How to Repurpose Used CFL Bulbs into Night Lights

How to Repurpose Used CFL Bulbs into Night Lights


Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs have become very popular in recent years as an energy efficient alternative to traditional incandescent bulbs. However, many people are unsure what to do with CFL bulbs once they have burned out and need to be replaced. Rather than throwing them away, there is an easy way to repurpose used CFL bulbs into handy night lights that can be used around the home.

In this comprehensive guide, I will walk through all the steps needed and considerations to take when repurposing used CFL bulbs into night lights.

Gather Materials Needed

The first step is gathering the materials you will need for this easy DIY project:

  • Used CFL bulb(s) – the bulbs should be burned out or very dim, so they are ready to be repurposed

  • Light socket – you will need a socket to connect the CFL bulb to; can use a basic medium E26/E27 base socket

  • Lamp parts – this includes the lamp harp, pipe, and finial to build the structure of the night light

  • Craft paint (optional) – if you want to paint the night light a certain color

  • Glue gun & glue sticks

  • Decorative material (optional) – things like glitter, beads, ribbon etc. to decorate the outside

Take Apart the CFL Bulb

The first step is to take apart the used CFL bulb:

  1. Wearing gloves, carefully pry apart the plastic cover from the glass spiral tube.

  2. Remove the electronics and components from inside the spiral tube.

  3. Clean out any white powder residue with a paper towel.

  4. Keep the clean spiral glass tube intact to insert into the socket.

Assemble the Night Light Hardware

Next, assemble the hardware that will make up the structure of the CFL night light:

  • Attach the light socket to the lamp pipe, feeding the wires through the pipe.

  • Connect the lamp harp to the top of the pipe.

  • Insert the CFL tube into the socket gently and screw it in place.

  • Attach the finial to the top of the harp to complete the lamp structure.

Paint and Decorate (Optional)

If desired, you can paint the night light structure with craft paint:

  • For best results, use spray paint or acrylic craft paint.

  • Prime the surface first if needed, then paint in your desired color(s).

  • Allow the paint to fully dry before proceeding.

You can also decorate the outside with things like:

  • Glitter, beads, fake gems – apply with glue

  • Ribbon or lace – wrap around the harp or pipe

  • Fun stickers, scrapbook paper cut outs

Use hot glue to attach any decorations firmly.

Wire and Install the Night Light

The final steps are wiring and installing the CFL night light:

  • Cut an electrical cord to your desired length and use wire strippers to expose the inner wires.

  • Connect the cord’s hot wire to the bronze screw on the socket, and the neutral wire to the silver screw.

  • Plug in the night light to test – the CFL tube should emit a soft glow.

  • You can install the night light in any outlet, or use an outlet-to-plug adapter to connect it.

  • Place the night light anywhere that needs some gentle illumination at night like hallways, bathrooms, closets, stairs, or bedrooms.

Troubleshooting Issues

If your repurposed CFL night light is not turning on, here are some troubleshooting tips:

  • Check that the CFL tube is making secure contact in the socket.

  • Test the electrical cord and outlet with another device to ensure there is power.

  • Examine the wiring connections to the socket and re-attach any loose wires.

  • Try a different used CFL tube, as the original may have no illumination left.

  • If still not working, the socket itself may be faulty and need replacing.


Repurposing burned out CFL bulbs into custom night lights is an easy, environmentally friendly DIY project. The soft illumination from the spiral tube makes these night lights decorative and functional. With just a few supplies, you can give new life to old bulbs rather than sending them to the landfill. Place your unique CFL night lights anywhere in your home that needs a little extra lighting at bedtime.