Broken light bulb in fixture

I've broken a decorative bulb in my bathroom light fixture. It's broken at the base. How do I get the base out of the socket?
q broken light bulb in fixture, home maintenance repairs, lighting, minor home repair
  68 answers
  • Vicki Burchett Vicki Burchett on Jun 15, 2016
    Take an potato insert in socket.

  • Patricia Barnes Patricia Barnes on Jun 15, 2016
    Yes, just use a potato. Make sure the lamp is turned off or better yet, unplugged. Cut the potato I half. Inset it over the broken bulb and twist it.

  • Rosalie chow Rosalie chow on Jun 15, 2016
    Yes I heard potato will do the trick. Good luck.

  • Sheryl Cornwell Gunn Sheryl Cornwell Gunn on Jun 15, 2016
    that's the way I do it, a potato

  • Jean Myles Jean Myles on Jun 15, 2016
    Yes a potato works like a charm for me. Make sure you turn the power off at the panel.

  • Lorna Mason-Henderson Lorna Mason-Henderson on Jun 16, 2016
    So glad everyone else is saying a potato. My husband thought I was crazy when I did this, but it worked!

  • Nancy J. Hill Nancy J. Hill on Jun 16, 2016
    Never heard of the potato trick, but I turn the power off and use a pair of needle-nosed pliers to twist it out at the base.

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Jun 16, 2016
    The very first thing you do is turn off the electricity to that part of the house. If you need a light, have someone hold a flashlight on it for you. Usually a pair of needle nose priers can be used to unscrew the base. If you cannot grip it sufficiently, try bending one edge toward the center to allow you enough space to grip it. The potato might work well too!

  • Karen lukacovic Karen lukacovic on Jun 16, 2016
    tongue depresser works like a charm. potato leaves potato mush

  • Johnchip Johnchip on Jun 16, 2016
    A potato, just don't try and save money by cooking it up later! This only works if the base is just stuck; if it is old and 'rusted in, you will need pliers.

  • Ava Lansbery Ava Lansbery on Jun 16, 2016
    I use needle nose pliers.....with power off. Potato never worked and made a mess.

    • Johnchip Johnchip on Jun 16, 2016
      Ava, were not to cook the potato first, use it raw! hehe ;)~

  • PJ PJ on Jun 16, 2016
    Turn of the power source. get a wadded up washcloth (rag) that fits snuggly into the base and turn it in the removal position, It won't shock you.

  • Jannvan Jannvan on Jun 16, 2016
    Potato is messy but a wine cork usually does the trick for me. It's a bit soft so it tacks into the bottom of the socket. Also non conductive, for a bit of extra safety, even when you have the power off.

  • Echo14612 Echo14612 on Jun 16, 2016
    Try a soft rubber ball of the appropriate size, or fashion one with clay or play dough.

  • Wanda Russell Cobb Wanda Russell Cobb on Jun 16, 2016
    I gently cross thread the base of a new light bulb into the base that's stuck in the fixture. You just barely have to get it started. Then very gently unscrew the bulb and the piece that's stuck will come right out.

  • Chris J Chris J on Jun 16, 2016
    I have a piece of stryofoam left over from a crafting project that I use for broken bulbs. It works great. Nonconductive to boot.

  • Dink Dink on Jun 16, 2016
    Turn the power off use a potato

  • Deanna.Turetski Deanna.Turetski on Jun 16, 2016
    Cut an apple then press 3/4 of the apple on the broken area and give it a twist. Voila!

  • Rich Vollnogle Rich Vollnogle on Jun 16, 2016
    if the above answers don't work get a pair of needle nose pliers and peal the bulb out. For safety trip a breaker as well as having the switch off. So long as you don't touch a side and the bottom at same time you cold do that hot but never recommended.

  • Jeanne Martin Jeanne Martin on Jun 16, 2016
    I've done the needle nose plier thing (above) when all else failed. I didn't peel the bulb out tho. I clamped the metal part of the bulb and twisted it out just like you would if it wasn't broken. It wasn't easy but it worked.

  • Carrie Carrie on Jun 16, 2016
    cut potatoe

  • Karolmeyer Karolmeyer on Jun 16, 2016
    If you do pliers make sure power is off or you have rubber handle

  • Linda Vellucci Linda Vellucci on Jun 16, 2016
    I use a wooden utensil shoved up there and turn.

