How to Remove 3 Kinds of Ceiling Light Covers

Hi there! You’re here because you need to remove your ceiling light cover, probably to replace the lightbulbs or to clean the glass.

When I started researching this myself, I discovered that the information was a bit spotty, and not very well organized.

So, for your benefit (and my own future reference), I’ve put together this guide showing how to remove the light covers from 3 of the most common types of light fixtures. Let’s jump in!

How to Remove Light Covers that Have a Screw

This is the type of light cover we have in our apartment, so I’ll start with that. Check out the brief video I made below, demonstrating the steps:

Alright, now let’s break this down into steps:

1. Get a Sturdy Step Ladder, Stool, etc.

Unless you’re Shaquille O’Neal, then you’ll want something to stand on so you can reach the light cover.

A stepping stool or small self-standing ladder would be ideal. I don’t have either of those on hand at the moment, so I’ve used a sturdy chair.

2. Consider Wearing Gloves

To help with traction, or to keep your hands protected and clean, you may want to wear gloves to help you remove the glass cover.

For example, you could use some of those mechanic gloves, or gardening gloves to give yourself some extra traction.

I haven’t done this in my video above, because my light cover seems fairly clean and not too rough, but you might have something different to deal with.

3. Hold the Glass with One Hand

Now, this is very important. Before you unscrew the knob that holds the glass cover in place, make sure you hold the glass with one hand. Otherwise the glass cover might fall straight off the ceiling, and hit you or shatter on the floor. Not good.

4. Unscrew the Knob with Your Other Hand

With the glass held in place, you can now begin unscrewing the knob with your other hand.

I’m right-handed, so I’ve held the glass with my weak hand (left hand), and I’m unscrewing the knob with my strong hand (right hand).

5. Once the Knob is Free Look for a Washer

There may or may knot be a washer under the knob that holds the glass in place. If the glass cover is not loose after you’ve taken the knob off, check for a washer that could be holding the glass in place.

If you find one, remove it.

6. Remove the Glass Cover

Now that you have the knob and (possibly) the washer removed, you can now gently pull the glass cover off of the ceiling mount.

You really shouldn’t have to pull or put much pressure on it, it will probably already be resting free in your hands.

You did it! Once, you have the glass off, you can move on to replacing the light bulbs or cleaning out the glass, or both.

How to Remove Light Covers Without Screws

Now, if you have a light cover without screws (e.g. without a knob), then you’ll need to handle things a bit differently.

I don’t currently have this type of light cover in my home, but I found a helpful video from Steve DeThample on YouTube that helpfully illustrates the process:

You’ll notice that the steps are pretty similar here, but with a few important changes. Let’s briefly run through the full process so everything is clear:

1. Get a Sturdy Step Ladder, Stool, etc.

You’ll still need this, unless you’re crazy tall. A stepping ladder or sturdy stool will do fine.

2. Consider Wearing Gloves

Steve has done this in the video above, and I think it would be especially important for this type of light cover, because you need to give yourself some traction against the glass in order to get it to rotate.

3. Hold the Glass with Both Hands

There’s no knob to turn for this type of glass cover, and you’ll need all the traction you can get, to make rotating the cover easier.

So, put both hands on the glass cover (on sides opposite of each other).

4. Rotate Left (Counter Clockwise)

Then, you’ll want to rotate the glass cover left (lefty-loosey) or counter clockwise.

5. If Stuck, Lightly Bump with a Shoe

Steve mentioned this as well, and I would have never thought of this, but it seems like a great “hack” that fixed the problem of the light cover getting stuck.

I can imagine a cover like this, which may sit unmoved for years, becoming stuck or sticking in place. So, if you run into that problem, consider lightly hitting the cover with the rubber side of a shoe to get it to loosen up.

Don’t go crazy though, it is glass after all, so be careful not to hit it so hard that it breaks!

6. Remove the Glass Cover

Once you’ve got the cover loose and unscrewed, you can gently lift the glass cover away from the ceiling.

From there, you’re ready to change the bulbs and get on with your life 🙂

How to Remove Light Cover With Clips

The final type of light cover we’re going to cover in this post, are those covers that are held in place with round metal clips.

Again, I don’t have this type of light cover in my home currently. However, I did manage to find a helpful video from Ann Marie Pincivero, that illustrates the process.

Again here, some of the basics are going to be the same, but there are a few nuances that are unique for this type of light cover. Let’s dive in!

1. Get a Sturdy Step Ladder, Stool, etc.

Yup – you’ve got to have something to help you reach the light. Make sure it’s sturdy, and won’t wobble underneath you.

2. Consider Wearing Gloves

In her video, Ann does advise that you wear gloves, and it sounds like that’s particularly important for this type of light cover because those little clips can be sharp!

Makes sense to me. Gardening gloves or mechanic gloves would probably both work well for this.

3. Hold the Glass with One Hand

Once you free the glass from the clips, you won’t want it to fall, so make sure you hold the glass cover in place.

4. Find the “Loose” Clip and Pull Out

One of the clips should be “loose”, meaning that it can be moved out away from the glass.

So, first you’ll need to identify which of the clips are movable.

5. Firmly, but Gently, Pull the Glass Out

Then, once you’ve found it, use those hand-muscles and pull the clip firmly (but still gently) away from the glass cover.

When you get the clip moved far enough, you should be able to pull the glass cover out from under the clip, freeing it from the ceiling mount.

From there, you should be able to change the bulbs, clean out the glass, or whatever else you need to do. To replace the glass cover, you basically just reverse the process.


Once you know the steps, it’s pretty straightforward to remove a glass ceiling cover, which will allow you to change your light bulbs or clean the covers.

Shout-out to Ann and Steve above, for making such helpful videos on removing those types of glass covers.

If you’re interested in more DIY tips like this one, check out our blog, cheers!

Matt & Heather

Welcome to our blog! We have a home, but not much time. So our goal is to make big improvements with limited time and money. If you're in the same boat, check out more of our stuff, and join the conversation!

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