How to Dispose of Broken Glass

How to Dispose of Broken Glass in the UK

Broken glass is an awful thing to need to clean up. Not only does it tend to shatter into millions of pieces, but they get everywhere too. Regardless of the type of glass that has broken, it does need to be dealt with quickly, carefully, and thoroughly.

Missing even a tiny shard of glass or disposing of it badly can cause serious injury, so it is worth making sure the job is done properly, rather than risking ending up waiting for stitches in A&E.

Dealing with Broken Glass

Before getting started, you will need:

  • Rubber gloves (as thick as possible!)
  • Newspaper or a cardboard box
  • Hoover
  • Cloth
  • A slice of bread or a damp paper towel
  • Binbag
  • Multi-purpose cleaner

Tools for Dealing with Broken Glass


Step 1: Protection

Glass can be dangerous, so first and foremost you need to make sure that you adequately protect yourself. Make sure you are wearing proper shoes and wear a thick pair of gloves. You will also need to keep kids or pets out of the room too.

If a pet or child was in the room when the glass broke, take the time to check them for injuries and to ensure that no stray shards of glass are caught in their fur or clothing.

Step 2: Pick Up the Glass

Make sure your newspaper or box is ready to go. If you are planning to use a newspaper, open it up, but keep sheets together so it is nice and thick. If you are using a box, make sure there are no holes or gaps that glass could fall through.

Carefully pick up the large shards of glass with your gloved hands and place them in the box or on your newspaper. Check the floor in the whole room – broken glass has a nasty habit of getting everywhere. If the glass was broken near a doorway, check the next room or the corridor too.

Check under tables, chairs, appliances. If the glass broke in the kitchen, check underneath the fridge door, under the edge of ovens, washing machines, and dishwashers.

Step 3: Hoover

The next step is to thoroughly hoover the room. If there is any spilt liquid, clean this up with some paper towels first.
Avoid using a broom or a brush attachment with the hoover as the tiny fragments of glass can get stuck in the bristles, and just end up on the floor again the next time you use it.

Step 4: Wipe Down the Area

Even the most powerful hoover and thorough cleaning job can leave shards of glass behind. To get these stragglers, wipe either a fresh slice of bread or a damp paper towel across the floor. Any remaining shards of glass will stick to it, and then you can simply dispose of your material of choice with the rest of the glass.

Step 5: Disposal

Once you’ve cleared all the glass up, carefully wrap up the pile (if using newspaper) or seal the lid of the box with tape. Regardless of your method of choice, place the entire thing in a plastic bin bag, along with your rubber gloves and any other cleaning materials you used.
Make sure that you use a bin bag for this and not a carrier bag – many carrier bags have small holes in, and glass can easily fall through.
You can then dispose of the bag in your general waste bin.

Step 6: Residue

Once you’ve cleaned up the glass, you can properly tackle any nasty stains or residue left behind from the spill. If the broken glass was on a hard surface, you can tackle this with some multi-purpose cleaner and a damp cloth.

If the spill was on either a carpet or upholstery, mix up a solution of carpet (or fabric) cleaner, dab the stain, wipe with clean water, and pat dry. In this case, it is best to use disposable paper towels or kitchen paper in case any glass dust is still caught in the fibres.


What About Recycling?

Most glass jars and containers are recyclable, and most of the UK does have easy access to this service, however not all local authorities will accept any kind of broken glass, simply because it can be dangerous.

When in doubt, either give your local authority a call (especially if you have large amounts of broken glass) or dispose of it carefully in your regular waste.