We Tested 12 Grill Brushes to Find the Best Brush for Gunky Grates

Updated: May 09, 2024

Our Product Testing Team put 12 grill brushes to the test against baked-on food, hot and cold grates and alternative cleaning methods. The results are in, and the best grill brush clearly outperformed the rest.

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Grill Brushes on blue backgroundTMB Studio

Summertime means turning up the heat on more than just a thermometer — it’s grilling season! No matter your preferred protein or barbecue sauce, there’s one part of the grilling ritual you should never skip: using your best grill brush to loosen all the crusty, burnt-on food from previous patties.

“Whether it’s gas, charcoal or pellet fired, keeping the grill clean will prevent fires and flare ups,” says Catherine Ward, Prep Kitchen Manager and grilling expert. “It also ensures that whatever food I’m grilling won’t be contaminated by previous cooks and leftover charred bits.”

In Catherine’s experience, there are many different types of grill brushes, ranging from brushes with stiff wire bristles to spongey, coiling or even scraping heads. Some combine multiple types of cleaning heads for a full-on powerhouse grill cleaner.

Grill brushes also come in different configurations for both hot and cold cleaning, depending on how often you need to clean (and how dirty your grill gets — no judgement here). So, with hundreds of options to choose from, which should you turn to for a fresh, sparkling grate?

Our Product Testing Team scraped, scrubbed and brushed their dirty grills with 12 different top-selling grill brushes in order to find the best pick for preparing a grill. No matter whether you’re using gas or charcoal, a simple tabletop grill or a Thermoworks smart grill, we found the best option for every barbecue fan.

Pros:

  • Uses steam to clean without any wire bristles
  • Ergonomic, lightweight handle
  • Replacement heads available
  • Squishy sponge cleans the edges of the grates
  • Attached scraper for cooked-on bits
  • Wash by hand, in the dishwasher or by hose

Cons:

  • No hanging hook
  • Pricey, but frequently on sale

According to our tests, topping the list as the overall best grill brush is the Grill Rescue brush. This squishy-yet-sturdy cleaning sponge effortlessly eliminates stuck-on messes without any bristles at all. Unlike other options, it employs the power of steam rather than aggressive scrubbing or scraping. An ergonomic handle makes it easy to work back and forth, and a lightweight head keeps arms from feeling fatigued when the mess calls for a little extra elbow grease.

Simply dip the sponge head into water before the grill cools down, then get to work scrubbing back and forth along the grates. The water heats up to boiling temperatures, effectively melting off meat residue and sticky barbecue sauce. A notched scraper on the back of the sponge loosens any stubborn bits cooked onto the grill, meaning no wire bristles sticking to future meals.

woman holding grill cleaner and half cut onion on a tong
Taste of Home

With a durable plastic handle and a replaceable, spongy head that gets deep into edges, this grill brush is a grate (get it?) grilling tool. When finished, pop it into the dishwasher or rinse by hand (or hose) for easy cleanup. While the brush itself is rather pricey, it’s relatively easy to secure replacement heads once the current one wears out, though we didn’t detect any noticeable degradation during our limited testing.

It’s also worth noting that this one only works with heat, so it’s best for cleaning grills right after cooking.

Best Nylon Grill Brush

Grillaholics Nylon Grill Brush

Pros:

  • Cleans dried-on messes better than flat brushes
  • Twisted side bristles get into crevices and edges
  • Has a metal hanging hook
  • Vertical design cleans faster and easier than the others
  • Lifetime Manufacturer Warranty
  • Fairly inexpensive

Cons:

  • Melts on hot grills
  • No scraper

On the opposite end of the best grill brush spectrum, the Grillaholics nylon grill brush only works on grills once they’ve cooled. Nylon bristles are a lot like their metal counterparts, but they’re a lot safer while remaining just as effective against dried-on gunk.

An angled brush head (along with the twisted side bristles) easily slips into crevices and edges, cleaning quicker and more thoroughly than the other options we tested. While there’s no scraper on this one, we found that you won’t need it—a little elbow grease is all it takes to scrape away dried-on food. As a bonus, the metal hanging hook makes it easy to stash for your next grilling sesh.

While the brush itself doesn’t have a replaceable head like the Grill Rescue brush, Grillaholics offers a lifetime warranty once registered. That said, it’s also fairly inexpensive in case you want to replace it later (or snag a few more as a gift for a griller).

