How do I remove a broken lightbulb from a light socket?

Sabrina Garza
by Sabrina Garza
While trying to remove our burnt out light bulb in our yard light fixture, the bulb broke and is still in the socket. How do we remove this without getting cut?
  27 answers
  • Swan Road Designs Swan Road Designs on Dec 17, 2014
    There are several possibilities. First, first, first, make sure the light is turned OFF. Just a double safe point. One thing that I've found to be effective to remove broken light bulbs in the house is to take the bowl end of a wooden spoon and push it up into the opening of the broken part of the bulb, then use the spoon in a manner somewhat like a screwdriver. I've also used a large potato, yes potato, to thrust up into the broken part of the bulb and unscrewed the broken bulb using the potato as my leverage. Hope this helps. Good luck.
  • Shirley Shirley on Dec 17, 2014
    Yep,Swan Road Designs answer is correct,,, potato works great, have used that idea myself.
  • Shira Shira on Dec 18, 2014
    @Swan Road Designs, I am so in love with that trick, it is one of the many gems I learned on Hometalk! @Sabrina Garza it seems like a tried and true method but if you are looking for more check out this similar question with great answers: Good Luck!
    Broken light bulb in socket
  • Faye Campbell Faye Campbell on Dec 18, 2014
    First and foremost...make sure the power is OFF! I have used tweezers to grab the lip of the socket, then while continuing to pinch have turned the socket in the base to remove it.
  • Judy Judy on Dec 18, 2014
    Agree. Make sure power is off, then use the old potato trick. Works great!
  • Heidi DeAgostino Heidi DeAgostino on Dec 18, 2014
    Use a clothespin- squeeze it, put in in the socket then open it up. Turn to unscrew!!
  • Marlene Haigh Marlene Haigh on Dec 18, 2014
    I use a potato cut in half then pushed up into the socket(turned off power)
  • Janet Baltzer Anderson Janet Baltzer Anderson on Dec 18, 2014
    Best solution for us has been two pair of needle nose pliers, grasp each inside/outside edge per plier (straight in), opposite sides of the socket and use both pliers to twist it out easily. This saves crushing the socket with one plier. Works great on that broken bulb in the back of the oven too!
  • Liz Coe Liz Coe on Dec 18, 2014
    make sure the light is off.. then incert a cut in half potatoe and that will secure it and then you can remove it safely...
  • Lynette C. Lynette C. on Dec 18, 2014
    I heard a tip once to use the NEW bulb to unscrew the old, broken bulb. I since have used that trick several times and it usually works great. Just put the new bulb into the socket/broken bulb and turn a little until it's tight enough then unscrew. Once it's out remove broken piece from the new bulb ~ comes out nice and easy.and just put your NEW bulb in
  • Em Hooper Em Hooper on Dec 18, 2014
    It helps to not stand on carpet or a metal object (ladder) while doing this. And i you put a tiny bit of vaseline around the outside of the base of the new bulb, you will most likely have an easier time next time you change it.
  • Ashley Freeman Ashley Freeman on Dec 18, 2014
    Make sure the power is off then take a piece of florist foam and push it into the broken ends and turn. If there isn't enough glass left to do that then user needle nosed pliers to grab the metal--again--MAKE SURE THE POWER IS OFF OR YOU WON'T LIKE THE RESULTS!
  • Sue Reams Sue Reams on Dec 18, 2014
    I use a potato cut in half. Make sure power is off to the light.
  • Michelle Michelle on Dec 18, 2014
    Make sure power is off then take plyers open to fit snug inside of socket then turn,you will need both hands to keep plyers open but it doesn't bend the metal so it makes removing fast & easy.
  • Vikki L Anderson Vikki L Anderson on Dec 18, 2014
    Turn off the power at the main switch, use a bar of soap. Put the corner of the bar into the broken bulb, old fashioned fix, but it works.
  • Pete Wells Pete Wells on Dec 18, 2014
    All good suggestions! To prevent this happening again, wipe the new bulb threads with WD-40 before installing...
  • Linda Finnan Linda Finnan on Dec 18, 2014
    Turning power off is key, I grew up in Ireland, so yes, just one of the ingenious uses we Irish have made of the potato:)
  • Kathleen Wight Kathleen Wight on Dec 18, 2014
    Best and easiest way I've found is cut russet potato in half and use it to remove lightbulb. It works every time!
  • Linda Linda on Dec 18, 2014
    Cut the power by turning the switch off. Use a needle nose pliar to grip the metal at the bottom and unscrew it. These are a couple dollars at the hardware store. Great to use for many hard to reach things.
  • Diane P Diane P on Dec 18, 2014
    Shut the power off at the circuit breaker. You could use a needle nose pliers to grab the edge of the metal that is in the socket.
  • Sheron Rossow Sheron Rossow on Dec 18, 2014
    A raw potatoe will work wonders. Just cut the potatoe in half and then press onto what's left of the bulb and twist.
  • Angie W Angie W on Dec 19, 2014
    My hubby has used the potato and the needlenose pliers method before...As everyone else has said...Make sure the breaker to the light is turned off....Not just turn the light off...There is still electric running to an "off" light...
    • See 2 previous
    • Angie W Angie W on Dec 21, 2014
      I'd rather be safe than sorry....I've known 2 people in my life, that were electrocuted , 1 died (my uncle), and 1 did not, (a friend when I was a kid)....
  • Louetta Waters Louetta Waters on Dec 19, 2014
    The potato works great!. Please unplug your lamp first.....unplug, don't just turn first!!!! Use a nice size potato. A little bigger than the part stuck in the lamp base. Cut about 1/4 off end and take largest part of potato a jam it real hard on the broken light bulb. You should then be able to turn the potato and twist the stuck bulb out! Discardpotato when done please.
  • Ann Ann on Dec 19, 2014
    Yup the potato works!
  • Karen Karen on Dec 20, 2014
    POWER OFF! Slightly damp sponge pushed into the socket. It re-expands and grips well. Twist! Let dry. Power on.
  • Ann daniel Ann daniel on Dec 20, 2014
    yup potato
  • Pete Wells Pete Wells on Dec 21, 2014
    A Volt-ohm meter is a must when performing any electrical work...also, simply shutting off the breaker sometimes isn't enough...I can recall changing an HVAC system in a local business and getting zapped by bare wires...we had shut off the breaker, but that had turned off an employee's computer, which shouldn't have been on the same circuit, but was...the employee had turned the breaker back on, nearly frying me...I now remove the breaker from the box if this is even a remote possibility...