6 Tips to Clean Up Broken Window Glass
Act quickly to mitigate injuries from broken window glass. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Gary B. of Annandale, Va.)
Dealing with broken window glass is a situation that no homeowner or apartment dweller wants to go through, but accidents do happen. For anyone dealing with a window that has been broken or shattered, there’s not only the issue of handling a mess that could prove to be dangerous but dealing with the matter of replacement.
Bits, shards and chunks of broken window glass can be sharp and dangerous, so refer to these steps to get started with a safe cleanup:
1. Call a glass repair service
Start by calling a local glass repair company. The faster you get the broken window replaced, the less you'll have to worry about insects, elements or water entering your home through the broken window. Check references and get quotes from at least three companies.
2. Assess the mess
If the window is cracked or only partially broken, inspect the pane and surrounding frame to assess whether or not the window is stable as-is. Be especially careful around unstable or unsecured broken glass that may fall.
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If the window shattered, try to determine how far the glass scattered to evaluate how big your cleanup area will be. Look for glass shards or particles behind furniture, within cushions and on top of furniture surfaces — not just on the floor.
3. Secure the area
Cordon off the area with chairs or furniture to make sure no one accidentally steps on broken glass. Make sure everyone is aware of the incident.
4. Protect yourself
Wear close-toed shoes and heavy gloves, such as leather lawn and garden gloves,if available.
5. Secure the window
If a glass repair company is not immediately available for emergency service, you'll want to secure the window. If the broken pane has left a large hole, or fallen out of the window frame completely, the best way to protect your home from the elements is to cover the window or window frame with a piece of plywood at least as large as the window.
If large shards of glass still protrude from the window frame, it may be safer to use a gloved hand to snap off the shards to prevent injury as you secure the window.
If you don't have the tools or a sheet of plywood handy, the next best option is to cover the window with a heavy tarp. If the broken glass hasn't fallen out of the window — such as a long crack or series of cracks in a large picture window — and no plywood or tarp is available, taping the crack using duct or gaffer's tape can temporarily secure the window.
6. Clean up broken glass
Double-bag all the loose glass in trash bags and place them immediately in the garbage. When cleaning up after a window or mirror that has been broken near tile or hardwood floors, sweep and then vacuum slowly and carefully to avoid pulling a shard under the wheel of the vacuum and scratching your floors.
If the glass was broken around carpeting, you face a trickier task. First, wearing protective gloves, pick up the most visible pieces then vacuum the carpet. Next, use a small scrub brush to agitate the carpet fibers. Afterward, use a piece of tape to pick up smaller shards. Be sure to test the tape out on an inconspicuous area to ensure that it doesn't damage your carpet.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on Dec. 8, 2011.