How to Unlock a Locked Bathroom Door

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If you've ever stayed locked in the bathroom for extended hours, you already understand how stressful it is to be in such a predicament. If you haven't, you can only imagine how bad it can be getting locked in one when in a public restroom in the airport.

If no one comes to your rescue, you can miss your flight while trying to maneuver your way out of the bathroom.

Another scenario could be when you accidentally lock yourself out of a bathroom that can only be opened from the inside, and yet there's no one inside to open it up.

If you learn how to open a locked bathroom door effectively, you'll never have to worry about being in any of such predicaments again.

The process of bathroom doors should never be challenging. However, the ease of opening a locked bathroom door depends on the type of lock used, among other relatable factors.

Previously, we have talked about how to adjust a door, how to fix sagging door and lots more on our blog!

Getting to Know the Bathroom Door Lock Mechanism

Just like their door knob, bathroom door locks come in different shapes and sizes. The type of bathroom door lock you have installed in your bathroom highly impacts the functionality of the lock.

Before learning about how to open a locked bathroom, here are some of the most common bathroom door types you're likely to encounter.


1.  Privacy Push/Button Lock Mechanism

A push-button bathroom lock is among the most common bathroom/privacy locks on the market today.

A push-button lock has a push pin or button that's installed on the doorknob or lever.

Locking this privacy lock is simple. You push a button or pin in to keep a bathroom door locked.

With the help of panic release technology, you can unlock these bathroom door privacy locks by turning the lever or knob from the inside, which releases the button or pin to unlock the door.

This feature helps you get out locked bathroom doors and related emergencies which is easy and convenient.

2.  Turn Button Privacy Lock Mechanism

They are probably the most common locks on bathroom doors, and most of these brands are more affordable. You open or close the lock by turning it clockwise or anticlockwise, hence the name turn button.

3.  Privacy Bolt with Lever or Knob

This privacy lock is somehow the newest kid in town and has a unique style of achieving privacy.

The operation of such privacy locks is similar to those of deadbolt locks, but you won't need a key from the outside of the bathroom door to open a privacy bolt lock.

In case of emergency, you'll use anything that can fit into the little slot or hole. You can use a flathead screwdriver, a fingernail, a butter knife, or a penny.

How to Open Locked Bathroom Doors: Practical and Effective Methods to Consider

Opening a locked bathroom or bedroom door can be tricky, but you can use some simple tricks to escape such a situation.

Here's how you can open your locked bathroom or bedroom door when you get stuck next time.

1.  Use a Credit Card

You can easily open a latch bolt, spring lock, and lever-type door knob with the right credit card. However, if you have a deadbolt door lock, using a credit card may not be the perfect option for you. If you can get a stiff, flexible, and laminated card, the better and safer for your card.

You can also opt for other options like a grocery store loyalty card or a library card. You may want to spare your important cards like credit cards, identification cards, and debit cards. Using a credit card to open a door lock is easy. You only need to slide the card between the door knob lock and the door frame, then bend it back while trying to push it inside the door.

If need be, you can lean against the door to help finish the job faster. Remember, this option is only applicable if you get stuck with your credit card inside the bathroom or locked out from outside.

using credit card to unlock doorCredits:

2.  Use a Metallic Coat Hanger

One of the great ways to open a locked bathroom door is to pull the bolt pulling the bolt using a metal coat hanger. To achieve this, you should bend your hanger sufficiently so that it can make an elongated handle with a hook on the other end.

Reach out for the bathroom door with the hook placed between the door's edge and the wall. Use the hooked end to wrap around the latch bolt on the locked door. Use your free hand to rotate the knob as you pull the hanger toward your direction.

Remember, to open a locked bathroom door using this technique requires that the gap between your door and the wall is not blocked with a jamb.


3.  Use a Tension Wrench and a Paper Clip

Sometimes all you need to open most bathroom doors is to maintain the tension on the interior side of the lock while you try to unlock it using a paper clip.

Begin by inserting the tension wrench on the bottom part of your lock as you rotate it to achieve the desired tension on the lock.

After you've achieved that, you can proceed to use the paper clip to unlock the locked door by wiggling the paper clip inside the top part of the door until a few click sounds are made.

4.  Use a Paper Clip

using paperclip to open locksCredits:

Paper clips are incredible tools to use to open a locked bathroom door if you have them available during the time of need.

Their effectiveness majorly depends on how well you shape them to perform this type of job.

It is recommended that you use two paper clips if you need a smooth opening process. Bend the first clip and straighten out the second one to be as perfectly straight as possible. Insert the bent one into the lock's hole as you stick the straightened one under the bent one in the hole. Turn and wiggle the straight piece around until you unlock the lock.

5. Use an Eyeglass Screwdriver

An eyeglass screwdriver is a perfect choice for a locked bathroom door with privacy handles. You can use it for removing the bathroom doorknob after making several attempts to open the door without avail or during an emergency.

Get the doorknob hole and insert the eyeglasses screwdriver as deep as possible into it. Make sure your screwdriver of choice is not made of thicker rods but thinner ones that will allow the screwdriver to move deep into the door handle.

Once the screwdriver is inside the hole, turn and wiggle it until you touch a groove and you hear a clicking sound. This should indicate you have successfully unlocked the bathroom door.

6.  Use a Bobby Pin

Bobby pins aren't only for clipping your hair into perfect shape but can also help in opening a locked bathroom and bedroom door.

A bobby pin will help you pick the lock successfully, but after spending a considerable amount of time working on the whole process.

