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For as long as there has been glass, people have been dropping it on the floor whether accidentally or intentionally. Everyone has, at one point, pushed a glass off the edge of a table or kitchen counter and watched helplessly as it shattered on the floor. Apart from the sense of loss, you still have to handle an overwhelming mess on the floor, which is also dangerous.
Most people are tempted to reach out for the vacuum cleaner, but is it safe to vacuum broken glass? If not, what alternatives do you have? The simple answer is no. Vacuuming broken glass can damage the motor, fan, and even the filters of your cleaners. However, this does not completely rule out the idea of vacuuming glass. You can do it as long as you ensure your vacuum cleaner is protected, and follow the necessary steps, which will be highlighted to avoid damaging your vacuum.
Read on to find out why it could not be a good idea to use a vacuum on broken glass, precautions to take if you use a vacuum, and learn the several alternatives of cleaning broken glass without vacuuming.
What Is Likely To Happen When You Vacuum Broken Glass?
Experts advise against using a vacuum cleaner (see my reviews) to get rid of broken glass because it can damage your vacuum cleaners. Ideally, this depends on the size of the shattered pieces of glass. Bigger pieces can damage your machine, and it is best to sweep them off with a broom and vacuum the smaller pieces. Even then, you can only use the hose and not the spinning brush. The spinning brush will make the glass fly around and scatter in the room, creating even a bigger mess.
Thus, it is better to avoid vacuuming. However, if you must vacuum, at least follow the guide below.
How Do You Safely Vacuum Broken Glass?
First, whenever you have broken glass, consider safety first. Get children and pets as far away as possible to avoid further uncalled for messes or accidents. Ensure that you are protected too by putting on thick-soled shoes.
Start by sweeping land collecting most of the glass using a dustpan and brush. If you have thick gloves, put them on and use your hands to collect the bigger pieces of glass. Once you have swept up the bigger pieces and even mopped up any liquid that may have poured on the floor, you may still have smaller pieces of glass left on the floor.
At this point, it is safe to vacuum the remnant glass following the steps below.
- Check to ensure your vacuum’s hose is not partially blocked. It could be dangerous and hard unblock it with glass shards in it.
- Do not use the main floor head of an upright vacuum or the rotating brushes. As already mentioned, they will only scatter the glass all over the room.
- Start the vacuuming on a low power setting. This will keep any damage to the minimum should you pick up a big piece of glass by mistake.
- Once you have covered the entire area, you can do a repeat job on full power this time.
- If you are using a cyclonic cleaner, empty the glass out quickly to avoid scratching of the plastic chamber as air rotates in it.
How Do You Clean Broken Glass without Vacuuming?
As already mentioned, vacuuming can work, but it is advisable. Thus, there got to be other ways to clear up this mess. Here is a systematic guide to help you deal with it.
- Get the area clear-as mentioned already, you do not want to add more mess than you already do. Get the children and pets away from the ‘accident scene’. Additionally, lift up and remove any piece of furniture or anything near the glass pieces. You need ample space to do the cleanup.
- Personal safety– broken glass is dangerous, and it could cut deep into your body. Before you attempt the clean, ensure to put on rubber gloves and shoes. If you do not have gloves, use forceps or tongs to pick up the larger pieces as opposed to using bare hands. Additionally, take care not to kneel around the area with broken glass as it could cut your knee.
- Start by removing the big shards one by one– when glass breaks, you will have glass pieces of different sizes. Start by picking out the bigger pieces individually as you place them in a plastic bag or wrap them up in a newspaper.
- Sweeping– use a broom or a small brush to sweep the remaining pieces as you remove them with a dustpan. However, keep in mind that some tiny shards of glass can remain the broom’s bristles. Thus, be advised to shake it off properly, or dispose of the broom.
What Other Options Do You Have For Safe Glass Cleanup?
Sweeping may not get rid of all the sharp fragments of glass. Thus, you may need other means to clear off the glass shards completely. Here are four household items that you can use for safe glass cleanup.
A few slices of white bread can make an excellent sponge to remove any shards remaining after clearing off the larger pieces. Simply take a slice and press it against the glass shards. The glass pieces will stick to the bread due to their moistness and softness. Once the bread becomes hard to hold safely, throw it in the dustbin, and get another piece. You will repeat this process until you get rid of all the glass shards, especially in the hard to reach spots.
