Flat top grills are a versatile and popular outdoor cooking method.
Not only are these grills as multipurpose as regular grills, but they come with the added benefit of minimal flare-ups, which happens when hot oil is dripped directly onto the coals below.
Instead, the flat top means you can up your cooking skill by grilling anything from meat and vegetables to scrambled eggs, without having to worry about food falling between the grates.
However, while this means you don’t have to scrub the living daylights out of the grates, does it mean that flat top grills are easy to clean?
If you’re wondering how to clean a flat top grill, you’ve come to the right place. Cleaning a flat top grill is essential for the grill’s service life, and it’s not that hard to clean these grills if you know how.
Here are the best methods for cleaning a flat top grill!
Why To Clean A Flat Top Grill
Before we dive into the cleaning methods, let’s take a look at the importance of cleaning a flat top grill.
First and foremost, the main reason to clean a flat top grill is for sanitation reasons.
You don’t want to accidentally give yourself and your family food poisoning, all because you didn’t clean the raw meat residue from the flat top grill.
Whatever food you cook on the grill, you’re going to use a lot of oil, which can eventually lead to a build-up of bacteria when left uncleaned.
This build-up will then mix with other ingredients. Even if you wipe down the surface, it’s estimated that 10% of flat top grilled food is left behind, becoming a breeding ground for bacteria.
Not only is this unhealthy to consume, but the food you cook will likely impart an unpleasant taste from the lingering grease and ingredients from before.
Plus, when the grease and food is left to stick and continue cooking on the grill, it makes the surface uneven and difficult to provide even cooking for the next ingredients.
When To Clean A Flat Top Grill
The best time to clean a flat top grill is basically right after you’ve finished cooking, but after the grill has cooled down enough.
It’s not always easy to tell when the perfect time to clean the grill is, because you want to wait for the grill to cool down without allowing enough time for the food to stick to the surface.
So, just make sure to clean the flat top grill when the grill itself has cooled down enough for you to put your hand comfortably on the surface.
If you’ve cooked with oils and grease, a good indicator that the grill is cool is when the oil and grease has hardened to a whitish form.
If you leave the fat to harden without cleaning it, it will make removing the residue even harder. Not only will this be a chore for you, but it’s also unhygienic and will affect the flavor of the food.
How To Clean A Flat Top Grill
Let’s look into the best methods to clean a flat top grill! Before you try any of these methods, make sure to wipe down as much of the grease as possible with paper towels.
Not only will this help to soak up the oily residue, but it will also get rid of food debris to provide a semi-smooth surface.
Dish Soap And Sponge
Dish soap is a highly underrated cleaning product, and it cleans far more than you might think.
So, before you look into using harsh chemicals on your flat top grill, try scrubbing it with dish soap, warm water, and a sponge.
You might want to opt for a steel scouring sponge if the stains are particularly tough.
This method is great for new flat top grills and when you’ve just finished cooking.
It’s also the first method you should try before using harsh chemicals, which might not be necessary if the grease residue isn’t too stubborn.
Hot Water And Grill Brush
Like dish soap, hot water is an underrated way to clean a flat top grill.
Boil a kettle or pot with clean water, then turn the grill to high and scrape away grease and debris with a grill brush dipped in the boiling water. Continue to add water and scrub until the surface is clean.
The way this method works is by loosening the adhered particles with hot water and steam.
Vinegar And Water
Time to use the white vinegar in your cupboard! Combine equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle, then turn the grill to its highest setting and spray the surface with the liquid.
You might need to spray more of the solution on stubborn grease stains.
Using a grill brush, spread the solution around and scrub as you go. You might need to repeat this process until stubborn grease stains have lifted.
Once the residue has lifted, turn the grill off and spread a layer of the vinegar and water solution over the surface and scrape it away with the grill brush.
Keep repeating this until the surface has been rinsed, then wipe the grill down with a clean, damp cloth – but only when the grill has cooled down!
Lemon Juice And Water
If you don’t have white vinegar, or perhaps you don’t enjoy the potent odor that white vinegar leaves, then you can substitute the vinegar for lemon juice.
