Fluorescent light bulbs, including CFL bulbs, contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. If the bulb breaks, the EPA recommends the following procedure to properly clean-up and dispose of the bulb.

  1. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
  2. Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard
    and place them in a sealed plastic bag. Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces. Wipe with a damp paper towel.
  3. Place all cleanup materials in a second sealed plastic bag.
  4. If a fluorescent bulb breaks on a rug or carpet, remove all materials you can without using a vacuum cleaner, following the steps above. Sticky tape (such as duct tape) can be used to pick up small pieces and powder.
  5. If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken, remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and put the bag or vacuum debris in two sealed plastic bags.

If properly recycled, 100 percent of the mercury in a fluorescent or CFL bulb is reusable! Want to learn more? Read this ENERGY STAR star FAQ sheet on CFLs (in PDF form) or these EPA cleanup guidelines. Or find a CFL recycling center near you.

Visit our light bulbs page for our complete assortment of bulb products.