Given the combination of broken glass and electricity, if a light bulb breaks while still screwed into the socket of a lamp or other light fixture, it’s not a situation to be taken lightly.
Fortunately, there are a few different ways to safely remove the shattered bulb from the socket without hurting yourself or damaging the lamp. Here are a few to consider.
Before doing anything, it’s extremely important that you disconnect the lamp or light fixture from its source of electricity. If the broken bulb is stuck in a lamp, all you need to do is unplug the lamp. For hard-wired fixtures, flip the switch so it’s turned off, and then cut the electricity to that room at the breaker or fuse box.
Consider putting a sheet or tarp down beneath the lamp or fixture to catch any broken glass that becomes detached during the process. And, for the same reason, wear gloves and eye protection.
How to remove a broken light bulb from a socket
Once you’ve taken the safety precautions above, it’s time to get started. Here are three methods to consider (other than using a broken bulb extractor):
Use a raw potato
Double check to make sure the power is off. Wearing gloves and safety glasses, use pliers to break off whatever is left of the glass from the bulb. Then, cut a potato in half (short ways), and press one of the halves into/onto the socket so it covers the base of the broken bulb. Twist the potato counterclockwise (you can use a towel to get a better grip, if necessary) until the bulb comes out.
Pliers and patience
Sometimes, you can get the job done using pliers alone. If the filament is intact and accessible, grip it at the glass base and turn it counterclockwise until the bulb twists out.
In situations where that doesn’t work—or, if the filament is broken—place the pliers inside the base, and open them as wide as you can, so that they’re pressed up against opposites sides. Turn the pliers counterclockwise while you’re holding them open, and that should do the trick.
In situations where neither method above works or is even a possibility, some quick-setting epoxy and a screwdriver may be the solution you need. First, fill the base of the broken bulb with epoxy, and stick a screwdriver in the middle (like you were making a popsicle). Once the epoxy has dried and hardened, twist the screwdriver counterclockwise to remove the base of the bulb.