Can You Vacuum Glass?

When accidents happen, and glass shatters, the first instinct may be to reach for your trusty vacuum cleaner to speed up the clean-up process. However, the question arises, “Can you vacuum glass?” This article aims to shed light on this query and provide safe and efficient alternatives for cleaning up broken glass.

Can You Vacuum Glass?
Can You Vacuum Glass?

Understanding the Dangers of Vacuuming Glass

A vacuum cleaner, especially a household model, is not designed to handle sharp, hard debris like broken glass. There are several reasons why vacuuming glass is not advisable:

Potential Damage to the Vacuum Cleaner

Vacuum cleaners are designed to handle dust, dirt, pet hair, and small debris. Glass shards, however, are sharp and could potentially cause harm to the internal components of the vacuum. They can puncture the dust bag or the plastic dust container, damage the vacuum hose, or even reach and harm the motor. This damage could lead to decreased efficiency, or in severe cases, total breakdown of the vacuum cleaner.

Safety Hazards

Glass shards pose a significant safety risk. If the vacuum is not capable of fully containing the glass, the shards could potentially be expelled from the vacuum’s exhaust or get stuck in the brushes, resulting in injury.

Effective and Safe Ways to Clean Up Broken Glass

Since vacuuming glass is not recommended, it’s crucial to know safer, alternative methods for cleaning up broken glass:

  1. Picking Up Large Pieces: Always start by carefully picking up the larger pieces of glass. Wear thick gloves to protect your hands and slowly collect the fragments.
  2. Using a Broom and Dustpan: Once the larger pieces are removed, a broom and dustpan can be used for smaller fragments. Ensure to clean the broom thoroughly afterward as shards can become lodged in the bristles.
  3. Using a Damp Paper Towel or Bread: For tiny glass shards, a damp paper towel or a slice of bread can be gently pressed onto the area. The moisture helps pick up and hold onto the minuscule pieces of glass.
  4. Taping Small Fragments: If a damp paper towel or bread isn’t available, transparent tape can also be used. Simply press the sticky side onto the floor to pick up the shards.

Using Shop Vacuums for Glass Cleanup

If vacuuming is necessary, consider using a shop vacuum or a wet/dry vacuum, which is designed to handle larger and sharper debris than a typical household vacuum cleaner. Remember to clean the vacuum thoroughly afterward to ensure no glass remains that could cause harm later.

The Importance of Post-Cleanup Safety Measures

Even after carefully cleaning up, there is a possibility that some minute shards of glass could be left behind. These shards may not be immediately visible to the naked eye, but they can still cause harm. It is important to take additional post-cleanup measures to ensure safety.

Checking Footwear and Clothing

After cleaning up broken glass, ensure you check your footwear and clothing for any stuck shards. Walking around with glass fragments stuck to the soles of your shoes can inadvertently spread the glass around your home, posing a risk to others, especially if there are children or pets in the house.

Rechecking the Area

It’s wise to revisit the area of the broken glass after some time and do another sweep. Using a flashlight, especially from a low angle, can highlight small shards you might have missed initially.

Notifying Household Members

Ensure that everyone in the house, especially children, are aware of the broken glass incident. Ask them to be careful and report if they find any missed shards


While vacuum cleaners offer an efficient method of cleaning up everyday dust and debris, they are not designed or suitable for cleaning up broken glass. The risk of damage to the vacuum cleaner and potential safety hazards outweigh the convenience. Instead, safer methods such as manual pick-up, using a broom and dustpan, or damp paper towels can ensure an efficient and safe cleanup process. Remember, when dealing with broken glass, safety should always be your priority.