Is your grill brush trying to kill you? Okay, I realize that sounds a bit extreme, but if you’re not using one of the safe grill brushes to clean your dirty grill grates, you or someone you love could end up in the ER this summer.
Yes, grill brushes may seem like simple, harmless cleaning tools, and for the most part, they are. But in case you’ve forgotten all the bad press they got a few years ago, grill brushes have been known to cause severe injuries, and maybe not in the way you’re thinking. While it is possible to hurt your hand by grabbing a wire brush by the bristles (please don’t do that!), the real threat is much less obvious, and far more terrifying.
The painful truth is that those little brass or steel grill brush bristles can actually break loose from the brush head, get stuck in residue on the cooking grates, and eventually end up in someone’s food—leading to throat or abdominal injuries. One study estimated that between 2004 and 2012 nearly 1,700 people went to the emergency room with injuries related to grill brush bristles. That’s a pretty insignificant number compared to knife and mandoline injuries, but I’m guessing you don’t want to be one of the approximately 130 folks who end up with a steel shard in their throat or stomach this grilling season.
Does this mean you should stop using grill brushes with metal bristles? Honestly, probably. Which I realize is kind of annoying, considering that they’re generally the most effective at removing gunk and char from grill grates, whether you use a gas grill, a charcoal grill, or an infrared grill. But unfortunately, even some of the wire grill brushes billed as “safe” are plagued with reports of loose or lost bristles after very little use.
Luckily, grill brushes are one of those grilling accessories that are relatively inexpensive and very easy to replace. So if you have a wire grill brush that’s seen better days, it’s probably time to toss it and shift to something a little safer. It might mean you have to use a little extra elbow grease when cleaning the grill, but on the bright side, you won’t have to worry about a stabby metal wire ending up in your dinner—or worse, your stomach!
Nylon grill brushes
Let’s just get this out of the way: Nylon bristles don’t have the same deep cleaning power as stainless-steel bristles, but they’re still pretty powerful when used properly. Unlike wire grill brushes, which are meant to be used on a hot grill, these comparatively safe grill brushes are meant to be used once your grill has cooled. The best grill brushes with nylon bristles also have a steel scraper attachment to help dislodge tough buildup, and the combination of a brush and grill scraper is generally a more effective grill cleaner than even the best bristle-free grill brush alternatives, like coil grill brushes, standalone scrapers, or scrubbers.