Bristled, Coiled, and Spongy: We Tested 9 Grill Brushes (2024)

Straight to the Point

We really liked the GRILLART Grill Brush and Scraper and Weber 12" Three-Sided Grill Brush. Both scrubbed grill grates exceptionally well and are very reasonably priced (around $15).

Grill grates get gross. After slinging hamburgers, steaks, barbecue sauce-coated chicken, and salmon, your grates can, and will, get gunky. So, for day-to-day cleaning, the solution’s quite obvious: a grill brush.

Grill brushes most often have lots of sharp, small metal wires (the configuration of such varies immensely, though, as we’ll get into below). However, concerns over wire bristles breaking off, sticking to the grill, and winding up in food and thus lodged in your throat, means there are a plethora of bristle-free brush alternatives available.

To find the best grill brushes, we tested nine popular models–using them to clean sticky, burnt-on barbecue sauce and burger gunk off of grates and evaluating their durability and comfort. We included both hot and cold cleaning brushes (the former capable of being used on hot grills, and the latter only on cool-to-the-touch surfaces).

The Winners, at a Glance

With three rows of plentiful vertical bristles, this brush cleaned grates exceptionally well. It had a gently angled, comfortable grippy plastic handle and a scraper with divots in its corners, which allowed us to effectively scrape and remove gunk from the grill grate’s nooks and crannies.

The triangular-shaped head and all-over bristles on this brush help it really conform to grill grates, scraping them clean. The narrow brush shape allows you to place the brush in between grates, too.

This brush is for cold cleaning only, but worked well. We liked its extra-long, offset scraper, which had the same corner indentations as the GRILLART and performed wonderfully. The OXO brush also has a soft-grip handle and a replaceable head.

With an aramid fiber-wrapped cleaning head (for context, Kevlar is a brand of aramid fiber), this grill brush’s head looks a little like a sponge—and functions like one, too. You dunk the brush head in water, then use it and the resulting steam to clean the grill grates. In our tests, it worked well. We also liked the brush handle’s knob, which was nice to hold onto for added leverage.

The Best Grill Brush If You Want to Stay Away from Bristles

Kona Safe/Clean Grill Brush and Flat Scraper

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While this wasn’t a top performer, if you’re wary of bristles, the stainless steel coils of the Kona are a comforting alternative.

The Tests

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  • Barbecue Sauce Test: For each grill brush, we brushed 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce onto a gas grill’s grates and let the grill heat up for five minutes, burning the sauce onto the grates. We then followed the brush’s manufacturer's instructions for cleaning the grates, timing how long it took the brush to do so. After that, we cleaned the brush itself.
  • Durability Test: We ran each grill brush across a concrete sidewalk for one minute, looking for any damage.
  • Burgers Test (Winners-Only): For each of our favorite grill brushes, we cooked two burgers. Then, we used the brush to scrape and clean off the grill grates (following the manufacturer's instructions)—timing how long it took it to do so.
  • Usability Tests: Throughout testing, we noted how comfortable the grill brushes were to hold and use.

What We Learned

How Worried Should You Be About Metal Bristles, Anyway?

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Per this 2016 study published in the journal of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, between 2002 and 2014 1,700 people in the United States went to the emergency room for ingesting grill brush bristles. (However, Consumer Reports notes that these numbers may be low, as “the findings are based only on ER visits” and not on cases where the patient visited urgent care or some such.) More recently, our friendly neighbors to the north reported 38 cases of grill brush-related injuries between 2011 and 2022—according to the Government of Canada.

Bristle injuries most often happen to the mouth and throat, per Consumer Reports, but in rare cases, they can puncture the esophagus and stomach. This is all scary! And while the number of cases isn’t huge considering there were a reported 128.5 million grill owners in the U.S. alone in 2020, you’re the only one who can decide what your comfort/risk level is. If you go the wire brush route, we suggest checking your grill grates for loose bristles pre-cooking (this video from Inside Edition recommends using a magnet, which isn’t a horrible idea) and replacing your grill brush before the bristles wear down and therefore break off more easily—potentially winding up lodged in an unsuspecting burger patty.

