What To Do if a CFL Light Bulb Breaks

Before you clean it up: Have everyone leave the room, including pets. Do not walk through the area where the bulb broke. Open a window and leave the room for at least 15 minutes. Shut off your central forced-air heating/cooling system.

Cleaning up hard surfaces: Clean up glass pieces and powder using cardboard or stiff paper and place in a jar with a metal lid or a sealed plastic bag. Use tape (such as duct tape) to pick up any remaining fragments. Clean the area with a damp paper towel or disposable wet wipe, and then place it in a glass jar or sealed plastic bag. DO NOT VACUUM OR USE A BROOM TO CLEAN UP THE BREAKAGE ON HARD SURFACES.

Cleaning up on carpeting or rugs: Carefully pick up fragments and place in a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealed plastic bag. Use tape to pick up any remaining fragments and powder. If vacuuming is still needed after visible materials have been removed, make sure to remove the vacuum bag, or empty and clean the canister, and dispose of the contents in a sealed plastic bag. For the next several times you vacuum, be sure to shut off the heating/cooling system and open a window before vacuuming, and keep them that way for 15 or more minutes after vacuuming is finished.

Cleaning up clothing, bedding, and soft materials: If clothing or other material comes into direct contact with the broken glass or the mercury-containing powder from the bulb, it should be thrown away. DO NOT wash clothing or bedding as the mercury fragments can contaminate the machine as well as pollute the water. You can wash clothing or other fabrics that have been contaminated by the mercury vapor (for example, the clothing you were wearing when you cleaned up the broken bulb, as long as it did not come into direct contact with the bulb or powder). If your shoes come into direct contact with the broken bulb or mercury-containing powder, wipe with a damp paper towel and place in a glass jar or plastic bag.

Disposal of contaminated material: Place all clean-up materials outdoors in the trash. Wash your hands after disposing of the clean-up materials. Check with your local or state government as some do not allow this type of material to be disposed of with the rest of your trash, but instead require that broken and unbroken mercurcy-containing bulbs be taken to a recycling center.