Removing a broken light bulb requires multiple safety precautions, but with the right tools even a jammed bulb should come free without the need to call an electrician. If your light bulbs are always difficult to remove, read further for ways you can solve this problem.
Put on gloves and safety glasses. Always put on thick gloves before handling broken glass to avoid cuts. Ideally, you should put them on over rubber gloves or glove liners to protect yourself from electricity, in case the power is turned back on while you are working. Safety glasses will protect your eyes from glass shards, and are especially important if the light fixture is on the ceiling. If the light fixture is on the ceiling, a hat in addition to the safety glasses will keep broken glass out of your hair. Even though you will be removing the power to the light fixture, there is a small chance the fixture is still charged due to faulty wiring. Wear insulating gloves to protect yourself from this scenario.
Remove any broken pieces of glass from the floor. You can use a broom, rag, or vacuum cleaner to sweep the glass into a dust pan and throw it away. Smaller fragments can be scooped up with a piece of stiff paper or cardboard, while glass powder can be picked up with a piece of sticky tape. Warning: Compact fluorescent lightbulbs, also known as energy saving lightbulbs with a coiled shape, can let off mercury vapors when broken. Open windows or doors to the outside, shut off your house's heating and air conditioning, and only use a vacuum cleaner as a last resort.
Put down a tarp to catch additional glass if necessary. If there is still a fair amount of glass on the bulb, or the bulb is in a ceiling fixture, put down a tarp underneath it to make further glass cleanup easier.
Unplug the lamp if the fixture is plugged into the wall. If a lamp is broken, all you need to do to remove the power is unplug the cord from the wall socket.
Turn off the power to that part of your house if the bulb is on a wall or ceiling fixture. Locate the panel containing your fuses or circuit breakers and turn off the power to the part of your house that powers the light fixture.Remove the fuse by unscrewing it, or set the circuit switch to the off position.If your fuses or circuit breakers aren't labeled, remove the power from every circuit. Don't assume the power to the light fixture is off just because you removed the power from a nearby outlet. If there is no natural light in the room with the broken fixture, find a flashlight before you shut off the power.
Try to unscrew the metal base counter-clockwise with gloved hands. Only ever do this when wearing thick gloves to protect yourself from cuts. If the bulb is in a wall or ceiling fixture, rubber glove liners can protect you from the small chance that faulty wiring causes a shock even with the power off. Make sure not to drop the bulb as it comes out, to avoid cleaning up even more broken glass. If you encounter resistance partway through unscrewing, twist slightly in the other direction (clockwise) then resume untwisting. Trying to force your way past a point of resistance could break your light fixture.
Use needle-nose pliers for more force and precision. Needle-nose pliers allow you to safely grab the metal base with the narrow, precise ends of the pliers. They should allow you to twist the metal base off using a bit more force than you can with your fingers. Always twist counterclockwise. Don't worry if the metal light bulb base begins to tear. This will make it easier to remove, and you will be throwing away the light bulb anyway. If you do not have needle-nose pliers, borrow some from a neighbor or buy some. Do not try alternate methods without first reading the Warnings section below.
Try using the pliers from the inside of the lightbulb base. If you can't grip the outside of the light bulb base, or twisting it counterclockwise from that position, try pointing the pliers on the inside of the broken lightbulb, and spreading the arms outward against either side of the metal base. Twist counterclockwise as before.
If none of the above methods work, carefully assist the pliers with a screwdriver. Insert a small flat-head screwdriver between the base of the metal base and the socket. Gently and carefully bend the metal socket inward, just enough to get a good grip on the base with the pliers. Attempt to twist as before.
Dispose of all broken glass according to local law. You may need to look up ordinances in your area about disposing of light bulbs, or contact your city's trash collection service and ask for instructions. Incandescent bulbs with an actual bulb shape can usually be thrown directly into the trash. Compact fluorescent bulbs, with a coil design, may require transport to a local recycling center in some areas due to their small mercury content.Empty vacuum cleaner bags used for picking up glass into the trash immediately.Insert a new bulb while the power is still off. Keep your gloves and safety glasses on and the power turned off. Screw the light bulb in clockwise until you feel a slight resistance. Don't use any more force than necessary.You might want to read the section on Preventing Jammed Light Bulbs before inserting a new bulb.