How to Clean Broken Glass

By July 19, 2017Tips
how to clean up broken glass

Oh glass…the splinters, the shattered pieces that scatter and roll across the floor, the carpet, into nooks where they will be forgotten until threaded upon.

Glass can be extremely tricky and tedious to say the least. The damage depends on the thickness of the item broken in many ways, if too fine it is usually smashed to smithereens whilst the thicker it is the item has more of a chance of staying rather intact – think double-glazed windows as opposed to single-glazed.

Sometimes cleaning glass is an easy enough job, but what about the really shattering moments of the fine glasses? Of moments when you’re not sure if you should be worrying about the stains, the price of the item or its sentimental value?

Many of these moments are accidental – wine accidentally knocked off the table, not being saved by the carpet but still managing to stain it as it falls to the floor and that’s another wine glass laid to rest. How about the perfume bottle that just had to topple off the side of the cabinet. That empty beer bottle that missed the recycling bin – these things happen.

This blog aims to deal with the common questions asked when it comes to cleaning broken glass from around the house. Should it be vacuumed? What should one do to remove all those shards? What about the broken window pane or the broken glass in the dishwasher?

Things to keep in mind

It’s really a matter of safety – no harming any fingers, toes or paws for that matter.

Breaking glass is especially worrying if you have animals and kids at home, apart from the fact that you simply don’t want a piece of glass in the sole of your foot.

If you’ve always picked up glass using your hands or a broom and brush you know that some shards always remain.

This is how to do it. The moment a dish, lightbulb, ornament or figurine falls to the ground you have this under control…just leave the vacuum in its cupboard.

The method

Safety – always wear shoes and if possible garden gloves

Be sure to go over the whole surface area – you never know how far the glass has spread

  • Pick up the large pieces and put them to one side to dispose of

Your call – you can use either of these methods depending on the area of your spill:

  • Grab a piece of bread and pass it over the area so that you can pick up the shards, try not to press down too hard or you’ll flatten the bread and the shards will come right through. The porous surface of the bread acts here as a sponge
  • Dampen pieces of kitchen towel paper, this will pick up the last pieces and it’s easy to fold the towel up and throw it away
  • Use a raw spud (potato), simply cut it in half and press it against the broken glass pieces
  • Some people use a slippery bar of soap, but then this leaves smudges so it’s definitely not the first option
  • Masking or duct tape work just fine as well, be sure to use the widest and thickest type you have
  • If the glass has actually broken on your carpet, lint rollers work well
  • Deal with any stains left behind from the contents of the glass (if there are any)

Finish off by giving the whole are a good wash too and any carpets a vacuum – just in case 😉

What about the dishwasher

This could reasonably speaking be your worst nightmare – a glass could slip from your hands or it could bang against any metal utensils or pans in the dishwasher…anything could happen.

Instead of spending hours contorted, fishing out the pieces of glass this method might help you do the job quickly and with more grace.

The Spud Method – is the way to go

If above it didn’t seem like the way to do things, when it comes to your dishwasher it seems to be the best method as it guarantees you won’t hurt yourself.

  • Start by turning off all the lights and shine a flashlight at the bottom of your (cleared-out) dishwasher
  • Wear thick gloves
  • Take half of the raw potato and run it over the glass shards, in such a way they will become embedded into it

Lastly, run the dishwasher on an empty cycle to get rid of any smaller bits that remain.


Broken Window panes

A hurled ball, a brick, you possibly had to break into your own house…well, maybe.

A broken window might mean that you need to go down to your repair centre but the for a single-glazed wood sash you can easily replace the glass yourself.


-Wear gloves and safety glasses


-Take the window sash out and lay it down on a straight surface

-Cover the broken glass with a rag

-Tap with a hammer to loosen the shards

-Take off all the putty: using a painter’s tool, soften any putty that remains by passing a heat gun back and forth (cover the other frames with aluminium foil first so that they will not crack)

-Prep the rabbets by prying the metal glazing points out of the rabbets, scrape and sand to the bare wood. Then brush an exterior primer onto the bare wood

-When the paint dries knead a handful of putty, pressing it into the rabbets and filling them completely

-Bed the glass by placing the (new) pane into the putty while applying even pressure till 1/8″ of the putty remains between the face of the glass and the rabbet – if any voids show under the glass take the pane out, add more putty and start again

-Set the points, so at the centre of each side of the pane, place a glazier’s point flat on the glass and fit the tip of the putty knife against the point’s raised shoulders. Rock the point back and forth until it is seated into the wood (for every 12″ the points should be 4-6″ apart). Roll a handful of putty into a long rope ¾” in diameter. Place this rope against the exposed rabbets. Smooth the putty out starting from the corners, leaving a neat crease in the corner and then collect the access

-Fine-tune and remove any excess materials as required.

What to do with the broken pieces

If you enjoy embarking on DIY projects with odd bits and bobs, then there is a variety of things you can create with broken pieces of glass.

If the glass is thick and significant enough in size then you can easily create magnets out of these very pieces. This idea is especially beautiful if you are working with coloured broken glass.


  • sand paper, magnet, sharp knife, plastic bag and glue


  • make sure to smoothen the edges of the glass down, to get rid of those sharp edges and also give the pieces a matted effect, which is quite pretty
  • cut the flat magnets using the knife, into the shape of your pieces of glass and there you have it!

You can also matte the pieces and use them as decorative pieces around the house or in your vases.

If you’re into mosaics create your very own mirror or mirror-frame. This will look unique if you’re using transparent or coloured glass pieces.

A narrow glass-mosaic pathway in the front or back garden will look amazing, albeit slightly slippery and you will need vast amount of large flat pieces of glass. Around the fireplace mantle broken glass artwork will reflect the flames wonderfully.