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How to Unlock a Bathroom Door in 4 Easy Steps

bathroom interior

When you realize that your bathroom door won’t unlock, in panic you may try turning the doorknob and pulling on the door. If it doesn’t work, what do you do now? Don’t worry. We have you covered.

Bathroom locks are an excellent addition to any home. They ensure that your private space does not become a shared one. While the primary function is to keep anyone out of the room while you’re in, there are times when the door locks and won’t open.

It is an inconvenience, and it can be frustrating, especially if you find yourself with children, or even worse, the elderly.

In this article, we look at simple steps to unlock the door. Hopefully, this info will help make your next bathroom visit go smoothly in the event that the door won’t open.

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Before You Start

First, you need to locate the lock. You can’t unlock the door without knowing where to insert the lock pick. The keyhole is located on the knob itself. But sometimes, it’s found on the back of the doorknob or between the doorknob and door.

If you are having trouble finding the keyhole, shine a light into the area around the doorknob. Then, look for a small hole about half an inch in diameter.

Second, determine the type of lock. There are two types of locks on bathroom doors: Twist-in and privacy locks.

Twist-in locks (also known as lever locks) are found in private residences. They’re fitted with a knob that you can turn to engage or disengage the lock. The knob is not removable from the outside.

Privacy locks are found in public bathrooms, such as restaurants and hotels. They’re fitted with a thumb-turn on the inside of the door. It has a small hole drilled through it. You can open a privacy lock from the inside by turning the thumb-turn. It’ll disengage the lock and allow you to open the door normally.

You can use a paper clip or hairpin for this purpose. But first determine how best to open your lock. The method you use will depend on what tools you have.

Image Credit: sxcnemily, Pixabay

What Tools Do You Need?

  • Credit card
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • A pair of pliers
  • Wire
  • Paper clip
  • Chopstick

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Step-By-Step Guide for How to Unlock a Bathroom Door

1. Locate Bypass Holes

The first thing you’ll want to do is check for bypass holes. These are small holes on the doorknob near where you insert the key, one on each side of the doorknob. They’re usually marked with an icon. The hole on the outside will be round. The other hole on the inside will have a small notch at the top. They’re used to unlock the door from outside if the lock has been engaged by accident.

These holes are usually hidden. So, you may need to look closely. Once you find it, insert a wire or similar object through the hole and press down on the button inside. It’ll open up the lock and allow you to open the door. Move to the next step if it doesn’t work.

2. Look for a Rectangular Slot

If your door has a rectangular slot near the doorknob, that’s a privacy lock. It means that the lock is opened with a small, removable piece of metal called a turn piece.

You can use a thin object like a credit card or paper clip to open it. Simply,look for an open space at the bottom of the doorknob and stick your credit card. If you can’t see any space at all, find one by tapping on the doorknob lightly using your hand.

In some cases, this will jiggle the doorknob and expose an opening where you can slide your card in. Once your card is inserted into the opening, move it around. Ensure it slides into a rectangular slot in the middle of the latch bolt.

Once you feel the card hit the slot, slide it downward toward yourself until it releases the turn piece. It’ll unlock the latch bolt and allow you to open your bathroom door.

3. Disassemble the Bathroom Lock

Dismantle the lock if the bathroom door won’t unlock after following the step above. Ensure you have followed all the other steps before embarking on this step.

You will need a flathead screwdriver to unscrew and remove the screws that hold the door lock in place. Remove the doorknob using your pliers. You may need to take out another knob on the other side of the door if there’s one.

Pull out the latch from the hole. This way, you can see what’s behind it. If you find any obstruction, remove it carefully.

Your lock assembly is now removed. You can access the deadbolt or latch inside your bathroom door at this point.

Be careful when dismantling the bathroom lock. If the handle or knob falls, it can dent the lock’s metal or scratch your floor.

4. Remove the Latch Assembly

installing Door knob
Image Credit: kurhan, Shutterstock

The latch assembly is the mechanism inside the hole that allows the door to lock from the inside. It is held in place by two screws, one on either side of the door latch. Take out any remaining screws with your screwdriver. Then, pull off the latch assembly.

