How to Clean a Flat Top Grill

By Nick Evans •  Updated: 01/20/22 •  9 min read

Flat top grills are versatile grills that can cook almost anything. Due to their ability to cook such a wide variety of food, flat top grills become dirty from frequent use. They also don’t have grates like standard grills, so cleaning them requires different tactics. Instead of using a grill brush and grate cleaners, you’ll need to shift your focus towards flat top grill-specific tools instead. The good news is that we’re here to help. We’re going to take you through everything you need to know about how to clean a flat top grill. We’ll also show you how to maintain a flat top grill and the warning signs that appear when it needs to be cleaned.

What Is a Flat Top Grill? 

A flat top grill is similar to a griddle in that it uses a flat surface to cook foods.

While it’s similar to a griddle, flat top grills are different because the heating element is circular and provides radial heat across the surface.

The radial heat is evenly distributed, which makes flat top grills one of the best grills to use for an even cooking experience because the surface temperature is almost identical regardless of which spot you’re cooking on.

That said, flat top grills aren’t perfect and have some drawbacks. While they can cook most types of burgers, seafood, and breakfast items, fatty cuts of meats are harder to cook. This is because there are no grates to disperse the fat or juices that come out of the meat. For these reasons, flat top grills are best-suited for breakfast foods and lean meats.

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Warning Signs That Your Flat Top Grill Needs to Be Cleaned

Flat top grills get dirty from time to time but it’s not always easy to know when they need a deep cleaning. The good news is that there are a few signs you can use to determine if a flat top grill needs to be clean. These signs include:

When you notice these signs, it’s best to address the problems early. Doing so makes a flat top grill easier to clean and prevents permanent damage to the non-stick surface.

What You’ll Need to Clean a Flat Top Grill 

There are a few tools you’ll need to clean a flat top grill. While you don’t need all of them, having a handful of them makes the process of cleaning a flat top grill much easier. We’ll have brief descriptions of tools you might not be familiar with below.

Some of the common tools you’ll benefit from having:

Griddle Scraper  

If you’re going to clean a flat top grill the griddle brush or griddle scraper is the most important item. This tool resembles a grill brush but replaces the brush with stainless steel cleaning scrapers. These scrapers are essential for scraping off grease, food particles, and other messes that are stuck to the surface of a flat iron grill.

Cleaning Agent 

When cleaning a flat top grill you also need a cleaning agent. The cleaning agent that you need depends on the type of flat top grill you have. For stainless steel flat top grills, you’ll need a cleaner that can clean stainless steel without scratching it. On the other hand, iron flat top grills require the same type of cleaner but for cast iron.

Below is our recommended cleaning agent to use on your flat top grill.

When it comes to preparing to clean a flat top grill, make sure you avoid soap and other harsh materials like brillo pads because they can scratch the surface.

Read Also: Get Cooking With the Best Infrared Grills

Step-by-Step Guide for Cleaning a Flat Top Grill 

Cleaning a flat top grill is similar to cleaning a traditional grill but with a few key differences. For example, you want to use tools that won’t damage the flat top grill surface. The good news is that we’re here to help and it only takes a few steps to properly clean a flat top grill.

Let’s get into it:

  1. Turn the heat up to 350° Fahrenheit. Use a griddle scraper to remove food particles and anything else that’s loose and on the surface of the flat top grill.
  2. Pour warm water on the surface of the flat top grill. Make sure you use warm water to prevent warping the metal surface and be sure to avoid steam that comes off the grill.
  3. Use a griddle pad and griddle screen to clean the entire surface of the flat top grill.
  4. Rinse the surface.
  5. Use a rag or washcloth to apply stainless steel cleaner.
  6. Dry and wipe down the flat top grill until the stainless steel cleaner is removed 
  7. Re-season the flat top grill before the next cooking session.

These steps will work for most standard flat top grills. That said, if you’re working with an iron flat top grill you’ll want to replace the steel cleaner with iron cleaner.

Cleaning a Chrome Flat Top Grill 

While flat top grills typically have a stainless steel or iron cooking surface, commercial flat iron grills have chrome components that require special cleaning methods. If you work with commercial flat top grills, you’ll want to follow the methods listed below:

  1. Turn the heat up to 350° Fahrenheit. Once it reaches these temperatures, scrape the grill with the griddle brush (don’t use a scraper on chrome flat top grills).
  2. Put warm water on the surface of the grill and use a traditional brush or less abrasive griddle brush to clean the surface.
  3. Once the surface cools off, dry the surface with a dishrag or washcloth.
  4. Apply a food-safe polish, which serves as a protective layer of the grill’s non-stick surface.
  5. Wipe the surface clean with another dish rag or washcloth.
  6. Make sure all of the polish is removed from the flat top grill.

When it comes to cleaning chrome flat top grills, it’s all about making sure your cleaning tools are non-abrasive. You don’t want to scratch the grill because that damages its non-stick surfaces.

Flat Top Grill Maintenance 

Flat top grill maintenance makes cleaning the flat top grill easier. Moreover, maintenance of these grills prevents grease and food particles from building up. So, we’re going to provide you with some maintenance tips to make cleaning flat top grills hassle-free.

Re-Seasoning

Before you cook on a flat top grill you should make sure it’s seasoned. This is especially important after a deep cleaning or even a routine cleaning. When you re-season a flat top grill it prepares the grill for the next cooking session and boosts the non-stick capabilities on the surface.

The steps for re-seasoning a flat top grill are as follows:

  1. Heat the grill to 350° Fahrenheit.
  2. Turn the heat off and let the surface cool to a warm temperature.
  3. Place and spread vegetable oil across the entire surface of the flat top grill. Make sure it’s not a thick layer because the idea is to bake the oil into the surface of the grill.
  4. Raise the heat back up to 350° Fahrenheit.
  5. Once the oil starts smoking, turn the flat top grill off.

Use vegetable oil sparingly here. It doesn’t need to be a thick layer, just enough to coat the surface.

Cook With Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is commonly used for flat top grills because it doesn’t stick as much as other oil types. Plus, vegetable oil seasons food to enhance its taste. While not as good as vegetable oil for flat top grills, you can also use canola oil and olive oil. That said, always make sure you use oil when cooking on a flat top grill to prevent food from sticking. Remember, grease is easier to clean than food particles that ruin the non-stick surface of the grill.

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Routine Cleaning

The cleanings that we discussed earlier are deep cleanings. Deep cleanings require more effort because of the buildup of food particles and grease. That said, performing a routine cleaning can prevent the flat top grill from needing a deep clean. Routine cleans can be done after every cooking session and are easy to perform. 

Here are some tips to help you clean the flat top grill after cooking with it:

As long as you follow these flat top grill cleaning and maintenance tips you shouldn’t have any issues with your flat top or any flat top grill you come across, even the chrome ones. 

Cleaning Up 

Flat top grills are innovative grills that make cooking large meals hassle-free. They’re also the best grills for cooking food evenly, regardless of their location on the grill. That said, using a flat top grill requires the proper training, care, cleaning, and maintenance. In other words, if you take care of your flat top grill it will take care of you. As long as you follow the cleaning tips and maintenance tips we went over earlier, you should have no issue cleaning a flat top grill.

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