How to Clean Up Broken Glass Safely

Hand cleaning broken glass.

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 5 - 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

When a drinking glass, windowpane, or light bulb breaks, little pieces of glass scatter across the floor to an astounding distance. Not only do you have a broken item, but also a problem that must be addressed immediately, No good can come of shards of glass on the floor, countertop, or burrowing into the carpet or upholstery.

Once the accident happens, there are several steps you must take to ensure the safety of people and pets. This is not a job that can be put off until later. Learn how to clean up broken glass safely.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Broom
  • Dustpan
  • Handheld vacuum or Shop vacuum
  • Protective gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Closed-toed shoes
  • LED flashlight
  • Lint roller
  • Kitchen tongs
  • Nylon-bristled scrub brush
  • Bucket
  • Garden hose

Materials

  • Paper towels or napkins
  • Fresh slice of bread
  • Duct tape
  • Heavy plastic or paper bag
  • Newspaper
  • Potato

Instructions

  1. Clear the Room and Gear Up

    As quickly as possible, have humans and pets leave the area where the accident happened. The designated cleaner should put on sturdy, closed-toed shoes, eye protection, and thick gloves before starting the clean-up process for the glass.

  2. Use the Brightest Light Possible

    To help you see every glint of glass, turn on as many lights as possible. It is best to use a LED flashlight or the flashlight on your smartphone so you can angle it across surfaces. The glass will glitter in the light.

  3. Pick Up the Large Shards

    Wearing gloves, pick up the large shards of glass. If you don't have gloves, use kitchen tongs to pick up the glass. Never use your bare hands.

    The shards should be placed in a thick paper or triple-layered plastic bag for disposal. You can also use several layers of newspaper to wrap the glass to prevent accidental cuts in the trash can.

    Tip

    Do not kneel on the floor to pick up the glass. You could end up with glass in your knee. If you can't bend over easily, use a small step stool and sit while you pick up the glass.

  4. Sweep Up or Vacuum Away the Glass

    If the broken glass is lodged in carpet or upholstery fibers, use a stiff-bristled scrub brush to lift the glass to the surface of the fabric before you attempt to sweep or vacuum it away. Take care not to flick the shards up, or they'll scatter.

    Use a stiff-bristled broom and dustpan to sweep up as many glass shards as possible. Use short, efficient strokes to prevent the small pieces from scattering around the room.

    If you have the right type of vacuum, you can also vacuum away the glass. The vacuum cannot have a flexible hose that can be punctured by the glass. Handheld vacuums and wet/dry shop vacuums are safe to use.

  5. Use Fresh Bread or a Potato to Pick Up Shards

    Even after sweeping or vacuuming, there will still be tiny shards caught in carpet fibers, flooring joints, or tight corners. Using the flashlight, you'll see them lingering just waiting for a bare foot or hand. One way to get rid of them is with items from the pantry.

    Wearing gloves, press a slice of soft, fresh bread onto the glass shards. Be sure to dispose of the bread promptly. Or, slice a potato in half to expose the interior flesh. Press the cut side of the potato onto the glass shards to pick them up easily. Immediately toss the potato into the garbage—do not compost it.

  6. Capture the Tiny Shards With Wet Paper Towels

    Layer three sheets of paper towels or napkins and fold them into a square. Dampen and press the square onto the glass shards. They will stick to the paper towel for easy disposal.

  7. Use a Lint Roller

    A lint roller designated for pet hair removal has a stronger adhesive and will do the best job at picking up the glass. Peel away the glass-filled sheet and dispose of it properly.

  8. Trap Shards With Duct Tape

    Wearing thick gloves, wrap some duct tape around your hand with the sticky side out. Press the tape on the glass pieces and then carefully toss the tape in the garbage bag.

  9. Do a Final Clean-Up

    Glass shards may cling to the bristles of your broom or the dustpan. Take them outside and rinse well with a garden hose over a bucket. Dispose of the water down a utility drain.

    Check the bottom of your shoes for any glass caught in the treads. Remove the glass with duct tape or paper towels to be sure that no glass is tracked through the house.