Hot vs. Cold Cleaning

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The majority of the grill brushes we tested were capable of hot cleaning. Of the hot cleaning ones, most of their manufacturers recommended dipping the brush in water before running it across the hot grill grates, employing steam to lift grease and loosen debris. We found this worked very well, for the most part and is what we’d recommend for the majority of grillers.

The Grill Brushes and Their Cleaning Speed
Grill BrushTame Taken to Clean Grates
Weber 12" Three-Sided Grill Brush2 min, 30 secs
Kona Safe/Clean Grill Brush3 min, 40 secs
GRILLART Grill Brush and Scraper3 min, 29 secs
Char-Broil SAFER Replaceable Head Nylon Bristle Grill Brush2 min, 55 secs
OXO Good Grips Nylon Grill Brush4 min, 11 secs
Grill Rescue BBQ Replaceable Scraper Cleaning Head, Bristle Free2 min, 34 secs
Cuisinart CCB-1000, Renew Steam Cleaner Grill Cleaning Brush2 min, 46 secs
Cuisinart CCB-5014 BBQ Grill Cleaning Brush and Scrape3 min, 49 secs
Cuisinart CCB-505 Power Scour Grill Brush2 min, 21 secs

Two of the grill brushes we tested were cold cleaning only, as they had nylon bristles that’d melt in contact with hot grates. We see the appeal of having one of these brushes around if, say, you’re hosting and eager to just turn off the grill, get the food on the table, and deal with cleaning later. While the cold cleaning brushes took longer than a lot of the hot cleaning-capable models, our favorite cold cleaner from OXO still did a good job (and had other redeeming factors, like an excellent scraper). The grills were clean and ready to cook food and make perfect grill marks in the process.

What Style of Bristles Worked Best?

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The best wire-bristle grill brushes (like the GRILLART and Weber) had bristles that were flexible, yet densely packed and splayed out at various angles. This allowed them to efficiently clean and wrap around the grates. Grill brushes that had shorter, rigid rows of bristles (like the Cuisinart CCB-5014 BBQ Grill Cleaning Brush and Scraper) didn’t cover a wide area of the grill at once and provided more scraping resistance—making cleanup tougher. These findings also applied to the nylon bristle, cold cleaning brushes: the OXO had longer, more flexible, and densely packed bristles compared to the Char-Broil SAFER Replaceable Head Nylon Bristle Grill Brush, making the OXO a superior scrubber.

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We also tested two aramid fiber-wrapped grill brushes. Their heads looked like sponges and were meant to provide a lot of steam via the soak-and-scrub method. Aramid is a temperature-resistant fiber and is used in firefighter suits, military helmets, body armor, and more. However, after the barbecue sauce test, the Grill Rescue BBQ Replaceable Scraper Cleaning Head, Bristle Free left a lot of fibers on the surface of the grill—which made us question its durability. Our recommended model in this style, from Cuisinart, was a lot more promising. It was only after the final burger test we saw a sporadic fiber on the grates, so we weren’t too concerned.

Scraper Design

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Some scrapers were too short, while others were non-existent. The best scrapers were long and had two indents on their sides, which allowed us to easily scrape underneath the grill grates and get into the grates’ nooks and crannies. It was a simple design element that made a big difference.

Angled vs. Straight Handles

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Most of our favorite grill brushes had long, angled handles, which were a lot more comfortable to hold onto and get leverage with while scrubbing. Grill brushes that had straight handles, like the Cuisinart CCB-5014, created more wrist fatigue as we attempted to get the bristles flush with the grill grates. Grill brushes that had short handles, like the Cuisinart CCB-505 Power Scour Grill Brush, were also uncomfortable to use, putting your hand close to the heat source.

Did Any of the Bristles Fall Out During Testing?

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The short answer: nope. After a minute of scrubbing each brush on a concrete sidewalk, the bristles on all the wired brushes were intact. The only brush that exhibited damage was the Cuisinart Power Scour. It had two heads that resembled metal scouring pads, which got shredded a little on the grill…and a lot on the sidewalk.

