enter image description hereLong story short, my door handle fell off today while the door was closed. Luckily I was outside the room. I've attached a photo. Any ideas how to get it open? I've tried the old credit card trick but that's not working for me. Any help would be much appreciated as this is my bathroom door...

Thanks, LockedOut

  • 8
    The credit card trick will only work if there's no lip when the door closes. That probably excludes 99.9% of doors.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented May 26, 2022 at 7:01
  • 6
    Don't you have the square shaft that goes through that hole? It's common for the knob to come detached from the shaft, and/or for the whole shaft to come out in your hand when you pull the door. It's less common for the shaft to fall out the other side of the door. Unless you don't know what it is, and push it through. Hoping you didn't do that ... don't you have, outside the photo, a knob and a square shaft?
    – jay613
    Commented May 26, 2022 at 11:15
  • Are you on the same side of the door as the hinges? Worst case if nothing else works is you can knock the hinge pins out and take the door off the frame to get in. If the hinges are inside the door, this obviously won't work. Commented May 26, 2022 at 13:14
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    @DarrelHoffman - the phto would appear to show the door closed against the jamb, so it will push away from us, meaning the hinges wre on the other side.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented May 26, 2022 at 16:44
  • 1
    @Tetsujin It can be done with some fiddling; you have to go at it from the top or bottom and slip behind the curve/slope, then pull towards you. (Provided it doesn't have one of those secondary security catches, not common on a home bathroom.) Easier with something skinny, like a butter knife or something. A piece of stiff wire bent into a C shape works great. Doing it from the non-hinge side would only be possible if gap between the door and jamb is unusually wide as you couldn't easily slip around the jamb otherwise. (I've only used this knowledge for good, I promise.) Commented May 26, 2022 at 18:39

6 Answers 6


Put something in the square hole that catches (need not be a perfectly fitting square, but round won't work) and turn the latch mechanism.

  • 5
    Been there done that a few times when the door handle and shaft fell onto the floor on the other side. Simply dismantled another door handle (unscrewed the cover) and got the handle and shaft, unscrewed the cover of the closed/un-openable door and used the other handle.
    – MikeT
    Commented May 27, 2022 at 7:10
  • 10
    An appropriately sized pair of scissors that fits on the diagonal is my go to tool when this happens. Commented May 27, 2022 at 8:14

Put a slotted screwdriver into the square hole snugly, corner to corner, and turn either clockwise or counter clockwise.


Note the OP didn't say the handle is missing, merely detached.

You can open the door with the handle, even without re-attaching it, simply by putting the central spindle back in the square hole. It will work just fine, even though it will be wobbly.

Your only real issue would be from the other side… where you'd be relying on someone else doing that for you.

  • 4
    Good to mention the other side! It's highly debatable which side of the bathroom door is the better one to be stuck at ;-). At least you won't die from dehydration, and you have a WC at had whenever you need one -- those may be the two upsides compared to being stuck on the outside. Long story short, better take the handle with you. (Which you can do because, you know, it's detached -- no thorns without rose.) Commented May 26, 2022 at 10:13
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    Only if the part of the handle with the shaft is on your side of the door.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 26, 2022 at 12:44
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    @Ecnerwal - which, according to the photograph, it is most likely to be - unless both handles fell off at once [& the room on the far side is in darkness], it couldn't have fallen through the far side.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented May 26, 2022 at 14:05
  • @Tetsujin: Unless the OP is in the habit of leaving the light on in the bathroom when it's unoccupied, the room on the far side almost certainly is in darkness, so we really can't tell whether the shaft is still in place.
    – Vikki
    Commented May 26, 2022 at 21:28
  • 1
    @Tetsujin Lots of houses have their bathroom at the first floor (or higher, when in an apartment) of the building or a very small window that's just for ventilation, not big enough for the average adult to climb through.
    – Mast
    Commented May 27, 2022 at 6:23
  • Insert closed scissors, diagonally, inside the hole.

  • Open the scissors as much as possible, to get a perfect fit.

  • Turn.

  • 1
    For sharp-shaped scissors you might want to consider the chance of breaking (deforming) its tip.
    – iBug
    Commented May 27, 2022 at 9:55
  • @iBug: True. Even kid's scissors would do. Commented May 27, 2022 at 9:59

I would be using a flat-blade screwdriver across the diagonal.

Done that often and even with "stiff" locks it works.


Buy a large plastic pop/softdrink bottle and cut it into a sheet. Pass it down the interior of the door. It is tricky but the sheet is bendy and will push your lock back, once you get the hang of it.

I had to get a locksmith out, who just pulled a 2 litre "coca-cola" bottle, and cut the bottom and cap off so it was a sheet of thin bendy plastic.

Then push the plastic between the frame and door. It is bendy enough to go round and through but strong enough to engage the lock's latch on the sloped edge of plastic, and it just pushes the tongue back.

  • 1
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    – Community Bot
    Commented May 27, 2022 at 16:29
  • This sounds very similar to the credit-card attack. I'd not thought about using a larger piece of PET plastic for the same.
    – Criggie
    Commented May 28, 2022 at 23:25
  • 1
    Credit cards are a bit too stiff you need a combination of flexible but strong and a pop bottle seems to do just fine
    – SueDenim
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 17:23

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