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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

Locked Out Of Your Closet? 5 Solutions For A Closet Lockout

by Taylor June 27, 2022

It’s nice to have some extra security inside your house. Interior door locks can be helpful, providing privacy when you need it. Sometimes, though, you lose a key or somehow jam your lock, preventing you from getting inside.

And when the room you can’t access is your closet, that can be extra frustrating. What, are you supposed to walk around in the same clothes for days while you figure this out? Or maybe you have an event coming up with a dress code, and you need to access your closet within the next few minutes. How are you supposed to do that?!

Don’t worry, because you can learn how to open a locked closet door, even when you have no key. Most interior door locks aren’t nearly as complex as exterior locks, so there’s a good chance that your closet door lock is relatively simple and easy to open.

There are a few things you can attempt in order to learn how to open a locked closet door. They range from simple to complex, but one is sure to work. Maybe you’ll make that fancy event after all.

Here’s an overview of how to open a locked closet door:

  1. Privacy Lock
  2. Credit Card
  3. Hinge/Doorknob Removal
  4. Lock Picking
  5. Call A Locksmith

1. Privacy Lock

First, you should check if your closet door uses a privacy lock. If it does, you’re in luck: these are made to be easy to open from the outside. It’s not hard to understand how to open a locked closet door with a privacy lock.

If the lock has no keyhole and instead is just a dot or a slit with little to no complexity, you’re using a privacy lock. There are two different ways to open them.

The dot-shaped privacy lock is like the reset button on a toy you may have had as a kid. Find something sufficiently small to fit into this hole and sturdy enough to push the button inside. A tiny screwdriver should work, or a long coat hanger or paperclip.

The more common slit-shaped privacy lock must also have something small inside but may need to turn like a key. Once again, find anything that’ll fit inside it and can be turned. Your best bet is a tiny screwdriver, but if you have a narrow knife, this might work as well.

Some of the slit-shaped locks have their buttons in a dot-shaped hole in the middle on the inside, so just because something will fit in the slit does not necessarily mean it can press the button and unlock the door. You can try out different objects, but try to go for the smallest, thinnest one you can find.

After you press that button, the closet should unlock, and you should be able to access it with ease. These lock types are pretty simple and easy to handle.

If you don’t have a privacy lock, or if it isn’t working for some reason, you still have a few more options to learn how to open a locked closet door. These are less practical and easy to implement, though.

2. Credit Card

The credit card method is risky, as it’ll destroy whatever card you use. Make sure you pick a card that’s no longer in use before trying this method of how to open a locked closet door.

It doesn’t need to be a credit card. It only needs to be a sturdy plastic card, like an old membership card, gift card, or transit smart card. As long as it’s a laminated plastic card, it’ll work.

You also need to make sure your closet door doesn’t use a deadbolt. Your bolt should have a slanted side for this to work. Without that side, the card has nothing to catch on to. You’ll never learn how to open a locked closet door that way.

Try to force the card onto the slanted side of the bolt. This force will cause the latch bolt to slide across the card and the door to unlock. Try turning the knob as you do this. If your card is sturdy, you can also try slamming it over and over against the lock until it catches. That’s how to open a locked closet door with a card.

3. Hinge/Doorknob Removal

You may need to remove parts of the door to access your closet. If you want to know how to open a locked closet door by removing things, you need to know your lock.

The screws keeping the handle in place might be visible. Check if you can grab a screwdriver and unscrew the doorknob. You should be able to remove the bolt from there and open the door. Screwing it back in shouldn’t be too difficult either.

If the screws to your doorknob aren’t visible, you’ll probably have to lift the plate to the knob. You can do this by wedging a screwdriver between the plate and the door and pushing up. The screws should be visible after this, and you should be able to angle the screwdriver to unscrew the doorknob.

If you can’t unscrew the doorknob, you should go for the hinges. Use your screwdriver to lift the pin out of the hinges. You may need to hammer the back of the screwdriver to accomplish this. Doing this is tricky, and you may damage the hinges, but it may be worth trying.

These techniques only work on lower-security doors, which closet doors tend to be. If you have a good lock and still cannot access your closet after trying everything above, you may need to employ some advanced techniques if you want to know how to open a locked closet door.

4. Lock Picking

If you happen to have a more secure or complicated lock, you might have to learn how to pick a lock to understand how to open a locked closet door.

Most locks are pin tumbler locks. They can all be opened with the same picking technique. If your lock is a wafer lock, this technique should still work. Low-security interior locks might instead have warded locks. You pick these a bit differently. If your key looks more like an old-fashioned “skeleton key” than a regular house key, it’s for a warded lock.

