Cleaning and maintaining your outdoor flat top grill or griddle might seem daunting, especially if you are new to using an outdoor flat top. The sight of built-up grime, grease, and rust can feel overwhelming when starting out.
Not to worry – Here is how you can easily keep your flat top grill in top condition.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the process of cleaning, seasoning, rust removal, and expert tips for maintaining a flat top grill. This guide is specifically focused on cleaning an outdoor flat out grill such as the popular Blackstone brand.
Table of Contents
Must-Have Cleaning Tools
Before we dive into the cleaning process, it is important to gather the necessary tools. As a chef, I can tell you that having the right equipment on hand will streamline the cleaning process and ensure your flat top grill stays in excellent shape. I really recommend getting your toolkit of cleaning equipment ready before you start.
1. Scraper: A flat metal scraper is ideal for getting stubborn, caked-on residue. It will help you lift and scrape away the toughest grime and crunchy elements without damaging the flat top’s surface.
2. Scouring Pad: A scouring pad with handle is the prefer tool for removing residue from a flat top. Keep in mind that most scouring pads can’t be used on hot surfaces.
3. Grill Cleaning Brick (Optional): A grill cleaning brick is a good alternative to a scouring pad in which it can be used on both hot and cold surfaces. A cleaning brick is a pumice stone for your grill grates or flat top.
4. Cleaning cloth or paper towels: You will need these to wipe down the flat top after scraping off the debris. They come in handy for a final clean sweep.
5. Cooking oil
Cooking oil, preferably a high-smoke-point oil like canola or vegetable oil, is perfect for seasoning the flat top after cleaning. It helps maintain the grill’s non-stick surface and prevents rust.
6. Grill cover (Optional)
While not a cleaning tool, a grill cover can protect your flat top grill from the elements, reducing the need for frequent cleaning. Consider investing in one if you do not already have it.
How to Clean a Flat Top Grill (Step-by-Step)
Now that you have your cleaning tools ready, let us jump into the step-by-step process of how to clean a flat top grill.
Step 1: Safety first – cool the flat top!
It is absolutely crucial to ensure that your flat top grill has cooled down completely before embarking on the cleaning process. While this may appear to be a common-sense precaution, it is crazy how often accidents occur due to attempting to clean a still-hot flat top grill.
To prevent any potential mishaps, I strongly advise wearing a pair of heat-resistant gloves to safeguard your hands from accidental burns.
Step 2: Remove loose debris
Using the scouring pad, gently sweep away loose debris, such as food particles and ash. Brush in one direction, pushing the debris to the edge of the flat top grill. You should see the bits of debris begin to loosen up and move to one side.
Step 3: Scrape away any residue
Take the flat metal scraper and carefully scrape off any stubborn residue or grease spots. Apply firm but gentle pressure, ensuring that it does not scratch the surface. It is important not to scratch the surface because this can cause food to stick during cooking.
Step 4: Wipe down the grill
Once you have removed the majority of the grime, use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe down the flat top. This will help get rid of any remaining grease and dirt. You can just use a dry cloth; there is no need to wet it.
Step 5: Season the grill
After cleaning, it is important to season the flat top grill to maintain its non-stick properties and prevent rust.
Pour some oil onto the flat top and spread it all over the surface with a cloth or paper towel. Heat the grill for a few minutes to let the oil seep into the surface. Below is a more detailed explanation of how to season a flat top grill, check it out.
How to Season a Flat Top (Step-by-Step)
Seasoning your flat top grill is a crucial step in its maintenance. Seasoning not only helps create a non-stick surface but also protects the grill from rust and corrosion.
As much as this can feel laborious, once you get used to the joy of cooking on a perfectly clean, shimmering flat top grill, the maintenance of it will feel like a labor of love.
Follow these steps for how to season your flat top grill effectively:
Step 1: Clean First
Before seasoning, ensure the grill is clean and free from debris or rust. You can check back to the steps mentioned earlier in this guide on how to clean an outdoor flat top.
Step 2: Heat the Flat Top
Turn on your flat top grill and set it to a high heat level, typically around 400-450°F (204-232°C). Heating the grill will open up the pores of the metal and prepare it for seasoning. Take care around the smoking hot flat top surface.
Step 3: Apply a little oil in a thin layer
Once the grill is warm, pour some cooking over the surface. Use a cloth to smear the oil evenly across the cooking area. Be sure to cover every inch, including the edges. I highly suggest using your heat protective gloves at this point!
Step 4: Allow the oil to smoke
As you heat the oiled grill, the oil will start to smoke. This is a good sign, as the oil is bonding with the metal surface.
Allow the grill to smoke for about 15 minutes. During this process, the oil darkens, which is normal.
