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Can you vacuum broken glass?

Lime green dustpan and brush sweeping up a broken glass on wood floor.
(Image credit: Getty)

Even the most nimble-fingered of us have experienced the frustration of knocking a glass off a counter and watching it shatter to pieces at your feet. It's annoying at best, dangerous at worst, and leaves you wondering - can you vacuum broken glass?

Many glass items can quickly splinter into a thousand tiny shards, making them difficult to see and clean up. This poses a risk to anyone walking around the home, but especially to households with pets and children. This is why it's crucial to clean up broken glass as soon as possible, and effectively. 

Most of us rely on the best vacuum cleaners (opens in new tab) to tidy up debris on our floors, but these machines are big investments, so it's worth researching whether it's a good idea to vacuum broken glass. So, is it safe? The answer is if you do so carefully yes! It also depends on the type of vacuum you own, so read on to discover how to vacuum broken glass without damaging your device.

How to vacuum broken glass 

What the expert says...

Sophie Lane, Product Training Manager at Miele (opens in new tab), says, "Where possible it's best to clean up broken glass by hand. Vacuuming up large pieces of glass does have the potential to cause damage to your vacuum cleaner." So take some time to remove large shards before vacuuming! 

Whether or not you can vacuum broken glass depends largely on the type of vacuum cleaner you own, and how big the breakage is. Sophie Lane, Product Training Manager at Miele (opens in new tab), warned that "if you have a vacuum with bags, large sharp pieces of glass could puncture or tear the bag itself." And if you've opted for a bagless model, this doesn't mean you're entirely safe to start vacuuming up broken glassware. Many bagless designs have delicate filters inside that collect dust, and if sharp objects get into the mix, this could result in you having to repurchase and replace the lining. 

Using a vacuum with a hose also has a similar effect, as the glass can cause cuts in the flexible nozzle which then impacts the strength of the machine's suction. However, there are ways to reduce this impact, such as by picking up larger shards of glass that would dramatically damage your vacuum.

Sophie also noted that "if the glass broken with liquid inside, you should not vacuum it at all, as this could damage the machine." So before you begin your clean-up process, make sure there's no remaining liquid nearby!

Step 1: 

Sophie says "when it comes to cleaning glass, always think of safety first. Make sure you are wearing hard bottom, closed-toe shoes." 

Step 2: 

"Using gloves or a dustpan and brush, pick up large pieces of glass by hand. Be mindful when disposing of these large

Step 3: 

"Be careful when disposing of glass. It’s never a good idea to put broken glass straight into a bin/rubbish bag. Instead, place the broken glass in a box or wrap it in newspaper to prevent possible harm when emptying."

Step 4: 

"You can then use the vacuum cleaner to vacuum up any remaining small glass pieces. Remember to be careful when emptying the appliance!"

How to clean up broken glass without a vacuum

If you're not willing to risk damage to your vacuum cleaner, or simply don't own one, it's still easy to clean up broken glass with a little bit of care. We advise you to make sure the area is well lit and you're wearing gloves and hard shoes, as cleaning glass by hand increases the risk of being cut. 

Step 1: 

Wearing protective clothing, pick up the large pieces of glass. Place them into newspaper or tissue paper before putting this into a plastic bag - this will prevent the bag from ripping and causing harm during disposal. 

Step 2:

Next, you can move on to cleaning up the smaller shards of broken glass. You'll want to take extra care when doing this as the color and size of the pieces often makes them difficult to see. There are also a few different ways you can remove them, depending on what you have at home. 

Use tape to press down on the shards before disposing of in a bin. 

Roll a sticky lint roller across the area. This makes it easy to quickly pick up pieces in a larger area. 

Use a dustpan and brush to sweep the bulk of the broken glass up, before emptying it into a bin. This might not collect the smallest pieces, but it's good for a general clean-up. 

Step 3:

When you think the glass removal is complete, make sure to thoroughly check the area before walking around again. An easy way of doing this is by shining a light over the area or mopping the floors, just to check that no tiny splinters have been left behind. Remember to rinse off your dustpan or broom too so that no glass is transferred to the floors in the future!

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Holly is the Features Editor at Top Ten Reviews where she focuses on creating informative, how-to advice. She has a degree in English Literature and previously worked as a copywriter at Howdens, specializing in kitchens and trend-led interiors. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her exploring the best London bars and brunch spots, or planning the next budget-friendly city break. 

With contributions from