You need to be careful not to break the glass when removing a stubborn bulb. This guide is about removing a stuck light bulb.
Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".
Having to change a "stubborn" light bulb from your freezer or refrigerator, not wanting it to break in your hand? Take a hairdryer to it! Aim the air at the base of the bulb's area where it screws in and it will unleash the grasp on the bulb and you are ready to install the new bulb.
By Trisha from Ventura, CA
Give a "thumbs up" to the solution that worked the best! Do you have a better solution? Click here to share it!
Here are questions related to Removing a Stuck Light Bulb.
How do I remove a light bulb stuck in the ceiling socket?
By Alex from Naples, FL
By susan 07/21/2010
Turn off power at the breaker box. Take a potato cut in half for grabbing the bulb and turn, voila. :)
By Steve (Guest Post)02/27/2008
For a recessed bulb, like in a stove top cover, use a piece of tape on the bulb. Duct tape or packaging tape will work. Just get enough to cover the bulb and fold the remainder back. Of course make sure the power is off. Remember, safety first.
By Eddie (Guest Post)12/16/2007
I have used gaffer's tape especially with floodlight or spotlight bulbs. Use a 6 inch or so strip of tape and tape about 1/2 of it at one side of the face of the bulb. Tape a second piece opposite the first. Take the end of each piece of tape and pull in the counterclockwise direction. Bulbs that I couldn't turn by hand or with rubber gripper can undone easily with tape. Duct tape or other film tape works as well but everyone should have some gaffer's tape around. It is wonderful.
The metal part of my light bulb is stuck in socket of my curio stand. The glass part broke off in my hand. I unplugged the curio stand and have been working with needle nose pliers. The pliers are tearing through the metal part of the bulb. I think if I continue it will eventually come loose.
Is there any danger of electrical shock! I don't think I should have to turn off the power at the circuit box since I unplugged the curio stand from the wall. I have the patience to keep working at it with the pliers but my main concern is getting electrically shocked or knocked on my rear!
By Samuel from Farrell, PA
By Pixiedust7 02/07/2014
Samuel, I have done this many times with broken bulbs, particularly Christmas bulbs which are often cheaply made and prone to the glass breaking or separating from the metal base. All you have to do is unplug the lamp or light string, wait a minute or so for any electrical charges to drain away, and then start twisting the metal base out with the needlenose pliers. Before putting a new bulb in, wipe a tiny bit of petroleum jelly around the base of the new bulb, to keep it from rusting or corroding and sticking to the socket. Don't get the petroleum jelly on the contact point at the bottom, though, just on the threads. Next time you should be able to unscrew the bulb without having the glass break off. (Again, if the bulb is cheaply made, the glass part might come loose from the base anyway, but if you use the petroleum jelly on the base, it should come out easily.)
If the glass breaks off from the base in a ceiling fixture, or other hard-wired fixture, then you do have to turn off the circuit breaker before removing the base from the socket. Turn off the wall switch for the fixture, and then turn off the circuit breaker for that fixture. Wear rubber-soled shoes and use a wood or fiberglass ladder - not metal. A portable LED lantern can be a help while working on the problem.
I also recommend wearing work gloves to protect your hands from the broken glass and the sharp metal from the base of the bulb, plus a pair of wrap-around work goggles to protect your eyes from shattered glass. Remember, an intact bulb might shatter while you're trying to loosen it.
Be safe, and good luck!
By Marie S. 02/07/2014
If you have unplugged the curio stand from the wall outlet you are fine. If the pliers keep tearing the metal, try this: Cut a potato so that it just barely fits into the socket. Push it down into the socket hard and turn the potato to the left. This should get the bulb base loose. Good luck.
I have a very small light bulb stuck in my stove hood that I cannot remove. It is hard for me to get any kind of a grip on it because it isn't sticking out very far. Please help.
By Mary R from Eagan, MN
By vicki hood 03/21/2013
Electric off. Cut a potato, mash the cut part over the part and turn counter-clockwise. When you install the new bulb, rub the thread in your scalp. It gives just enough oil to keep bulb from corroding in socket.
I have a recessed spotlight in my kitchen ceiling that seems to be corroded because I can't twist it out. I have no way of doing the tape wrap trick either as it is too recessed to work around. Any suggestions as how to remove without shattering the light bulb?
By Irena W.05/09/2014
My ceiling light in the kitchen also was stuck when it burnt out. No way to get my fingers around the bulb because the bulb was so far recessed. I put a piece of clear packing tape (duct tape would have worked too but I was too lazy to go to the garage and packing tape was in my desk) on it with pieces hanging down on both sides, grabbed the two pieces and pulled in opposite directions. The bulb turned as if it had been greased and came right out.
The exit sign bulb went out. It's a 20 watt with no threads, but won't come out of the socket. I try turning it, but it seems stuck. Any help would be great.
Spray some WD40 into the socket around the light bulb.
What can you apply to the threads of a light bulb to stop galling of the threads?
By Pixiedust7 08/01/2013
Rub a small amount of Vaseline on the threads. It prevents rust and makes the bulb easier to remove, especially if it is seldom used and spends months or years in the fixture. Be sure not to get Vaseline on the contact point on the bottom.
I have an under-cabinet fluorescent fixture that was installed at the time my house was built, 15 years ago. The tube in that fixture has burned out and needs to be replaced, but it will not budge. How do I safely remove the tube? Thank you.
By Frances V.