Can You Vacuum Glass? A Quick Guide

By
Jeneva Aaron
Jeneva is the founder and CEO of thehousewire.com where she provides honest and objective reviews on home and cleaning products. She is a cleaning enthusiast. She got inspired to build her own cleaning blog when she realized how cleaning can make an impact on our lives and how a cleaner home can affect a person's mood.
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Updated April 1, 2022

Smashed glass? Give it a pass! (And not with your vacuum…)

Can You Vacuum Glass? A Quick Guide

When you break something in the kitchen, it’s hard to sweep up all the tiny glass shards. And if you’re not careful, the broken glass on the floor can hurt your feet or your pets’ paws.

So, how do you pick up all of the glass shards? Can you vacuum glass?

The standard answer is “no.” When the suction pulls in pieces of glass, the glass fragments can damage the inside of the appliance.

However, some manufacturers, such as Dyson, say you can safely vacuum small shards. So keep reading to see which vacuum cleaner models are okay to use!

Why You Can’t Vacuum Broken Glass

Basically, because you can destroy your vacuum cleaner.

And when you break a glass, you want to make sure you pick up all the tiny shards. Because otherwise, you can cut your feet or hands, or hurt your pets’ paws.

Likewise, picking up glass shards piece by piece is dangerous.

So, you might want to take out your vacuum cleaner to pick up the broken glass.

However, glass can damage your vacuum, just like it can hurt you. When vacuuming glass, the sharp edges can scratch the vacuum hose, fan, bag, or other parts of your machine.

Here are some of the things that can go wrong when vacuuming glass:

  • Bigger pieces can get stuck in the hose or tubing, and then the suction won’t work properly.
  • And glass shards that are much smaller can get stuck in the fan or motor, in addition to the hose.
  • If you have a bagged model, glass can rip open the vacuum bag so the debris falls out.
  • And even if you have a canister model, glass can still scratch up the inside of the unit.
In sum, most vacuum cleaners shouldn’t be used for vacuuming broken glass. In fact, pieces of glass can even damage a shop vac.

Especially if you’ve spent a lot of money on a high-end vacuum like a Dyson, you don’t want to ruin it by picking up glass shards.

Therefore, definitely don’t vacuum up big pieces of glass. But for smaller shards, experts are divided on whether it’s safe or not.

Small glass shards are typically 1-2mm in size, and these tiny pieces are really hard to sweep up and hard to see. So, using a vacuum would be really handy.

What Manufacturers Say

It’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t vacuum broken glass.

But it’s so tempting!

So, what do the vacuum cleaner manufacturers say? Well, we talked to the makers of the top modern vacuums to see what they had to say.

This is the question we asked: ​​”I broke a glass earlier and was wondering if I could use my vacuum cleaner to vacuum the tiny shards?”

And we asked this same question about regular household vacuum cleaner models and shop vacs. Keep reading because the answers might surprise you!

ManufacturersCan You Vacuum Tiny Shards of GlassConsequences
DysonYesN/A
TinecoDry vacuum: yes
Vacuum mop combo: no
Tiny shards will hurt the machine
SharkNoSucking shattered glass might damage the hose
BissellVacuum mop combo: NoN/A
VacLifeNoThe filter and the dust cup may be scratched by the sharp items
EurekaNoIt will cause issues/damages (no details)
iRobotYesIt will cause damage (no details) and void the warranty
DewaltNoIt will cause damage (no details) and void the warranty
MieleNoIt can puncture or tear the bag, break or jam brushes, ruin the air filter or damage the motor and/or the fans
Shop VacYesIt can cause blockage in the hose and rips
DreameNoIt will cause damage (no details)

Dyson

For this brand, you can vacuum glass. Just make sure they’re tiny pieces of glass.

We confirmed this via chat conversation with a customer service representative.
Dyson answer chat

Tineco

In our chat with Tineco, the representative said that cleaning up broken glass with a vacuum is okay as long as it’s a standard dry appliance.

However, you shouldn’t pick up broken pieces with the vacuum-mop combo models. By vacuuming glass with one of those, you can break the mop function.
Tineco answer chat

Shark

When we emailed Shark, we received this response:

“Thank you for your email. We are glad to answer your questions in regard to this use that you wish to give to your Shark vacuum. In this case, we do not recommend doing this in the case that your robot has a hose located in the product. Sucking shattered glass with your unit might damage the hoses this might have.”

While we asked about vacuum cleaners in general, they responded about robot vacuums specifically. But regardless, we expected this answer.
Shark answer email

Bissell

We also sent Bissell an email, and we got this answer:

“Unfortunately, the BISSELL Crosswave is not designed to suction the broken glass. Please rather use a broom with a dustpan. “
BISSELL Answer email

VacLife

As well, VacLife responded to us by email. They said the following:
Vaclife answer email

“We don’t suggest you use the vacuum cleaner to suck up the sharp objects, including the broken glasses. Because the filter and the dust cup may be scratched by the sharp items. Perhaps you can use the fetch the broom and sweep the broken glass first. Then use the vacuum cleaner to do the deep cleaning again to make sure that there is no shards left.”