The Criteria: What to Look for in a Grill Brush

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The best grill brushes effectively cleaned grill grates, had big scrapers, and had long, angled handles. They also had durable heads—capable of withstanding rigorous scrubbing. A grill brush should be inexpensive, too, as it’s meant to be replaced with some regularity.

Our Favorite Grill Brushes

What we liked: This brush featured three rows of vertical, densely packed bristles that splayed in all directions and cleaned exceptionally well. We liked its scraper, which had divots in its corners and easily got under grill grates and into crannies. Its handle was made from grippy, textured plastic and set at a gentle, straight angle (comfy!).

What we didn’t like: Because it was narrower, it wasn’t the fastest at cleaning the grill grates.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Metal, plastic
  • Length: 17.5 inches
  • Hot cleaning capable: Yes
  • Hanging loop: Yes

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What we liked: The triangular-shaped head and all-over bristles on this brush helped it really conform to grill grates, getting them clean all over. Because the brush was so slim, it could get between the grates, too.

What we didn’t like: The brush lacked a scraper and had a short handle.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Metal, plastic
  • Length: 12 inches
  • Hot cleaning capable: Yes
  • Hanging loop: Yes

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What we liked: If you’re after a cold cleaning brush and want one with a replaceable head, look at the OXO. It did a fine job at cleaning, and we liked its angled, long scraper. The scraper also had two indents on the sides (like the GRILLART), which got under and into the corners of the grates. The brush had an angled, soft-grip handle, too, which we found exceptionally nice to hold.

What we didn’t like: This brush took longer than other models to clean the grill’s grates.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Nylon, metal, plastic
  • Length: 18.25 inches
  • Hot cleaning capable: No
  • Hanging loop: Yes

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What we liked: This Cuisinart brush featured an aramid fiber-wrapped cleaning head and worked via steam cleaning. We found it scrubbed grill grates well and liked the brush’s angled handle and knob, for added leverage.

What we didn’t like: This brush had a rather stubby scraper. We also noticed an errant fiber on the grill grate after the burger test, though the brush’s head is replaceable.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Aramid fiber cleaning head, metal, plastic
  • Length: 18 inches
  • Hot cleaning capable: Yes
  • Hanging loop: Yes

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The Best Grill Brush If You Want to Stay Away from Bristles

Kona Safe/Clean Grill Brush and Flat Scraper

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What we liked: This wasn’t the fastest or the easiest brush to scrub grill grates down with, but we liked the peace of mind a stainless steel coil grill brush provided. (No bristles to worry about!) It also had a long, angled scraper and handle.

What we didn’t like: The handle had an indentation that ran its length, which dug into our palms as we scrubbed.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Metal, plastic
  • Length: 17.5 inches
  • Hot cleaning capable: Yes
  • Hanging loop: Yes

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The Competition

FAQs

Is a grill brush worth it?

Yes, a grill brush is worth it. Both grease and carbon build up on a grill and can affect the flavor of food and cause meat to stick. A grill brush can help keep your grill in tip-top shape; however, you will still need to deep-clean your grill.

How long should a grill brush be?

Our shortest recommended grill brush, from Weber, is 12 inches long. However, we do like even longer grill brushes. Our overall favorite grom GRILLART is 17.5 inches long.

Can you clean a grill while it’s still hot?

Yes, you absolutely can clean a grill while it’s still hot—provided your brush is hot cleaning capable. Some grill brushes have nylon bristles and can only be used on cold grills.

What can I use instead of a wire grill brush?

We have recommendations for nylon bristle brushes, aramid fiber-wrapped brushes, and stainless steel coil brushes—all of which are good alternatives to wire grill brushes.

Why We're the Experts

  • Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm is the senior commerce editor at Serious Eats.
  • She's been with the site since 2021 and previously worked at America's Test Kitchen and Food52.
  • For this review, Riddley tested nine grill brushes, using them to scrub hot and gold grill grates, evaluating their durability, and more.

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