Prepare two bobby pins and bend them into a specific shape to make them a perfect substitute for the lock's key.

Bend the last one centimeter of the end of the bobby pin to make it as flat as its free ends and remove the curves entirely, then insert the bobby pin into the keyhole.

Turn the doorknob as you wiggle the bobby pin at the same time. The lock's push-button mechanism will unlock itself, allowing the door to swing free.

You might have to continue wiggling and trying different positions with the bobby pin until you get the right spot in the keyhole.

7.  Use a Butter Knife

A butter knife is another excellent option for opening a locked bathroom door from the outside.

The process is simple. All you need to do is place the butter knife in the keyhole the same way you place a key when opening and closing your door lock. Then twist the knife to effortlessly open the push-button bathroom lock mechanism on the door lock.

This is an easy way to unlock a door when locked from outside the bathroom inside your house.

8.  Remove the Door Handle

When things start getting a little out of control, you may need to employ drastic measures to unlock the door. After you've tried other methods and failed, try looking for the visible screws that are holding the door handle into position.

Use a screwdriver or a drill to unscrew the visible exterior screws. Once the screws are out, you can place the screwdriver inside the lock mechanism of the door handle so that you can twist it gently to unlock it.

If your door handle lacks exterior screws, you can use a flat-head screwdriver to remove the door handle entirely.

Place the flathead screwdriver beneath the slit in the hole of the doorknob, then lift the exterior of the handle away from the door by pulling the screwdriver up.

Lifting away the exteriors will expose the screws underneath so you can easily unscrew them using the screwdriver.

If you are stuck inside, you might need someone passing you a screwdriver if you don't have one already stored in the bathroom.

9.  Remove the Door Hinges



Things may continue getting ugly, and you may have no other option than to pull off the door by losing the hinges.

It looks like a drastic method to opt for, but an entirely successful one will let you out of the bathroom or bedroom door faster.

With the help of a thin screwdriver and a hammer, you can get the work done within a few minutes.

Wedge the flathead screwdriver between the pin and the bottom knuckle of the door.

Use the harmer to knock down the screwdriver until you have both the pin and the head loose enough to be pulled off.

Please do the same with the other hinge to get the door completely free, so you can easily remove it.

10.   Drill the Lock

Drilling the lock will possibly destroy your door, and you'll have to budget for a repair after the drilling process. Therefore, you should only consider this option among the last resorts after attempting other easier and less destructive options.

When drilling, your aim should be to eliminate the pins using the drill and turn the doorknob lock.

Drill above the keyhole (also known as the shear line) because this is the part of the lock that lies in the same line as the threshold between the pin and the cylinder.

Start small as you progressively increase the hole until you get to the interior of the lock. Open the lock using a screwdriver and remember to keep the lock lubricated throughout the whole exercise.

Special Considerations: How to Unlock a Bathroom Door with a Hole in the Side

While all the above processes for opening a locked bathroom door are effective, they can only work best depending on the type of doorknob you are dealing with.

If you are using a door with a rounded doorknob, you may have difficulty unlocking it when the tab is set in the lock position. However, all hope is not lost; there's still a way around such a predicament.

One of the simplest ways to come around this challenge is using the hole sitting at the joint of the knob and the arm connecting to the door.

Picking the Right Tools

You will need the best tools to execute this task excellently since the hole in question is relatively small. With that size of a hole, you'll need to pick tools like paper clips that are equally smaller and can fit well when unwound.

Some thinner wire hangers can do a great job, too, but you have tried many of them before you get a perfect fit.

Remember, the straighter the clip or wire hanger is, the more effective it will be in opening the lock.

Finding the Hole Location

Different bathroom door locks from different brands have the hole located on different spots of the lock. You need to check on the side of the knob or next to the joint of the lock to locate the hole.

Once you've spotted the hole, you'll use the clip or wire hanger to unlock the lock. You'll do this by wiggling the paper clip inside the hole until you hear a clicking sound or something catch the wire or clip inside the hole.

What To Do With a Locked Door

You can get locked inside your bathroom or bedroom door for many reasons, but the more prepared and equipped you determine how fast you get out of the situation.

Here are a few things you can do when you find yourself in such a stalemate.

Check if there's a Spare Key

The first thing you would rush to find after getting locked out of your bathroom is a spare key. If you're not sure where it is kept, you can always call someone who might know to confirm before proceeding with the next action steps.

Check if the Lock Has a Bypass

A bypass on a lock is represented by a tiny hole on the outside of the doorknob. If you're locked out of a room with a bypass, you should be able to open the door faster by sticking a lock bypass tool. You can alternatively stick a small screwdriver into the hole of the doorknob to unlock the door quicker.

Call a Local Locksmith for Help

When it seems inapplicable to handle the troubles yourself, it might be recommendable that you call a local locksmith to help you unlock the door.

Residential locksmiths are specialists at opening locked doors, and asking for their help could save you many costs if you were to damage the door.

Locked Bathroom Door: Before You Go

Opening a bathroom and bedroom door shouldn't be a daunting task if you follow all the tips above. Always remain calm before and look out for all possible options for unlocking the door before you get to try out the drastic measures.

With the right tools, you can be sure you'll be unlocking yourself out of many locked doors from now on.

If you'd like to read more tricks about bathrooms in general, here are two articles that might interest you:


Jim Spencer

Jim Spencer

Jim has been in the construction business for over 12 years with plenty of experience working on client projects, from start to finish. From kitchens to bathrooms and backyard spaces, he writes on a wide variety of topics surrounding home improvement.

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