The door to the bathroom in my house was accidentally locked and I can't figure out how to unlock it from the outside.

The knob has 3 holes on the outside:

  1. The hole in which on a normal doorknob you would insert a key, screwdriver, etc. and turn to unlock. On this particular knob in the hole, there is a silver, metal, cone-shaped plate that can be pushed in (but not rotated - there is no kind of groove to place a key in and turn). When you push it in, it goes about an inch in and you can feel a spring pushing back but it doesn't seem to change anything.

  2. A small circular hole on the cylindrical portion of the knob that connects to the door. It isn't on the base that actually touches the door, but on the cylinder connecting the spherical knob and the base. You can see the metal turning through it as you turn the knob, but there isn't a full hole to the inside of the knob.

  3. A rectangular hole on the same portion as the small circular hole in #2. It looks like there is some kind of metal tab that should be able to be moved, but applying force in any direction has not had any results.

I've tried every combination of push, pull, twist, push in hole #1, #2 and #3 I can think of with no luck. Does anyone know what kind of knob I'm talking about and how to unlock it?

Here are pictures of the knob: https://i.sstatic.net/nlEew.jpg

enter image description here

  • 1
    Can you post a picture(s) of the knob, clearly showing the 3 holes? Typically it's hole #1 which is the keyhole; the others sounds like they might be used to attach the actual doorknob to the rest of the latch assembly. Maybe you're not pushing in far enough or hard enough?
    – mmathis
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 20:46
  • Right. If you insert a nail or pin and press the plate far enough the lock should pop open. It takes a fair bit of force. The other two holes are to release the knob from the mounting hardware, as mmathis stated.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 20:48
  • @mmathis I edited the post to include a link to pictures. I for sure pushed the plate in as far back as possible and as hard as I could with a few different tools and no luck.
    – TJ_
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 20:51
  • @TJ_ what tools did you use? A screwdriver may be too big; we always used a straightened coat hanger when the "key" wasn't handy.
    – mmathis
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 20:53
  • @mmathis I tried a paperclip, a tiny screwdriver meant for eye glasses, a screw, and a normal sized screwdriver
    – TJ_
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 20:56

3 Answers 3


Bathroom doors are for courtesy, not security, and are designed to be easily defeated. The solitary purpose of that hole on the end of the knob, and the button behind it, is to unlock the door.

Work that option quite firmly, straight in, with the stoutest thing that'll fit in the hole. If that doesn't work, into the trash it goes.

Since the lock-set is beyond saving, you can poke at the other holes in an effort to release the knob handle from the shaft, and otherwise destructively disassemble it in any manner that won't harm the door or trim. It shouldn't be long before you gain enough access to the mechanism to either spring the lock, or slide the latch. Throw the bits out and off to the big-box to buy a $10 bathroom lockset.

  • Ended up having to do this as none of the other solutions worked. I hit the knob off with a hammer, and to my surprise - no lock on the other side. Just a plain knob.
    – TJ_
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 16:23

You're on the outside of the door, and given both the unlock mechanism appears to not be working, and the "credit card" method don't work, here's another option: remove the hinge pins and take the whole door off.

You just need a hammer and a screw driver (or nail punch, or nail, or something similar) and then push the hinge up from the bottom. You'll probably want a second person to help just in case the door falls over while you're working at the hinges.

enter image description here

  • +1 But also will take a bit of jimmying to get the door side of the hinge over the knuckle of the frame side.
    – bib
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 22:21

Looks like you're at least stuck on the opening side of the door -- which means the latch isn't blocked by a stop.

You should be able to break in by pushing the latch in.

enter image description here

Slide something narrow down above the latch between the door and the jamb, such as a credit card or metal ruler. Come down at about a 45° angle and it should push the latch in, allowing you to open the door.

enter image description here

  • I had to do the credit card trick for my son in law not long ago when the grandson locked the door it was a push in and twist the whole knob to lock but the credit card did it.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 21:30
  • Tried a credit card, butter knife, and small screw driver already with no luck.
    – TJ_
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 21:31
  • Many of these locks have an anti-loid plunger as part of the latch to prevent this technique. It is depressed by the strikeplate preventing the latch from being pushed in. Often lateral prying (big flat screwdriver or small prybar between the strikeplate and the door) is the easiest solution.
    – bib
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 22:20

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