No matter how frequently you grill—and no matter what type of grill you cook on—it's important that you clean the grates with each use. And that doesn't just mean a quick wipe down with a wet rag. It means a thorough cleaning with some elbow grease and a proper grill-cleaning tool—which is where the best grill brushes come in.
Consistent use of a good grill brush helps protect your grill grates from rust, corrosion, and a buildup of gunk that can impart an unpleasant flavor to the food you cook. That residue can also make food stick to the grates more. Effective regular cleaning helps prevent potentially dangerous flare-ups and extends the life of your grill, too.
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What to Consider When Purchasing a Grill Brush
Compatibility: Most grill brushes are intended for use on all or most outdoor grills, whether it's a pellet grill, gas grill or charcoal grill, or another type. However, not all grill brush head materials are suitable for use on all grill grates, so check your grill's owner's manual to ensure that you buy a compatible cleaning accessory.
Brush Head Material: Traditional grill brushes have bristles made from stainless steel wires. These are quite effective, but the small wires can dislodge, especially over time as the brush wears out. And when they come loose, they can end up stuck to your grill grates and transferred to your food, which is a safety concern. Also, stainless steel wires can scratch some grill grate coatings, like ceramic and porcelain.
Stainless brass is a softer alternative that's gentler on grill grate coatings. It's still quite effective, though it tends to require a little more scrubbing pressure than stainless steel wires.
Synthetic alternatives like nylon bristles are also available. They're well suited to more delicate grill grates, like those coated in porcelain or ceramic. However, they're not for use on hot grates. Most grill brushes are soaked in water and used on hot grates, but nylon and similar synthetic materials would melt, so they must be used on cold grates. This can make the cleaning process a bit harder.
Brush Head Design: If you get a wire brush with metal bristles, it's essential that it's a well-made product to reduce the risk of detaching bristles. But even the best grill brushes eventually wear out and should be replaced. The bristles should be hardwired into the head—never just glued on (hint: if a metal brush head isn't heat-safe, it's usually because the bristles are glued on). And if you can pluck wires out, it's not a safe product.
There are alternatives to traditional wire grill brushes. For example, some bristle-free models have wire coils rather than bristles. These should be dense and tight. Other grill brushes have scrubbing pads that generally require more elbow grease.
Many grill brushes also have a stainless steel grill scraper attachment on the tip. This is helpful for getting off the most stubborn buildup. Also, if it has grooves, it scrapes along the sides of the grill grates too.
The brush head should be angled enough that you can scrub with good leverage without bringing your hands down too close to the hot grill. And take a look at the size of the brush head; wider ones clean your grill with fewer passes. Many grill brushes have replaceable heads since they do invariably wear out; this can save you some money down the line.
Handle: A grill brush handle should be long enough that you can grasp it with two hands and scrub without having your hands too close to the hot surface. But it shouldn't be so long that it's not fairly rigid (though you want a little give) or you can't get good leverage. An 18-inch handle is generally considered perfect (grill brush handles are measured from tip to tip—not just the part below the brush head), though an inch or two shorter is fine.
The handle should also be comfortable to hold and squeeze. Thicker, rounded handles are preferred by most people, and an ergonomic design enhances comfort.
These considerations will help you pick out the best grill brush for your grill and your personal preferences.
The Best Overall Grill Brush
This uniquely designed grill brush has three heads that allow it to get down between the grill grates while you clean the top. Basically, it does the work of three strokes with each individual stroke. The brushes maintain their shape well over time, even with vigorous use, and the comfortable, sturdy, 18-inch handle is the ideal length for safe use with two hands.
This product is intended for use with all types of grills, though the stainless steel bristles can scratch grate coatings. While the bristles can detach, they are securely attached and less likely to do so than the bristles on most wire grill brushes. Overall, this grill accessory is sold at a great price point for its effectiveness, ease of use, safety, quality and durability.
The Best Traditional Wire Grill Brush
This is a good pick for a traditional stainless steel wire grill brush. It has a scraper to easily remove the toughest buildup and gunk along the sides of the grates, and then the strong, securely fastened wire bristles on the large, well-angled brush head take care of the rest. The ergonomic acacia wood handle is comfortable to grip and has a convenient hanging hole. However, it's just slightly shorter than someone with large hands might like when holding it and scrubbing with both hands.
It's a strong, effective, well-made product offered at a good price, and it has a classic look for grill accessories. It can be used with all grill types—just keep in mind that the stainless steel wires might scratch grill grate coatings. The bristles don't retain much gunk, which makes the product easy to clean, and the brush head is replaceable for when it starts to show signs of wear.
The Best Budget Grill Brush
If you're in search of the most budget-friendly grill brush you can rely on to get the job done and that's not so cheaply made it'll shed a bunch of wires, look no further. This very affordable product from a highly respected brand name in cooking accessories has a strong stainless steel handle, scraper and bristles. At 16.5 inches, the handle is an ample length, and it provides a smooth, rounded, comfortable grip.
The bristle wires are securely woven into three rows of aluminum coils, and the angle of the brush head is just right for some serious grill scrubbing. It's a product that won't rust or corrode, nor will it get bent out of shape with repeated vigorous use, and it's a breeze to clean. This is a durable item that will last a long time—especially relative to its low cost.
The Best High-End Grill Brush
If you're willing to go to the upper end of the price spectrum for a fantastic grill brush, here's the product for you. It has no wires to come loose and potentially contaminate your food. Instead, it features a cleaning pad made from heat retardant foam that's wrapped in high-temperature Kevlar. Just dunk the head in water and rub it on hot grill grates, and it uses steam to clean them. There's also a thick stainless steel scraper on the head.
The handle—made of cooking-grade, heat-resistant polypropylene—is super strong and comfortable, and its smartly designed, curved profile facilitates effective scrubbing with minimal effort. Cleanup is easy as well; the whole thing is dishwasher-safe, and you can even detach the scrubbing head and toss it into the washing machine (and replace it when the time comes).
The Best Brass Wire Grill Brush
For a strong but softer scrub, this stainless brass wire grill bush is sure to be a hit. If you're worried about scratching the porcelain, ceramic, or another coating on your grill's grates, this is a much better option than a stainless steel wire brush. And if you're worried about wires falling off, this product has secure, densely packed bristles and is triple machine tested to the highest safety standards.
The 18-inch handle is long enough to use two hands and maintain a safe distance from the hot grill surface, and it's a comfortable design, too. Its three heads help you more easily clean between the grates, making the cleaning process more efficient and less physically demanding. All in all, it takes relatively minimal pressure to clean with this brush. There's just one caveat: Because the bristles are so densely packed, this tool is a little tougher to clean than many others.
The Best Bristle-Free Grill Brush
This product eliminates the concern of bristles getting loose and potentially contaminating your food by eliminating the bristles. Instead, it has three rows of heavy-duty, tightly coiled stainless steel wires that are safe for use on all grill types—even porcelain and ceramic. It lasts much longer than products with wire brush heads, which is great considering that it's sold at the same price point as those less-durable options.
Its ergonomic handle is quite comfortable, and it's a good length for the job at hand. The tool is lightweight and easy to use but still has a rigid, sturdy design. Plus, the extra-wide head lets you cover more ground on your grill grates with a single pass, cutting down on grill-cleaning time and effort. And you can put this brush in the dishwasher when you're finished with it.