- Cleaning a grill isn’t the most fun chore, but it’s essential for both your and your grill’s health.
- The Kona 360° Grill Brush is our favorite because it evenly scours large swathes with each pass.
- We also have recommendations for grill-cleaning bricks and metal-free brushes below.
Keeping your grill clean is paramount to its longevity; it helps preserve the hardware, preventing corrosion and rust. It’s also essential if you want to make sure the food you cook is safe for consumption.
That’s because the residue that builds up on the grate and inside of a grill contains carcinogens, and leftover food bits are a magnet for bacteria. Safety aside, your food will also taste better and cook more evenly if you commit to regular grill maintenance.
When it comes to choosing the right grill-cleaning tool(s), Barbecue University TV host, author, and grilling expert Steven Raichlen said to look for the longest tools you can find because “grilling utensils are never long enough.” Anything over 16 inches should suffice, and anything under 12 inches is best avoided, or you’ll face some serious singeing every time you go to clean your grill.
Below, we’ve chosen the ones we find to be most useful and effective, though a combination of two or three of them is probably ideal. So long as you have at least one brush and one scraper, and make sure to put in the time to actually use them, they’ll do wonders for keeping your grill in top condition.
Here are the best grill brushes in 2021
- Best grill brush overall: Kona 360° Grill Brush
- Best grill brush on a budget: Cuisinart Grill Cleaning Brush
- Best grill scraper: Kona Safe/Clean Wooden Grill Scraper
- Best grill cleaning brick: KegWorks Grill Cleaning Brick
The Kona 360° Grill Brush works in all directions to clean any and all grates, and comes with sturdy bristles that won’t end up stuck in your grill, or your food.
Pros: High-quality bristles that won’t bend or break easily, multidirectional, cleans at angles
Cons: Head is not replaceable, prone to rust if not properly dried, no built-in scraper (though you may not need it with this brush)
Kona’s 360° Grill Brush is effectively a one-stop tool that makes cleaning a grill as painless as possible. Thanks to its three-part head consisting of what are basically heavy-duty, oversized pipe cleaners, it reaches angles that more traditional, square, flat grill brushes simply can’t.
After using this brush for a couple of months, we’ve found that a combination of a few different angles, and specifically using the rounded edges, takes care of almost the entire surface area of a grill grate, which makes cleanup as swift as we could ever imagine.
Lightweight and balanced, this brush is great for cleaning hot or cold surfaces (hot is always preferred, because you’ll be able to dislodge residue much more easily). However, you do want to be careful about making sure it dries properly if you use it with water to clean your grill (hanging it vertically works well for us, and we haven’t encountered any rust yet).
You can also use this brush to clean the entire grill box, should you choose, and it is designated safe for use on ceramic, porcelain, and infrared cooking surfaces, too.
Best budget grill brush
Cuisinart’s Grill Cleaning Brush comes with a sturdy stainless steel handle and scraper and well-spaced bristles for getting into hard-to-reach spaces.
Pros: Long, stainless steel handle, built-in scraper
Cons: Base of the brush head is plastic, which can melt over high heat if you’re not quick and careful; brand doesn’t offer replacement heads
Cuisinart’s Grill Cleaning Brush offers just what you need for a basic tool at an affordable price, without being made entirely of cheap, heat-intolerant materials.
One of the most common problems with budget grill brushes is that their handles are often short and plastic, meaning they melt easily (and put you in danger of singeing your arm hair). Cuisinart addresses this issue by outfitting their brush with a long, stainless steel handle; it won’t burn, and it will keep your hands far enough away from the flames.
Between the inch-long bristles and the three-and-a-quarter-inch scraper, this brush will give you everything you need (save for a little water and maybe some grill spray) to keep your grill operational.
That’s not to say this is the perfect brush — we still haven’t quite found one within this price range. The bristles are a little short, but that seems to be the case with most brushes on the cheaper side. While the majority of the tool is stainless steel, the base of the brush head is plastic, which, yes, will melt if you’re not careful. Some advice: keep moving if you’re working over a hot grill, as resting in one place too long will speed up the melting process.
Otherwise, it’s a functional, traditional brush design with a rectangular grid of bristles. If you want to eliminate plastic entirely, you’ll have to spend a bit more, but know full well that this brush should last you a few good years, if not longer.
Best grill scraper
Kona’s Safe/Clean Wooden Grill Scraper is 100% nontoxic with food-grade varnish, molds to your grill grates over time, and won’t leave behind stray bristles.
Pros: Food-quality varnish, solid hardwood, molds to your grill over time
Cons: Takes time to mold to your grill, not as thorough as a brush
Fresh out of the packaging, you might be inclined to think that Kona’s Safe/Clean Wooden Grill Scraper doesn’t work. You’ll need to spend some time scraping your grill and forming grooves into this scraper, but once you get it to that point, it’s going to function almost as well as — and in some ways better than — a good grill brush. Its main advantage: there are no metal bristles to break off and get stuck in your grill’s grates (or your food).
