You can use a steam mop to clean your kitchen floor or a garment steamer to get wrinkles out of your clothes. But is steam the best way to get grime off a grill? That's what Grill Daddy claims in its ads for its steam-cleaning grill brush, which it calls the "latest breakthrough in grill-cleaning technology." To see if the claims would hold water or go up in smoke, Consumer Reports put the brush to the test.
The claims. A "revolutionary grill-cleaning tool," the Grill Daddy "steams away baked-on food, grease, and black residue!" and is "fun and easy to use," according to the Grill Daddy's packaging. The Grill Daddy website is just as breathless claiming that the brush is "the ultimate BBQ tool." We paid $15 for each for three models.
The check. Three testers took the Original Grill Daddy home then cleaned one half of their dirty grates with the tool and the other half with their usual grill brush. The grates were stainless steel or coated cast iron. Following Grill Daddy's directions they preheated their gas grills for 10 minutes on high to burn off as much baked-on residue as possible then filled the Grill Daddy's reservoir with unheated water. Next they used the scraper brush attachment to loosen tough residue, but it didn't seem to do much.
Time to bring on the steam. Using the main brush with the water valve on, each tester brushed the grates 10 times as water was released. And guess what? The water turned to steam as it hit the hot grill. Finally, our testers cleaned the other half of the grates with their regular grill brush, and then with their brush and a spray bottle filled with water. (Grill Daddy was used on the grates in the right side of the photo, a regular brush on the left.)
Bottom line. Save your money for a good steak. Grill Daddy did clean between the grates but they weren't spotless and a regular grill brush performed about the same. Using a spray bottle of water in conjunction with a regular grill brush did a similar job cleaning. But be careful when cleaning a hot surface, especially if using water. It can create steam, which may get too hot for your hand so using an oven mitt is recommended. Cleanup tips from the Hearth, Patio, & Barbecue Association, a trade group, don't include using water on grates. "When finished cooking use a good quality brush to scrape and remove food," says Leslie Wheeler, HPBA's director of communications.
There's one more thing to consider. Some of the Grill Daddy's metal bristles bent as a result of use, something you may have experienced with other grill brushes. And while they didn't fall out, there have been recent reports of accidental ingestion of metal bristles from other grill cleaning brushes. Toss any brush with loose or missing bristles and check the owner's manual to make sure you're using the right type of brush for your grates. And if you're shopping for a grill, see our gas grill Ratings to find out what's hot and what's not.