How to Unlock a Door in Your Home Without a Key (Safe Ways)

Have you ever been (accidentally or otherwise) locked outside your house? It’s a truly frightening experience that no one could ever wish to go through twice.

Unfortunately, with busy schedules and kids to deal with, it’s easy to think you have the keys in your bag or pocket when in truth, you just locked them inside the house. 

It sucks…we know.

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There are also cases where new homes have some bedrooms and closets locked with no one to contact for keys. These occasions prove that no one should ever take DIY lockpicking skills for granted.

As of now, the fact that you are researching how to unlock a door in your home without a key means you are facing this problem.

Of course, we know you don’t want to break the door and have to replace the entire locking mechanism. So let’s check out a few smart and safe ways to get you back in your house.

But first, a disclaimer.

Do not use the methods below to enter someone’s house unauthorized. They are meant to help you unlock your own doors or that of a close friend or family member. 

Practical ways to unlock a door in your home without a key

How to open a locked door without a key

If your house or one of its rooms is locked, try the following magnificent techniques to unlock it:

1. Lock Picking

Lock picking attempts to work exactly as would a key. The method will only be effective if you know how your lock works in order to generate the right wiggling motions.

To begin, insert the short end of the Allen wrench into the keyhole and turn it in the same direction the key goes.

Apply a little pressure to get the wrench moving. If the wrench bends, then you are applying too much force and that could interfere with pin movements.

Now, while holding the wrench in position, insert the pin or paperclip in the keyhole and move it in circular motions or up and down.

Do this several times while varying the pressure on the Allen wrench and the door will snap open. 

Since locks come in different shapes and sizes, an Allen wrench may fail to work up some padlock pins. That’s why we recommend buying a lockpicking set.

The set can come with multiple tools with differently shaped rakes and hooks for picking a wide variety of locks.

Is it hard to pick locks?

That will depend on the type of lock. Conventional pin tumbler locks are the easiest to bypass.

However, there are advanced versions that are designed to be almost tamperproof and will require skilled locksmiths to unlock.

Nevertheless, anyone can learn how to pick locks on YouTube and other online forums.

Also, while make-do items like paperclips and bobby pins can get the job done, getting pro lockpicking tools can take the hassle out of the process.

2. Use a card

You can use a credit card to unlock a door. The trick is only applicable to locks with latch bolts.

The method, however, will not work on locks that are reinforced with a strike plate as that bars its access.

To effect this technique, simply slide the card towards the lock and use a gentle force to wiggle the latch into moving in and unlocking the door.

Opening doors with cards can damage them. For this reason, we highly suggest you use a canceled or expired card.

If you’ve got none of those, then use cards that can be easily replaced such as loyalty points or student cards. Refrain from using active credit cards, ID, and medical cards.

3. Use a knife

Do you have access to a butter knife? It works the same way as cards.

Just slide it in the door’s edge and wiggle it while leaning on the door. Of course, you’ll need to try several times before the lock gives in.

For safety, stick to a spreader or butter knife. Sharp kitchen knives can easily cut you.

4. Paperclip or eyeglass screwdriver

Some doors, particularly those for bedrooms, are designed to lock for privacy and not security. Therefore they are easy to get through.

Most come with knobs with a hole in the middle. If you push an unbent paper clip or eyeglass screwdriver in and twist a little, they’ll unlock.

Additionally, a spam key can also be used to gain entry into locked bedroom doors. 

How to open a door without a key from the outside

You obviously don’t need to wait for a locksmith or use pins and wrenches when your house is on fire or there is a gas leak. Instead, try these aggressive techniques:

1. Remove the hinges

The latest doors are secured with hinges that can be removed easily. By using a small hammer and a screwdriver, you can slowly get the hinge bolt removed and the door will come off.

And now to the most aggressive approaches.

2. Smash the door

Most interior doors spot a flimsy design and can be kicked open easily.

Exterior doors, however, are thick and you could harm yourself a little if you smash them with your foot.

If you are well built and are feeling James Bond-ish, you can try ramming your way in but to be safe, we recommend you find something heavy to kick the door with.

3. Drill the lock

If smashing the door feels like overkill, then the next best approach would be to drill the lock.

For this method, you will need a small drill, a flathead screwdriver, and lubricant. It might also be a good idea to study the material used to make the lock so you can pick the right drill for the job.

To start the process, lubricate the drill and then drive it into the key path. This will grind the key and driver pins thereby releasing their hold over the lock.

If this doesn’t happen, you can use the screwdriver to snap the internal cylinder from the lock.

You are going to take a longer time to drill if you position the drill poorly. So make sure to have the drill at the top of the keyway.

If this doesn’t work, then you will have to drill around the lock and push it out of place with a screwdriver. 

We can all agree that this method is only ideal when all other safe methods have failed.

Can you drill any lock?

Unfortunately or fortunately (for those who want security assurance), you can’t drill any lock. Some come equipped with high-security anti-drill technology that makes it impossible to crack open.

Nevertheless, locksmiths can still get past the security hurdles by using destructive approaches.

Before you ask, yes, you will have to replace a lock once you drill through it. That’s why this method should be used as a last resort.

How to prevent getting locked out of your house

Easy ways to unlock a door

You are likely to get locked out of your house if you are always in a hurry or have kids that like causing trouble.

As such, you need to take the following precautions to prevent a lockout experience:

Go keyless

You can consider going keyless with electronic door locks to avoid the trouble of calling locksmiths or breaking down doors every now and then.

Electronic doors are controlled remotely through a custom code or a smartphone app.

To improve security, some can link with home security systems and will automatically send out security alerts to professional monitoring stations for help.

Electronic doors may be an expensive affair but it’s totally worth it in the end.

Hide-a-key

You’ve seen in the movies how people get keys to their parents’ or friends’ houses. If it’s not under the doormat, in or under the flower vase then it’s possibly in the mailbox.

The bad news is, burglars know these places and they’ll look there first.

Hide-a-key inventions come in many different shapes and forms.

Some look like rocks or decorations that perfectly blend with the outside environment. This makes it impossible for strangers to trace your key.

If you decide to use hide-a-key and other disguised key holders, make sure the decoration is not too flashy to attract attention.

Let someone keep your spare key

Avoiding a lock-out experience can be as simple as giving away one of your spare keys to someone you trust. This way, you won’t have to drill or smash your door to get in.

Final Thoughts

There are many safe ways how to unlock a door in your home without a key.

Hairpins, credit cards, and butter knives are at the top of the list as they prevent causing extreme damage to the door.

However, if none of these methods work for you, don’t break the door. Instead, consider calling in a locksmith.