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What is the Best Way to Clean up Broken Glass?

By J. Beam
Updated May 16, 2024
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Cleaning up broken glass is a tedious chore that requires close attention to avoid injury. Certain types of glass create bigger messes than others when shattered, but ultimately, thoroughly cleaning up all broken pieces is necessary. Regardless of where you’ve broken the glass or what type of glass it is, you’ll want to have a few basic household tools handy and remember a few safety points.

Safety is the first issue to address. Clear the room of all children and pets, and keep them out until clean up is complete. If glass is broken in the presence of children or pets, remove them carefully from the scene and inspect them for cuts and embedded glass. Administer any necessary first aid before you begin cleaning up.

When you’re ready to begin cleaning, a broom and vacuum cleaner will provide the quickest and best results. On hard floor surfaces, sweep as much of the broken glass as you can find into a pile and carefully remove the largest pieces into a trash can. It may help to dust the area lightly with baking soda or baby powder to keep the smallest fragments from sticking to your floor or your broom’s bristles.

Because of the chemical composition of water and glass, you may find that a wet paper towel is an excellent way to collect small pieces that might otherwise get away from a broom. Wipe the surface, starting with glass bits farthest away, working in toward the center of the impact, being very careful not to handle the side of the paper towel that has been on the floor.

When the largest pieces have been removed, sweep as much as possible of the remnants into a dustpan and dispose of it in the trash can. If your vacuum cleaner has a hose cleaning attachment, use it on all surfaces where you may have previously seen any glass pieces. Remember that some types of glass can shatter and scatter. A broken light bulb, for example, can scatter pieces of glass several feet from impact, so be thorough. Using an upright vacuum cleaner on hard surfaces may cause the debris to scatter even more, so repeat cleaning with your broom or disengage the brush roller on your upright.

To clean broken glass from carpet, simply eliminate the broom and begin vacuuming after the largest pieces have been removed. After you have removed all visible traces, thoroughly vacuum the entire room and any adjoining areas. When clean up is complete, remove the trash bag or empty the bagless waste receptacle containing the broken pieces to an outdoor trash can as soon as possible.

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Discussion Comments
By anon991991 — On Aug 04, 2015

A structure fire took our garage. We lost three vehicles, a travel trailer, sheds, and everything in them. Through multiple explosions we are left with half an acre of debris in rock gravel. Any, any ideas/thoughts on how one might go about getting the crazy amount of shattered glass up from the gravel? Miracles don't count!

By anon314031 — On Jan 15, 2013

I had a deer smash right through my 11 foot window. Insurance is being difficult. Don't you feel I should worry about embedded glass in my furniture?

By bluedolphin — On Dec 20, 2012

@anon17395-- Can you just close your eyes and shake the blanket or towel vigorously outside? That's what I did before when I got broken glass pieces in my small carpet. I took it to the backyard and shook it for a long while to get it all out. Then I vacuumed it outside. It seemed to work fine.

You could also use one of those mini vacuum cleaners. Just have someone help you hold it down.

By ZipLine — On Dec 19, 2012
I usually take a plastic bag and pick up the largest pieces very carefully by hand and put it in the bag. I use a brush and dustpan for medium-sized glass pieces. For the smallest pieces, I wet a paper towel and wipe the floor with it. This process usually removes everything.

I also move furniture around a bit to get any pieces that might have gotten under.

By stoneMason — On Dec 18, 2012

Before you do anything else after something breaks, please put some shoes on! Socks are not enough and I'm speaking from experience!

By cam90066 — On Jul 14, 2012

All of these are great. One final, and permanent way to make sure all the glass is gone is to use a flashlight. If you shine the flashlight along the floor (or grass, or on a blanket, etc.) at floor level (preferably in the dark) any remaining specks of glass will glitter and reflect back. Use the sticky side of a piece of tape to grab the pieces. You can also use a flashlight to find a lost contact lens!

By anon145453 — On Jan 23, 2011

I would also love more info on how to get glass out of blankets. I heard washing in the washer is a bad idea.

By anon119073 — On Oct 16, 2010

what about getting glass out of grass.

By anon108277 — On Sep 02, 2010

How about cleaning up glass when it has shattered with a lot of liquid (water, oil, syrup, egg)?

By anon96771 — On Jul 16, 2010

I bet a sticky lint roller works really well for this, too. I'm going to try it on the glass I just dropped.

By anon36715 — On Jul 14, 2009

One of my sliding shower doors(attached to the bath tub) just shattered. How do I remove it?

By anon22552 — On Dec 05, 2008

Hey there, another thing that I just did this evening was to take duct tape and layer it over one another in a cross way fashion. about 24x24... I lay this down 3 to 4 feet outside of where I think shards have made it to be sure. Make sure you smooth it all out and pull it up. "also make sure to test the tape to see if it pulls up the finish on some hard wood floors) but it didn't on mine.

I then carefully pulled it up... then laid it all out again.. now while this may be more time consuming it works very well..

By anon17395 — On Aug 28, 2008

I'd really like information on cleaning broken glass out of blankets and towels, not just off hard surfaces.

By anon13026 — On May 18, 2008

Broken glass can also be cleared pretty well using a soft dough, this should take care of the tiniest piece of broken glass and is very safe to the hands as well.

By anon13017 — On May 18, 2008

i learned that the tiny pieces of glass can best be picked up by using a piece of bread. press a piece of bread down on the area of the small bits and the small shards will stick to the bread. remember to discard the bread safely.

By anon13016 — On May 18, 2008

amazing--very informative and practical. thank you

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