Grill Brush: Here’s What You Need to Know for Safe Grilling

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 1, 2022

Always the latest smoking tips & tricks?

Subscribe to THE ESSENTIAL newsletter for aspiring pitmasters

We'll only use your email address for our newsletter and respect your privacy

I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

A grill brush is a tool used to clean the grates of a grill. It typically has stiff bristles or wire loops that are effective at removing cooked-on food and residue. A good grill brush will make cleanup after grilling quick and easy, leaving you more time to enjoy the party.

It’s important to know what to look for when buying one to avoid harming your food and health. In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about grill brushes.

What is a grill brush

Should you use Wire Grill Brushes

When it comes to cooking outdoors, a trusty grill brush is a must-have in your set of tools. However, not all grill brushes are created equal. Some models can lose their bristles, which can end up in your food and cause serious health problems. To avoid this, it’s important to know the signs of wear and tear on your brush and replace it when necessary.

What to Look for in a Safer Grill Brush

If you’re in the market for a new grill brush, there are a few things you should look for to ensure that you’re buying a safer model. Here are some tips:

  • Choose a brush with stainless steel or brass bristles. These materials are less likely to shed bristles than cheaper alternatives.
  • Look for a brush with a scraper on the end. This will help you remove stuck-on food without having to use excessive force.
  • Consider a brush with a rosewood or bamboo handle. These materials are more durable than plastic and won’t melt if they come into contact with hot grates.

Ways to Clean Your Grill Without a Wire Brush

If you’re still wary of using a wire grill brush, there are plenty of other ways to clean your grill. Delish Food Director Robert Seixas suggests using balled up aluminum foil (perhaps from wrapping meat). Simply crumple aluminum foil into a ball and use tongs (check out these ones we’ve reviewed) while the grates are still hot to wipe up any residue. Here are some other options:

  • Use a nylon scrubber or a sponge with a scrubbing pad.
  • Soak the grates in hot, soapy water for a few hours before scrubbing them clean.
  • Use a grill stone to remove stuck-on food.

Why You Should Avoid Grilling with a Wire Brush

While some people still favor wire grill brushes, many experts warn against using them. The risk of losing bristles and contaminating your food is simply too great. In addition, wire brushes can damage your grill grates over time, which can affect the quality of your cooking. If you want to enjoy outdoor cooking without the risk, it’s best to avoid wire grill brushes altogether.

Grill Brush Safety: Keeping Your Barbecue Clean and Safe

Grill brushes are an essential tool for any barbecue enthusiast. They help to scrape off buildup, grease, and rust from the grate, ensuring that your food is cooked to perfection. However, if not used properly, they can cause serious damage to your health. The metal wires from a grill brush can get trapped in your food, leading to bowel obstructions and perforations. To avoid this, it’s important to take grill brush safety seriously.

The Best Type of Grill Brush for Safety

When it comes to grill brush safety, the type of brush you choose is crucial. Here are some tips to help you pick the right one:

  • Look for a brush with stainless steel bristles. These are tough and abrasive, making them excellent at scraping off buildup, but they won’t shed or wear down easily.
  • Avoid brushes with brass or other metal bristles. These can wear down faster and shed bristles, which can get trapped in your food.
  • Consider an alternative to wire brushes, such as a grill scraper or a grill stone. These are made from non-metal materials and are equally effective at cleaning your grill.

How to Properly Maintain Your Grill Brush

To ensure your grill brush stays in good condition and doesn’t cause any harm, follow these steps:

  • After each use, clean your brush with water and a gentle soap. Make sure to dry it thoroughly before storing it.
  • Depending on how often you use your grill, you may need to buy a new brush every season or every other season.
  • If your brush feels worn or the bristles are starting to shed, it’s time to replace it.
  • When storing your brush, make sure it’s in a dry place and not exposed to extreme heat or mold.

Tips for Using Your Grill Brush Safely

Using your grill brush properly is just as important as choosing the right one. Here are some tips to help you use your brush safely:

  • Before using your brush, make sure the grill is cool to the touch.
  • Gently scrape the grate with the brush, being careful not to apply too much pressure.
  • If you feel resistance or the brush feels like it’s not scraping properly, it’s time to replace it.
  • Consider using a grill pad or placing a small piece of aluminum foil on the grate to help prevent buildup in the first place.

Remember, grill brush safety takes just a little bit of extra care and attention, but it’s well worth it to keep you and your loved ones safe while enjoying a delicious barbecue.

How to Ensure Your Grill Brush is in Good Condition

When it comes to grill brushes, the condition of the bristles is key. Here are some tips to test the condition of your grill brush bristles:

  • Run your fingers along the bristles to feel for any excess stickiness or roughness. This could mean that the bristles are starting to break down and could cause improper brushing or even safety issues.
  • Check for any visible decay, splitting, or rust in the bristles. If you see any of these signs, it’s time to replace your brush.
  • Remember that brass grill brushes will eventually rust over time, while stainless steel will not.

Check the Handle

The handle of your grill brush is just as important as the bristles. Here’s what to look for:

  • Make sure the handle is completely dry before using it. Wet handles can cause slipping and improper brushing technique.
  • Check for any cracks or damage in the handle. A decent handle will allow you to get a good grip and work at the right level for your grates.
  • Choose a handle material that is resistant to heat and ash. This will ensure that your brush lasts for an entire grilling season.

Consider Alternatives

If you’re looking for a safer and more natural way to clean your grill, there are plenty of alternatives to wire grill brushes. Here are a few options:

  • Pellet grill brushes are a unique tool that uses natural materials to remove grime from your grates.
  • A locking tong or spatula can also work to scrape off excess grime.
  • Research some of the common household items that can be used to clean grates, such as an onion or a lemon.

