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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

What To Do When Your Front Door Lock Is Frozen

by Taylor January 30, 2023

As the temperature drops and the weather gets chillier, any moisture in the air is sure to freeze. Sometimes, this moisture ends up in inconvenient places. Under the right circumstances, your front door’s lock might end up frozen shut.

Fortunately, there are ways to fix this inconvenience. You can get the ice out of there in no time and take steps to lower the chances of it happening again.

Here’s what you need to know about how to unlock a frozen door lock:

  1. Unfreezing The Lock
  2. Preventing It From Freezing
  3. Causes Of Freezing


How do you unlock a frozen door lock?

If you want to know how to unlock a frozen door lock, you’ll need something that melts ice. A commercial de-icer will work, but short of that, you can breathe on it and use your hand to help it thaw. You might want to warm your key with a flame before sticking it in the keyhole. Finally, some commodities like WD-40 or hand sanitizer can melt ice, although these can also gum up your lock.

How do I stop my door latch from freezing?

If your car door keeps freezing, you can park it with the lock facing the sun. You can also cover it with a magnet or putty. Ensure you don’t break your car door lock trying to get the ice out.

How do you keep your house door locks from freezing?

Your house door locks are freezing because of escaped humidity from your home. Get better weather stripping and try covering the lock with a magnet, a sock, or other modified covers.

Unfreezing The Lock

If you want to know how to unlock a frozen door lock and open your house door, the first thing you need to do is unfreeze it. If you’re on the outside of your house, you may need to make some trips to the store, but if you have access to the inside, you’ll likely be able to use something in there.

1. De-icer

There are fluids specifically designed to de-ice locks. If freezing is a frequent lock problem for you, you should keep one handy outside your house. These also work on car door locks to solve car lockouts too. This is a very straightforward method if you need to know how to unlock a frozen door lock.

Be careful not to use too much of this stuff, as you could accidentally overdo it and jam up the lock over time. That said, it’s generally pretty safe for locks, as de-icers are made with locks in mind.

2. Household Commodities

Various household commodities can help unfreeze your broken locks. WD-40 is the most common, but you can also use alcohol-based products like hand sanitizer or hair spray. Applying petroleum jelly to your key and then sticking it in the lock may help, as can vinegar, lip balm, and antifreeze.

Keep in mind that there are several risks to attempting this type of ice removal. Certain products can damage the finish or paint on your front door. And basically, all of these can jam your lock up if applied in high quantities. They do successfully stop moisture from settling in the door, but they can attract other debris.

Some suggest that you only use these solutions every once in a while, while others suggest that you never put these in your lock or you’ll need a lock replacement. Needless to say, household items are not the best when it comes to how to unlock a frozen door lock, so be careful.

3. Heat

If you need to know how to unlock a frozen door lock in a pinch, you can warm your key and stick it in the door. You can use a lighter, burner, boiling water, or even in your car. Wear gloves before heating your key, or you’ll burn yourself.

Try not to heat it so much that you warp the key or keyhole. Also, if you use hot water for heat, you’re introducing more water into the keyhole that will soon freeze again. And, of course, take all of the usual safety precautions when dealing with fire.

4. Body Heat

When figuring out how to unlock a frozen door lock, there are two ways to use body heat – through your hands and your breath.

If you lay your thumb or hand on the lock long enough, this may transfer enough heat for the ice to melt. If that doesn’t work, hold your hands over the lock and breathe into it or use a straw to transfer hot air directly inside. A combination of both of these strategies may make progress in melting the ice.

5. Hair Dryer

If you can access a cordless hair dryer, the heat can help the ice melt. You might even be able to plug one in near the door and bring it to the front of your house. Make use of any extension cords you have if necessary.

This is a very effective way to melt ice in the lock with minimal risk of damage to the door. The hair dryer isn’t going to get hot enough to harm the inner mechanisms, so you don’t need to worry about any long-term damage. And it’s not hard to figure out how to unlock a frozen door lock with a hair dryer.

Preventing Locks From Freezing

Now that your lock is no longer frozen, you can take preventative measures to stop it from happening again. Even if you know how to unlock a frozen door lock, you still need to do this, or else you’re just going to end up jamming your lock up with ice-melting substances.

1. Cover

Cover your lock, and moisture can’t get inside to freeze. Then you’ll never need to know how to unlock a frozen door lock. There are a few things you can use to cover it up.

There are door knob insulators that you can purchase to protect your lock. You can also cover your keyway with a magnet to shield it from the elements. Some companies make magnets specifically for this purpose.

You can also get a mitten or sock and cord and tie it to the front of your door. Or nail a piece of leather above your lock to create a weather-proof flap. You can make a similar cover by cutting a hole in a rubber ball. Putty will also cover your keyway well. There are various other covers that you can repurpose for doors, like fruit preservation covers, spigot covers, faucet covers, and ziplock bags.

2. Lubrication

Sometimes freezing is caused by moist debris getting inside your lock. Regular lock lubrication can help remove this debris, so you’ll never need to deal with how to unlock a frozen door lock. It’s also a standard part of lock maintenance and all-around a good idea.

Get a dry graphite lock lubricant. These were designed for locks and won’t clog up your keyway or cause damage. Some may recommend using WD-40 instead, but this is a bad idea, as it’ll only draw more debris inside. Graphite is your safest bet (though it can be messy).

You can also use a cotton swab to clean debris out of the inside of the lock. A can of compressed air can do similar work.

3. Door Upgrades

Making your door more weather-proof helps your lock because of the root causes of lock freezing, discussed below. You can add a few modifications to your door, so you’ll never need to know how to unlock a frozen door lock.

A storm door won’t freeze as often. Consider getting your door replaced if you don’t have one. You’ll also need adequate weather stripping, and you might want a strike plate upgrade if your door doesn’t align with the frame.

Shine a flashlight into your home at night to see where the light leaks. Anywhere you see any light should be sealed up.

4. Lock Upgrades

If you don’t want to remember how to unlock a frozen door lock, you can always replace your lock with a keyless one. This can include keypad locks, smart locks, and many others. Some of these have keyholes that you can use override keys on, but if these holes freeze over, you can still get in and out of your house.

Keep in mind that cold weather can sometimes damage the batteries of electronic locks. But you won’t have to worry about your keyhole filling with moisture and becoming frozen, so it may still be worth looking into.

Causes Of Freezing

So why does lock freezing happen in the first place? What makes a lock freeze over?

Essentially, it’s a combination of low temperature and high humidity. This humidity comes from inside the house. If you let air escape on a cold day, you’ll need to know how to unlock a frozen door lock in no time.

If you boil water without a lid, dry your clothes inside, run a ventless fireplace, or leave the bathroom fan off while bathing, the humidity in your home will rise. If there are cracks in your door, this humidity will escape and reach the inside of your lock. A floor vent near your door can also cause this.


If you find your front door frozen shut, don’t worry. You can learn how to unlock a frozen door lock and help lower the chances of it happening again in the future. Keep a de-icer or other instrument outside your door at all times and seal up your door, and you’ll never need to worry about getting stuck again.

Fortunately, when it comes down to it, you can melt the ice and get back inside in no time, even in the worst scenario.

Category: Commercial, Residential

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