In truth, you’ll probably want to follow your work with a wet paper towel to pick up anything left over. You’ll also have to flip your grates to properly clean them top and bottom.
We like this scraper because it has a D-shaped handle like a snow shovel, which really allows you to put your shoulder into cleaning. It’s also a lot thicker than some other options, which look like they might wear out considerably faster.
And, because there can never be too many bottle openers within reach when it comes to grilling outdoors, there’s one built into Kona’s Safe/Clean Wooden Grill Scraper.
Best grill-cleaning brick
For that truly like-new, grime-free, high shine look, it’s hard to beat the amazing scouring power you get with the KegWorks Grill Cleaning Brick.
Pros: Does an excellent job of removing grease, quick and easy to use, immediately builds groves to fit your grill
Cons: Large, a little messy in your hands, doesn’t reach corners and edges (you’ll need a brush and/or scraper as well)
A cleaning brick is similar to a wooden grill scraper in that you’ll build grooves in it with your grill grates, but because it’s softer, the grooves will take shape almost immediately. It’s going to do a great job of cleaning them, but as with the scraper, you will have to turn the grates over to get the underside.
Most grill cleaning bricks are made of nonporous pumice, and there are universal cleaning brick handles that make the job a lot smoother and easier on your hands, but they’re far from necessary. What we like about grill cleaning bricks is that they are simple and also safer and potentially less damaging to your grill’s grates than wire brushes (if you overuse them). That said, you do have to replace them more frequently than brushes, as they wear away quickly.
Any grill-cleaning brick made with nonporous pumice will do the trick, but KegWorks‘ is on the more affordable side, probably because it’s not as dense. That lightness has its benefits: this brick breaks in a lot faster than most.
We found that this brick gets porcelain-coated stainless steel grates shining in the shortest order, but because it doesn’t have a scraper or a contoured edge, you’ll have to use something else to get into those harder-to-reach spots.
What else we tested
What we don’t recommend and why:
BBQ Aid: This tool worked nicely, and we like the replacement head, but we have some concerns about bristle longevity due to a number of customer reviews on Amazon. We still think that the Kona 360°, being roughly the same price and having no plastic components, is the better bet.
Tool Wizard Barbecue Brush: This was another tool that worked very well, but it took a beating quickly, and we tore the mesh scrubber pad up pretty badly within the first use. You might swap the provided pads out for steel wool ones and find that they survive better, but it could wreak havoc on your grill grates so we don’t recommend it.
Our testing methodology
We spoke with experts like New York City meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda and Barbecue University TV host Steven Raichlen to learn what makes a good grill-cleaning tool. We also went to work cleaning too-many-to-count grills around the house and neighborhood.
Here’s what we looked for in the best grill brushes and tools:
Handles: During testing, we learned that handles, where applicable, had to be long and ideally not made of plastic, which can melt. Across the board, we preferred stainless steel handles, followed by wood handles.
Bristles: Bristles are highly effective, but can bend or break, which poses a hazard if they get in your food. We made sure that even over a hot grate, none of the bristles became deformed or dislodged from the plate to which they’re attached.
Ease of use: If a brush or tool was difficult to engage properly, we lost interest. Most people don’t want to spend too much time learning how to use a brush, and we think it should be easy enough for anyone to pick up and (effectively) use.
What we’re testing next
We’re not currently preparing to test anything new at the moment, but we’re going to keep testing our current picks for durability and longevity.
What’s the best way to clean a grill?
The best way to clean a grill is while it’s still hot, which helps loosen residue and grease for easier removal. In general, it’s best to clean the grill both before and after cooking. Here’s how experts recommend cleaning your grill:
- Pre-heat your grill to your desired cooking temperature.
- When the grill is up to temp, use a grill brush to clean across the entire cooking surface.
- Using long tongs, dip a folded paper towel into high-heat cooking oil (such a vegetable or canola oil) and rub across the entire cooking surface. This helps clean and prime the cook top.
- Proceed with grilling.
- While the grill is still hot, use your grill brush to loosen any debris and clean the cooking surface.
- Water is ok to use on your grill as long as it’s hot. Keep in mind that water left on cold cast iron grates or grill bodies can cause rusting.
- You may periodically want to use a scrubbing block for deeper grill cleaning, but this should be done on a cool grill.
How do I clean my grill brush?
Clean your grill brush with water and/or soap when it comes time, but be sure to hang it vertically so that it dries sufficiently, otherwise you’ll end up with rust.
Check out our other grilling guides