  • K bain K bain on Jun 16, 2016
    I have heard that you can use a piece of bread also

  • Valerie Huber Nesbitt Valerie Huber Nesbitt on Jun 16, 2016
    Potato or apple, however, if the Styrofoam is sturdy enough, that sounds like a great idea. Shut power down always!

  • Ursula beaudry Ursula beaudry on Jun 16, 2016
    First turn off electricity, get a root vegetable that will fit in socket such as a potato or carrot, cut to fit inside socket. Push into socket firmly and twist, it should catch and pull out bulb socket.

  • Clangston Clangston on Jun 16, 2016
    Potatoes work great! Have used many times......

  • BRENDA BRENDA on Jun 16, 2016

  • Pat Pat on Jun 16, 2016
    Home Depot has an inexpensive tool that works great. Just remember to turn the electricity off first!!

  • Bobbie Littlefield Bobbie Littlefield on Jun 16, 2016
    SHUT OFF ELECTRICITY TO THE LIGHT (from the box main AND the switch). Twist off bulb. With needle nose pliers you can twist (counter clock ways as you are looking at the base) the core or, using pliers pull metal away from side and then twist out. Use a steel brush for the inside "threads" insuring they are clean and clear of sediments. Insert new bulb. Turn electric back on. If it still doesn't work, you may need to call your electrician....or if handy, replace the entire light. I would not spray WD 40 on it!

  • Jane Perry Johnson Jane Perry Johnson on Jun 16, 2016
    I always use a potato! Works like a charm, and who doesn't have potatoes in their house? Just remember to shut of the electricity...You don't want to get zapped! Good luck!

  • Linda Johnson Linda Johnson on Jun 16, 2016
    We use a cork and pliers. Make sure the light is OFF. You don't want to get shocked.

  • Judymak Judymak on Jun 16, 2016
    Just jam a potato up into the broken fixture and then unscrew. Works every time. Good luck.

  • Louise Louise on Jun 16, 2016
    a raw potatoe

  • Emmawilliams1 Emmawilliams1 on Jun 16, 2016
    When I cleaned houses years ago, seems always had or found plastic utensils. Turn off electricity!!! Put utensil end to fit and unscrew. Potato works fine, but if you are out in middle of nowhere, {no potatoes} the plastic works. good luck

  • Shiley Shiley on Jun 16, 2016
    Turn off electricity and use a bar of soap.

  • Maria Maria on Jun 16, 2016
    Needle nose pliers

  • Rose Rose on Jun 16, 2016

  • Ram6016350 Ram6016350 on Jun 16, 2016
    I've done this many times! Go to the power box in house, turn off!! Use needle nose pliers (at the top of the metal base of the bulb.) Just keep twisting----it WILL come out!!

  • Sherry Mathias Sherry Mathias on Jun 16, 2016
    Turn off the power to the house via the breaker box cut a potatoe in half and push into broke socket the twist as normal to remove it. It that doesn't work the needle nose pliers will

  • Mai4744508 Mai4744508 on Jun 16, 2016
    Turn off the power then cut the large end of a carrot and ues it to unscrew the base of broken bulb

  • Cindylou Cindylou on Jun 16, 2016
    Making sure the power is off, I've used the small handle end of a wooden spoon that fits snuggly into the base and twist it out. Works every time.

  • Sonia Wheeler-Abbott Sonia Wheeler-Abbott on Jun 16, 2016
    Turn the power off at the breaker, grab a potatoe, cut in half and jam it into the open exposed base. Then remember "lefty loosey, righty tighty". Just make sure you use something soft enough that it can be pierced and strong enough to be able to twist it out. 😊

  • Teresa Teresa on Jun 16, 2016
    You can use a potato YES a potato cut the end off so you can stick the potato into the bulb and then twist it works and you don't have to worry about electrocuting yourself. Hope it helps Teresa

  • Rosemarie Johnson Rosemarie Johnson on Jun 16, 2016
    use a potato .

    • Candy Shields Candy Shields on Jun 16, 2016
      You will fry if you don't turn off the power to the breaker box... this is dangerous as the potato contains water and water conducts electricity, turn off your breaker and then after you have done that you can use a rubber gripped needle nosed pliers!

  • Jennie Lee Jennie Lee on Jun 16, 2016
    I always turn off the power and then use a pair of needle-nosed pliers to grip the edge of the metal bulb base and turn it left to remove it. This is also a good time to tell yourself to never screw a bulb in any harder than necessary--you'll have to remove it later!

