let the water burn off, and towel dry as needed to ensure the griddle surface is moisture-free
- Spread an even, thin layer of cooking oil across the entire cooking surface with a paper towel before storing
Warning! Be careful with your scraping technique. Sharp corners and a cutting motion can scratch and dig into the griddle’s cooking surface, affecting its rust resistance and non-stick quality.
Tip: If you have greasy spatulas to handle, clean them when you pour water on the warm griddle. Use the steam rolling off the cooking surface to loosen the grime on your metal scrapers and make them easier to wipe down.
How to Deep Clean a Flat Top Grill
Nobody’s perfect. At some point, you might do a lackluster job of wiping down your flat top or let the distraction of a backyard bash keep you from attempting to clean when you’ve finished cooking.
Regardless of the build, all griddles come prepared for situations like these. It might take extra elbow grease and a few additional tools, but you can get your flat top grill back in peak form even after neglect. Here are my top tips on how to clean a griddle grill to remove stubborn grime.
Use a Grill Stone to Deep Clean Cast Iron and Carbon Steel
Sometimes, you need a little boost to work out sticky and discolored patches of burnt-on oil and food from your flat top grill. For cast iron and carbon steel griddles, like a Blackstone, NexGrill, or Camp Chef, you’ll want a more abrasive scrubbing tool to buff away tricky grime.
Keep a pumice grill stone, like these heavy-duty grill cleaners from AWESROY, for when you notice early rust development or challenging spots that your scraper can’t handle. If you don’t have a grill stone, you can try alternative abrasive scrubbers like a grill brush or fine steel wool. Other scouring options include:
Or, grab a flat top care kit like the Blackstone 5060 8-Piece Accessory Kit to ensure you always have the proper cleaning tools. With a stainless steel scraper, scrubbing handle, grill bricks, and scouring pads, these packages supply everything you need to tackle any cleaning situation.
Are you dealing with a rusted flat top grill that requires a substantial overhaul? Check our in-depth article on restoring a rusty Blackstone grill for tips to return your cooking equipment to peak form.
How To Clean a Griddle Grill With a Pumice Stone
- Heat the cooking surface on low
- Scrape as much food and grease into the grease trough
- Pour 2–4 tablespoons of vegetable oil onto the griddle surface
- Rub the oil over the grill with your pumice stone, scrubbing the sticky, grimy sections until they’re gone
- Scrape the oil into the grease tray
- Wipe the cooking surface with a paper towel to remove leftover residue, debris, and grunge
- Season the entire surface with a thin layer of oil (turning the grill on high and letting the oil smoke off for about half an hour)
Tip! If your flat top grill desperately needs extra scrubbing power but you’re out of grill stones, scrubbing pads, or steel wool, try one of my favorite cleaning methods — table salt.
Sprinkle some salt generously on the trouble spots. Rub it into the surface with a paper towel in a circular motion. The grit will grind through difficult patches to remove grease and the black residue spots that appear on these surfaces.
Tips for Deep Cleaning Ceramic or Stainless Steel Flat Top Grills
While it is possible to clean a ceramic or stainless steel flat top grill with a pumice stone, steel wool, or another hard scraping device, it’s rarely the most practical method. Stainless steel cooking surfaces may scratch from abrasive materials, creating cosmetic issues if not affecting performance. The same goes for ceramic-coated grills like the Pit Boss, which can wear and chip from too much force.
Use a Non-Abrasive Scrubber for Your Flat Top
A non-abrasive scouring pad is the simple solution for these flat top grill surfaces. The cleaning process is similar to any other grill. Use water on a warm cooking surface to loosen food, scrape with an appropriate scraper, and use the scrubber to power through challenging oil and food residue. Finish by wiping the surface with a thin layer of oil before storing.
Remove Oil and Food Debris With Dish Soap
While abrasive metal materials often aren’t practical for stainless steel, ceramic, or porcelain surfaces, one benefit to these over cast iron and carbon steel is their tolerance for soap and water. Cleaning stubborn grease couldn’t be more straightforward! Pour hot water over the challenging spots, add a few drops of dish soap, and scrub with a non-abrasive scrubber. Rinse and dry the surface, and apply an oil layer.