So, if you have a VacLife model, you should sweep up large pieces. But you can use the appliance to clean up the tiny remaining pieces.

Eureka

According to Eureka, vacuuming glass in any amount can damage your machine. They said this:
Eureka answer email
“Thank you for contacting Eureka Customer Care. In regards to your inquiry. We would not suggest vacuuming any sharp objects to avoid any future issues/damages. If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to let us know.”

iRobot

For iRobot, the answer is a little unclear. It sounds like you can pick up the broken glass, but you might hurt your brushes.

This is what they said:
iRobot answer email

“Thank you for contacting iRobot Customer Care. I will do my best to answer your question! You can clean the shards, yes, however, you are risking damaging your brushes, as they are made of rubber. Coming in contact with glass, even small pieces, could still damage them. I hope I provided you with a satisfactory answer. Let me know if you need anything else in the future, or have additional questions, I would be glad to help!”

Dewalt

When we emailed Dewalt, they connected us to Alton Industries, their licensed partner. This is what Alton Industries wrote:
Dewalt answer email
“We don’t recommend you use your vacuum to pick up glass shards. Damage will occur and void the warranty.”

Miele

If you own a Miele, customer service does not recommend picking up glass because you can puncture vacuum bags or other parts of the machine.

Here’s their email:
Miele answer chat
“I understand you would like to know if you can use your vacuum cleaner to vacuum up tiny shards of glass. I would be happy to help. I am not sure what vacuum cleaner you have but generally speaking we would not recommend doing so, as this could puncture or tear the bag, break or jam brushes, ruin the air filter or damage the motor and/or the fans. I hope this helps.”

Shop Vac

For these models, vacuuming glass shouldn’t be a problem. Just follow the advice about checking the hose attachment.

This is what they said:
Shopvac answer email

“As long as they are small you should be fine. just check and make sure the there are no blockage after use in the hose this can cause rips.”

Dreame

Dreame’s website specifically says not to vacuum glass at all, including the tiny pieces.

We Vacuumed Tiny Glass Shards – Here’s What Happened

Even though we knew there were risks, we wanted to see what would happen if we did vacuum glass.

For our challenge, we used two bagless vacuums: a Dyson V11 and a Shark Navigator. Also, we tested the models with the brushes attached for the full experience.

What Happened

Before we did anything else, we made sure to clean the vacuum brushes and canisters thoroughly. That way, we could get a good comparison before and after.

Next, we cleaned the floor so that nothing would interfere with the glass shards.

Then, we broke a glass.
We broke a glass
We picked up the biggest pieces with a brush and dustpan, leaving only the microscopic ones on the floor.
Picked up the big pieces

Finally, we used both vacuums in several passes.

Dyson Vacuum on glass shards

Dyson Vacuum on glass shards

Shark Vacuum on glass shards

Shark Vacuum on glass shards

And for both vacuums, we could hear the small chips of glass going up through the tube.

But the Dyson was really loud, and the Shark was really soft. Therefore, it felt like we were damaging the Dyson, but the Shark could easily suck up the shards.

After that, we turned off the machines and took them apart to see what happened to the insides. Luckily, we didn’t see any damage to the canisters, fans, motors, or brushes.

dyson brush after vacuuming glass

dyson brush after vacuuming glass

Results on Dyson

Results on Dyson

Shark brush after vacuuming glass

Shark brush after vacuuming glass

Results on Shark

Results on Shark

However, the transparent plastic of the Dyson felt fairly thin, so we thought it could scratch easily. On the other hand, the Shark felt sturdier because the plastic is thicker.

As to the brushes, they came out unharmed. And there was no glass stuck in them.

This was a big risk because both models use expensive technology, but they were okay. The Dyson head ended up being dirtier than the Shark one, but that was all.

Our Takeaway

While we got lucky, we could have severely damaged the vacuum cleaners. So if you want to pick up glass, only suck up the smallest pieces.

Since the glass is strong enough to scratch plastic, it can do even more damage inside the machine.

Also, if the manufacturer says to avoid glass, don’t vacuum it up! In addition to voiding your warranty, you could do permanent damage to the appliance.

What to Do Instead of Vacuuming Glass

So you don’t break your vacuum, here’s what you can do instead.

  • Sweeping is always a good first step. That way, you can remove most of the pieces. For wet or damp messes, use a paper towel.
  • When you’re done, make sure you shake off the broom head into a cardboard box or paper bag to get all of the glass off. And then throw everything in the trash can.
  • However, sweeping won’t pick up everything! It will get all the big pieces, but there can still be fragments you don’t see. Therefore, you want to take one more step.
  • Use duct tape, a lint roller, or a damp paper towel to go over the floor. Any shards that are left on the floor will stick to that.
  • And to be extra sure you don’t hurt yourself, wear protective gloves when you do this.

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