The weather outside is finally warm enough to get the cover off the grill and barbecue some chicken. With excitement, you get the grill opened only to remember that the last time you used the grill was last Fall and the grunge from those giant ribeye steaks is still hanging out on the grill grates.
No problem, you think, I'll just grab my grill brush and have this sucker cleaned up in no time. Then you remember that the reason you didn't clean the grill last year was because your grill brush was coated in grease and gunk. Not to mention the fact it's been sitting in a bucket of rainwater for a few months and it's pretty rusty.
There is no time to order a new brush or make a trip to the store, so you're going to have to clean that grill brush up before you can even clean your grill. Where do you start, though? How are you going to get the grease out of the wire bristles without putting in a ton of elbow grease yourself?
We've got some tips to help you give your grill brush a thorough cleaning so you know that you are actually cleaning your grill grate, not just smearing oil and grease around.
Are You Supposed to Clean a Grill Brush?
A proper grill brush cleaning is a must. Grease, oil, and grime get stuffed into the wire bristles of the brush where they are the perfect incubator for everything from bacteria to bugs. If you are like us, the idea of scrubbing any of that into your grill sounds pretty gross – because it is.
Food Safety Reasons
The worst part is that bugs aren't even the worst thing that might end up on your dirty grill brush. Numerous types of bacteria will go wild in a dirty grill brush. Lots of people are hospitalized every year because of food poisoning and it can even be lethal.
Food Flavor Reasons
Here is another reason to clean your grill brush: if you are smearing old fat and grime around on your gas or charcoal grills grates, that stuff is burning off into your food. The smoke from burning grease is a known carcinogen.
Even when a dirty grill brush isn't causing illness or making your food taste nasty, it might be destroying your grill brush. That's because grease can trap moisture in the stainless steel bristles, eventually corroding the metal and causing you to end up with a rusty grill brush.
How Often Should You Clean a Grill Brush?
When it comes to cooking prep, cleanliness is essential. Keeping everything clean is the only way to start out knowing that you won't be adding off-flavors or risking food safety, so it makes sense to just keep your grill brush clean in the first place.
We think you should clean your grill brush every time you use it. That keeps it from getting exceptionally dirty and means it's less of a chore to clean.
How To Clean A Grill Brush (5 Simple Tips & Tricks)
We are going to give you the top five tips we've got for cleaning a grill brush, starting with a minor cleaning you'd use with a new grill brush after using it for the first time or to keep your favorite grill brush clean.
Tip #1: Keep it Clean
We've got a galvanized steel bucket that we keep near our grilling stuff. After cleaning the grill grates, we fill the bucket with hot water and a good squirt of dish soap. We just put the grill brush in the soapy water and swirl it around until the brush is clean. If it gets particularly dirty, let it soak in the hot soapy water for a few minutes. Use a hose or a faucet in the sink to rinse the brush clean. Make sure to shake the grill brush dry after washing it to prevent corrosion. Even stainless steel will rust if left wet.
Tip #2: Do a Deep Cleaning
Using the same idea as above, when you get stuff really stuck in the bristles, a deep cleaning can be in order. This one requires a second, clean brush. It can be a wire brush, nylon bristle, or anything else that is stiff and sturdy. After soaking the dirty grill brush, use the clean brush to gently scrub the bristles together. This will help dislodge the sticky grime in the brush bristles and get them clean.
Tip #3: Boil It Clean
It's best to have a large pot that you don't use for cooking for this step. It's also a good idea to have a propane burner on a stand that you can use outside or in a well-ventilated area. Put enough water in the pot to submerge the bristles of the brush. Put the brush into the boiling water and let it boil for 15 minutes or so. Boiling water will help to loosen even the most stuck-on grease and grime-covered grill brushes.
You might be able to simply rinse the brush clean after boiling is finished. Otherwise, use hot soapy water to finish cleaning the brush.
Tip #4: The Nuclear Option
This process should only be done for a really gross grill brush that you absolutely can't replace. Start by wearing heavy rubber gloves and eye protection. Using oven cleaner and degreaser, blast the grill brush bristles with the oven cleaner letting it foam up. Use one that is approved as a stainless steel cleaner.
You can also start your grill and let it get hot. Turn it off and place the grill brush in the barbecue. Don't put plastic or wood handles in, though. Close the lid as much as possible and let the oven cleaner soak in the heat.
Follow the directions on the can of oven cleaner or pull it out after about 15 minutes. You'll then need to start doing a deep cleaning because you want to make sure to remove any harsh chemicals that can be poisonous. You'll also want to thoroughly clean your grill when it cools down.
Tip #5: Toss it
Alright, this is a fact. No matter how much you love that grill brush, it isn't going to last forever. Sometimes, your best bet is simply to throw out that grill brush and buy another one. Sometimes, the best solution is to make a trip to the hardware store or spend a minute online to replace your worn-out brush.
Grill Brushes: General and Care Tips
Even if you keep your grill brush good and clean, you'll want to replace it once in a while. We usually replace ours pretty often because we grill a lot, but picking up a new grill brush at the start of the season is a good way to start off on the right foot.
Stainless steel is the best option for grill brush bristles for use on many types of grill grates. Even though it is designed as a long-lasting and durable material, it can rust and get damaged. you should always watch for loose bristles. They can get trapped in the grill grates and get caught in your food. If ingested, they can be extremely dangerous. Stainless steel brushes are ideal for steel grill grates and cast iron grates, but shouldn't be used on porcelain-coated grates.
You should replace a grill brush when the bristles start to look bent or the handle breaks. A good way to make sure your grill brushes last a long time is to use less pressure when scrubbing the grill grates clean.
Don't Do These Things To Clean Grill Brushes
Let's start with the first big thing that we've seen people do that you should never, ever do. Don't use automotive cleaners like carburetor cleaner or engine degreaser. These chemicals are absolutely not acceptable for food-production cleaning. They can leave harmful chemicals that can be dangerous for your health.
Another thing that is a bad idea is using high heat. Don't put your grill brush in a fire or use the burners on your gas grill to burn off crud from the bristles. Not only do you risk inhaling harsh chemicals that can cause cancer and other health hazards, but the intense heat can also damage the delicate stainless steel bristles and cause them to deteriorate quickly.
The best thing you can do is to keep your grill brush clean in between cooking sessions. A stainless steel brush will easily last all season if you regularly clean it. Plus, keeping your brushes clean means you'll also keep your grill grates clean.
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