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eLightBulbs Blog > How to Clean Up after a Broken Compact Fluorescent (CFL) Light Bulb

How to Clean Up after a Broken Compact Fluorescent (CFL) Light Bulb

Posted by Paul McLellan on Dec 29, 2008

Compact fluorescents save you money and energy, but they can immediately be harmful when broken. Follow these steps to ensure a safer cleanup.

How to Clean Up after a Broken Compact Fluorescent (CFL) Light Bulb

Most of us have already started using Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) in our homes.  They are great at saving up to 75% on your lighting utility bills, plus they last 6-10 times longer than regular household incandescent bulbs.  So what should you do when one of them breaks inside of your home?

Well, we have a couple tips for you.  

  1. Put on some gloves - since most of your cleanup is done with your hands, be sure to cover them first.  Latex or garden gloves seem to do the trick.
  2. Wear a mask - to avoid breathing in any mercury particles or glass fragments, put on a mask.  This can range from a simple painters white mask to a heavier-duty mask with air filters on the sides.
  3. Pick up broken pieces of glass - make sure you discard all remnants of the bulb into an air-tight bag or container.
  4. Clean up "fluorescent dust" - this is the tricky part. There are a number of ways for going about this, but we have some ideas that may help you do it safely and completely.  First, put some sort of adhesive (duct tape works great!) around your hand, with the sticky side out.  Then pat down all areas near where the bulb broke.  This will be sure to get the most of the fluorescent particles (and any harmful affixed mercury).  When finished, put the tape inside of the garbage bag or container used previously.
  5. Vacuum up the remainder - after sweeping the area with the tape, use a small hand-held vacuum on a low setting to pick up any small remaining pieces of the light bulb.  Go slow, so as to not stir up any particles in the air.
  6. Seal and discard bag/container - ensure your garbage bag/container is airtight with some heavy-duty tape around the seams.  Then, based on your state laws/regulations, either throw away the container or bring it to a recycling plant.

It is not fun when compact fluorescents (or even tube shaped fluorescent bulbs) break, but there are some simple steps that can be done to ensure the safest cleanup possible.

Note:  eLightBulbs is not held responsible for any damages resulting in broken compact fluorescents or from the cleanup of compact fluorescents

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About the Author
Paul McLellan
Paul is the founder of eLightBulbs.com, launching the website in 1996. He still works on overseeing development of the award-winning website as well as working with all marketing and sales departments to ensure cutting edge product selection and customer satisfaction.
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