Avoid the Bristle and Stay Out of the Hospital
Those pesky bristles keep getting in your food and sending you to the hospital. There has to be a better way! Well, there is. In fact, there are several. So many, you would wonder why we don’t just ban the bristle and get on with our grilling. Since this issue came to light nearly a decade ago, alternatives have flooded the market. Most are simply gimmicks, but some are not only a good alternative, they are better than standard bristle grill brush.
Over the years, I have tested dozens of grill brush alternatives. Some have come and gone in a season, but the ones I have selected are in for the long haul. You can trust these tools and methods. And yes, you don’t have to spend a lot of money or actually go to a hardware store. There are homegrown grill cleaning methods too.
Brushtech Double Helix Bristle Free Grill Brush
You don't have to deviate far from the original design to make a great grill brush. The triangular grill brush is the best shape. It lets you get from to back and put a lot of force down on the cooking grates. This model from Brushtech uses a single strand of thick wire to form a long, single piece spring. It won't break apart and there are not bristles to cause problems and yet it still cleans just like a grill brush. This is the best alternative grill brush you can buy because you don't have to change any of your usual habits. And throw it in the dishwasher after you use it to keep it nice and clean.
The Great Scrape
This is my personal favorite grill cleaning tool. Yes, it is a wooden paddle. But it is also so much more. The wood actually conforms to your cooking grates as you use it, making it the perfect fit for your grill. Used on hot cooking grates the wood hardens and seasons over time, making it harder and more durable. Put a little cutting board oil on it once in a while and scrape it clean and it will last for years. Every time I get a grill that I am going to be living with for a while, I get a new Great Scrape for it. They are also much better looking than any grill brush. A real conversation piece.
Grillstone Cleaning Block
Pumice has been used for centuries to clean pesky things off of almost any hard surface. It's kind of like sandpaper for cleaning. The blocks scrub away everything left behind on cooking grates and if you use it carefully, the stone will develop groves that fit the grates perfectly. These blocks are ideal for really tough jobs, though they can scratch porcelain coatings. If you have cast iron or stainless steel, they are fine however.
The Home Remedies
People have been cleaning cooking grates far longer than grill brushes have existed. And people have cleaned them. One popular tool is a metal scraper. The problem with these is that they only touch the very tops of the cooking grates. They can also scrape away porcelain coatings and damage the finish on stainless steel. There are, however, some good tricks to cleaning grates with items you probably have around the house. So try these grill brush alternatives when you don't have anything else on hand.
Half an Onion
It's an old diner trick. Half an onion works great on griddles and grills to not only clean, but also season metal surfaces. The secret is that onions are moist and contain a light oil. This steams and coats cooking surfaces. Take an old onion out of the refrigerator. Lay it on its side (so the root end is sticking out the side) and cut it in half. With tongs or a long handles grilling fork, grab ahold and run over the surface of the grates. With a little practice, you might never need a grill cleaning tool again. The downside? You have to throw away half an onion every time you clean your grill.
Ball of Foil
Need to clean your grill and you don't have an onion handy? How about aluminum foil? Take a sheet, roll it into a loose ball, grab it with tongs and run it over your grates. This trick works great. In fact, it works better than most cheap grill brushes. The foil conforms to the grate shape and cleans tops and sides. People have been using this for decades and there and still people out there for whom this is the only way they have cleaned their grates. Downside? If you grill a lot, you will need to stock up on foil. Good thing is, foil is cheap. Make sure you recycle though.