How to Safely Clean Up Broken CFLs

Updated: Jul 21, 2021

Do you use CFLs in your home? Not sure? CFL stands for Compact Fluorescent Light. They’re the curly tube light bulbs that use less energy, are cost efficient and eco-friendly. The only downside? Cleaning up a broken CFL bulb can be a bit trickier than sweeping up a regular broken bulb because they contain small amounts of mercury. It doesn’t have to be a big production or require outside help, you just need the right tools and a few additional steps to do it properly.

What you need:

  • Cardboard, stiff paper or plastic scoop Tape or damp paper towels Plastic bag or glass jar with a lid

STEP 1: Using a piece of cardboard, some stiff paper or a plastic scoop, remove as much of the broken CFL glass as you can.

STEP 2: Carefully, pick up the smaller shards of glass using pieces of sticky tape, a damp paper towel, or a piece of soft bread. Repeat this step until you’re sure the area is free of broken glass

STEP 3: Wipe area with disinfectant wipes.

STEP 4: Put all materials (tools and broken glass) into a plastic bag or glass jar, and seal completely. A glass jar with a tight fitting metal lid is the best choice as it keeps the mercury vapour sealed inside.

STEP 5: Dispose of at your local municipal waste depot, a hazardous waste drop-off event or a business looking to properly dispose of CFL.

DID YOU KNOW? There is no curbside pick up for these bulbs. Even an intact but burnt out CFL needs to be recycled. Thankfully, many businesses will accept your CFLs and do the recycling for you, like Ikea, Rona, Canadian Tire and Lowe’s.There are several eco-friendly alternatives out there. LED’s or light emitting diodes contain no harmful mercury and use less energy to produce the same light output, which reduces their impact on the environment.

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