You should now see through the hole left behind. At this point, you’ll need to find something long and thin to reach through it, such as a chopstick or an unfolded paperclip.

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Other Methods of Unlocking a Bathroom Door

There are other methods you can use to unlock a bathroom. We’ll discuss them briefly here. One of them may work well than dismantling the entire door lock.

Use a Coat Hanger

Straighten out a coat hanger and make sure the hook has been removed. Then, push the wire through the top gap in the door until it reaches the lock.

Pull and twist the end of the coat hanger using a pair of pliers until you feel the hook reach over the tongue of the lock. Once you have done this, you can pull back on it to unlock your bathroom door.

Use a Bobby Pin

If you get locked out of your bathroom, look around the room and see if there’s anything that you can use to pick the lock. Oftentimes, a bobby pin will do the trick.

Bend it into a U-shape and insert it into the keyhole. Push down with moderate pressure and wiggle it around until you feel something click inside.

bobby pins
Image Credit: efulop, Pixabay

Use a Butter Knife

If you don’t have any bobby pins around, consider using a butter knife to unlock the door. Usually, the handle of a butter knife is thin and flexible enough to bend into an L shape.

You can use an old butter knife for this purpose. It should work if your lock isn’t too complicated or advanced.

Stick it in the keyhole and apply moderate pressure as you wiggle it around until you feel something click inside. You may need to apply more pressure than you did with the bobby pin, but it should work nonetheless.

Be careful when doing this because plywood doors or hollow core doors break if too much pressure is applied to them. Also, don’t use a sharp butter knife as you can get injuries in the process.

Use a Lock-Picking Set

If you have a lock-picking set on hand, you can open a bathroom door easily. To open the lock from the outside, insert the tension wrench into the keyhole and apply slight pressure. It’ll hold the pins in place so that when you pick them with the lock-pick, they won’t fall back into place.

Insert one of the lock-picks into the keyhole and feel for the pins inside. Push down slightly until you feel a pin pop up slightly.

When this happens, move on to another pin. Continue probing all pins until they are all pushed up slightly. Then, turn the tension wrench and open the door.

If a pin pops back down before you get it pushed up, back up and keep trying until all of them are pushed up, and you can unlock your door.

Hit It With a Hammer

Hammering on the door can work well in some cases. The method is straightforward. You only need a hammer.

If you find that the lock is not working, you may need to hit the door lock with a hammer. It’ll allow you to unlock it. Note that this can damage the door and should only be used as a last resort!

a hammer
Image Credit: BenjaminNelan, Pixabay

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What If You Are Locked Inside The Bathroom?

What would you do if you’re locked in the bathroom and the door won’t unlock? Most people would panic. But don’t fret! Here’s what you can do to free yourself.

Look for Other Escape Routes

Calmly assess the situation around you. Is there a window? If so, can it be opened? Is there another way out of the room? There could be a broken window that you could use to get out of the bathroom.

Also, if there’s a window in your bathroom, check to see if it opens. If it does, climb through. Some homes have small windows in bathrooms that are not designed for people to climb through.

But, even in these cases, the window might be large enough for you to fit your arm through.

Call for Help

Asking for help is an excellent step to getting out of the bathroom. It’s the simplest solution if there’s someone nearby.

You could shout out the door or knock on the wall to get their attention. Many doors have a small gap at the bottom (or along the edges). You can use it to look out and see if anyone is coming.

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Final Thoughts

Let’s face it – bathroom locks can malfunction at the most inopportune moments. It’s enough to make you want to say goodbye to them forever and replace them with something more reliable.

But bathroom locks are a crucial part of regular bathroom usage. They ensure you have your privacy and prevent people from opening it as they walk by.

If you find yourself stuck with a door that won’t unlock, you could try any of the above tricks to get it open. Always start with a safer option before proceeding to any lock-damaging mechanism.

Featured Image Credit: Ajaykashyap72, Shutterstock


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