  • Ann7383201 Ann7383201 on Jun 16, 2016
    Use a half of a potato. Jam in their and twist.

  • Zoe Whitaker Zoe Whitaker on Jun 16, 2016
    We now have 2 bad ones to get out ..hubbby tried needle nose and didnt wk then he bent the metal casings trying to turn them..will a potatoe still wk?? they were really soft ..prob cheap ones from walmart

    • See 2 previous
    • Emmawilliams1 Emmawilliams1 on Jun 17, 2016
      If he bent the metal casings, that is okay...You won't be using those again...In that case , squeeze the metal casings with your needle nose pliers and unscrew..Voila.. BE SURE TO TURN OFF ELECTRICITY !!!

  • Jane R. Jane R. on Jun 16, 2016
    I've had this happen before and I agree with Jennie Lee. This is the best and easiest way to remove it.

  • CK CK on Jun 17, 2016
    Either the potato or pliers will work BUT first turn off the power at the electrical box.

  • Betsy Woolford Betsy Woolford on Jun 17, 2016
    If all else fails, take down the fixture and then remove the bulbs. There is also an electrical lubricant you can put on the threads (not in the socket) of the new bulbs to help install them. You can buy the lubricant at hardware stores or auto supply stores.

  • Sandy Hartnett Sandy Hartnett on Jun 17, 2016
    First shut down the breaker box! I would then use the needle nose again and work it until u can grab and turn. Always worked for me. Good luck...hugs

  • Kristin Kristin on Jun 17, 2016
    breaker box first, then try to catch the edges with a bar of soap and twist

  • Jennie Marie Jennie Marie on Jun 17, 2016
    Thank you all so much for your many helpful suggestions.

  • Edna Guthrie Edna Guthrie on Jun 18, 2016
    After making sure the fixture is off, shove a potato into the socket tightly and turn.

  • Kathleen Kathleen on Jun 18, 2016
    I've heard to use a potato

  • Jennie Lee Jennie Lee on Jun 18, 2016
    I should have mentioned: you can LIGHTLY coat the threaded part of the new bulb with Vaseline before you screw it in, to prevent this problem. This is especially useful in any damp place, where the bulb's base is likely to corrode, like a bathroom, basement, or an aquarium light.

  • Anna Anna on Jun 19, 2016
    I've used the potato fix with great success. Turn off the power. Screw the potato in, just like it was the bulb. The broken socket will screw right out. No muss, no fuss.

  • Emmawilliams1 Emmawilliams1 on Jun 19, 2016
    I am very "vane" ...Carry lipstick at all times...Tiny bit of vaseline works, but again, if in a fix, put lipstick on lips and lightly rub your fingers on lips, then onto the threads of the light bulb. JUST A TINY BIT. ....Don't slather it every time...

  • Marie Marie on Jun 19, 2016
    I have used needle nose pliers with great success. Just grab one edge of the base and turn.

    • Cheryl Cheryl on Jun 22, 2016
      This is what I do, too. Never could get the potato idea to work!

  • Nancy Bowen Nancy Bowen on Jun 20, 2016
    A bar of soap.

  • Bob Bob on Jun 20, 2016
    First turn off the power!!! then use either a potato cut in half ,or secondly (safest method) get a pair of insulated medium sized long nosed pliers and unscrew. If putting any grease on the screw thread of a new lamp make sure it is electrical grease to ensure good contact to complete the electrical circuit or you could have a fire on your hands,better still don`t use any lubricant at all.

  • Anna Herrick Anna Herrick on Jun 20, 2016
    Potato fix is easiest and best way!!

  • Lynn Palmatier Lynn Palmatier on Jun 20, 2016
    Several different ways, this might help!

  • Nan Nan on Nov 12, 2016
    There's only one thing I can add to earlier answer. My tool of choice is a hemostat. After there's no power, clamp one side and turn. If its stuck, either clamp the other side & turn with both or use the needle to push 2 angles to the Center and clamp+ turn. :)

  • Barbara Baldwin Barbara Baldwin on Oct 14, 2017
    Ask someone you're not fond of to do it. I actually did that when I was a teenager

  • Jch28448817 Jch28448817 on Oct 14, 2017
    Push a large cork into part of what is left and try to turn it. Be sure light is off.

  • Lydialirav Lydialirav on Oct 15, 2017
    use a raw potato