How to Open a Bathroom Door When the Door Knob Won't Work

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Things You'll Need

  • Coat hanger

  • Small screwdriver

There are several methods for forcing latches on door knobs that won't work.

Locking passage knobs, such as those found on bathroom doors, are notorious for becoming stuck, or getting locked while a small child, or perhaps no one, is inside. There are several methods you can try. If it is a true emergency, having someone strong kick the door open may be the quickest way. This is sure to be the cause of at least minor repairs, so make this your last resort. There are two calmer approaches you can take from outside the door, and one from inside.

Bend a wire coat hanger straight, or use a piece of stiff wire at least 4 or 5 inches long to insert into the small round hole in the center of the knob.

Press firmly into this hole with the wire until you feel a click and wire shifts forward, as if pushing something in a very short distance.

Twist the knob. It should now twist freely and release the striker latch so that the door can be opened.

Unlock a twist-lock passage knob using the same method with a small flat screwdriver. Insert the screwdriver and turn to unlock the door.

Find a thin, flexible metal tool, such as a putty knife, paint scraper or spatula. The blade must be at least 3 to 4 inches long.

Insert the blade of the tool into the gap between the door jamb and knob side of the door, directly even with the center of the door knob.

Tilt the handle of the tool toward the knob, pull on the knob away from the knob side jamb to shift the door away from the knob side jamb and press the blade of the tool firmly toward the knob striker latch.

Continue pushing until the blade of the tool moves forward, moving the latch toward the knob, so that the door can be opened. Once the door is open and all emergencies have been taken care of, unlock the door or remove the knob to prevent a repeat performance.

Insert the hook portion of a wire hanger or other stiff wire into the gap between the door and the knob side jamb so that the hook drops in front of the knob striker and turns back toward you. If no wire is available inside the bathroom, one can be passed through the gap under the door.

Pull the wire toward you firmly to push the striker back toward the knob and release the lock on the door.

Twist the knob at the same time to prevent the striker from springing back into position and pull the knob toward you slightly. As the striker releases the knob will turn, allowing the door to open.


Mark Morris

Mark Morris started writing professionally in 1995. He has published a novel and stage plays with SEEDS studio. Morris specializes in many topics and has 15 years of professional carpentry experience. He is a voice, acting and film teacher. He also teaches stage craft and lectures on playwriting for Oklahoma Christian University.