Can You Vacuum Glass Shards? In Some Cases...
Author: Anne Cowart | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
When you drop glass, the second thought you have is "can you vacuum glass shards?" We all know what the first, panicked and disappointed, thought is.
Everyone has been there; that moment when a glass object falls, practically, in slow motion, but there’s no stopping gravity. The horrible sound of shattering glass is followed by the consciousness of danger when you find yourself surrounded by shards of tiny, glittery slicing hazards scattered around your bare feet.
Whether you’re accident-prone, spontaneously unfortunate, or now burdened with the concern of seven years of bad luck, the truth is accidents involving glass happen.
The instinct is to clean up the glass quickly before anyone gets hurt. However, impulses to grab your upright vac might lead you to make the situation worse. So, the question is can you vacuum glass? But before we answer that, there’s something more pressing first.
Is it Safe to Vacuum Glass? Practice Safety First
When you find yourself in the eye of the aftermath of a glass storm, it’s imperative to practice safety first. Safety is always of the highest importance and emphasis.
If you are barefoot, climbing or jumping your way to safety is the first thing you must do. If you're bleeding, you must go through first aid before cleaning up the floor. If you are currently scratch-free, the primary goal is to stay that way.
Walking on glass or sweeping it up with a bare hand doesn’t end well for anybody, so the first thing is first. Grab safety gear to handle the cleanup.
- Lace Up: Put on full-coverage shoes before walking around the area of the accident.
- Cover Skin: Depending on the radius of the broken glass, it might be necessary to put on pants and a long sleeve shirt before cleaning.
- Rubber Gloves: Using rubber gloves can help reduce glass from ending up in your skin or slicing your hands.
- Glasses: Not to be confused with the broken kind on the floor; putting on eyewear can protect your eyes from tiny shards and glass dust during the cleaning process.
- Use a Brown Paper Bag: Brown paper bags are much more durable when collecting broken glass.
Using plastic bags when cleaning up glass can end disastrously if the glass slices the bag. The paper bag can still cut through, but it takes more pressure than slicing through a trash bag.
Can You Vacuum Glass?
It’s complicated to give a one-word answer when it comes to vacuuming glass. Yes, you can vacuum up glass, but the real question is, should you?
Never try to vacuum up large pieces of glass. If you can see the pieces and you can pick them up by hand, then that is precisely what you need to do. Using a dustpan and brush on a hard surface is another excellent way to protect your hands from the large hunks of glass, but the dustpan and brush aren’t the best options on a carpeted floor.
After all the big pieces are up, using the vacuum to suck up the rest is possible, but there are some stipulations you should know before plugging in the upright.
Glass Can Cause Damage to Your Vacuum
Shards of glass are dangerous to your well-being as well as the vacuum. Big pieces of glass should never be sucked up because it can cause the glass to break more and shoot farther across the room. Glass is sharp, and some pieces can be sharper than others. Glass has been known to slice hoses, break brushes, jam rollers, and seize units altogether.
Size doesn’t matter when it comes to glass and your types of vacuums. But, unfortunately, even the mighty, tiny shards of glass have the power to damage the quality of your vacuum.
Older Vacuum Models
Older vacuums have disposable bags to collect the debris. However, vacuuming up the glass with an older model can potentially cut the bag causing it to break.
Glass can also rattle around, getting trapped in areas that are important to the integrity of the unit running properly. For example, the motor can seize if glass debris gets caught in the fan.
Newer Vacuum Models
Newer vacuum models have a much better survival rate when it comes to vacuuming up glass. However, there is still a probability that damage can occur. For example, small pieces of glass can possibly crack the canister when being sucked up with such force.
Another issue happens if glass particles get trapped in the air filter. The glass can cut through the filters, making them ultimately useless and permitting poorer air quality.
Industrial Vacuum Models
Shop vacs are the ideal choices when it comes to vacuuming up glass. Glass shards could still potentially cut hoses or get trapped in unwanted places, but the probability is much lower. Manufacturers have taken extra measures to reinforce hoses and use pleated filters to prevent sharp objects from ultimately damaging the filter.
How to Safely Clean Up Broken Glass with a Vacuum
Let's say you put a glass in the freezer for an ice cold beverage. You pull it out and it immediately slips from your hands. The safe way to use a vacuum to clean up glass is by cleaning up as much glass as possible before plugging in the unit. Can you vacuum broken glass? Yes, but there's other things to do first.
Pick Up By Hand
Cautiously, pick up all large pieces by hand first. Then, discard the pieces into the paper bag, but be sure to avoid dragging the bag as you move around the floor. It can cause damage to the bag, spread glass particles around the floor, and in the worst case, scratch the floor's surface.
Dustpan & Brush
Next, grab the dustpan and brush. At this point, you should only see tiny shards that were too dangerous to pluck up with your fingers. Protecting your eyes is vital since the brush can flicker glass farther than you intend. Finally, empty the dustpan particles directly into the paper bag.
Suck It Up
Once it looks like the glass is all cleaned up is when it’s the perfect time to break out the vacuum. Can you vacuum glass? As you already know, it doesn’t matter if it’s old, new, or industrial. There is always a risk when vacuuming up glass. However, by doing the first two steps, you’ve reduced the probability of breaking the vacuum by a lot.
Use the vacuum on a roller-brush-free setting if possible. That feature will keep the glass fragments from being pushed and kicked around. Also, keep an eye out for cords and hoses so they don’t move any glass dust or shards around while cleaning.
Wrap it Up
Once you finish running over the area, ensure glass isn’t stuck on brushes or rollers. Lastly, remove the vacuum bag or empty the canister and dispose in the brown paper bag. Take the paper bag to an outdoor trash can immediately. Those bigger trash bag sizes tend to be sturdier too, resisting tearing and cutting.
Wipe With a Wet Cloth
Most glass breaks will leave very fine particles that can end up in your feet. You may notice them weeks into the future, even after sweeping and mopping, when light glistens off them. A damp paper towel, folder over several times for your protection, can pick up these tiny shards and "glass dust".
Alternative Glass Shard Cleanup Methods
You made a goof and tried to microwave glass. Now you have a mess to deal with. Can you vacuum borken glass? Yes, but if you are nervous about using your vacuum to clean up the glass, there are a few alternatives to use after the steps of picking up the glass by hand and using a dustpan.
Using tape to pick up the glass is a great way to get up a lot of glass with minimal effort and danger. The tape will collect most of the shards. However, you might need to repeat the process to get all the glass remains.
A piece of slightly damp bread will collect rouge shards very nicely off the floor, but wet bread gets sloppy, so you must work quickly. Although, you might need to vacuum up the crumbs. You can try cutting a raw potato in half as well and pushing it down on the glass.
Wet Paper Towel
Wring out a wet paper towel and then open it up to collect the glass debris from the floor. It will pick up a lot, but get another damp towel when needed. Do not try to wet and reuse the same towel.
So, Can You Vacuum Glass Shards?
Any kind of glass breaking inside the home is not a favorite thing to have happen, but it does happen. So, when it does, you now know the proper steps in cleaning up the scene and if you should use your vacuum during part of the cleaning process.
Can you vacuum glass? In newer vacuums or with shop vacs, yes. You can with older ones with bags but it gets tricky. By adding in a few extra steps, you’ve reduced the probability of hurting yourself or your vacuum cleaner when picking up broken glass.