Pros:

  • Very budget-friendly
  • Not a lot of pressure required
  • Unique shape is easy to hold and maneuver
  • Fastest and easiest brush used on a cold grill
  • Also works on warm grills
  • May come in handy for other cleaning areas, such as sinks

Cons:

  • Difficult to fully clean
  • Won't last through years of use, but price reflects that

When it comes to the best grill brush on a budget, turn to the Cuisinart Power Scour. Ringing up at just under five dollars, this powerful-yet-wallet-friendly pick offers the perfect balance between functionality and affordability. Like its metal counterparts, this brush uses stainless steel to shuck off stuck-on food—but in the form of a flat steel wool rather than dangerous steel bristles that break and bend.

Woman using grill cleaner in parking area
Taste of Home

Our favorite feature of this uniquely-shaped brush is that there’s not a lot of pressure required, making it more comfortable to use than other options. Apart from making quick work of our cold grill, it also works like a champ on a warm grill, too. Our tester Sheri Kaz notes that she used this tool for cleaning other grills after testing just for fun, simply because it’s so easy to use. It’s also the perfect shape and size for cleaning other areas of the home, like sinks and tubs.

If you’re splurging on the best grills, this budget-friendly option is a good way to save on grill accessories. While it’s difficult to clean and began unraveling after several uses, the ultra-low price point and ease of use keep us coming back to this grill brush even after testing options more than ten times the price.

Best Mesh Grill Brush

BBQ Daddy

Pros:

  • Heat-resistant and wire-free brush head
  • Should last a season or two
  • Handle offers two gripping areas for extra elbow grease
  • Lower handle swivels for flexiblity
  • Metal scraper attached
  • Hanging hook on handle

Cons:

  • Handle is a bit bulky
  • Bottle opener is handy, but sometimes gets in the way

One of our best grilling tips is using caution when working with metal bristle grill brushes. Luckily, a bristle-free experience doesn’t equal subpar performance, as evidenced by the BBQ Daddy brush. The steel mesh fitted over a spongey interior doesn’t require a lot of elbow grease, especially when wet and used on a hot grill. As a result, we expect this one to last a lot longer than other brushes we tested — maybe even a few seasons longer.

Using BBQ Daddy Scrub to clean grill
Taste of Home

In addition to longevity, the BBQ Daddy also offers a swivel handle with a metal scraper for added flexibility. Need more elbow grease? The handle has two gripping areas for two-handed jobs like stubborn sticky sauce and cooked-on burger bits. Easily use it on a hot grill thanks to the heat-resistant brush head, or opt to scour the barbecue after everything cools. After two swipes it brought back the metallic shine of the grates on a charcoal grill, which is a pretty impressive feat!

One area we were a bit disappointed with was the brush’s performance in crevices and on round grills. The brush can’t fit under a gas grill’s upper grates and other narrow areas because of the bulky handle, meaning that it take some extra maneuvering to get the grill fully clean. That said, it uses a similar steam system as our top pick for about half the price, making this a solid pick for those who want to try a steam brush before investing in a pricier version.

Best Bristle Grill Brush

Grillbadger

Pros:

  • 100% natural bristles made from plant fiber
  • Eco-friendly wooden handle
  • Metal scraper on back
  • Heat-resistant
  • Long bristles reach interior of grate
  • Works both hot and cold

Cons:

  • Not suitable for use over open flames

Whether you’re barbecuing or grilling, the Grillbadger grill brush is our top pick in terms of bristle brushes. Unlike metal grill brushes, this long-bristled brush has 100% natural bristles made from plant fibers. Another eco-friendly aspect we love is the handsome wooden handle.

This natural brush works well on hot grills and cold grills, especially thanks to the handy metal scraper on the back of the brush. Because the bristles are plant material rather than plastic or nylon, they won’t melt or warp on a hot grill grate. The wooden handle does make it dangerous to use over an open flame. That said, it easily cleans a hot grill provided there’s no flame present.

The comfortable wood handle also has a fabric tie at the end for storage. While the handle is a little long, that’s actually an advantage if you use it on a hot grill. The long handle and long bristle combo prevents burns while giving enough clearance to reach the sides of the grates and deep into crevices.


What to Look for When Buying a Grill Brush

When it comes to choosing the best grill brush to clean your grills, there are a few considerations. The first is whether you’ll be cleaning grill grates on a hot grill directly after barbecuing, or on a cold grill prior to putting on your proteins. “Mesh brushes work better than the nylon on cold grills,” says product tester Sheri Kaz, who spearheaded testing for this piece.

According to the testing team, the best tool to reach for when there’s a big mess on your hands is a steam brush. “The Steam brushes were a delight to use on hot grills. Like magic,” says Sheri. “Finding a tool that works with hot grills makes clean-up much faster and easier. Having a scraper bar with grooved edges is a nice bonus,” she adds.

