Consumer Reports puts grill-cleaning brushes to the test

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Who wants to cook on a grungy grill? We're thinking nobody. Well the folks at Consumer Reports came up with a great way to put grill brushes to the test.

In a partnership with Consumer Reports, 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney tells you which ones will give you a clean cooking surface, whether your grates are cast iron or stainless.

To mess up the test grills, Consumer Reports testers roasted sticky chicken breasts on stainless and cast iron grates. Although Consumer Reports says a hot grate cleans up the best, the brushes were tested on cold, warm, and hot grates, using a systematic method of 50 strokes. And the surfaces were assessed for removal of a crusty crud.

"We were surprised in testing to find that a lot of grill brushes have short or flat handles that keep your hand over the hot grates. When you shop for a grill brush, look for one with a long handle and an angled head," said Paul Hope, Consumer Reports Home Editor.

Some brushes did not perform well. The "Char-Broil Cool-Clean Brush" has a nylon head designed for "cool to the touch" grates. In our tests, it did a poor job of cleaning on cool and warm surfaces.

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The "Char-Griller Wood Grill Scraper" is a wooden paddle that becomes notched as you scrape it along hot grates. But it didn't do a very good job in our tests on any of the surfaces, or between the ribs.

Some did a better job on the grimy grates.

"The Nexgrill Grill Brush" has a replaceable stainless steel head, that does a very good job on hot grates. The long handle keeps your hand away from the heat, but wear a glove if you put pressure on the knob.

Consumer Reports staffers were impressed by the performance of the "Earthstone Grill Stone." It's made of recycled materials, and did an impressive job of removing the cooked-on chicken on cold, warm and hot surfaces. But it leaves a lot of residue, both on the grates and inside the firebox, that must be cleaned thoroughly before cooking. But if you're tackling a really gross grill, this is the tool to have.

Consumer Reports says to heat your grill for 15 minutes before starting to scrape. And if you're going to use a wire brush, to be safe, always wipe the grates down with an oiled paper towel afterwards. Those tiny bristles can easily attach to foods and be ingested - don't let this happen to you!

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