Knowing how to clean up broken glass is crucial, as it poses serious risks if not handled properly. Mastering a safe and efficient cleanup method can prevent injuries and save time. In this article, we’ll share a tried-and-true technique to handle shattered glass confidently and safely.

Before You Begin: Important Tips 

  • Clear the Area. Get all children and pets out of the area as soon as the glass break happens 
  • Sweep First. Use a broom or dust pan before the vacuum so you don’t damage the vacuum and break open your vacuum bag 
  • Inspect Regularly. Monitor the area that had all the glass pieces for at least 24 hours, checking to see if you missed anything

How To Clean Up Broken Glass 

To clean up broken glass, you really have to take the process slow. Rushing into this can cause tiny shards to spread around the area or even get stuck in your hands and feet. Take my word for it, slow down, assess the situation, and go through this process step by step. 

What Should You Use To Clean up Broken Glass?

  • Thick gloves or rubber gloves 
  • Sturdy box or plastic container
  • Vacuum cleaner with hose attachment
  • Duct tape
  • Dustpan and broom 
  • Damp paper towel

Step 1: Prepare the Area

Whether you are dealing with a broken window, a wine glass, or glass plates, you need to first prepare the area and assess the situation. If there are kids or pets, close doors to the affected room. Wear flip flops or shoes—socks won’t be enough. Grab a pair of heavy gloves to ensure you don’t get glass caught in your hands, and wear them throughout the clean up process, even during disposal of the glass.

Step 2: Start With The Largest Pieces 

Start with the largest shards. Prepare a cardboard box or sturdy container, as glass can tear through a plastic or paper bag. Sweep up big pieces with a dustpan. While you can pick up large chunks by hand, exercise caution. Avoid sliding your hand on the floor; use kitchen tongs to safely collect pieces without touching them.

Step 3: Vacuum the Area

Once you’ve picked up the large glass pieces, proceed to vacuum the area. Avoid vacuuming larger pieces of glass to prevent damaging the interior of your vacuum ripping through the vacuum bag. If glass is embedded in carpet fibers, spend extra time on it. Use the hose attachment instead of running the entire vacuum to avoid scratching floors or damaging the carpet.

Step 4: Duct Tape 

After vacuuming, use duct tape to pick up the small pieces. Wrap a piece of duct tape around gloved hands and gently pat the affected area. If the glass broke on carpet, pat lightly to avoid pulling out carpet fibers.

Step 5: Wet Paper Towels 

After removing visible broken pieces, dampen paper towels and wipe the area, keeping gloves on for safety. I would not use bare hands here. While some prefer cloths, I recommend paper towels for easy disposal with the glass in a cardboard box. A glass covered cloth can be dangerous and messy to deal with, if you want to keep the cloth.

Step 6: Final Vacuum 

By now, all the glass should be cleared. However, I’ve occasionally found stray pieces days later. For peace of mind, I recommend a final vacuum to ensure it’s safe to walk on barefoot.

Step 7: Monitor the Area 

Monitor the area where the glass broke for at least 24 hours. While large shards are noticeable, smaller fragments can be elusive. For safety, especially with pets or children, keep them out of the area for at least a day until you can do one more check.

Can I Vacuum Broken Glass? 

Vacuuming is a great method for cleaning up broken glass. However, before you start vacuuming, make sure that you pick up a few pieces of the larger glass shards, as these can damage your vacuum. 

Vacuum broken glass when the glass pieces are smaller than ½ inch in size. For cleaning a larger glass break like broken windows, you may want to use a Shop Vacuum

Tips for Disposal of Broken Glass 

  • Always dispose of broken glass while wearing gloves 
  • Check local regulations and ensure that your garbage bag or box is labeled “hazardous waste” if glass is considered hazardous in your area
  • Do not put glass in regular curbside bins to protect sanitation workers. Double-bag, label it, and set it aside or consult with the workers for proper disposal
  • Contact a cleaning professional if you want to double-check on the best practices for broken glass disposal


Britt Olizarowicz