How to Clean up Broken Glass
Glass is a fragile substance, easily broken by careless accidents. Left in place, broken glass can result in painful cuts to your skin. The first step in cleaning broken glass is to protect yourself from getting cut. Once you have taken the appropriate steps to stay safe, you can use a variety of methods to clean up the glass shards and fragments.
Cleaning Broken Glass From Floors
Clear the area.If there are any pets, children, or others in the area where the glass broke, move them out of the area. Close any doors leading to the area where the cut glass is located, and block any open entrances.
- If there are any children or animals near the glass, get them out of the area where the broken glass is.
- Make sure to check children and pets for cuts and scratches.
Protect yourself.Broken glass is sharp and will cut through your skin. To clean up broken glass, make sure you're wearing rubber gloves. Always wear shoes when you're near broken glass.
- Never kneel on areas where broken glass is located. Glass could cut your knee.
- If you don't have gloves, pick up glass using tongs or forceps. Never try to pick up glass with your bare hands.
Remove the big shards individually.Carefully put each piece of glass into a empty coffee tin, or a plastic container thick enough so that the glass doesn't cut through.
- If you don't have anything that glass won't cut through, such as a plastic bag, wrap the pieces of glass into thick layers of newspaper, then put the wrapped glass into a plastic bag.
- The newspaper needs to be thick enough so that the glass doesn't cut through it, reaching the plastic bag.
Get a broom and dustpan.Once you've picked up the individual shards, you'll need to sweep or vacuum the smaller pieces from the floor. If you don't have any larger pieces, this might be your first step in cleaning up broken glass. Be sure and shake your broom well into a paper bag to release any smaller pieces of glass that might linger.
- Some experts recommend not using a broom, as tiny shards of glass can linger in the bristles of the broom. Consider trying one of the broom-less methods below to clean up your glass if you are wary of using a broom.
- Be aware that sweeping doesn't remove the small, sharp fragments of glass from most floors. Sweeping can offer the illusion that the glass is gone, when sharp fragments still remain.
- Continue to keep pets and children out of the area until additional steps are taken to clean the broken glass off the floor.
Avoid using a vacuum cleaner.Sucking up pieces of glass with a vacuum cleaner may seem tempting, but it may ruin your machine. In addition, if any glass fragments remain in the vacuum hose, they may fall back out when the vacuum is turned off.
- If the broken glass comes from a broken CFL or other mercury-containing lightbulb, then vacuuming might spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.
- If you do use a vacuum, cover the hose with a stocking or sock. The air sucking in will collect the glass fragments, and then you can carefully dispose of the glass-covered cloth.
Clean up broken glass from a carpet.If you've broken glass onto a carpeted surface, you won't be able to use the methods above. Once you've cleared the area of larger glass fragments, use a small scrubbing brush to agitate the carpet fibers. This will result in glass pieces rising to the surface of the carpet.
- When you're finished scrubbing the area well, use duct tape to lift any remaining glass pieces.
- You should carefully dispose of the duct tape in a double-wrapped plastic or paper bag.
Cleaning up Glass Without a Broom
Wipe the area with a potato.Cut a potato in half, and then press the cut tuber against the floor. Any stray pieces of glass will be caught in the potato's flesh, and you can throw the potato away.
- Any root vegetable can be used to collect glass shards from the floor, but potatoes have a good amount of surface space, are easy to grip and are relatively affordable.
- The potato also works well to clean up broken glasses inside a dishwasher. Start by shining a flashlight into the dishwasher to see where the broken glass is. When you see the reflective glint of glass against the beam, press a cut potato gently but firmly onto the shiny surface. Throw the potato away when you're finished, and run the dishwasher again to rinse away any stray pieces of glass.
Use a slice of bread to collect the glass shards.A few pieces of white bread make excellent sponges to collect any stray pieces of glass that might remain after you've cleaned the area of the larger fragments. Take a piece of bread, and press it down on the area where you suspect the broken glass is. The glass will embed itself into the soft bread.
- Bread works well in hard-to-reach spots where broken glass can be found.
- When your bread is getting hard to hold safely, throw it away and use another piece.
- Repeat until you're sure you've covered the entire area.
Clean the area with duct tape.To use this method, it's a good idea to tear off about 12 inches of duct tape. Holding each end of the tape, lay the tape against the surface where the glass fragments are found. Press down on the tape gently, as if you're trying to apply it to the surface. Then, remove the tape. Any glass fragments that had been on the floor will be stuck to the underside of the tape.