- Dump Paper Towel
Take a paper towel and fold it a few times to give it some thickness. Dampen it and wipe down the area with broken glass. Throw the towels away once you finish collecting the pieces. With this method, remember to put on gloves to avoid cutting yourself. You can substitute damp paper towels with disposable wet wipes.
Wrap some masking or duct tape around your gloved hand with the sticky part facing outwards. Start dabbing the area with broken pieces. The glass shards will stick to the adhesive. Once done, carefully unwrap the tape carefully and throw it away. Repeat the process with a fresh tape several times until you are sure the entire area is clear of all shards.
- The Potato Trick
Get a raw potato, cut it into two, and press the tuber against the area with glass shards. The shards will pierce and stick into the flesh of the spud. The moisture will make even the smallest pieces to stick to the potato. Once done, throw away the potato and wipe up any remaining starch with a damp cloth.
For this trick, you can use any root vegetable but potatoes are the best because they have a larger surface area, are easy to grip, not to mention being more affordable.
What If the Glass Breaks On the Carpet?
Broken glass on a carpet needs more care when removing it. The procedure would be the same as already outlined above, but the final process needs a vacuum cleaner.
- The first step will be clearing the area by getting rid of furniture, pets, and children.
- With your protective gear on, proceed to pick up the bigger pieces by hand.
- Once you remove any visible shard, you can now use any of the above-discussed technique, preferably the duct tape trick. Remove as much glass as you can with the duct tape.
- At this point, any remaining glass if any must be very tiny, thus safe to remove with a vacuum cleaner.
- Plug in the vacuum and engage the hose attachment. Move the hose through different angles on the carpet to access areas where glass shards have launched in deeper.
- As you vacuum in all directions, be keen to hear the sound of glass pieces as they are sucked in the vacuum. If there are no more sounds, then you know there no more glass shards left on the carpet.
- Turn off the vacuum and throw out its bag.
Additional Glass Cleanup Tips
When glass breaks, it shatters much farther than you may think. Thus when cleaning, check areas even as far as 15 feet from where the glass broke. Additionally, move the nearby furniture to ensure there are no hidden pieces underneath.
If you are using a broom, the glass can cling onto the bristles. Remember to clean it thoroughly, or better still, throw it away afterward.
If you vacuum the glass, remove the vacuum bag and put it in the garbage. Remember to clean the soles of your shoes too as they might have some glass shards stuck underneath.
Apart From Glass, What Else Is Unsafe To Vacuum At Home?
Glass is not the only item that is unsafe for a vacuum. Since home cleaning is an everyday activity, you never know what you may be dealing with tomorrow as you use your vacuum cleaner. Thus, we thought it appropriate to share some of the items that should not get near your vacuum cleaner.
- Water– unless you are using a wet-dry vacuum like this, never vacuum water or anything wet. Doing so will have moisture trapped inside the machine, which may lead to mildew growth and even electrical failure.
- Makeup– makeup spills are tragic, and vacuuming them will only create more mess because the vacuum brush will smear it deeper into the carpet. and even if it is sucked in, it may melt while inside, and you will have more mess to deal with.
- Cords– surely, you know that you cannot vacuum cords because they will end up shredded and tangled.
- Coins– small and heavy items such as coins do not go so well with the vacuum’s motor. They can damage the small parts in your vacuum.
- Ashes and fine dust– normal household vacuum cleaners are not meant for fine particles such as ash. Such can get the cleaner clogged.
- Long hair– you cannot clear a heap of hair all at once using a vacuum. It can clog up the vacuum or get wrapped around the brush, hindering it from working properly. The best thing to do is sweep off the hair with a broom and use a vacuum to clear off the remnant.
If I used a towel to clean broken glass, can I wash it in the washing machine?
The glass shards can damage the washing machine. To be on the safe side, shake off as much of the shards as you can and rinse off the towel in a sink.
Will a Vacuum cleaner get rid of all the broken glass?
First, when dealing with broken glass, you do not use a vacuum from the beginning. Explore all other means such as handpicking tie bigger pieces, sweeping with a broom and probably the potato trick. You can then use your vacuum for the final touches.