How to Clean a Flat Top Grill With Vinegar (3 Simple Steps)

Chemical-filled grill cleaners are great at cleaning flat top grills and removing stubborn gunk and prevent mold forming. However, many people complain that they make their grill’s surfaces develop rust.

Organic cleaners like vinegar are effective at removing dirt, plus they also act as a disinfectant. Here’s a how-to on cleaning a flat top grill with vinegar. Read on!

 How to Clean a Flat Top Grill With Vinegar

 A flat top grill is often subjected to exceedingly high heat, this results in the grill becoming dirty and greasy, affecting even heat distribution.

 It also makes food stick to the grill’s surface, especially if the surface doesn’t have a non-stick coating. Cleaning the grease and dirt build up on a flat top grill using vinegar is pretty simple. Whether you’re a pro or a beginner.

 Here are a couple of ways of cleaning a flat top grill with vinegar:

  • Using a water-vinegar mixture
  • Using vinegar and bicarbonate soda

Cleaning the Griddle Using Water-Vinegar Mixture

 A water-vinegar mixture is excellent for regular cleaning of your top grill surface. For occasional cleaning, use raw vinegar. Undiluted raw vinegar is ideal for removing stubborn grease and gunk.

 To clean your top grill with the water-vinegar mixture, you’ll need: 

  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Scouring pad


Create a Water Vinegar Mixture

Mix equal parts of water and white distilled vinegar in a spray bottle, shake the mixture well to ensure it’s properly mixed.


 Switch on Your Burner

Switch on the burner to heat your flat top grill, you want to get it hot, 140°F is the temp to kill mold on a grill. It will also melt the grease build-up and troublesome fat. 

Spray half the water-vinegar mixture across the top grill’s surface, make sure you cover all areas, corners, and sides. 

Switch off Your Burner

Switch off the burner and allow the water-vinegar mixture to sit on the hot grill for 10-15 minutes. The hot grill will warm the water-vinegar mixture, softening food debris.

 Clean the Top Grill

Pour the remaining vinegar water mixture over the top grill’s surface. Scrub the top grill using a grill brush, barbecue brush, or grill brick in concentric circles. 

If the gunk doesn’t come off easily with a wire brush, or grill brush, use a grill scraper or a griddle scraper. A grill scraper works excellent at removing stubborn debris buildup. 

Rinse the Grill Top

Once you’ve removed all the dirt from your grill’s surface, rinse it with warm water. Spray the warm water on the grill surface. Use a soft cloth, paper towels, or rug to wipe the grill surface.

The grill should come out clean.

 Season the Grill

Seasoning your top grill with olive oil is a good way of preventing rust and maintaining it.

It also provides a nice oil coat that prevents food from sticking to the surface when cooking.

 After cleaning your top grill, pour a layer of oil on the grill surface.

Use a clean cloth or towels to apply the oil in a circular motion over the grill’s entire surface.

Remember to tackle all corners and sides.

 You can also pour olive oil directly on a rag and use it to wipe over the grill.

 Remove excess oil, leaving a thin protective layer of oil. And your flat top grill is good to use.

 Cleaning the Flat Top Grill With Vinegar and Bicarbonate Soda

The grease from your food hardens with time and sticks to the grill, making cleaning challenging. 

Vinegar and bicarbonate soda are outstanding cleaning agents.

They’re perfect for deep and thorough cleaning.

To clean your top grill with vinegar and bicarbonate soda, you’ll need:

  • Vinegar 
  • Bicarbonate soda


Mix the Ingredients

Wear gloves to protect your hands and avoid injuries.

Then mix two cups of vinegar with half a cup of bicarbonate soda in a large plastic basin. 

The large dish prevents the baking soda bubbles in the acetic acid from spilling over.  

Use a stirrer to stir the bicarbonate soda, ensuring it’s well dissolved in the vinegar.

This should give you an even and foamy solution.

 Switch on Your Grill

Switch on your grill to a medium heat setting.

Let the top grill’s surface heats up, and when it’s nice and hot, switch off the burner.

Switching on the burner melts the troublesome fat.

This softens food residues and grease build-up.

 Soak the Grill in Vinegar-Bicarbonate Soda Mixture

Pour the vinegar-bicarbonate soda solution on the grill’s surface.

Leave the solution to sit on the hot grill for some time.

Give the solution 4-5 hours to work on the stubborn, tough stains.

But if you have time, you can leave it overnight.

Clean the Grill

After some time, the gunk, debris, and dirt bubble and soften.

Once softened, now it’s time to clean the grill.    

Use a grill brick, grill scraper, or a scouring pad to scrub the grill’s surface in concentric circles.

Remember to scrub the sides and corners where food likes to accumulate.

 Rinse the Grill

Once you’ve cleaned all the dirt and debris, pour hot water over the grill surface.

 The lukewarm water washes down the vinegar-bicarbonate soda solution and dirt mixture.

Now, take a clean cloth or towels to wipe the grill and remove any excess moisture. 

Season the Grill

Seasoning maintains the grill’s shelf life and ensures effective cooking.

Apply a single layer of olive oil to the grill’s surface.

Voila! Your flat top grill is ready for use.

How Often Should You Clean a Flat Top Grill

You should clean your flat top grill after each use.

This way, the excess grease and food debris don’t accumulate and harden, making it hard to remove them.  

Here are signs that your flat top grill needs cleaning:


 Food Sticking to the Grill’s Surface

If your grill doesn’t have a non-stick surface, you’ll experience food sticking to the surface often.  

But, if the sticking occurs more often than usual, your grill could be dirty and needs a cleanup.

 Contaminated Food

Cooking on a dirty grill can contaminate the food.  

If your food develops an odd flavor or aroma when cooked, you could have an unclean grill that needs a deep cleaning.

 Presence of Rust on the Grill’s Surface

If you’ve stayed a while without using your grill, it may start forming rust.  

This is especially common if the grill is uncovered and exposed to air and moisture.  

Thus, if you hardly use your grill, clean it thoroughly and cover it when storing it.

 Uneven Distribution of Heat

Dirt and grease build-up affect your grill’s even heat distribution.

So, if you notice your food cooks unevenly, your grill could be dirty.

Hence, the uneven heat distribution.

Cleaning a flat top grill with vinegar is pretty simple.

Use vinegar-water mixture for regular cleaning where there are no tough stains.

Undiluted raw vinegar works great for mild stains.

And vinegar-bicarbonate soda solution is ideal for tough and hardened stains

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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