How to open a locked interior door when you’ve lost the key

If the interior doors in your house have key knobs, then sooner or later you’re bound to misplace some of the keys. What do you do when you can’t find the key to a locked interior door?

Getting into a locked bedroom or bathroom can be a real hassle. Fortunately, interior doors are rather easy to pick. Here’s what you need to do to get in.

Unlocking an interior door with paperclip

Most interior doors come with a basic push button doorknob. For simple push-button affairs like this, all you need is a paperclip to regain access.

For the simple push-button doorknob, stick the flattened end of the paperclip into the hole and keep on pushing until you hit the locking mechanism. You will eventually push aside the locking mechanism the same way the push button does inside the key system. This way, you can open your door.

It’s a bit different for keyed doors though. For keyed door locks, you’ll need a paperclip and a tension wrench. If you don’t have the latter, make use of a small hex key.  

Firstly, flatten one end of the paperclip with a hammer as much as you can, then grab your tension wrench or hex key and head over to the door in question.

Stick your tension wrench or hex key and the flattened paperclip inside the keyhole. The paperclip should be above the wrench. Push on the paperclip until you meet a bit of resistance. You will have just struck the first pin on the lock. Try to move the pin away by pushing on it with the paperclip. If this succeeds, the tension wrench will turn slightly. Keep the wrench in position whilst applying pressure, so that the pin doesn’t drop back in.

Take the paperclip out and repeat the process again. You will meet further resistance, which means you have got to the next pin, so push on that as well until the wrench turns.

Repeat this process until you hit the final pin and the lock opens.

If the lockout is due to a key that was broken off inside your door lock you’d most likely won’t be able to insert anything into the lock. In this case check the following article about how to deal with a broken key in the lock.

Unlocking an interior door with a credit card

Interior doorknobs with levers allow your secret agent persona to come to the fore. Just like your favorite secret agent character, you too can open a locked interior door with a credit card. This process simply involves slipping a credit or debit card into the crack in the door, exactly where the lock is.

Tilt the card in such a way that your end of the card is almost touching the doorknob. Keep on applying pressure until you feel the card slide in further. Now, bend the card the opposite way so that you are practically forcing the lock to slide back in. You may need to lean against the door when doing this, so that your weight will push the door open when the lock slides.

Completely dismantling the lock

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the door will refuse to budge. When this happens, you may need to completely dismantle the lock assembly.

You’ll need access to the screws holding the doorknob to the door. Slide a bread knife under the collar of the doorknob to pry it off, so that you can reach the screws. Once you have removed the screws, you can easily take the doorknob apart. With the doorknob completely dismantled, you’ll be able to easily slide back the mechanism, keeping the door locked.

Opening a locked interior door the MacGyver way

Remember MacGyver? It was an American adventure TV series that aired between 1985 and 1992. It also has a new release that began in October 2016. The TV series is named after the main character of the show. MacGyver is a clandestine government agent with almost limitless scientific resourcefulness. This great trick for gaining access into your locked room is named after him, because it is almost certainly something he would think of.

This hack can be done with simple tools that you can find in the house or borrow from a neighbour.

Items needed include:

  • Paper
  • Dental Floss
  • Vacuum Cleaner

Now the steps:

  • Tie one end of the dental floss to your piece of paper.
  • Slip the piece of paper and floss through the top of the door. This will take a bit of finesse.
  • Now that you have the paper over the door and on to the other side, lower it until you can see it under the doorway.
  • Once you can see the paper, grab and gently pull it out. You may need a piece of wire or straightened wire hanger to fish out the paper.
  • Now, you have the floss on both sides of the door. Tie the floss to the cable of the vacuum cleaner a few feet away from the plug, preferably at the middle of the cable.
  • Push the vacuum cleaner cable under the door, then gently pull on the floss. You have to do this gently so that the floss won’t break, but pull it so that the cable gets to the point where you think the doorknob is. This may take a bit of time, but eventually, you should be able to hook the doorknob with the cable.
  • Once you have got the doorknob, take hold of both ends of the cable and pull back and forth to try and turn the knob. This also may take a few minutes. Lean on the door to give it some pressure. With a bit of patience, you should be able to turn the knob with the cable and get back into your room.

This system may not work for all doors though. If you can’t lay hands on a vacuum cleaner, then any really long, knotty length of cable or rope will suffice.

Note of caution: Don’t use any of these tricks to gain access into someone else’s home. You will get caught and may face criminal charges. Only use them when you need to enter a locked room in your own home and cannot find the key.

If you cannot manage to unlock your door with these tips, then you need to call a locksmith.

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