Not only does this work just as well, but it leaves a refreshing scent afterwards.
In a spray bottle, combine two parts warm water with one part lemon juice.
Use the same method as before: turn the grill to high, spray the grill with particular focus on the affected areas, and then scrub away with a grill brush.
Make sure to rinse the clean surface with the solution and wipe it clean with a damp cloth.
Hot Oil And Pumice Stone
While it might seem redundant to clean an oily flat top grill with hot oil, this method is actually very useful for those stubborn grease stains.
Pour a small amount of neutral oil onto the cool grill, such as canola or peanut oil, then turn the heat to medium. Scrub the oil into the grill with a pumice stone.
This will help to mix in with the adhered fats and oils, and will encourage them to mix together with the cleaning oil.
When the residue oil has completely mixed in with the hot oil, turn off the heat and wait for it to cool. Once cool, wipe the surface down with paper towels.
If you don’t have a pumice stone, you can also use a grill brick for this method. Grill bricks are designed specifically for cleaning flat top grills, as they don’t absorb the grease, food, or odors.
This makes the bricks easier to clean than the pumice stone, so you don’t have to worry about scrubbing the surface with a dirty product.
Lemon Juice And Soda Water
While this might sound like just a refreshing beverage, a lemon and soda solution is also a useful cleaning solution for flat top grills.
In a spray bottle, combine four parts soda water to one part lemon juice. Turn the grill on to a medium heat and spray the surface with the lemon and soda solution.
Wait 5-10 minutes for the solution to soak into the residue, then scrape off the stubborn points with a grill scraper.
Scrub the entire surface with a scouring pad, and repeat the process. Once cool, wipe the surface with a damp cloth to remove the solution’s odor and residue.
Possibly one of the most unconventional cleaning methods is to clean the flat top grill with brewed coffee.
If you have some brewed coffee leftover, pour it over the grill and allow it to sit for 20-30 minutes. Then, scrub the surface with a grill scraper, and repeat the process for tough stains.
Make sure to drain the liquid and wipe the surface clean at the end to get rid of the coffee smell and taste.
Half An Onion
Speaking of unconventional methods, it’s time to use that leftover onion that’s about to go off.
Slice a white onion in half and scrub the whole flat top grill after it’s been turned off and before it’s completely cooled down. When clean, throw away the dirty onion.
The onion works to soak up any residue and drippings before the grease has had the chance to cool and adhere to the surface.
You can wipe the surface down after, but the benefit of this method is that your food will now have an onion taste to it, so it works as a seasoning method, too!
Another unconventional but highly effective cleaning method is to use a carbonated drink like beer!
Once the surface of the grill has cooled, cover it with a layer of beer and scrub away with a wire grill brush. Repeat this process until the residue and debris has been removed.
When the surface is clean, drain the liquid and wipe the surface down with a damp cloth. You might need to wipe the surface with paper towels before using the clean cloth, especially if there’s a lot of grease.
While the alcohol from the beer will evaporate when the grill is turned on again, you should make sure to wipe down the surface completely to avoid your next meal having a distinctive beer flavor.
Parts Of A Flat Top Grill To Clean
Cleaning a flat top grill is more than just cleaning the grill surface. You also need to clean the grease drain and drip tray.
While you won’t be cooking food on these parts, it’s important to clean them regularly to extend the overall service life of the grill.
Plus, a build-up of grease can lead to grill fires, which can be avoided with regular cleaning.
Season The Grill
After cleaning, you need to season the grill for the next cooking session. Remove all excess moisture from the surface, then pour a small amount of neutral oil to the grill while turning the heat to high.
Scrub the oil to every part of the grill with a grill brush, then blot the excess oil with paper towels.
Make sure to avoid burning yourself during this process. The reason the grill needs to be hot is that the oil needs heat to be absorbed properly.
Once this is done, turn off the grill and allow for it to cool completely before covering the grill.
So, there you have it! Turns out, there are multiple ways to clean a flat top grill.
Whether you pick a conventional or unconventional cleaning method, make sure to commit to cleaning your grill after every use to prevent a build-up of bacteria and grease.