April 13, 2023

Don’t Use a Wire Brush to Clean Your Grill (Do This Instead)

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Image for article titled Don't Use a Wire Brush to Clean Your Grill (Do This Instead)

Photo: Jan von nebenan (Shutterstock)

Not cleaning your grill can be dangerous, but how you clean it is important, too. Even if it’s the easiest option, you shouldn’t use a wire brush. Here’s why you should chuck that bristle brush in the trash, plus what you can replace it with.

The problem with bristle brushes

If you’ve spent any time on TikTok recently, you might have seen a viral video posted by a doctor of pediatric emergency medicine. The clip, which has over five million likes and millions more views, details the case of a four-year-old child who was admitted with ear pain after a barbecue and baffled doctors for days when they couldn’t find the cause. After a series of tests and days of pain, the source was identified: A small wire was embedded in the soft tissue of the child’s neck. It came from a wire brush used to clean the grill where his lunch had been made.

The viral video may be new, but the issue isn’t: In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning against the brushes, noting that in recent years, “internal injuries have been reported following unintentional ingestions of wire grill-cleaning brush bristles by both children and adults.” In addition to the soft tissue of the neck, the bristles can perforate the gastrointestinal tract, which requires emergency surgery. And yet, these products are still for sale at a variety of retailers. Some of them are priced as low as about $3.

You can use foil to clean your grill instead

Fortunately, you have other options for cleaning your grill that are just as cheap and efficient. First, heat your grill to its hottest temperature and close the hood for 15 to 20 minutes. You should notice a lot of the gunk has already come off the racks, and then you can just use tinfoil. Ball it up loosely and grab it with a tongs or a heatproof glove, then push it around on the grill the same way you would a brush. If you don’t ball it too tight, it should be malleable enough to get into the grooves and spaces. It’s hard enough to scrape off baked-on food, but soft enough not to damage the grill itself.

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