6 Ways to Remove Broken Light Bulb from Socket

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How to Remove a Broken Light Bulb

Two Parts:

Broken light bulbs are tricky under any circumstances, but especially when you're trying to remove them from a stubborn socket. Rather than calling in for help, you can quite easily manage to remove the bulb on your own using a few different household items. With a few safety precautions taken into account, you'll be broken-bulb free in no time.


Preparing to Remove the Bulb

  1. Turn off the power breaker.The absolute must-do first step of removing a broken lightbulb is making sure that it is completely disconnected to all power. Head to your breaker box, and turn off the corresponding breaker with the room your broken bulb is located in.
  2. Test the power.When working with electricity, it is best to double (and even triple!) check your power source before beginning a project. Start by turning on/off the light in the room you shut the breaker down for. Light is not always an indicator of power though (and if the only bulb in the room is broken, it might not be an indicator at all), so you should check the power with a non-contact voltage detector.
  3. Grab some safety gear.When working with broken glass and electricity, you should always wear rubber gloves; gardening or dish gloves work fine. You may also want pliers with a rubber handle, and a cloth for grabbing any broken pieces of glass.

Using Multiple Methods of Removal

  1. Try using needle-nose pliers.It is generally considered the easiest to remove and clean a broken lightbulb using a pair of regular needle-nose pliers. Use the pliers to twist the metal part of the bulb in a counter-clockwise motion. The metal may tear off in strips, but this should actually make it easier to pull out. If there is any broken glass still attached to the bulb, you can use the pliers to keep your hands safely away or to pull out the glass before touching the rest of the bulb.
  2. Use a wad of duct tape.It may sound strange, but you use duct tape for everything else, right? Cut a long piece of duct tape, and roll it back on itself to create a sticky wad about the size of your broken light bulb. Stick the wad into the center of the bulb and apply a bit of pressure, and then turn the bulb counterclockwise. Any remaining glass should stick to the tape, all while giving you a better grip/a bit of leverage on trying to pry out the metal bottom half.
  3. Use a dry bar of soap.Soap has been recommended as the easiest means to remove a broken light bulb by some, but it may require a bit of cleanup afterwards. Simply push the soap up into the broken bulb; the glass will harmlessly become stuck in the soap, and the soap will give you a means to twist the base. Spin the soap/bulb counter-clockwise to remove it from the socket. You may need to wipe off any soap residue that remains after taking out the glass.
  4. Try using a potato.The old housewive’s trick of using a potato to pick up broken glass works well in this scenario. Halve a potato, and then stick the raw side into the broken light bulb. The jagged edges will stick to the potato, preventing it from cutting you. Continue twisting the bulb counter-clockwise to remove it from the socket. You may have to wipe up any potato juice left behind with a clean, dry towel when finished.
  5. Use a piece of cork.Although not everyone has a large piece of cork on hand, if you do, you can use it for removing your broken light bulb. Hold the cork up to the bulb and apply pressure so that the rough edges of the bulb stick to the cork. Then, simply remove the bulb as you normally would by twisting the cork/bulb base in a counter-clockwise direction until the bulb pops out.

Community Q&A

Unanswered Questions
  • How about a bayonet lightbulb though?
  • Have a bathroom fixture above the sink with a really stuck broken bulb. Tried everything from potatoes, needle nose players, heavy duty gloves. Humidity was high in bathroom year round.
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  • Always dispose of any broken glass or bulbs appropriately after removal.


  • Be careful, as you may encounter small splinters of glass when removing your broken bulb. Never remove your gloves until the project is finished. In case the broken bulb is at ceiling level, you will need to be even more careful and protect your eyes adequately from glass splinters, in this case it is best to use safety goggles or some alternatives easily available in most households, as diving masks or skiing goggles.

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Debby Malone

Mar 16, 2019

"It was extremely helpful that there were different methods on how to remove the broken bulb. The needle nose pliersdidn't work. I then tried the cork method, and within seconds it was removed! Thank you!"

A. Swanson

Jan 7, 2019

"Broken light bulb for the light under the microwave (above the stove). Looked online and used the cork idea to getthe problem fixed! Thank you!"

Jenifer S.

Oct 4, 2019

"This gave me several courses of action to take to safely remove the broken bulb."
Rated this article:

Sherry Jensen

Jul 26, 2019

"Night light broke; the cork fit perfect to remove the metal stem."
Rated this article:

Curtis Smith

Jul 12, 2019

"I can quickly learn what I need to know from here."

Patricia Williams

Mar 6, 2019

"Thanks. This had lots of options.

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