Unlock a Bedroom Door in an Emergency: DIY Solutions

hands picking lock with paperclip
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Bedroom door locks should be respected, as they do serve the purpose of providing privacy, but sometimes, they malfunction or get misused. Unlocking a bedroom door in an emergency is certainly something no one wants to do but there are times when you might really need to have this knowledge.

Bedroom Door Locks

The lock on a bedroom door is designed to provide privacy, not to offer security or keep any intruders out. This is fortunate in the event that you need to open a locked bedroom door, because in an emergency, a high-security lock would be hard to hack.

If you have small children in your home, it is not uncommon for children to lock themselves in a bedroom by accident, so it can be handy to know how to bypass a lock. Many situations might arise that require you to know how to unlock a door without a key from the inside or the outside in a hurry.

When those situations happen, you will know how to deal with them.

Types of Door Knobs

What kind of door knob are you working with? It would be helpful if all interior doors everywhere were standardized but sadly, this is not the case.

Identifying what type of knob you have is the first step toward figuring out the locking mechanism...and how to pick that lock just like a pro criminal would.


Knob door handles are incredibly common. The knob is shaped like a round ball that is easy to hold in the hand and turn to open.


Lever door handles also work with a turning motion, twisting slightly upward or downward to open. The latch is an elongated handle that is long and thin.

Types of Door Locks

Not all doors lock and unlock the same way, which means you need to know exactly what you're dealing with and know a little bit about how the lock works before you can bust it open.

Keyed Entry

Though this is rarely seen, some interior doors used keyed entry knobs. In this design, a keyhole will be on the outside of the doorknob.

The door can be locked or unlocked with the key from the outside. On the inside, the door has a push-button lock and a mechanism that is designed to release the lock when the inner knob is turned.


This type of knob is very commonly seen in bedroom doors. The design is smooth, with no visible mechanisms on the outside except for a small pinhole.

The pinhole can be opened with a special key that is designed to operate all pinhole locks, useful information when you need to know how to open a locked bedroom door. There is a button press lock on the inside of the knob, which is released when the knob is twisted.

Door knobs with this type of lock often come with an emergency key for interior door use, an interior door emergency key, but you can never find this bedroom door key when you really need it.

How to Unlock a Bedroom Door Without a Key

There are tons of different reasons why you might need to know how to unlock a bedroom door without a key in an emergency, whether you're on the inside or the outside of the room. And since you are in an emergency situation and you can't get past the door, your first instinct might be to destroy the door.

Try to avoid this when you can because doors are very expensive. Instead, try some fairly simple hacks that will allow you to bypass a locked bedroom door and you'll learn how to unlock a door without a key.

How to Unlock a Bathroom Door with a Pinhole

The pinhole lock is the most common one you will encounter when you are facing a locked interior door, whether it's a bathroom door or a bedroom door that's locked when you don't want it to be locked. Pinhole locks have a small hole on the outside and a push-button lock on the inside, at least they do when the knob is installed properly.

This is also a very easy lock style to hack, so no door destruction will be needed. Pinhole locks open with a standard key, which is really just a straight, small metal rod that can be inserted into the hole and pressed gently until the lock releases.

But most of the time, you're not going to have this tool anywhere handy. So instead, grab a paperclip and straighten it out and use this instead as a bedroom door key.

If you haven't got a paperclip, look for any small-diameter wire or even a strong piece of thin wood, such as a toothpick.

Whatever tool you use, insert it straight into the middle of the pinhole and press it firmly right in the center. If you angle the tool at all, you will probably miss the lock release, so keep the tool straight and go right at the heart of the doorknob.

How to Unlock a Pinhole Turn Button Lock

One of the most common variations of the pinhole lock is the turn button lock.

Rather than a push button locking device on the inside of the door, this design has a small pull that can be slightly rotated to a horizontal or vertical position in order to engage the lock. It is turned the other way to disengage the lock and allow the door to be opened again.

The pinhole on this type of lock is slightly bigger but it still requires a small, straight tool of some kind in order to be unlocked. When you insert the tool into this pinhole, you must go straight into the hole and then gently turn the tool in order to engage the lock and force it to release.

This can be a little tricky, so work slowly and go by feel. You will be able to tell when you successfully turn the locking mechanism and get it to release.

How to Unlock a Bedroom Door That Requires a Key

If the door knob has a keyhole slot in it, you might rightly feel pretty daunted and you might quite reasonably consider breaking through the door in order to get it open and put an end to the emergency situation. However, locks can be picked and you don't need to be a career criminal to learn this skill.

It's a bit of a scary truth but the fact is, interior doors that lock with keys are not really designed to be all that secure anyway. Someone who really wants in will get in, which is good news for you in a bad situation.

First, forget about all the stuff you've seen in the movies about picking locks because none of that will be useful to you at all. Next, get the following tools: an Allen wrench or a paperclip, or both.

If using an Allen wrench, insert the short end into the key slot and try to get a good connection, enough that you can turn the lock when you apply a little bit of pressure and twist. Turn the wrench in the direction that you would use a key to turn the lock.

With the Allen wrench still in place and the key slot still turned, insert a straightened paperclip into the lock. Press it in there until it will no longer move forward and then, gently and slowly, move the clip upward.

Go by feel as you work slowly, moving the paperclip in a circular motion to see if you can make the lock shift and release. You will be able to feel it when and if you manage to engage the lock.

