How to Clean and Dust Lightbulbs in Just 2 Steps

Dusting off the light bulb with a microfiber cloth

The Spruce / Adelyn Duchala

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 3 - 5 mins
  • Total Time: 5 - 10 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5

Lightbulbs not only provide a source of illumination, but they can also be decorative focal points in a room. Many lighting fixtures feature non-shaded bulbs—and no one wants to see a dusty, grimy bulb. Just as a dirty light fixture reduces the amount of illumination in a room, so can a dirty bulb. The U.S. Department of Energy and Department of Housing and Urban Development say that a dirty lightbulb reduces light by 50% or more.

Fortunately, cleaning any type of lightbulb is simple and can be done in just two easy steps. So the next time you sweep down cobwebs and clean away trapped insects from your light fixtures or dust your lamps like the sleek LED desk lamp from Sympa don't forget to clean the lightbulb.

How Often to Clean a Lightbulb

How often you need to clean lightbulbs depends on the level of dust in your home and the area where the bulb is located. Since LED bulbs last much longer than incandescent bulbs that often burn out before they become too dirty, most interior bulbs need a thorough cleaning twice a year. If the bulb is outdoors, in a kitchen where greasy foods are prepared regularly, or in a garage where dust-producing equipment like saws is used, monthly cleaning is recommended.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 sturdy step stool
  • 2 microfiber cloths


  • Water
  • 1 disposable microfiber duster with extension handle


Materials for dusting off light fixtures

The Spruce / Adelyn Duchala


  • Always work safely by turning off the power source to the bulb. In damp, or outdoor areas, take the extra precaution of turning off the circuit breaker.
  • If the bulb is located over your head, use a sturdy step stool or ladder.
  • Never spray any type of liquid cleaner or solvent on a lightbulb. The moisture will shatter a hot lightbulb and the liquid can seep into the bulb or fixture even if they are cool and cause permanent damage.
  • If you break an incandescent or LED bulb, take precautions while cleaning up the glass. If the broken bulb is a CFL or other type of bulb (bug zappers, black lights, tanning bulbs) which contains low levels of mercury, follow the guidelines established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

How to Clean and Dust Lightbulbs

  1. Let the Bulb Cool

    If the lightbulb has been on, turn it off and allow the bulb to cool completely. Even though LED (light-emitting diode) and CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs do not become as hot to the touch as incandescent bulbs, they still need to be fully cool to the touch before cleaning.

    Turning off the light switch to allow the bulb to cool

    The Spruce / Adelyn Duchala

  2. Remove and Clean the Bulb

    The easiest way to clean a bulb is to remove it from the socket of the fixture. That way you can easily clean the entire surface.

    • Hold the bulb by the base to prevent the oils from your hands from clinging to the surface.
    • Use a dry microfiber cloth or disposable duster to remove surface soil.
    • If the bulb feels greasy to the touch or has excessive dirt on the surface, dampen the microfiber cloth slightly with water. It should not be dripping! Wipe the bulb with the damp cloth then dry it with a lint-free microfiber cloth.
    • Replace the bulb and reconnect or turn on the power source.
    Unscrewing a lightbulb in the ceiling

    The Spruce / Adelyn Duchala

    Dusting off the light bulb with a microfiber cloth

    The Spruce / Adelyn Duchala

How to Clean Hard-to-Reach Bulbs

For recessed bulbs or fixtures that are difficult to reach, use a disposable microfiber duster with an extendable handle to remove dust and cobwebs without removing the bulb from the fixture. Many dusters have adjustable handles that can be angled to reach all surfaces of the bulb.


  • If you are allergic to dust, wear protective gear when cleaning over your head to reduce exposure.
  • While you are cleaning overhead bulbs, don't forget to clean other hard-to-reach places including ceiling fans.

Tips to Keep Your Lightbulbs Clean

  • Change the filters in your HVAC system regularly to reduce the amount of dust in your home.
  • Add an air purifier to help collect airborne particles that can land on a lightbulb.
  • Keep windows and doors closed to prevent pollen from entering the home.
  • Vacuum or damp mop floors at least weekly to remove dust. Use a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter to help trap the smallest dust particles.
  • Change bedding weekly to reduce dust in bedrooms.
  • Bathe and groom pets to reduce dander and pet hair in the air.
Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Energy is Everywhere! U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development