How to Clean a Lamp Socket Contact

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Things You'll Need

  • Emery paper

  • Pencil

  • Tape

  • Compressed air

  • Needle-nose pliers


You can also clean the contacts with alcohol and a lint-free tissue.


Do not use steel wool to clean contacts. The steel wool dust can cause the socket to electrically short out requiring a new socket.

Wear eye protection when spraying canned air.

If you notice your light bulb in a lamp is flickering, it might be because of dirty contacts in the lamp socket. The contacts in the light socket help to complete the electrical circuit between the bulb and lamp when you turn on the switch. Over time, carbon builds up on the top of the contacts. The carbon causes a poor connection between the bulb and the contacts. Cleaning a lamp socket contact will remove the carbon and have your lamp working correctly.


Step 1

Unplug the lamp power cord from the electrical outlet. Remove the lampshade and unscrew the light bulb.

Step 2

Tear of a strip of emery paper half the length of a pencil. Lay the emery paper flat with the backside facing toward you. Stand the eraser end of a pencil over the center of the emery paper strip. Pull both strips up on both sides of the pencil and tape the paper to the pencil.

Step 3

Rub the tops of the lamp socket contacts with the emery paper as if you were erasing paper. Apply light even pressure when rubbing the contacts.


Step 4

Spray a couple of quick bursts of compressed air into the socket to remove the fine dust. Gently lift each contact up slightly with the needle nose pliers. The contacts just need to be off the bottom of the socket.

Step 5

Screw the light bulb back into the socket and reinstall the lampshade. Plug the power cord back into the electrical outlet.



Kenneth Crawford

Kenneth Crawford is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. His work has appeared in both print and online publications, including "The American Chronicle." Crawford holds an associate degree in business administration from Commonwealth College.