Glycans have essential roles in biology and the etiology of many diseases. A major hurdle in studying glycans through functional glycomics is the lack of methods to release glycans from diverse types of biological samples. Here we describe an oxidative strategy using household bleach to release all types of free reducing N-glycans and O-glycan-acids from glycoproteins, and glycan nitriles from glycosphingolipids. Released glycans are directly useful in glycomic analyses and can be derivatized fluorescently for functional glycomics. This chemical method overcomes the limitations in glycan generation and promotes archiving and characterization of human and animal glycomes and their functions.