The Scary Reason You Should Stop Cleaning Your Grill With A Wire Brush

Grilling season has arrived and although you might be excited to throw some burgers, hot dogs and steaks onto your grill, there are a few things to consider for a safe and tasty experience. Surprisingly, one of those barbecuing dangers can be as simple as using a wire brush to clean your grill — but why?

Unattended cooking is the number one source of fire-related injuries in America, according to the National Fire Protection Association. This is why you should always carefully watch your flame and keep an extinguisher handy. Given the high heat that a grill can reach, burns can also be a risk, which is why Smoked BBQ Source advises investing in proper grilling accessories like tongs and spatulas with long handles and even flame-retardant gloves.

Aside from heat-related injuries, cross-contamination can also threaten your barbecue. While thorough cooking is key in avoiding food poisoning, the FDA also recommends keeping meat cool, out of direct sunlight, and taking steps to avoid meat juices from coming into contact with ready-to-eat foods. But once everything has been cooked, there's still one more threat that involves cleaning your grill. That wire brush might be good at scraping off tough residue, but it might have life-threatening ramifications.

You can accidentally eat stray bristles

Burgers with a side of fries? Definitely. Burgers with a side of bristles? Absolutely not.

According to Reader's Digest, in the U.S. there have been nearly 2,000 reported cases of people being sent to the hospital with injuries related to the accidental consumption of wire grill brushes. Since the bristles can fall out, they can get stuck to grill grates and maybe even to your favorite foods. This is particularly problematic as the thin, sharp bristles can get lodged in your throat or even intestinal tract. Talk about unlocking a new fear.

So, what can you do to minimize the risk of accidentally eating a stray bristle? Consumer Reports recommends inspecting your brush before every use and frequently replacing it to avoid any mishaps. If the bristles look too bent or are loaded with gunk, it might be time for a new one. However, if you're ready to ditch the grill brush altogether, you can swap it out for a pumice stone or wood scraper. Good Housekeeping even suggests a do-it-yourself alternative that involves scrubbing grill grates clean with crumpled aluminum foil. Whatever you do, make sure you take the necessary precautions to