- Any tape will work for this method, but duct tape is ideal for its sturdy texture. The width of duct tape also means it will cover the surface area more quickly than other tapes.
- Fold the tape onto itself, and then throw it away into a plastic or paper bag.
- Repeat as often as you need to until the whole area is clear of glass.
Fold a damp paper towel in half.If it's a thin towel, consider folding the paper towel in half again so that it's extra thick. Then carefully wipe down the area where the glass fragments might linger, and throw the paper towel away.
- Because paper towels vary greatly in their thickness, it's particularly important to wear heavy gloves when using this method to clean up glass fragments, so that you don't cut yourself.
- Disposable "wet wipes" will also work for this method.
Cleaning Up Broken Windows
Consider if you need to replace your window.If your window is only cracked, you can use a small knife to score a small arc just beyond the end of the crack. This will keep the crack from expanding.
- If the crack is only a small hole, as from a BB gun or tiny rock, you might be able to patch it. Simply apply clear fingernail polish or shellac to the area and allow to dry. For best results, apply several coats.
- Don't put off replacing or repairing a broken window. A broken window isn't just dangerous because of the glass, but also lets in bugs, rain, cold weather, and water.
Patch the window.If the glass is broken, but still intact enough to keep out the elements, you may be able to patch it until you can replace it.Possible options for patching the window include:
- Using super glue to patch a long crack in the glass. Start by cleaning the window with acetone, then apply super glue to cover the crack. Allow the glue to dry, and then apply another layer. Repeat this process until the crack is covered with 2-3 layers of dried glue.
- Masking tape makes a good patch for broken glass. Clean your window well with acetone so that the tape will adhere to the glass, then tear off a section of tape the length of the crack. Repeat this process on the other side of the window.
- Staple a piece of wood or a piece of thick plastic against the broken window. Double thickness trash bags can also be used to cover the broken pane.
Secure the area.As with broken glass inside, you'll need to make sure no children or pets can accidentally come into contact with any shards of glass that may have fallen into the yard, inside the house, or anywhere in the environment. Make sure you're wearing heavy shoes (not sandals or flip-flops) and safety gloves.
- You can pick up broken glass with newspaper, as above. Wrap it in the newspaper and place directly into a double-bagged leaf or heavy-duty trash bag.
- Remember that glass may have fallen into furniture, shrubbery, or elsewhere.
Remove the pane from the window.You may be able to extract the broken glass from the window by lifting out each broken piece from the putty that holds it in place.
- If your window is largely intact, you might have to chisel the putty from the window's edge to remove the glass.
- Make sure you're protecting your hands and arms from the broken glass.
Remove the putty from the window frame.You can use a wood chisel, a putty knife, or even an ordinary table knife. The old putty will break into smaller pieces as you remove it. Try to get every bit of putty from the window frame, as this will help when you replace the broken glass.
- Be careful not to try to remove the putty too quickly, or you might split the window frame on the window.
- Remove the small metal triangles driven into the frame beneath the putty. These are glazier's points, and hold the glass in place.
- If you come across any putty that's difficult to remove, applying heat might help soften it.
Replace the window glass.You'll have to have a replacement glass that's exactly the same size as your broken glass, slightly smaller than the wooden frame. Hold the glass in place with one hand while you insert glazier's points into the frame to secure the glass in place.
- Glazier points should be placed about every 4 inches around the periphery of the replacement glass.
- You can press glazier's tips into the wood with your thumb.
Apply putty around the edges of the pane.You'll need to knead the putty until it's soft, then roll it into a pencil-length cylinders. Press the rolls of putty around the window frame to seal in the replaced glass.
- When the new window is in place, smooth the putty with your putty knife.
- Scrape off any excess putty on the window pane.
QuestionI used a wet bath towel for some reason instead of a paper towel. Is it safe to put the towel in the washing machine and continue using it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerShake off most of the glass and rinse it in a sink or basin to avoid damaging your washing machine.Thanks!
- You may need to call a window repair specialist if your glass is tempered, hard to reach, or hard to replace.
- Applying linseed oil to an old window frame will help keep the new putty pliable.
- Even small pieces of glass can cut deeply and cause bleeding. In addition to injury, blood will stain your carpet, your clothing, or your furniture. If you cut yourself, stop cleaning the glass and bandage your wound.
Video: How to Pick Up Broken Glass | YDIW with The Sklar Brothers
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