How to Unlock a Push-Button Lock

Bathroom and bedroom doors often come equipped with push-button or privacy locks. From the lock side, you can simply unlock the door by turning the doorknob, unlike turn-style button locks, on which you have to turn the button to unlock the knob or handle. From the other side of a push-button-locked handle, though, you may need to know how to open the door, such as if a young child accidentally locks himself in the room.

A Hole in One

Push button or privacy doorknobs basically have a simple locking function for privacy, as the name implies, not security. The lock has a spring-loaded emergency release mechanism, which is accessible through a hole on the opposite side of the handle, allowing for relatively easy access when needed. Privacy door handles usually come with an emergency key -- basically, this is a thin wire object called a key, but without notches or teeth -- but these often get lost or misplaced over time. If you don't have this special key, you can use a straightened paperclip, coat-hanger wire or similar material.

'Open Sesame'

The lock's access hole should be visible on the non-locking side, usually smack in the middle of the handle. To access the emergency release from the locked side and open the door:

Step 1

Insert the emergency key or wire about 1 inch into the hole until you feel a springy mechanism; this is the interior end of the lock button. Keep the key or wire straight.

Step 2

Push the lock button directly away from you, applying just enough pressure to release the spring-loaded lock. You'll feel some springy resistance from the button before feeling it click, which means you've opened the lock.

Step 3

Turn the doorknob to open the door. If it's still locked, try again, making sure the key or wire remains level and centered inside the knob. The lock button is small, and it's easy to miss it if you insert the key at an angle.