Tips for Safer Grilling with Wire-bristle Grill Brushes

There’s nothing like a tasty, fragrant backyard barbeque to celebrate the warm days of summer. No matter your preference—burgers, hot dogs, fish, chicken, steak, corn, or vegetable kabobs—nearly everything tastes just a little better when it’s grilled. And summer barbeques create lasting, fond memories with family and friends.

However, ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialists, or otolaryngologists, caution grillers to be aware of the dangers of wire-bristle grill brushes. Cleaning baked-on food from your grill using a wire brush may cause bristles to become stuck to the grates. And the next time you use your grill, these loose bristles can become lodged in your favorite foods.

If consumed, wire bristles can injure your mouth, throat, tonsils, or esophagus. They can even damage the stomach and intestine area if they are passed through and become stuck or tear tissue.

Some tips for safer summer (or anytime) grilling include:

  • Examine your wire grill brush closely before each use
  • Discard any loose or dangling wire bristles
  • Inspect your grill’s grates before placing food on them
  • Inspect your food closely after grilling for any potentially harmful particles

Alternatives to wire brushes include stone cleaning blocks, wooden scrapers, nylon-fiber brushes, scrapers with a single, rounded tip to clean rod-shaped grates, or even balled-up tin foil.

Remember: If you or a family member or friend think they may have swallowed a wire bristle and begin to experience unusual pain, seek immediate attention from a physician or emergency room.

Playing it safe will help you and your loved ones have a happier grilling experience!


Baugh, T. P., Hadley, J. B., & Chang, C. W. D. (2016). Epidemiology of Wire-Bristle Grill Brush Injury in the United States, 2002-2014. Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, 154(4), 645–649.

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The information on is provided solely for educational purposes and does not represent medical advice, nor is it a substitute for seeking professional medical care.