Step 5: Turn off the grill and allow it to cool completely
After the smoking process, turn off the grill and let it cool naturally. Do not rush this step by using water or any cooling methods. It’s important that the “pores” of the metal cool and close up slowly.
The slow cooling also helps the oil bond effectively with the metal, creating a non-stick layer. This non-stick layer is what makes your flat top grill such an ease to cook on. The time and effort it takes to properly clean, season, and care for your surface makes all the difference.
Step 6: Wipe off excess oil
Once the grill has cooled down, use a clean cloth or paper towels to wipe off any excess oil. You should be left with a shiny, well-seasoned flat top grill ready for your next cooking adventure.
Remember that seasoning is an ongoing process. You may need to repeat these steps a few times, especially if you notice the non-stick properties diminishing over time. With proper seasoning and regular maintenance, your flat top grill will continue to be the best cooking partner you have ever had.
How to Clean a Rusted Flat Top
If you have neglected your flat top grill and it has developed rust, do not worry. You can restore it with a bit of elbow grease. We have all been there; you are not alone!
Step 1: Safety first – cool down the surface
As with regular cleaning, make sure the grill is cool to the touch before you begin rust removal. You may want to use protective gloves for this part of the process.
Step 2: Remove loose rust
Use a grill brush, scouring pad, or cleaning brick to remove loose rust flakes from the surface. Be gentle to avoid scratching the grill.
Step 3: Scrub with vinegar
Moisten an old cloth with vinegar and scrub the rusted areas. Vinegar is acidic and helps dissolve rust. Continue scrubbing until you have removed as much rust as possible. Regular white or brown vinegar are both perfectly fine to use as well.
Step 4: Rinse and dry
Rinse the grill thoroughly with water to remove any remaining vinegar residue. Towel dry the flat top to prevent further rust formation.
Step 5: Season the grill
Follow the seasoning process mentioned earlier to restore the grill’s non-stick properties and protect it from future rust.
Other Important Care Tips
In addition to the essential cleaning and rust removal processes that were covered earlier, there are some important care tips that will help you maintain your flat top grill in excellent condition and ensure its longevity.
After each cooking session
Scrape and wipe:
It is important to scrape off any remaining food residue with your trusty grill brush or scouring pad.
Use a scraper to remove any particles clinging to the surface. Following this, wipe down the grill’s cooking area with a clean cloth or paper towel.
This routine maintenance not only keeps your grill looking clean but also prevents the build-up of debris that could affect future cooking sessions.
Empty the grease tray:
Try not to overlook the grease tray. Empty it after each use to prevent the accumulation of grease. Aside from keeping your grill in top shape, this step is key for health and safety reasons.
A clean grease tray reduces the risk of flare-ups, which can be dangerous and negatively impact the taste (and safety) of your food. Remember to bury or burn excess fat, rather than pouring it down a drain as it can cause blockages and bad odors.
Oil before storage:
Before stowing away your flat top grill for any extended period, such as during periods of inactivity or between seasons, apply a thin layer of cooking oil to the entire cooking surface.
This protective layer of oil acts as a barrier against moisture and air, preventing rust from forming and maintaining the grill’s non-stick properties.
There is no harm in repeating this process regularly, as it significantly contributes to the long-term care of your flat top grill. I oil mine once a month, and it keeps it working like a charm.
Cover your flat top grill:
If possible, invest in a suitable grill cover to protect your flat top grill from the elements.
Covering your grill helps shield it from rain, snow, dust, and other harsh weather conditions.
This easy action can extend the life of your grill and reduce the frequency of deep cleaning and rust removal. Trust me, rust removal is one of the trickiest parts of caring for your flat top grill. It is best to be avoided if possible.
Store indoors in the winter:
For those living in regions with extreme winter weather conditions, consider bringing your flat top grill indoors during the cold season.
Indoor storage during winter is an excellent preventative measure to ensure your grill remains in prime condition year after year.
By adding these additional care tips into your routine, you will not only enjoy a well-maintained and long-lasting flat top grill but also enhance the safety and quality of your outdoor cooking experiences.
Whether you are a seasoned griller or a beginner, these practices will help alleviate any reservations you may have had about cleaning, caring for, or investing in a flat top grill.
Keeping your flat top grill in tip-top shape is a simple yet essential aspect of the outdoor cooking journey.
Wrapping It Up
Cleaning and maintaining your flat top grill definitely does not have to be a daunting task.
Regular cleaning, rust removal when needed, and proper seasoning are key to ensuring your flat top grill remains a reliable and long-lasting outdoor cooking companion.
Don’t let the fear of cleaning unknowns deter you from enjoying the fantastic meals you can create on your flat top grill!