How Restaurants Clean Grills (Flat-Tops/Charbroilers)

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How Restaurants Clean Commercial Flat-Tops, Griddles, And Charbroilers

This article will cover how restaurants clean their grills after they are finished cooking. Most grills are cleaned after the entire day is up. In between the day, if the grill is being used a lot, it may be scraped or briefly wiped off. Some restaurants have to clean their grills twice a day.

It is very easy for a grill to become caked with food char and debris if the commercial grill isn’t cleaned on a daily basis. This just makes cleaning the grill harder to do the next day, and so on if it isnt done. It also reduces the lifespan of the commercial grill. Sometimes the grills can get so bad that the food now collects the residue from the grill while it is cooking.

This of course is very unsanitary, and can cause a failed health inspection. Grills need to be cleaned properly in order for the food cooked on them to remain free of food borne illnesses.

The grill should never be left uncleaned after usage in an attempt to enhance the flavor of the food for the next day. After the grill is shut off, the temperatures reduce and give the chance for bacteria to multiply on the service if it is not cleaned. This can transfer to the food the next time it is grilled.

This is how restaurants clean their commercial flat-top grills step-by-step:

  1. Have the grill set and heated up to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Usually the grill is cleaned at the end of the shift while the grill is still on.
  2. Scrape off all of the debris with a grill scraper.
    • Scrape off all the food particles with the scraper and guide it into the trough on the grill.
  3. Spray the surface of the grill thoroughly with high temperature grill surface cleaner.
    • Spray the entire grill with the grill surface cleaner. The more used, the easier it will be for all of the gunk to come off.
  4. Turn the grill off now.
    • Hit the switch on the commercial flat top grill to turn it off. Let the grill cleaner sit on the grill for 25 seconds.
  5. Scrub the grill with a grill scrubber or a green scrubbie pad attached to a multipurpose pad holder.
    • Use a grill scrubber or a pad holder with a green scouring pad attached to the end of it. The holding pad has hooks on the end that will latch unto the scouring pad and make it stick to the pad holder.
  6. Use a grill squeegee to guide all of the liquids off of the flat grill and into the drain on the grill.
    • Use the grill squeegee to remove all of the black gunk. It will look like oil from an oil well. Take as much off of the surface of the grill as possible.
  7. Drizzle cooking oil unto the grill.
    • Take cooking oil (canola, peanut, or vegetable oil for example) and pour it (drizzle it) evenly across the grill.
    • Use as much as needed for wiping the surface (step 8).
  8. Wipe the surface off with a dry washcloth.
    • Finish by thoroughly wiping the surface of the flat-top grill. Clean off all of the remaining residue off of the grill.
    • Paper towels also can work, just make sure to use a thick amount to avoid burns from the heat if the grill is still hot.
  9. Remove the grease trough where all the gunk went into, and clean it after all the gunk has been dumped out.

These are the same steps used for cleaning not only flat-tops, but griddles too.

This is how restaurants clean commercial charbroilers:

When everything is finished grilling for the day in the charbroiler, it should be turned up on its highest setting to burn off any extra food debris. This should be done until the charbroiler has stopped smoking. Close the lid on the charbroiler while it is doing this if it has one, and make sure the fan is on if done indoors. This will make cleaning the charbroiler easier.

  1. Heat the charbroiler to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Turn off the charbroiler and thoroughly scrub the grates with a grill brush.
  3. Turn the grates over on the other side with a grate lifter and thoroughly scrub the grates with the grill brush.
  4. Spray the grill with high temperature grill surface cleaner where needed.
  5. Scrub the sprayed areas with a scouring pad attached to a pad holder, or use a grill scrubber.
  6. Spray the grill with cooking oil.
  7. Wipe off the remaining residue that was scrubbed with a washcloth thoroughly.
  8. Remove the grates to clean the radiants by removing the radiants and washing them in dish water if using a radiant charbroiler.
    • Radiant charbroilers will have burners that sit underneath the radiants that sit right under the grates.
    • If the charbroiler uses lava rocks, then make sure the lava rocks are flipped occasionally after use to burn off greases and fats. Replace the lava rocks every 6 months (3 to 4 months if used commercially).
  9. Remove the grease trough and clean it.

Equipment Needed For Cleaning Commercial Flat-Tops and Charbroilers

Here is a list of the equipment needed for cleaning the commercial flat-top grill, and the commercial charbroiler.



  • Grill Brush
  • Grate Lifters
  • High Temperature Grill Surface Cleaner
  • Cooking Oil (canola, peanut, vegetable oil)
  • Washcloths (2 or more)

Grill bricks can be used to clean off tougher filth on the commercial grill after scraping them and spraying them with the grill cleaner. This will help to remove rust and other filth as well.

Always be safe and use the proper equipment for cleaning any grill to avoid unnecessary burns. Grills can get really hot, and at temperatures of around 350 degrees Fahrenheit the skin can be burn after only touching the grill for 2 seconds. These burn marks can accumulate pretty quickly over time on the arms, wrists, hands, and fingers if not careful while cleaning the grill.

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