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Barbecuers beware of wire grill brushes

Consumer Reports looks at grill cleaning methods

SAN ANTONIO – Cleaning up after summer grilling can be dangerous. Wire grill brushes can leave bristles behind on the grates, which can easily stick to food and be swallowed. Consumer Reports checked out some alternative grill cleaning methods.

The $130 Grillbot is a robotic grill cleaner that uses brass, stainless or nylon brushes. It does a good job on the surface but doesn’t reach debris between the grates. As with any wire brush, Consumer Reports said people should watch for loose bristles that may come off.

Testers found that a simple ball of aluminum foil did a good job when used on a warm grill surface. People should be sure to wear a heatproof glove or use a pair of tongs to protect their hands.

Some grilling websites say placing a sheet of aluminum foil on the grill’s surface with high heat will loosen debris, but that’s extremely dangerous and grill manufacturers advise against it. Consumer Reports testers had a flare-up on their hands after just a few minutes.

The $16 Safety Double Helix from Brushtech, is made of twisted metal springs. It did well on a warm cast-iron grate but not as well on stainless grills.

Traditional wire brushes do get between the grates to scrape off burned-on foods. If you’re going to use one, you must check it regularly. If the bristles are bent or loose, throw out the brush.

If you clean with any wire brush, use an oiled paper towel to wipe down the grates thoroughly afterward. And for deeper grill cleaning, Consumer Reports recommends using liquid grill cleaners and abrasive pads to help remove stubborn food residue.


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