Nothing can be more frustrating than being locked out of your house, being stuck in a strange room, or being unable to access your closet because the key is misplaced or broken.
Unfortunately, these are some of the events that you can’t foresee, and the only way to potentially get yourself out of such situations is to learn the different ways to open your door without a key. This guide shares some of the techniques that work.
A Friendly Advice
Before we even show you how to open your door without a key, let’s set the record straight. You MUST NOT use any of the methods shared below to break into another person’s home. While breaking and entering may be considered a minor offense, it is still a crime and you could go to jail for it. Use these methods only if:
- You are unlocking a door in your own home.
- You are helping someone else unlock their door, of course, with their permission and importantly, in their presence.
- There is an emergency and there is no other way to get into the house.
How to Unlock A Door Without a Key
The methods we have listed below will likely not cause any significant damage to your door’s locking mechanism, the door itself, or its frame. They will also not harm you.
1. Picking the Lock
Tools to Use: Allen wrench and paperclip or bobby pin
Lock picking mimics how the ordinary key works. As such, you need to be familiar with the different parts of your lock and how these parts work in sync to open the door. Generally, this technique can work on any lock.
To start, grab your Allen wrench and insert its shorter end into the lower part of the keyhole. Then, slightly turn the wrench in the direction the key is supposed to turn. You will need to apply a little bit of pressure to the wrench to do this.
Holding the wrench in position, insert an unbent paperclip or bobby pin into the keyhole to pick the lock. Gently lift the paperclip or bobby pin back, then upward. If the door doesn’t open, move the clip or pin in a circular motion, as you slightly increase the pressure exerted on the Allen wrench.
Repeat this motion, exerting more pressure each time until the lock shifts. Now maintain the current pressure as you continue moving the paperclip or bobby pin in a circular motion until your door unlocks.
2. Pushing the Spring Lock
Tools to Use: Credit Card
If you are unlocking one of these doors that have a spring lock, you can try using a credit card. Make sure to go for a cheap card or one that you don’t care if it gets broken or damaged. The card will also work best if it is bendy.
To start, insert the card between the door frame and the lock and bend it backward to push the lock into the door. In most instances, this simple technique will open the door.
But what if there is no space between the frame and the lock, you may ask?
Well, try pushing your card between the door frame and the door at any point above the lock. Then, quickly swipe downward, while pulling the card toward the frame and you will feel the door unlock.
While this may seem like an easier way than using an Allen key and paperclip, keep in mind that it will only work for spring locks; you cannot use it for deadbolts.
3. Unlocking With an Improvised Key
Tools to Use: Eyeglass screwdriver or paperclip
Most interior locks like those on bedroom and bathroom doors lock for privacy but are usually not totally impassable. More often than not, the non-locking side of such a door will have a tiny hole on the knob, with a small button hidden inside of it that you should push to unlock the door.
To unlock the door, all you need is to push a tiny eyeglass screwdriver or an unbent paperclip into the hole and twist it.
A spam key can be used to unlock such doors too. While it is mostly used for twisting open spam, sardines, anchovies, and other metal food cans, if you have access to it, you can try unlocking your door with it. In case you don’t know what a spam key is, watch this video.
4. Removing the Door Knob
Tools to Use: Screwdriver
Another way to open an interior door that has a low-level security doorknob is to remove the doorknob, then dismantle the lock.
Check to see if the screws used to mount the doorknob in place are exposed. If they are, simply pull them out, then disassemble the knob and lock.
If you can’t see any mounting screws, then you will need to disassemble the knob part by part to reveal the mountain screws. Once you find these, pull them out to access the locking mechanism. Then, shift the lock away from the doorjamb and you will unlock the door.
If you dismantle the doorknob properly, you should be able to put the pieces nicely back into place after you have unlocked the door.
Methods of “Desperation”
While the above are the easiest ways to open your door without a key, there are times, however, that none of these methods will work and you need to consider a more extreme technique to open your door.
For instance, if your key gets stuck inside the keyhole or a paperclip or bobby pin breaks while you try to use it and you can’t pull it out. It could also be that the lock has malfunctioned and something inside it is causing it to jam.
They say ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’, and all of these instances will require a more extreme measure to unlock the door.
However, we must state that none of the techniques we suggest below should be attempted without first trying the above methods. In other words, you should only use the following as the last resort.
5. Removing the Hinges
Tools to Use: Flathead screwdriver and rubber mallet
If the lock won’t let you inside your house, the hinges will. This technique may seem a little complex, for sure, but tell you what, it is one of the best ways to open your door without damaging any part of it.
Simply insert your screwdriver into the hinge between the top or bottom knuckle (depending on where the head of the pin is) and the pinhead. Then, use the mallet to tap the handle of the screwdriver so it can wedge downward. This will loosen the pinhead, making the pin ready for removal. Now, pull out the pin and set it aside.
Repeat the process with all the hinges, making sure not to lose the pins. Once all the pins are out, push the door open.
6. Drilling the Lock
Tools to Use: Drill, flathead screwdriver, and lubricant
If the lock is jammed and nothing can be done to unlock it, one way to get your door to open would be to drill the lock itself or around it. Make sure to drill the lock before resorting to drilling around it.
To do it right, start by drilling over the keyhole to figure out which drill bits work best for the material used to make your lock. Once done, lubricate the bits before you start drilling and throughout the drilling process.
In the end, insert a screwdriver into the newly-drilled hole and pry open the internal cylinder of the lock. This process will naturally damage your lock, but the door will not be harmed.
If the door will still not open, now it’s time to drill around the lock. Drill a few key areas of the wood to loosen it, then push the door open. In most cases, drilling a door to remove a jammed lock will result in you having to buy a new door.
7. Smashing the Door
If there is an emergency that requires you to open your door quickly and you can’t access your toolbox, kicking the door down or ramming into it could be the only option.
Some methods like kicking down the door, however, may seriously harm your foot, and sometimes they may not even get the job done. Similarly, ramming will only work if your body weight is sufficient to exert the force required to push the door open. Needless to say, if any of these two methods work, your door will be ruined beyond repair.
There are several methods that you can use to open your door without a key. It is important, however, that you try the safest ones like using a credit card or bobby pin before resorting to extreme measures like drilling or smashing the door, as most of these will leave your door damaged beyond repair. If all else fails, consider getting a locksmith.