To pick a pin tumbler or wafer lock, you’ll need a tension wrench and a pick. If you are already a lock picking hobbyist and have a pick set, you can use what came in there, but if not, you have to improvise.

The trick is to find two things that’ll fit in the keyway. Two paperclips or bobby pins should work.

Bend the paperclip or bobby pin at a right angle to make a tension wrench. For a pick, bend the end of it at a 45-degree angle.

Put your tension wrench in the keyway and apply some turning pressure, like you would when using a key. Using your pick, feel around on the inside and top of the lock until you feel movable pins or wafers. Start lifting these pins one by one until the lock can turn.

Alternatively, you can go with the less effective but time-saving method: raking. Rather than lifting each pin, start scrubbing the inside of the lock like you’re using a toothbrush. On lower-security locks, this should eventually open it. That’s how to open a locked closet door with one of these more complicated locks.

If you have a warded lock, you need a skeleton key. Buy a set of skeleton keys online and try each one out. You can also make a skeleton key by taking a regular key for this lock and filing the bitting down. Of course, these options only make sense if you have time to spare.

Understanding how to open a locked closet door the hard way is a bit difficult and time-consuming, as it turns out.

5. Call A Locksmith

If you couldn’t effectively use any of the methods detailed above, it’s time to call a locksmith.

That’s more or less everything you can try to solve this problem yourself, and if you still can’t do it, you need to get a professional to do it for you if you want to get into your closet without destroying anything. Sometimes, learning how to open a locked closet door gets you nowhere.

Of course, destroying your door or lock is still an option if you only have a few minutes to get into that closet, but locksmiths can come to your house on the same day if you need them to and solve your closet lockout. That makes them the better option overall. They’ll always know how to open a locked closet door.

A professional knows more about a lock than you do and will have the tools and experience to pick your closet lock and get you back in. Now you don’t need those tools or skills.

Quick Tips

How to pick a closet door lock

Most closet door locks use simple privacy locks, so find something that’ll fit in the keyway and can turn. A small screwdriver should work.

How to lock sliding closet doors with a key

There are locks you can buy that are for sliding closet doors. All you need is a deadbolt that can hook into the wall. You can buy one of these on the internet and install the lock yourself.

How to open a locked closet door without a key

To get inside a privacy lock, all you need is something that’ll fit into the keyway. This object can be a screwdriver, a knife, or even a paperclip.

How to get into a locked closet door

If you can’t unlock your closet door, you can remove the doorknob, use a credit card to slide into the latch, or call a locksmith.

How to open a closet lock without a key

If you lost your closet lock key, odds are you can substitute it with a small screwdriver or knife.

How to open a locked closet

All you need to do is push a button inside the keyway using a narrow object. It’s not hard to learn how to open a locked closet door.

How to pick a closet lock

As a low-security door, it’ll either use a privacy lock (which you can “pick” by simply inserting anything), a warded lock (which you’ll need to open with a skeleton key), or a pin tumbler lock (which uses standard picking procedure). If you want to know how to open a locked closet door through pin tumbler picking, any lock picking guide will help.

How to open a closet lock without a key

If you lost your key, insert any small object in the keyway and push the unlocking button. Doing this should get your closet door open.

How to open a closet door without a key

You can open your closet door by pushing a button at the end of the keyway. Anything that’ll fit in the keyway should open your closet door.


Closet doors are relatively simple to unlock. This type is not one of the more difficult door locks to deal with, and there are a few ways around them if you’re in a bind and need to learn how to open a locked closet door quickly.

Privacy locks are made for this exact situation. They’re hard for the average person to get around, but they’re there to signal that you don’t want anyone coming into the room, rather than being an effective preventative measure for stopping someone from coming in.

Of course, after learning this, you might be considering replacing your closet doors with something safer! And also ensuring you never get locked out again.

If you have a bolt with a slope cut into it, any old card can help remove that bolt and unlock a door. You have to be willing to sacrifice that card, however. It’s not going to look great or function well after you’re through with it.

And, of course, there’s always the option of picking locks. Whether you want to do it yourself or call a professional, you can always pick a lock. If worst comes to worst, you can remove or damage your doorknob or door. One way or another, you can get in there.

Closet lockouts are a very solvable situation. No matter what kind of bind you’re in, I guarantee you’ll figure out how to open a locked closet door.

Category: Lock Picking, Lock Types, Residential

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