Sometimes, things happen that are completely out of your control — and they may involve broken glass. Whether it’s a lawnmower throwing a rock through your kitchen window or storm debris taking out multiple panes at once, you need to know how to clean up broken glass to prevent someone in the home from suffering an injury.
Following the right steps when cleaning up broken glass is important for your safety. There is a risk of small pieces scattering beyond your reach and view, posing a hazard to bare feet or paws. Learn what you need to clean up glass safely using a vacuum and other tools, how to treat accidental cuts and grazes, and your options for window replacement.
It’s important to find the cause behind the broken window. If someone broke your glass accidentally, they should be alerted for liability purposes in case of serious injury. You may also want to make an insurance claim or have the offender pay for the damage.
If a child from the neighborhood throws a ball or other object through your window, letting them know provides a valuable learning opportunity. The choice to inform their parents is yours, but it helps to let them know, especially if you’d prefer they pay to replace the window.
The culprit may also be someone within your household. It’s easier to address it with them promptly in this case, especially if a child is responsible.
If the window was broken due to strong wind or other natural causes, alert your insurance company and have a qualified window replacement contractor assess the damage immediately.
First, don’t panic. That may be easier said than done if you have kids, grandkids or pets around — especially if they’re in the room when the window breaks — but you must try to maintain your composure to deal with the issue effectively. When calm, you can evaluate the situation and take the necessary steps to proceed.
Once you’re ready, follow these steps to deal with the broken window safely.
If you’re not alone, you should first clear the room of people and pets. Children should tread carefully or be carried out of the room if they’re barefoot. If a dog or cat is nearby, carrying or gently guiding them out to safety may be best. If you receive visitors during this time, advise them of the situation and ask them to wait in another room until you’ve cleared the area.
Any moveable furniture and larger items should be pushed out of the way, leaving you with a clear view of the glass. Use a flashlight to inspect areas where glass could have flown and scattered, like beneath fixed counters and in dark corners. Be sure to check surfaces like countertops and furniture for glass shards that could have landed on them.
If there are still glass fragments in the window frame, avoid touching it or trying to remove it yourself due to the danger of serious lacerations. Instead, call a professional window replacement company to assess the damage and remove the shards that are lodged in the frame. They will have the necessary knowledge and tools to do the job quickly and safely.
Once you’re ready to proceed with the cleanup, you’ll need a few items to help you gather the glass shards from the floor so you can dispose of them safely. While gathering the glass fragments, wear closed-toe shoes. For additional safety, wear goggles or other eye protection if you’re going to get down on the floor for a thorough inspection.
Depending on the extent of the damage, the items you’ll need to pick up the broken glass may include:
This list may seem extensive for what appears to be an easy task, but the broken window’s dimensions and the resulting pieces’ size may mean you have to take extra steps to pick up tiny fragments.
If you don’t have all the items, prioritize using what you do have on hand to deal with the glass. Later, you might consider putting together an emergency kit in case you deal with an incident like this in the future. Compile the main items on this list and store them safely for easy access.
The first step in cleaning is protecting yourself from cuts by wearing protective plastic gloves when handling the glass. Thick dishwashing gloves should do the trick, but if you happen to have cut- or abrasion-resistant gloves, they’re even better for the job.
Gather all the big, visible shards you can see immediately with a broom and dustpan. Use your hands or kitchen tongs to collect pieces that won’t fit on the dustpan surface. Dispose of these as soon as possible, preferably in a recycling bin intended for glass. Use newspaper to protect your knees if you need to get down to inspect the floor — it will provide a little cushion and prevent the glass from sticking through your clothes.
Fortunately, you can vacuum broken glass if the pieces are small enough. Use a vacuum for pieces that would be risky to handle by hand or harder to sweep up with the broom. This measure will help ensure no fragments are left behind. You might need to move furniture to reach any glass remnants that may have scattered underneath.
When removing the glass, ensure you’re inspecting the entire floor with a flashlight after each pass — the light glinting off the glass will let you know which areas need more attention. Glass shards can be hard to miss and easy to pick up, especially by tiny feet. Go over hard-to-reach areas repeatedly to ensure you don’t miss any pieces.
If you see splinters and other tiny pieces you can’t pick up with the broom or vacuum, you could use other practical household items as adhesives to help collect them. These include:
Regardless of the type of adhesive you choose, it’s important to remove splinters immediately to keep your home’s occupants safe. Any glass that’s been picked up should be thrown away promptly using a secure container.
Always double-check the entire floor area for fragments, using your flashlight and examining the surface from multiple angles. Only remove your gloves once you’re completely satisfied that no remnants are left.
Depending on the floor’s surface, you’ll approach your cleaning methodology differently.
Flooring surfaces like hardwood or vinyl tend to scratch if too much pressure is applied when removing glass. If your floor is hardwood, sweep up the shards until you can’t see any pieces left, then carefully use a handheld vacuum to get to the rest. An upright vacuum will work for open spaces, but it might be too big and bulky to reach any glass underneath a table or other obstacle.
Once you’ve vacuumed, inspect corners and other hard-to-reach areas by shining a flashlight to see if splinters remain. If you can reach them, use any of the adhesives previously mentioned to gather what’s left. You can also wrap adhesive around a broom handle to get to tight spots rather than using your hand.
Removing glass fragments from the carpet might be trickier because they tend to get stuck between the material’s fibers. You’ll need a strong vacuum to reach any glass trapped down in the pile. To be sure you’ve removed everything, use an adhesive like duct tape to press and lift any small glass splinters so you can dispose of them safely. If necessary, try the same method of wrapping adhesive around the broom handle to pick up smaller shards you can’t reach.
If you’re uncomfortable with having an open hole where your window should be, you could try closing it up while you wait for the window replacement contractor. Depending on the time of year, a temporary solution might be necessary to keep your home at a comfortable temperature and lessen the chance of insects making their way indoors.
You could try any of the following suggestions to temporarily conceal the window:
These suggestions may be unsightly, but they help prevent prying eyes from looking in and drafts and wind from entering your home. Thankfully, you shouldn’t have the patch up too long before professional help arrives.
Once you’ve dealt with the situation at hand and removed the glass shards that could pose a risk — hopefully without needing medical attention — you’re left with a gaping hole in your wall that needs to be addressed with something more permanent than cardboard. Fortunately, Renewal by Andersen offers speedy service and has numerous window replacement options to choose from:
We know what a headache it can be to deal with a broken window. While you’ll want to pick up the pieces right away, you don’t have to handle the rest alone. We prioritize keeping your home and family safe, so we’ll rush to assist when you need us.
Renewal by Andersen has been trusted with superior window installations for over a century. We are proud of the professional, reliable service our expert installers and entire team offer and stand by the outstanding quality of each replacement window.
When you choose us, you’ll benefit from a fully transferrable limited warranty on parts and installation. This is uncommon in our industry and a sign of our confidence in our product and reputation for quality. Call us at (510) 214-4134 or contact us online to help you choose a replacement window and get your home back to normal as soon as possible.