How To Use Baking Soda To Clean a Flat Top Grill
Baking soda is such a versatile cleaner inside the house that it’s hardly surprising to find it has even more uses outside it. The same benefits that make baking soda a top choice for safe and natural oven cleaning also mean it can effectively degrease flat tops. It saponifies the oils stuck on the griddle as it sits, allowing the grease and grime to dissolve in water and lift away from the cooking surface.
Here’s how to use baking soda to deep clean your flat top grill:
- With the flat top slightly warm, pour water over the surface
- Sprinkle baking soda onto the warm water, allowing it to soak in and create a thick paste
- Let the baking soda sit on the grill’s surface for about ten minutes
- Wipe the flat top surface with a paper towel, scrubbing out any stubborn grease buildup
- Sweep the baking soda into the grease tray
- Wipe the griddle with a few paper towels to remove any remaining moisture, baking soda, or food residue
- Apply a thin coat of oil over the grill’s surface before storing
Part of the popularity of coated griddle surfaces, like those from Pit Boss, is their incredible cleanability. Use soap and water, give them a light scrub, and you’re all set. But to clean a flat top grill with a steel cooking surface, you may want a more potent, targeted cleaning solution. A few inexpensive yet effective cleaners for a stainless, carbon steel or cast iron griddle include:
- Stera-Sheen Non-Caustic Hi-Temp Grill Surface Cleaner
- Giant Lion Griddle Master Max
- Scotch Brite Griddle Cleaning Packets
Follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully while using any new cleaning product. While select chemical cleaners can be safe for flat top grills, they often strip away seasoning layers as they work through grease and grime. After a deep clean, flat top grills often benefit from a fresh round of re-seasoning with a high flash point cooking oil.
Griddle Maintenance Tips: Avoiding a Dirty Flat Top Grill
Cleaning your flat top grill after every cooking session isn’t the only part of proper maintenance. Preparation and storage are paramount in prolonging your griddle’s lifespan and guaranteeing its performance every time you roll it out. The following are a few essential tips to prevent your flat top grill from getting dirty.
Season Your Griddle
Seasoning is the built-up layering of polymerized oil that creates a waterproof seal over the cooking surface and saves you from a rusty flat top grill. Many argue over the value of seasoning certain materials, like stainless steel, so use your discretion in some instances. But for a carbon steel or cast iron griddle, seasoning is critical.
Always season your griddle before first use, adding at least four layers to give your flat top grill a solid base. After that, you’ll season your griddle lightly with every use, continuing to build that barrier.
Use a Grill Cover
Every flat top grill could use a grill cover before entering storage. No matter the style or where you store it, griddles can face undue damage from moisture, light, and the elements without a heavy-duty protector.
Store Your Flat Top Grill Properly
A cover is critical in preserving your flat top between uses, but it doesn’t make your griddle impervious to damage. Where you store your grill can make an enormous difference, a critical consideration made even more important when you factor in your location.
Your griddle may be more susceptible to damage depending on its environment. For instance, if you live in a warm, coastal area, even a stainless steel flat top could corrode from the sodium chloride in the sea air. If your flat top grill faces unique threats, store it in an enclosed, preferably climate-controlled area.
What’s the Point of Cleaning Your Flat Top Grill?
Keeping your flat top grill tidy isn’t only about making it look good. You’ll have a much smoother, more enjoyable cooking experience when today’s burgers aren’t sticking to yesterday’s grunge. More importantly, cleaning will help you avoid the extra health hazards of a dirty cooking surface.
It’s no shock that leftover food debris and grime are a trap for microbes. You wouldn’t eat a piece of food that hung out on your counter overnight. But that’s what you pick up and add to your plate every time you cook on an unclean flat top, increasing the risk of illness or infection. With the lax approach many take in maintaining their outdoor cooking equipment, some studies suggest that the average grill could even be dirtier than a toilet!
You can refresh a flat top grill in under a minute after every meal, avoiding the time-consuming task of scrubbing and re-seasoning. The cleaning process is too easy, and skipping it is impossible to justify. Follow these tips for cleaning your flat top grill to guarantee a successful and satisfying cookout every time.