Replace When Needed

No matter what type of grill brush you choose, it’s important to replace it when it starts to show signs of wear and tear. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Don’t wait until your brush is completely unusable before replacing it. A rusty or worn brush can actually cause more harm than good.
  • Consider the price of the brush when deciding how often to replace it. A more expensive brush may last longer, but it may not be worth the price if you’re only using it for everyday grilling.
  • Remember that a good grill brush is a staple in any kitchen, so it’s worth investing in a decent one that will last for several grilling seasons.

Keeping Your Grill Brush Clean: Tips and Tricks

Step 1: Remove Solid Debris

  • Before cleaning your grill brush, remove any solid debris that may be trapped in the bristles. Use a small piece of metal or a wire to dislodge any particles that may be stuck.
  • Be careful not to force the debris further into the bristles, as this may damage the brush.

Step 2: Clean the Brush Properly

  • Fill a bucket with warm water and a little bit of dish soap.
  • Place the brush head in the soapy water and let it soak for a minute or two.
  • Gently rub the bristles together to loosen any grease or food buildup.
  • Scrub the brush head with a nylon brush to remove any remaining debris.
  • Rinse the brush head thoroughly with warm water to remove any soap residue.

Step 3: Dry the Brush

  • Shake the excess water from the brush head.
  • Use a clean, dry towel to gently pat the bristles dry.
  • Hang the brush up to air dry completely.

Step 4: Maintain Your Brush

  • Depending on how often you use your grill, you may need to clean your brush after every use or every other use.
  • Remember to be careful when using wire brushes, as there is a possibility of ingestion if any bristles fall off and are taken in with food.
  • Consider using a nylon or stainless steel brush to prevent this possibility.
  • Cover your brush head when storing it to prevent moisture buildup and to keep it clean.
  • Extreme heat can damage the bristles, so be careful when using your brush on a hot grill.

Assist Your Brush with Olive Oil

  • If your brush has become stiff or dried out, try placing it in a pail of olive oil for a few hours to help loosen it up and make it more supple.
  • After removing it from the oil, wipe it down with a mild soapy solution and rinse it thoroughly with warm water.

Fighting Grease Buildup

  • If your brush has a lot of grease buildup, you can assist it by using a little bit of olive oil.
  • Apply a small amount of olive oil to the brush head and let it sit for a minute or two.
  • Scrub the brush head with a nylon brush to remove any remaining grease.
  • Rinse the brush head thoroughly with warm water to remove any oil residue.

Simple Care Tips

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintaining your grill brush.
  • Be firm but gentle when using your brush to prevent damage to the bristles.
  • Depending on the type of brush you have, it may need to be replaced every season or every few years.
  • Keeping your grill brush clean will help it last longer and keep your grill looking nice.

In reality, cleaning your grill brush is a simple task that can be done in just a few steps. By following these tips and tricks, you can ensure that your brush is always in top condition and ready to use.

Choosing the Right Grill Brush for Your Barbecue

When buying a new grill brush, it’s important to consider the type of grill you have. For example, if you have a porcelain-coated grill, you’ll want to avoid using wire bristles as they can scratch and damage the surface. Instead, opt for a brush with nylon bristles or a scraper.

Look for Effective Cleaning Head

The cleaning head of the grill brush is the most important part of the tool. Look for a brush with a wide head that can cover a large surface area and reach into tight spaces. Additionally, consider the shape of the head. Some brushes have a triangular shape that can be useful for cleaning the corners of the grill.

Choose a Durable Material

Grill brushes see a lot of wear and tear due to the buildup of grease and grime on the grids, as well as exposure to heat and the elements if left outside. Look for a brush made from durable materials that can withstand this wear. Stainless steel is a popular choice as it is rust-resistant and easy to clean.

Avoid Dangerous Bristles

Wire bristles can be dangerous if they come loose and end up in your food. Look for brushes with bristles that are securely attached to the head. Alternatively, consider a brush with no bristles at all, such as a grill stone or a wooden scraper.

Wire Grill Brush Alternatives: Cleaning Your Grill Safely

If you’re looking for a safe and effective alternative to a wire grill brush, a stainless steel scraper is a great option. It’s durable, easy to use, and won’t leave any bristles behind. Plus, it’s easy to clean and can be used to scrape off any burnt-on gunk on your grill.

Wooden Block Scraper

Another alternative to a wire grill brush is a wooden block scraper. This ecological option is made from hardwood and can be used as a paint scraper to remove any burnt-on gunk as you clean your grill. Remember to change these tools out frequently though, to get the best results.

Ceramic Scraper

A ceramic scraper is another safe and effective alternative to a wire grill brush. It’s made from ceramic and won’t leave any bristles behind. Plus, it’s easy to clean and can be used to scrape off any burnt-on gunk on your grill.

Chainmail Scrubber

A chainmail scrubber is a unique alternative to a wire grill brush. It’s made from stainless steel rings and can be used to scrub off any burnt-on gunk on your grill. Plus, it’s easy to clean and won’t leave any bristles behind.

Pumice Stone

A pumice stone is a natural alternative to a wire grill brush. It’s made from volcanic rock and can be used to scrub off any burnt-on gunk on your grill. Plus, it’s easy to clean and won’t leave any bristles behind.


A grillstone is a safe and effective alternative to a wire grill brush. It’s made from recycled glass and can be used to scrub off any burnt-on gunk on your grill. Plus, it’s easy to clean and won’t leave any bristles behind. It also has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon, so you know it’s a reliable option.


So there you have it- all you need to know about grill brushes and how to use them properly. 

Don’t forget to keep your grill brush clean and safe by following these tips and using the right brush for the job. So go ahead and get grilling!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.