Welcome to my musings on whatever topic catches my eye, plus stories, recipes, handyman tips, welding, photography, and what have you. Oh, and analog/digital hardware design, and software. Please comment on the blog post so everyone who visits can see your comments.

High Light Bulb Changer

So you have a light bulb in a high ceiling fixture and no ladder.  What to do?  Make your own light bulb changer.

Materials needed:

Broom stick with standard Acme threads
An empty 2 liter plastic soda bottle
An old cotton t-shirt
Small amount of tape (electrical, duct, masking, whatever)
Sharp knife


1.) Cut the bottle approximately as shown in the photo.  Be careful because this kind of plastic is tough.  Both the knife and the plastic can cut you.  You don’t need or want a smooth clean edge on the plastic.  A ragged edge is fine.  (see below)

Top portion of bottle attached to broomstick.

2.) Screw the broomstick into the mouth of the bottle until it’s snug, then apply a wrap or two of tape as shown in the photo to make sure it stays in place.

3.) Take the old t-shirt and fold it once so there are four layers of material and carefully fit it into the bottle.  What I do is fold the t-shirt then lay it over a light bulb and use the bulb to gently press the shirt into the bottle.  Once the shirt is in place, you can replace bulbs all day long without readjusting the shirt.

Old T-Shirt Inserted

4.) Now you’re ready to go.  Gently press the tool up over the existing bulb and twist the broom stick counterclockwise to unscrew it.  Put the new bulb into the tool and install it.

BE GENTLE!  This device grips the bulb and gives a lot of leverage so it’s very easy to twist the bulb right off and break it.  Fingertip pressure is all you need to hold the broom stick.

The way it works is the sharp edge of the bottle tends to grab the t-shirt material so the shirt doesn’t slip.  When you twist, the cotton t-shirt material takes about a 1/8th turn wrap on the bulb and grips it.  The harder you twist, the tighter it grips.  A heavy cotton t-shirt works best and a dirty t-shirt grips better than a clean t-shirt.

How it looks when ready to use.

This device works equally well on incandescent bulbs and spiral CFLs (compact fluorescents).  For very small bulbs, fold the t-shirt twice before inserting it.  For other shapes like long skinny CFLs you might try the same methods but with differently shaped bottles.


  1. emy

    …muy cool idea, now that i am in a house with high ceilings…..tanks, flipper

  2. Phil

    Glad you like the idea. Let me know how it works out for you.

    I didn't want to make the article too complicated but a suggestion, especially if you are going to re-use the same tool a lot is to run a couple of screws through the mouth of the bottle and into the broomstick. Tape works okay but if you are changing a lot of bulbs the bottle gets loose and you have to retape it, etc. It's a hassle. Better to just screw it, so to speak, and it will stay put forever.

    Also the long skinny CFLs can actually be done with the same tool shown in the photo. Just fold the t-shirt twice. The skinny bulbs are trickier to control but definitely do-able without switching to a narrower bottle.

    By the way, the bottle in the photo is a 2 liter Canada Dry Club Soda bottle.

  3. elpolvo

    while you're at it, screw in one of these and it should last the rest of yer life (if you're as old as emy):


  4. Anonymous

    The answer to how many engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb. Yet another worn out t-shirt put to good use by the man of many t-shirts.

  5. Almita Neon

    Great idea! I shared w a friend and she just told me it worked perfectly! Thank you

  6. Peter Kesting

    One of those devices is like $20 on Amazon, I have only one light that will need changing, what every 4 or 5 years so it just wasn't worth the $20. The bulb is on stairs that just made it impossible/unsafe to try to use a ladder. Well I didn't have a 2 litter bottle, I had an old water bottle, I just used a thin dish rag instead of a shirt and it worked like a dream thanks a lot, ideal for the very infrequent user. If I had 20 lights that were high it might be worth the $20.

  7. Jacqui in Oz

    Wow, thanks so much for this. At the moment I am living on my own and have massively high ceilings. I also can't get past the third rung of the ladder before I get all queasy and my knees shake. It worked like a charm!

  8. Phil

    Hi Jacqui. I'm glad to hear it worked for you. It takes a little practice and a fine touch but it's quick and easy once you've done it a few times.

  9. Unknown

    worked like a charm removing the old bulb but couldn't get the new bulb properly aligned to screw it in.

  10. Phil

    Well, it is a bit of an art, sometimes taking patience and a gentle touch, and the bulb must be aligned straight. Some sockets are more difficult, taking several attempts, but I've never failed yet. It's not always easy but beats climbing a ladder, especially on stairs.

  11. Francsico Quintana

    This totally works! Thank you so much. There was a bulb that gave out in my building like 3 years ago and no one could replace it until I found this.

    It was so old and damaged that it broke. I panicked, but then I put some electrical tape on top of the pole, inserted it in the broken socket and managed to unscrew it out. I just put the new bulb in… perfect.

  12. Anonymous

    Used a piece of non slip silicone mat in a smaller sized bottle, as i couldn't see around the tee shirt(light fitting is 15ft high). Made it very easy.

  13. Phil

    Yeah, I know the material you're talking about. It ought to work great — maybe too well. Haha.

  14. Ifinder

    Seem there is beauty in Innovation and Invention, whether the utility small or big
    It reflects the enthusiasm, always
    Thanks to You

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2024 Shuttersparks

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Find me on Mastodon