How To Remove A Light Bulb Stuck In A Fixture – Stuck Bulb Help And Tips

Light bulbs are made of glass, and glass breaks fairly easily. When it happens, it’s definitely a headache – but there are ways to deal with it and fix it without too much hassle!

I’d love to help! Here I’ll show you how to remove a light bulb stuck in a fixture. Read on to learn more and get that stuck light bulb out and get on with your life.

Before you remove a lightbulb

Light fixture preparation - turn off socket power

Before you even try to figure out how to remove a light bulb stuck in a fixture, you should always make sure you’re able to fully cut power to the light source. Whether it’s a lamp, ceiling light, floor light, or some other fixture it needs to be cut off from the power supply right off the bat.

That’ll make it safe to work on your light fixture and keep you from getting shocked while trying to remove the leftover bulb parts.

For lamps and other light fixtures with a power plug, remove them from the wall outlet. Cut the power at the main breaker to ensure there is absolutely no electrical voltage & power supplied to the light if it’s not a lamp or device that can be totally unplugged from its current power supply.

Inspecting the area

Once you’ve got the light in question disconnected from all power sources, you’ll want to check the surrounding area for hazards. A thorough check will make sure that there isn’t any broken glass scattered around from where the bulb blew or broke when you tried to remove it.

Blown bulbs can send glass flying quite a ways away from the fixture. That’s why you’ll need to make sure the area is safe to work in before you get too involved in changing the bulb.

Special precautions

Wear close-toed shoes and thick gloves when you clean up glass shards and while you’re working on removing the bulb so you’re less likely to get cut by any of the glass. Don’t ever work where glass might be in bare feet – even if you can’t see the glass with your eyes! That’s very dangerous.

You may also want to put on some protective glasses to prevent any shards from getting into your eyes or hitting you in the face while you’re working on the broken bulb removal.

Proper glass disposal

One other safety tip for dealing with the broken glass, both during the cleanup and during the bulb removal, is to be careful with how you dispose of the glass pieces.

One way to stay safe with the shards is to use a couple of wet paper towels. It’ll help thin shards and smaller pieces stick and come up off the floor and furniture easier.

Also, going over the floor, countertops, and other surfaces with a vacuum is a better idea than using a broom. A standard bristle broom can actually scatter pieces around and is also more likely to send them into the air.

Home bulb removal

However you go about preparing to actually remove the broken bulb, you need to take whatever precautions you can to keep yourself safe while you’re working.

How to get a stuck light bulb out of a socket

Once safety measures have been set in place and certain precautions have been made, it’s now time to work on getting rid of that stubborn stuck light bulb remnant.

1. Using a light bulb remover

Examples of light bulb removal tools

You can make the job a lot faster and easier by using a standard or broken-bulb removal tool. Expect to pay around $20-$25, so if it’s within your budget it’s well worth considering.

The easiest and safest way usually to remove a problem bulb stuck in the socket is to use a specially made tool to grip the leftover bulb base and remove the remnants while keeping your hands away from the sharp edges.

A lightbulb remover can be purchased at most home improvement stores and can be adjusted to fit just about any type of fixture and bulb quickly, easily, and safely.

It’s a great tool to keep on hand beforehand as well so you’re ready for future problem bulbs. You can find a broken bulb remover for around $20 or so, depending on where you shop.

2. Using tools to get it out

Broken bulb removed with screwdriver example

Using basic tools is one common way people go about removing a broken bulb with the use of a pair of pliers being the go-to choice for most.

The more intact the bulb is, generally speaking, the easier it’ll be to remove with a pair of pliers or a similar tool. Using the pliers to grip the glass base of the filament, you’ll want to give it a very gentle twist in a counter-clockwise motion to move the bulb and unscrew it.

Using needle-nose pliers when there’s nothing to grip

If the filament/central glass filament part of the bulb ends up broken or it breaks off while using the pliers, carefully dispose of it just like you would do with the main bulb’s glass pieces.

Place the needle-nose pliers into the base of the bulb and open them wide so that two sides are pushing against the inside of the bulb. Turn in a counter-clockwise (left) movement and see if the bulb starts to unscrew after applying a little bit of pressure.

Using a screwdriver

You can also sometimes use a flathead screwdriver and some putty or clay (carefully) pushed into the base to turn it if it’s not too tightly in the bulb socket. If there’s lots of clearance room, sometimes you can lean longer screwdrivers at an angle and use it sort-of like a pry bar to rotate the broken base.

If you need to grip the fixture at all wrap it with electrical tape first to give yourself a safe place to hold.

3.  The old potato trick

Using a potato to remove broken light bulb from fixture examples

If these above-mentioned methods don’t work, you can use a potato to safely remove a broken bulb from its socket. Start by removing all glass fragments and then slice a large potato in half. Next, press it firmly into the socket.

Twist the potata/bulb leftovers counter-clockwise (rotate to the left) and the potatoes should grip the bulb and allow you to spin it free while protecting your hands. The broken base will come out, still embedded in the potato, and you can easily throw everything away.

Be sure to not use excessive force. You don’t want the potato to break apart, exposing your hand to broken glass or metal.

Bulb removal made easy

Working on removing a broken light bulb that has become stuck in the socket can be an annoying challenge and if it is not handled correctly, it can actually be a very dangerous situation as well.

Thankfully, with the right tools, the right precautions, and the right know-how you can find out how to remove a light bulb stuck in a fixture quickly, easily, and safely. Getting the bulb removed is key to getting light restored so you continue on with your work and your day but you must be ready to do it safely if you are going to attempt this at all.

James Marshall
About the author

James is a business management professional and consultant with a former background in maintenance, repair, and hands-on projects. He enjoys DIY tasks and maintenance around the home as well as part-time writing. Read more »