Skip to Content

Don’t Die From Grill Brush Bristles! Use This Instead!

Don’t Die From Grill Brush Bristles! Use This Instead!

We enjoy cooking on a grill and carry a propane gas grill with us as we travel. In fact, we use our grill so often that we long ago ditched those little one-pound propane bottles and connected our grill to our RV’s on-board propane tank. We even wrote an entire post on how to connect a gas grill to an RV for other grilling enthusiasts. But one thing we NEVER do is use a wire brush to clean our grill. We always clean grills with aluminum foil, and in this post, we’ll tell you why and how.

We know it’s important to keep the grill grates clean, and you may have your own preferred cleaning method. However, grill brushes pose a serious health hazard, so we’re hoping to raise awareness about the dangers of grill brushes with this post, while also providing an alternative method for grill cleaning.

Why Are Grill Brushes Dangerous?

Wire grill brushes have become popular for grill cleaning because they’re effective at removing food residue that sticks to the grates. But grill brushes have come under scrutiny for posing a serious health hazard.

Wire Bristles In or On Food

The most significant danger of wire grill brushes is that the bristles can break off and become embedded in the grill grates and end up in your food. If ingested, these sharp fragments can cause serious injuries, including punctures of the throat and digestive tract.

In one case, a 4-year-old child ate a hamburger that was cooked on a grill that had been cleaned with a grill brush. A wire bristle from the grill brush became stuck in his throat posing a serious danger.

Here’s a warning from an ER physician who was involved in the child’s care:

Think that was an isolated incident? It wasn’t. There are numerous cases of wire grill brushes causing serious, even life-threatening problems.

This woman nearly died when she swallowed the wire bristle of a grill brush that was in a hot dog cooked on her grill. Her life was saved, but her experience serves as a serious warning to all of us.

Poor Cleaning Performance

Not that we’d need another reason to stop using wire grill brushes, but a secondary concern about some grill brushes is that they don’t effectively clean the grill grates, leaving food grime, residue, and even rust behind. This can lead to unsanitary cooking conditions and rust entering the food that you and your family consume.

Rust and Brush Wear

Grill brushes are exposed to heat and grease, and are used with a bit of force to remove food residue that has dried onto the grill grate. They’re also used, and left, outside in the elements. For these reasons, grill brushes tend to wear out fairly quickly. The bristles bend and rust and deteriorate, causing loose bristles or bristle fragments to end up on your grill grates and in your food.

How to Clean Grill Grates With Aluminum Foil

Cleaning your grill with aluminum foil is a safe and efficient alternative to using a grill brush. Here’s how to use this simple alternative to clean your grill grates:

Preheat the Grill

Turn the grill on to high heat to preheat the grates. This helps to melt grease and loosen any food residue and other grime on the grates, making it easier to remove. Then shut the grill off.

Ball Up the Foil

Take a sheet of aluminum foil and crumple it into a firm ball that fits in the palm of your hand. It’s important that the ball is firmly packed for the most effective cleaning.

Scrub the Grates on Both Sides

Turn off the grill. While the grill grate is still hot, scrub it firmly with the foil ball being careful not to burn yourself. Apply pressure as needed to remove any stuck-on residue and grime from the grates. (TIP: Making the ball a little larger will make it easier to clean the grill without getting burned.) You can also use a pair of tongs to hold the foil ball.

Repeat If Necessary

Depending on the level of grime and built-up residue, you may need to heat the grill again and repeat the cleaning process until the grates are well-cleaned.

Dry the Grates

Since you just heated the grill, the grates won’t likely be wet. But if they’re wet for any reason (maybe it’s raining), pat them dry with a cloth or paper towel. Remember that if you’ve got cast iron grill grates, air-drying them can lead to the development of rust. It’s best to pat them dry on both sides.

Lightly Oil the Grates

After cleaning, lightly oil the grates to season them and prevent food from sticking during your next grilling session. It’s best to season your grill grates with vegetable oil after every use. You can also prevent the grates from getting grimy in the first place by cooking on a sheet of aluminum foil. (Use a light coating of cooking oil spray to prevent sticking.)

Pompeian USDA Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil Non-Stick Cooking Spray, Full-Bodied Flavor, Perfect for Salads and Pasta Drizzling, Naturally Gluten Free, Non-Allergenic, Non-GMO, No Propellants, 5 FL. OZ., Single Bottle
  • AIR PRESSURE ONLY: Pompeian cooking sprays contain no propellants or additives, providing you the best-tasting, highest-quality oil to help you Eat...
  • FULL-BODIED, ROBUST TASTE: Pompeian’s propellant-free cooking sprays are farmer crafted and ideal for any meal that starts with a sauté and ends...

If you don’t like the idea of cooking on aluminum foil, you can also use grill mats.

What Are the Advantages of Using Aluminum Foil to Clean a Grill?

Using aluminum foil instead of a grill brush to clean your grill offers several benefits:


Using aluminum foil to clean grills means there’s no risk of any type of bristle fragments ending up in your food. This ensures a safer grilling experience.


Aluminum foil is readily available and inexpensive. Most people have some on hand for a variety of uses. This one is our favorite!

Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil, 50 Square Feet (Packaging May Vary)
  • This pack includes one 12 inch wide, 50 square foot roll of heavy duty Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil
  • #1 BRAND OF ALUMINUM FOIL—Backed by over 70 years of quality & strength, Reynolds Foil is the go-to foil for home & professional cooks seeking tools...

Cleans Effectively

Aluminum foil is surprisingly effective at removing grime and residue leaving your grill grates clean, and reducing build-up.

The most important reason to use aluminum foil to clean your grill is to avoid using anything that has the potential to end up in your food. Aluminum foil is a safe, budget-friendly alternative to grill brushes.

Want to ditch those annoying little propane bottles? Check out our video below that shows how to connect a grill to an on-board propane tank.

Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews & Giveaways

As 20-year full-timers, we share everything we’ve learned about RVing over the years. Join our online community to receive a wealth of great RVing knowledge delivered daily to your inbox.

Whether you’re a new RVer or a seasoned full-timer, you’ll love the wide range of RVing topics we cover. Don’t miss a single article or any of our famous Giveaways. Subscribe to our newsletter today!

We'd Love It If You Shared This!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Gay Travel Enthusiast (Jason)

Saturday 28th of October 2023

I'm no expert, but I would think that if you're careful how you use it, you could use a grill brush on the grill without getting pieces of bristle getting in the food.

Doug Rogers

Saturday 28th of October 2023

How does your grill work with 2 regulators on the propane line?


Thursday 2nd of November 2023

Hi Doug. It's because the first regulator in the stream (the red one installed right at the onboard propane tank) has an output pressure of 15PSI, which is plenty high enough to trigger the grill's onboard regulator, which then drops the flow to 0.5 PSI (that's what 11" Water Column is). The "Double Regulation" issue comes into play if the output of the first regulator isn't high enough to cause the second regulator to open and allow flow.

Dan Guyor

Tuesday 31st of October 2023

@Doug Rogers, Your hose connecting the grill to the Low Pressure output of the RV does not have a regulator. It's a straight hose with the proper connectors on each end.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

PLEASE NOTE: We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

We participate in affiliate programs from many companies (including the Amazon affiliate program), which provides a means for us to earn a small commission by linking to products there. But our opinions are our own and we only link to products we can recommend to friends with complete confidence. And using our links won't cost you an extra penny!