How to Clean a Flat-Top Grill to a Rust-Free Shine

Whoever said spring cleaning was limited to inside the house?

Published May 16, 2023
Man grilling on a flat grill with daughter

Uncovering the grill for the first time after its winter hibernation can be a scary thing. Worries about rust and baked on food you never cleaned up probably come to mind. But as the summer cookout season approaches, it's time to get your flat-top grill in working order. And the first step to a getting a great meal every time is learning how to clean a flat-top grill and what to do when the messes don't immediately go away.

How to Clean a Flat-Top Grill

Flat-top grills are much easier to clean than regular grills because they don't have those pesky slats that can accumulate charred meat and veggies. But that doesn't mean you should just take your favorite scrubber brush and take it straight to the cooktop. Instead, clean your flat-top grill right after cooking using this simple method.

@cheftimclowers How to clean your flat top griddle grill!! #clean #griddle #grill #blackstone #how #howto original sound - Chef Tim Clowers

Materials You'll Need

To clean a just-used flat-top grill, you're going to need:

  • Scraper tool
  • Hot water
  • Paper towels
  • Clean rag


After you've finished cooking up some delicious foods on your flat top, follow these cleaning instructions:

  1. Let your grill cool down to a moderate warmth.
  2. Apply a little water to the cooktop and use paper towels to wipe it down.
  3. Use a scraper tool to pull all of the oil and food debris into the grease pan/trough.
  4. Wipe down with a clean rag and cover.

How to Fight Baked on Food on Your Flat-Top Grill

The sign of a great meal is a messy cooktop. Instead of putting in even more elbow grease to get rid of those pesky particles, use these alternatives:

Use a Grill Stone

For really tough food messes, and also some light rusting, a grill stone can be a helpful tool. These pumice stones work just like steel wool without leaving behind any dangerous metal pieces that could wind up in your next dish.

Using a grill stone is more intuitive than you might think.

  1. Warm up your flattop so that it's not too hot to the touch.
  2. Apply a touch of vegetable oil once it's warmed.
  3. Take the stone and lightly press it into the oil, moving back and forth, working your way from the top to the bottom.
  4. Remove everything you just worked up with your scraper tool.
  5. Heat the griddle again and spray some water down to soak up anything that's leftover. Use a paper towel or rag to wipe it all down.
  6. Rinse off the grill stone before using again.

Use a Grill Screen

Unlike a grill stone that works for most messes, a grill screen is a good tool to have if you're frequently overcooking your food. Treated with aluminum oxide, all you have to do is put it to work like any other sponge-like thing.

The grill screen is a tool you can add into the basic flat-top grill cleaning technique. After scraping away the debris, grab your grill screen and scrub it into the griddle in even motions, moving back and forth along the surface. Then you can use the scraper or squeegee to remove everything into the trough/trap pan.

Add a touch of Lemon Juice

For a deeper clean, you can use an all-natural ingredient: lemon juice. Simply, spray the griddle down with a light coating of lemon juice once you've finished cooking. After about 10-15 minutes, you can go about scraping and wiping down everything.

Mix a Drop of Dish Soap Into Your Water

Much like cast iron skillets, some people worry about using soapy cleaners on flat-top grills because of it potentially messing with their curated seasoning. However, a touch of dish soap might be what you need to get rid of that stubborn oily substance lingering on your grill.

All you have to do is add a few drops to your pitcher of hot water and spritz the flat top down with it. Let it sit for a few minutes before scraping and wiping as usual.

Quick Tip

Once you're done cleaning your flat-top grill, rub a teaspoon of oil into the warmed griddle to nourish that flavor back.

Remove Rust in Just a Few Minutes

With any equipment that's kept outside, there'll come a time that the elements get to it. Remove any rust that's appeared on your flat-top grill using this simple technique.

Materials You'll Need

When removing rust from your flat-top grill, you'll need:

  • Scraper tool
  • Water
  • Vegetable oil
  • Grill stone
  • Rag


To get rid of rust, treat your griddle to these quick cleaning steps:

  1. On a cool cook top, use the scraper tool to remove as much rust and debris as possible.
  2. Add some water to lift up any stubborn debris.
  3. Using a paper towel or a rag, mop up the excess water.
  4. Pour about a tablespoon of vegetable oil onto your griddle and work the grill stone across the entire flat top.
  5. Scrape the sludge off using your scraper tool, squirting some water to help to remove everything, and wipe down with a rag once finished.

Easy Ways to Keep Your Flat-Top Grill Clean

Taking your scraper to the flat top isn't the only way you can keep your precious outdoor griddle clean. Incorporate these tips into your maintenance routine and you'll have a flat top that lasts for years.

  • Wipe down after every time you use it. Leave less food on the griddle to get dried and stuck.
  • Cover your flat top to prevent rusting when you're not using it.
  • Empty the grease trap frequently. The last thing you want to deal with is a pile of hot grease on the ground.

Things You Should Never Do When Cleaning Your Flat-Top Grill

Given how easy cleaning a flat-top grill is, and how few tools you need to clean it, there aren't too many faux pas you should avoid. Here are the major things to never do when cleaning your flat-top grill:

  • Heat up the griddle to a cooking temperature while cleaning.You should only ever get it warm enough to smooth out the oil, but never hot enough to cook it. Immediately turn the temperature down if you can feel the heat emanating onto your hands/arms.
  • Flash cold water onto your hot grill. Water is a vital part of the cleaning process, but you should only use room temperature or hot water cleaning on a hot griddle. Failing to do so can lead to a cracking.
  • Don't use oven or kitchen cleaners on your griddle. They can ruin the seasoning you've built up.

Just in Time for Summer Cookouts

There's not a cooking device we've invented yet that doesn't require a little maintenance. The better you treat your culinary tools, the longer they'll last. Keep your flat-top grill in fighting shape for the endless summer cookout season by cleaning it regularly.

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How to Clean a Flat-Top Grill to a Rust-Free Shine