Another consideration is cleanup—not the grill, but the brush itself. “Overall, it was harder to get bristle brushes clean, since the sticky stuff had more surfaces to cling to,” warns Sheri.

Prep Kitchen Manager Catherine tends to avoid brushes with wire bristles, due to an uptick in reports of loose bristles making their way into food. In our tests, we checked carefully for any evidence of stray bristles or broken bits, and disqualified any brushes that shed onto the grill. In order to avoid the dangers of wire grill brushes, always inspect your grill prior to adding proteins to ensure that your family stays safe.

Why You Should Trust Us

Our Product Testing Team has a combined decade of experience with testing and evaluating products. We conducted all tests in our Product Testing Lab under controlled conditions in order to best rate each brush’s performance.

For this piece we also consulted grilling expert Catherine Ward. A lifelong foodie, Catherine Ward heads up the Taste of Home  prep kitchen. She also lends her expertise for articles about cooking and baking techniques, as well as kitchen tools. Catherine has worked in the hospitality industry for most of her career, catering and teaching cooking classes. She is happiest when she’s cooking for a table full of friends and family.

How We Found the Best Grill Brushes

Rubbing Onion on Griller
Taste of Home

In our hunt for the best grill brush, we considered brushes containing a range of different materials, from coiling meshes to scrapers to stiff bristles and spongey scrubbers. Our Product Testing Team tested all heat-friendly brushes against a common DIY grill-cleaning method: a cross-section of an onion rubbed over grill grates, which served as our control.

Overall, we spent an estimated 30 hours on this project, including researching, sourcing, intaking and testing the products. In our research and hands-on tests, we collected about 300 data points under these testing categories:

Packaging

We noted anything interesting or poor quality when it comes to the packaging, along with any extras included.

Construction and Appearance

We noted materials used in both the handle and the head. For the handle, we also looked at how comfortable and ergonomic it is during extended use. We also made a note of the surface area of the head, along with the brush’s durability and any extra features (including hanging hooks or other noteworthy additions).

Performance

Before And After of a Grill after using scrubber
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We tested each of the best grill brush contestants on a propane grill after grilling up steaks and barbecue ribs (for the hot grill brushes) and barbecue chicken (for the cold grill brushes), using each according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The Testing Team performed the hot tests just after the food came off the grill. For the cold tests, we waited about three days after cooking to scrape and scrub away any gunk. We noted whether each brush was heat safe and any surfaces not compatible with the brush.

From there, the team took note of how clean the grates were first after 30 seconds and then after one minute of cleaning. We noted the amount of elbow grease required on a scale of 1-5 and any broken or squished bristles. Comparing the results of the “onion trick,” the Testing Team then determined whether the brush eliminated debris better or worse than the cut onion.

Maintenance

Toha24 Group Washing Annamarie Higley 01 Yvedit Ft
Taste of Home

We looked at whether each brush requires upkeep, including washing or replacing the head. We then rated this upkeep on a difficulty scale of 1-5.

Value

After scoring the rest of the categories, we determined whether each pick was worth the price, keeping in mind features, performance, pros and cons.

FAQ

Is the Rescue Brush worth it?

After testing the Grill Rescue Brush against 11 competitors, our Product Testing Team notes that the spongy interior made this steam brush very effective—especially when compared to similar brushes like the Cuisinart steam brush.

“It’s by far my favorite tool to get the job done quickly with very little effort,” says product tester Sheri Kaz, noting that it’s “worth every penny!”

Should you brush your grill hot or cold?

Brushing a grill hot or cold depends on the type of brush you use and how filthy your grill is, according to Catherine. Some brushes are not heat safe, while others require steam to properly clear any debris. For frequent cleanings, we recommend snagging a brush that works both hot or cold. Deeper cleanings are more effective with the help of steam.

“Some brushes work on a hot or warm grill and others are used after the grill has cooled. For use on a warm grill, a long, sturdy handle is a must to prevent burns,” says Catherine. “For a deeper clean, some grill brushes are soaked in water, then used on hot grates to steam off grease. This is especially helpful after grilling a fatty protein,” she adds.

What is the best material to clean a grill with?

Catherine notes that whether warm or cool, a stiff brush with nylon or natural bristles quickly removes charred bits from the grate surface. It also loosens anything left in between the grates. If the brush has a blade on end that loosens stubborn stuck on pieces, even better.

Those who prefer to clean a grill without wire brushes have options like the Scrub Daddy brush, which uses a mesh scouring pad rather than wire bristles.