Getting Broken Glass Out of Your Carpet

by Carolanne Strong
(last updated December 17, 2012)

I will admit that I've broken my share of dishes in the past, and each time I do I find myself humming that Annie Lennox song from the early '90s, Walking on Broken Glass, while I clean it up. Walking on broken glass is used in that song as a metaphor, but if you don't clean up properly and thoroughly, it could become a painful reality.

Safety is a priority in cleaning up broken glass, so keep people away from the danger zone. Depending on the glass that was broken and how hard it hit, shards and slivers can travel several feet, so give the area a wide berth. Also, make sure you are wearing shoes and heavy rubber gloves before you start your cleanup. You may also want to consider wearing glasses, sunglasses or safety glasses when you are down on floor level, because carpet fibers can fling small pieces if they are moved the right way, and you want to protect your eyes from airborne glass shards.

After you've donned your cleaning apparel, grab two leftover plastic shopping bags and place one inside the other. This step makes it less likely that the glass shards will slice through and fall out. Pick up the visible pieces and place them in the shopping bag. Tie off the bag and throw it in the dumpster.

Next, pull out your vacuum and thoroughly canvas the area. If your vacuum has a brush control option, turn it off so that the revolving brush doesn't scatter more than it suctions. If your vacuum doesn't have this option, you may want to use the hose instead.

Pick up the miniscule leftovers using duct tape by placing the sticky side down and sweeping it over the area. Start outside and work your way inside so that you don't cut up your hands and knees while you are on the floor. If you'd rather not kneel, you can strap some tape to the bottom of your shoes and walk around, just make sure that the sticky side is facing the carpet. Treat the used duct tape strips the same way you did the glass shards by carefully disposing of them.

Keep in mind that tiny pieces may surface over time so vacuum the area regularly for several weeks and don't walk barefoot over the area until you are certain that it is glass free. Also, if you are trying to clean up a fluorescent bulb break, please note that such bulbs contain mercury and are regarded as hazardous waste and the Environmental Protection Agency has special guidelines for clean up and disposal that can be found on the Agency's web site listed below.

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