Can You Vacuum Glass?


You’ve made a nasty, and dangerous, mess with a broken glass. Your first instinct is to reach for the broom, but is that really the best option? What about your vacuum? It’s certainly more efficient than a broom. However, that raises the question: can you vacuum glass?

The answer to that question is: yes, but. There’s a few very important details you need to consider before you depend on your vacuum to suck up glass.

Can You Vacuum Glass?

Unfortunately, the answer to that very question comes with a very small asterisk, “Yes, but.” There’s several factors that come into play such as brand and type. Not all vacuums are created equally. Some vacuums use a disposable bag while others have a reusable container.

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What does that mean for you? Well, let’s say your vacuum uses bags. After some time, those bags need to be disposed of, unlike a reusable container. Unfortunately, those same bags aren’t exactly tough. If you vacuumed glass, you run the risk of piercing the bag and causing some serious damage to your vacuum. For reusable containers, that’s less of an issue.

Then there’s brands. Believe it or not, brands have pre-approved surfaces. It’s possible to have a vacuum that uses reusable containers, but is not approved to vacuum surfaces. On that same note, you could have a vacuum that uses bags, but is still approved for vacuuming glass. You see how difficult it is to answer the question? It boils down to the type and brand of vacuum you own, and viewing their pre-approved surfaces.

How to Vacuum Up Glass

So, let’s say your vacuum is approved for the job. What do you do? It’s by far the most effective and, quite frankly, only way you can pull glass from your carpet. And it just so happens there’s a particular technique that works for vacuuming up glass. Here’s how:

1. First, you need to evacuate the area of pets and children, and then block the area off. Preventing more accidents is key.

2. You then need to examine the area. What surface are you dealing with: carpet or flat?

3. If it’s a flat surface, like wood or tile (and so on), then you can skip using a vacuum. You don’t need it. However, if it’s carpet, you definitely need a vacuum. Glass is almost surely embedded in your carpet.

4. Put on a pair of thick-soled shoes, preferably boots. Slip on a pair of heavy-duty gloves (View on Amazon). You certainly don’t want to cut your hands, nor step on a piece of glass. And if you do, immediately seek medical attention.

5. Pick up the very large chunks, being mindful not to step on glass. The goal is to avoid grinding the glass into a fine, breathable dust.

6. After the larger junks are clean, it’s time for the vacuum. Now, you don’t want to start in the middle, right where the impact occurred. Instead, start on the outside of the zone and vacuum in a circle.

7. After circling back, vacuum the affected area in every direction. This will ensure the fibers of the carpet are swept back and forth, pulling up any hidden pieces of glass.

8. Examine the area for any leftovers. If you don’t feel comfortable that you got all the pieces of glass, by all means vacuum again. Repeat steps 5 through 7. There’s nothing wrong with being thorough, especially if kids and pets are present.

How to Sweep Up Glass

Let’s say you’ve dropped glass on a flat surface—wood, tile, linoleum, what have you. What do you do then? Well, that’s when you forgo the use of a vacuum and stick to a broom, dustpan, and bread. Yes, you read that right. Grab a loaf of bread.

1. First, evacuate the area and make it free of children and pets. Block off the area to prevent anymore accidents.

2. Slip on a pair of thick-soled shoes and heavy-duty gloves. This is to prevent glass piercing your feet or cutting your hands. Safety first!

3. Start with the largest pieces of glass first. Be very mindful not to step on glass. In doing so, you could end up grinding the glass into super-fine particles. It isn’t something you’d want to breathe in.

4. Once the large pieces are disposed of, grab your dustpan and broom. Your instinct would tell you to start in the middle, but that is not the case. Instead, start from the very edge of the impact zone and sweep into the middle of it. Do NOT move the pile of glass that exists in the middle.

5. After you’ve swept up as much as you could, grab your loaf of bread. It doesn’t matter what kind of bread, so long as it’s soft. The small amount of moisture will help.

6. Take a slice of bread and dab the floor, then turn it over. See the fine shards of glass embedded in the bread? That’s why bread is great for glass cleanup!

Tip: Don’t randomly move about the floor. Instead, dab the floor back and forth in rows and columns. Even if you don’t see glass in that area, do it anyways.

7. Dispose of the slice of bread. Do not flip it to use the other side. A single slice should take care of about a 2.5-square-foot area.

If you don’t want to waste bread, you can swap it for wet paper towels. It’s essentially the same thing with moisture being the key component. Simply wet the paper towel, preferably two squares per use, squeeze gently so that it isn’t dripping wet but not too hard that you squeeze all of the water out. It’s important water is present. Perform steps 6 through 7.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, it’s safe to say yes, you can vacuum glass but only if your vacuum is pre-approved for it. That’s going to take you viewing your vacuum’s manual or on the manufacturer’s website. If you are out of options, renting a wet vacuum from your nearest hardware store is the perfect alternative since they’re usually designed to handle heavy-duty accidents.


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