How to Unlock a Door with a Credit Card

This is something else you'll see in the movies and it actually only works some of the time. However, it does work sometimes so you may want to try the credit card method to find out how to unlock a bedroom door without a key that doesn't want to unlock.

Start with a relatively sturdy card that doesn't bend or break very easily and be sure to select a card you are quite sure you can live without in the event that it breaks, which is actually rather likely.

To make this method work, insert the card between the door and the doorframe somewhat above the locking mechanism. Move it downward in a strong and rather fast motion in order to get the card between the frame and the lock.

Tilt your card toward the frame to get it between the door and the lock. When done properly, the lock will release but in many cases, this won't work at all or the card will break.

This method is often shown for those wondering how to unlock a door without a key but it's really a hit-or-miss solution to the problem.

The Last Resort Options

If traditional unlocking methods don't work and the situation is desperate, you can still get past the lock and open the door without destroying anything. However, you are going to need one or more standard hand tools.

Use a Screwdriver

You will need a Phillips head or flathead screwdriver, depending on the type of screws that are used to hold your door hinges and door lock in place.

First, if there is a screw present in the knob, start by trying to remove the knob first. You will often be able to unscrew the knob and loosen it enough to pull it away from the door and reveal the locking mechanism.

Once you can see the locking mechanism, you can manually move the mechanism to release the lock.

If the screws are not visible or for some reason you cannot remove the door knob, you can go for the hinges. Remove all the screws around the hinges and pull the hinges off the door and the frame to remove the entire door.

Keep all the hardware that you remove, including rods and screws, so you can put the door back to its original position once you have dealt with your emergency. In the meantime, get a key that will unlock the door from the outside and place this on the frame above the door so that you always have a way to enter the door in an emergency and you never need to remove the hinges again.

Use a Hammer

If you can't remove the knob or the hinges for some reason or you simply do not have the time, you can always go with a more aggressive approach and grab a hammer. No, you will not be busting through the door with this tool...but you will be getting just a little bit violent.

This is a bit of an extreme solution, but this is a fairly simple answer when you need to know how to open a locked bedroom door.

Hold the hammer in your dominant hand and please, put on eye protection. Stand at a slight angle from the door, approaching it from the side.

With a firm and steady motion, smack the doorknob with a hammer. Smack it hard, because the goal is to completely remove the knob from the door.

This method will most certainly destroy your door handle and may also cause some damage to the door around the area where the knob is attached. Wood may splinter and other damage may result.

However, this will get you into the locked bedroom very quickly and will still cause less damage than destroying the entire door.

What You Should Know About Unlocking a Bedroom Door in an Emergency

An emergency by definition means there is little time to think or plan. You need to react, and you need to do it quickly before the situation becomes worse.

This makes it quite difficult to maintain your wits and come up with a good strategy when you're faced with an obstacle and there's a problem right on the other side of it. Knowing what you need to do when it comes to unlocking a bedroom door in an emergency can save you from creating serious damage to your home or exhausting yourself while you try to figure out a solution all alone.

Once you know the various methods for unlocking a bedroom door or bathroom door or any interior door, you can apply these techniques in any emergency situation as needed. Having this information before an emergency occurs will help you maintain a cooler head and keep your thoughts organized while you deal with the locked door and then the time-sensitive situation that's waiting behind it.

No one wants something bad to happen, or to find themselves in an emergency. But since there's a chance that this will happen no matter what you do, it's best to have a plan of action and to be prepared for whatever life might throw your way.

Unlocking a Bedroom Door FAQs

How do you open a bedroom door without a key?

In the absence of a key, you can use a paper clip, a plastic card, a screwdriver, or a hammer, in the worst-case scenario, to open a locked door. Never, ever try to use your own body by throwing yourself against a door.

Stunts like this might work in Hollywood on the screen, but in real life, you are extremely likely to seriously hurt yourself if you attempt to throw your own body against a locked door. You are far more likely to damage your own body than you are to make that lock budge in any way.

How do you open a locked bedroom door?

Locks can malfunction, keys can get stuck, and people can make mistakes and lock a door that shouldn't be locked, winding up in a situation that is unsafe in some way. Knowing how to unlock a bedroom door without a key will help to quickly relieve this emergency.

If you haven't got a key, there are multiple ways to pick a lock to get it to open, including removing the hinges with a screwdriver or removing the door knob with a hammer through sheer force and strength. Hopefully, you will be able to pick the lock without causing any damage to the door or to the knob, but in a true emergency when nothing else works, you can always destroy the knob to get into the room.

Always exercise caution when using a hammer, particularly if you are not using it for its intended purpose. Try to take the time to put on safety glasses and be careful with yourself so that you don't end up dealing with two emergencies instead of one.

What is the easiest way to open a locked door?

The easiest way to open a locked door is by using the key that was made for the lock, whether this is a standard key or a straight pinhole key tool.

If you haven't got access to the key, locks can be picked with a paperclip, but this process can be a bit tricky, and when you are in an emergency and distracted, your concentration and coordination may not be quite up to the delicate task of picking a lock.

How do you unlock a door from the outside?

Unlocking a door from the outside can be as simple, in some cases, as inserting a paperclip straight into a hole and pressing firmly to release the lock. In other cases, you will have to use additional methods in order to get the lock to release.

Further Reading

Changing Locks on Doors

Choose the Best Home Door Lock

Choose the Best Lock for Your Door

Different Types of Door Locks

Door and Window Hardware: Different types of Hinges and Locks

Door Lock Parts: How to Identify and Replace

Door Replacement Made Easy

Remove a Door Lock in 3 Steps