How to clean up broken glass

Glass has been one of the most popular materials for vases, drinking glasses, mirrors, and, of course, windows for centuries. We love the beauty, practicality, and durability of glass, but we don’t love the mess it leaves when broken. Learning how to clean up broken glass isn’t like learning how to clean up most household accidents. You can’t just wipe, sweep, or vacuum broken glass—you have to tackle the job with ingenuity and safety precautions in mind.

Obviously, glass can break into sharp pieces and tiny shards making the cleanup fairly dangerous. And if you don’t know how to pick up broken glass without leaving any behind, the remaining glass can injure your family and pets. It requires patience and the right tools to clean up broken glass thoroughly, but you can get the job done safely with the following tips.

Safety First

When you’re learning how to clean broken glass, these next precautionary tips can keep your hands and feet cut-free. You’ll want to get the broken glass up as quickly and thoroughly as you can, but it’s essential to keep these safety issues in mind as you get started:

  • Use a broom to clean up broken glass may be necessary when the glass presents an immediate danger to your family or pets. Rinse it thoroughly outside to remove all the glass shards.
  • Inspect about 15 feet of the space surrounding the place where the glass broke to cover all the bases. Glass can shatter into hundreds of pieces and spread across a large area, so it’s smart to look around. A flashlight can be useful to find smaller pieces you may miss otherwise.
  • Wear thick work gloves while you’re picking glass shards up by hand. If you’re removing broken glass from the carpet, wear protective eyewear to prevent the glass shards from bouncing up into your eyes.
  • Clean off the shoes you wear while cleaning up the glass before leaving the cleanup area. Brush off the soles and uppers with a cloth or brush before you finish up the cleanup to prevent spreading glass to other areas.
  • Dispose of broken glass by putting it in the trash and taking the trash bag outside to your outdoor trash can or garbage pickup area. Be extra careful with larger pieces of broken glass because they can puncture a trash bag and present a hazard.

Now that you have the safety precautions down, gather your safety gear, trashcan, and cleaning tools, so you can get to work learning how to clean up broken glass the right way.

The Best Way to Clean Up Broken Glass

Like most accident cleanups, learning how to clean broken glass starts with the big pieces. Put on your gloves, and protective eyewear if you’re working in a carpeted area, and remove as much broken glass by hand as you can. Remember to inspect the surrounding area and don’t leave the area until you’re done to prevent the spreading of broken glass.

Once you’ve removed the large pieces of glass, use the how to clean up broken glass hacks below to take care of the tiny shards. You can use the following tools to get up glass from hardwood floors, counters, and even carpet. For carpet and rugs, you’ll need to follow up your method of choice with a thorough vacuuming.

  • Damp Paper Towels

Tear off about four sheets of paper towels, then layer them and fold them twice to get a square. Dampen the paper towels and press down gently on the broken glass. The thickness of the paper towels will protect your hands and the damp paper will attract tiny pieces and shards of glass. Depending on how large of an area has broken glass, you may have to repeat the process several times. When you’re done with the paper towels, roll them up into a ball and throw them in the trash.

  • Bread

You can also use bread to remove glass shards from counters, vanities, and similar surfaces. The moisture in bread and its soft texture make it an ideal tool for getting up shards of broken glass. Use a bread slice like you used the dampened paper towels, but be careful to not press too hard to avoid injury.

  • Raw Potato

Try cutting a potato in half and use both halves to trap broken glass and get it off your floor or counter. Press the flesh side of the potato on the broken glass, but don’t rub back and forth or you could end up with scratches. Throw away the potato halves when you’re done and wipe away the starchy residue with a damp cloth.

  • Tape

The adhesive on duct tape and packaging tape can pick up even the tiniest pieces of broken glass, much like a lint roller picks up lint. The easiest and safest way to use tape to clean up broken glass is to wrap the tape around a work glove you’re wearing with the sticky side out. Pat the glass shards with the back and palm of your hand until you get up all the glass.

  • Vacuum Cleaner

Vacuuming glass can fall outside the manufacturer’s warranty or general use recommendations, but if you have broken glass on carpet or rugs, a vacuum may be the only option. A shop vac is ideal, but since you’ve removed all the larger pieces of broken glass, the tiny pieces that remain shouldn’t cause any harm to your vacuum. To get deep down into the carpet or rug fibers, use the crevice tool. After vacuuming, clean out the container or replace the bag.

The next time someone drops a glass or breaks a mirror, you’ll be ready because you know how to clean up broken glass the right way. Be prepared for all your family’s messes with our other housekeeping how-tos. When you need an extra hand around the house, The Maids is standing by! Get a free estimate and find out how you can enjoy a clean home more often without all the work.

How to clean Broken Glass


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