The Best Ways to Clean Up Broken Glass (Without Cutting Yourself!)

published Apr 26, 2017
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Broken glass can be a pain in the you-know-what — especially if it was filled with something (what a sad waste of Pinot!). To pick up the shards (without drawing blood) and any former contents, follow this advice.

1. You really should protect your hands and feet.

The first step to cleaning up broken glass is to pick up the large pieces — carefully. And you shouldn’t do it bare-handed: Protect your hands with a thick towel, a heavy rubber glove, or even an oven mitt. And please put on shoes!

“People think they will be able to see all of the glass, but more often than not, the little glass shards that are overlooked are the pieces that end up in your feet afterwards,” warns says Shawn McNamara, the owner of The Maid Crew.

2. Those broken pieces belong in the trash.

Technically, you can still recycle broken glass, but not in your regular bin (the workers could get cut!), so you’d have to call donation centers to see who takes broken glass. That’s a lot of work for one shattered cocktail glass — unless you wanted to start a little collection and empty it once a year or something.

If you’re throwing the shards away, first put them into a paper bag and put that into your trash bag. This way, the pieces won’t slice open the bag.

3. You’ve gotta bust out the vacuum.

Don’t use your full-size upright vacuum unless you can turn off the beater bar (the part that rotates on the bottom), or you could scatter the glass even further. Instead, use a handheld vac or the hose attachment.

If the thing you broke also had liquid in it (a jar of pickles, for example), sweep the glass and the puddles into a dust pan and then go over the area with a sponge before you vacuum. (Just rinse off your broom afterward!) Note: Do not use a vaccum that’s not rated for picking up wet stuff, because then you’ll also have a broken appliance on your hands.

4. You can turn to your pantry for help.

Even after a really careful sweeping and vacuuming session, there can still be some pesky bits that just don’t want to come up. Enter: a cut potato or a slice of bread. Press the foods over the area and the glass will stick right into them. These hacks are especially good for a hard-to-reach area or a confining space like inside a fridge, says McNamara. If you’re not down with wasting the food, a damp sponge, microfiber cloth, or wad of paper towels will do the trick. Ditto for a lint roller or masking tape wrapped sticky-side out around a rubber-gloved hand.

5. You should be careful!

This goes without saying (and we kinda did already with the first tip) but, please be careful! No one wants to take a trip to the ER tonight.

Do you have any extra-awesome tips for doing away with a broken glass?