Though we most commonly need to dispose of broken glass, you may also be wondering about what to do with large, intact pieces of glass that you want to get rid of but aren’t entirely sure how. Whether you’re cleaning up a shattered bottle or getting rid of an old sliding glass door, disposing of glass is easy as long as you take a few necessary precautions.

Method 1
Method 1 of 2:

Disposing of Whole Glass

  1. In the case of mirrors or glass tabletops especially, you may be able to give the object to a friend or even donate it to a charitable organization. By giving the glass away, you can get rid of it, help someone else, and keep the glass out of a landfill.
  2. Ultimately, whether or not you can recycle your specific piece of glass depends upon the area where you live. Mirrors, window glass, and other large pieces of glass have a different chemical composition than standard bottle glass, and many recycling plants may not accept them. If your municipality does accept window glass, etc., then they'll likely have a specific process for it. Contact them and follow any specific instructions.
    • This process will most likely involve taking the glass down to a recycling center since the trucks that run recycling routes aren't typically equipped for nonstandard items.
  3. If it looks like sending your glass to the dump is the only option, then you’ll want to start by contacting your area’s waste management service. Different companies will handle waste of different sizes. For truly large pieces of glass, your waste management company may not dispose of it in a single piece. You'll likely find information with weight and dimension restrictions on the company's website or by calling.
    • If they tell you you’ll need to break up the pane first, then the second method will be more suited to your needs.
  4. If your piece of glass is small enough to dispose of whole, you can trash the glass by taking steps to prepare it for disposal first. Since multiple waste management personnel will have to handle the glass, you want to help ensure that it doesn't break and become a hazard in the process. Start by covering the surface of the glass with duct tape.[1] Tape across the glass will help keep the pieces in place and limit splintering in the event that is does break.
    • Tape both the front and back surfaces of the glass.
    • The more of the surface you cover the better, but if you don't want to waste a large amount of tape, then you can simply place a large X across the front and back surfaces.[2]
  5. Use bubble wrap or even an old blanket that you don't mind discarding to wrap the glass and tape the wrapping shut.[3] This way even if the glass does break and some of it breaks free from the tape, it will still be held in place by the wrapping.
  6. Once you have the piece of glass properly wrapped, label the exterior of the wrapping, so that anyone who handles it knows to do so with a bit of care. A note as simple as "Glass for disposal" will suffice.[4]
    • Make sure the writing is both clear and large enough to read.
  7. Since throwing the piece into a dumpster would defeat the purpose of labeling it, simply place the glass beside your personal or community receptacle.[5] You should also ensure that the labeling faces outward and can be easily seen.
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Method 2
Method 2 of 2:

Disposing of Broken Glass

  1. In the instance that you actually have a whole piece of glass but it exceeds the dimensions that your waste management company will handle, you'll need to break the piece into smaller, easily disposable pieces. Place the glass down flat on the ground and cover the entire pane with an old blanket or several old towels to keep the shards in place before using a hammer or shovel to break the pane.
    • If you can also put a blanket that you don't mind throwing away beneath the glass, then you'll have a much easier time cleaning up with fewer tiny shards to worry about as well.
    • Alternatively, and if it fits, put the glass into a garbage can and break it there.
    • When breaking glass, always be sure to wear gloves and goggles or other eye protection.
  2. Whether you dropped a bottle or had to break your own large pane of glass, always put on work gloves and thick-soled shoes while handling broken glass. You should also keep kids and pets away from the area until you’ve finished the cleaning process.
  3. You should start by collecting the larger pieces of glass, and you should place them in a large trash bag.[6] Thick outdoor trash bags are preferable because they are less likely to puncture and tear.
    • In addition to using thick trash bags, you should actually place a second trash bag inside the first before you start putting the broken glass inside.[7] It’s much easier to double-bag the clean-up effort before you start rather than trying to fit a jagged trash bag inside a second one later.
  4. Once you have collected the larger pieces to the degree that you can, vacuum up the area with the hose attachment on a shop vacuum.[8] Use the hose attachment to get the entire area up to approximately fifteen feet away since broken glass can fly quite far.[9] If you use a bagless vacuum, the swirling shards will scratch the heck out of the vacuum's collection canister.
    • Make sure you use the hose attachment on a shop vac. A conventional rolling vacuum will only crush the glass into even tinier shards and it lacks the suction power of the hose.
    • Many people are tempted to use a broom to sweep up the glass instead of a vacuum, but glass shards can easily trap in the bristles of your broom only to be redistributed later. You can use a cardboard, or a cheap dollar store hand broom and throw it away with the glass.
  5. Even a vacuum can miss some of the truly tiny pieces than can nonetheless cut or irritate skin. For an easy and economical way to capture those pieces of glass dust, you can get a piece of soft bread from the kitchen and blot it face down across the area to trap the remainder of the glass.[10]
    • Though bread is the item you most likely already have in your home, other household items can work well in this case too. A halved potato, packing or duct tape, or a lint roller also work well for this purpose.[11]
    • Make sure you do not accidentally touch the area of the item with the glass stuck to it.
  6. A damp paper towel can finish the job, so wipe the area down thoroughly.[12] Also remember to wipe down the soles of your shoes to get any glass dust you may have picked up during the rest of the cleaning process.
  7. Some companies may also request that you dispose of broken glass in a solid container as well.[13] If this is the case with your waste management company, then you should also place the glass-filled garbage bags in a cardboard box, seal it, and label it broken glass.
  8. At this point, you have properly contained and labeled the broken glass, and you can simply put it into your regular trashcan or community’s dumpster.
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Expert Q&A

  • Question
    I have a number of small, medium, and large pictures which are framed and are all faced with glass. How can I dispose of these?
    Mark Spelman
    Mark Spelman
    Construction Professional
    Mark Spelman is a General Contractor based in Austin, Texas. With over 30 years of construction experience, Mark specializes in constructing interiors, project management, and project estimation. He has been a construction professional since 1987.
    Mark Spelman
    Construction Professional
    Expert Answer
    Try taking them to a thrift store.


  • Take every precaution when handling broken glass. Wear gloves, eye protection, and thick-soled shoes when cleaning up glass.
  • Make sure you keep pets away from broken glass. You may want to shut them in another room while you clean up.

About This Article

Mark Spelman
Co-authored by:
Construction Professional
This article was co-authored by Mark Spelman. Mark Spelman is a General Contractor based in Austin, Texas. With over 30 years of construction experience, Mark specializes in constructing interiors, project management, and project estimation. He has been a construction professional since 1987. This article has been viewed 310,878 times.
18 votes - 51%
Co-authors: 12
Updated: September 28, 2023
Views: 310,878
Article SummaryX

To dispose of broken glass, start by putting on work gloves and thick-soled shoes to protect your hands and feet. Then, place the bigger pieces of glass in a large trash bag, making sure that it’s been double-bagged to prevent punctures and tears. Next, vacuum up the small pieces of glass, then blot up the glass dust with a soft piece of bread, followed by a damp paper towel. Afterwards, put the trash bag in a cardboard box, and call your waste management company to ask how you should label the box before putting it out with the rest of the trash. For more advice from our General Contracting reviewer, including how to dispose of whole glass like mirrors and tabletops, keep reading.

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