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Keep Exposed Light Bulbs Dust-Free to Avoid Discoloration

Burnt vanity bulb from dust collection


Keep Exposed Light Bulbs Dust-Free to Avoid Discoloration

Cleaning exposed vanity light bulbs frequently will prevent permanent discoloration of the bulb and those unsightly dark patches.

If dust collection on top of light bulbs goes unattended for too long, the build-up, combined with the heat generated from incandescent or halogen lights will cause scorch marks on the glass, leaving a very noticeable permanent discoloration.

What our research and tests concluded

A response from a major light bulb manufacturer, said “We do not make any suggestions for how to clean light bulbs, but would encourage you to remove the bulb from the socket prior to doing so”.

In the hope of coming up with a solution, we tried several methods with no resolve for bulbs with long-term exposure and burn marks. The glass is etched beyond repair.

Phase 1 (mild)

  • Damp Cloth
  • Glass Cleaners (several)
  • Multi-Purpose Cleaners (several)
  • Vinegar & Water Mixture

Phase 2 (intermediate)

  • Steel Wool (0000)
  • Mild Scrub Pad (blue)
  • Wet Sanding (600 & 1500 Grit)
  • Baking Soda Mixture (2-hour soak)
  • Oven Cleaner (24-hour soak in sealed bag)

Phase 3 (aggressive)

  • Scrub Pad (green)
  • Scrub Pad (green) & Comet Cleanser

The more aggressive steps scratched the light bulb glass severely, but the burn patch was still very visible and present.

Note: Even if this aggressive cleaning was successful, we would still replace the light bulb, as the integrity of the glass would be in question.

Phase 4 (curiosity)

Our last step was to break the glass and see if the discoloration could be removed from the inside. This was still unsuccessful. The discoloration is impregnated throughout the entire layer of glass and appears permanent.


The light bulbs need to be cleaned regularly to prevent scorch marks. Once scorch marks create discoloration; you have two choices: live with them…or replace the light bulb.

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