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How to Open Privacy Lock? – Easy Steps Everyone Can Do

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

how to open privacy lock

Privacy locks are prone to accidental activation because they can easily be turned by kids. Some adults, meanwhile, often forget to unlock them when closing a door, thereby locking themselves outside.

Luckily, it’s easy to unlock a privacy door knob, thanks to the straightforward design of this hardware commonly seen in bathrooms and bedrooms.

Learning how to open privacy lock is useful, especially when you misplace the key that came with it. It’s so easy to defeat this type of device that even youngsters can do it.

Steps to Open a Privacy Lock


Here are the items you need when opening a privacy lock from the outside:

  • Privacy or emergency key (if available)
  • Tiny screwdriver or any other thin stick or metal rod that can go through the hole

Step-by-Step Guide

Standard privacy locks are not keyed and come with a pinhole on their exterior knob. The hole serves as a keyway for rods or thin metal sticks, which you can use when unlocking them from the outside.

The steps below can unlock a push and twist door lock or a privacy lock without damaging the door.

Step 1: Find the privacy or emergency key

When you buy a brand-new privacy lock, it probably has an emergency key.

Assuming you have this key in hand, you just need to insert its flat end into the lock hole, feel the groove of the lock, and when you think you hit the right spot, turn the key clockwise or counterclockwise to unlock the door.

All that will be done in 5 seconds or less.

Step 2: Use a screwdriver if there’s no emergency or privacy key

If you don’t have an emergency key, you must have a tiny screwdriver, like the one used in glass repairs. Similar to the previous step, you need to insert it in the lock hole.

The goal is for the screwdriver’s head to reach the groove. With a little jiggle here and there, your tool will hit the right spot, then you need to twist it until you can open a lever lock or a knob.

Alternative Methods of Entry

In case you’re feeling a little adventurous and want more thrill when undoing a privacy lock, here are alternative modes of entry (assuming there’s no window).

1. Use an ear pick, a long stick, or any other substitute key

As stated earlier, an emergency key looks like an ear pick, so if you have a long ear pick at home, you can use it to pick a door handle lock.

You can also unlock the door with a bobby pin, an eyeglass screwdriver, a paperclip, a solid metal wire, an Allen wrench, or even a sturdy wooden stick, so long as it can fit in the hole.

With the right length and rigidity, you can use any thin rod to open door lock with hole.

2. Use a butter knife

When you have a privacy lock with a push-button mechanism without hole, you can defeat it with a plastic card or a lock-picking set. Otherwise, you can head to the kitchen and grab a butter knife.

As with a flathead screwdriver, you just need to insert the tip of the knife into the keyhole. Afterward, twist it until you hear the click or rotation of the turn piece, which will unlock the door.

3. Use a credit card, ID, or any other sturdy card

You have probably seen it in movies, and it’s not a hoax: you can open a latch lock from the outside using a credit card.

First, slide the card between the door and the jamb, right where the latch is fixed. With a strong push, the card will force the latch back into the door, thereby unlocking it.

If you can’t undo the lock on your first try, repeat the step until the latch gives in after a few wiggles. You can lean on the door for added force. May the force be with you, indeed.

4. Remove door’s hardware

When you have time at your disposal and want to tinker with the door, you can remove some of its hardware like the hinges or the handle.

  • For removing the hinges, the goal is to loosen them with the help of a flathead screwdriver and a hammer. Force the screwdriver between the door edge and the knuckle until the hinge loosens.
  • When undoing a doorknob with visible exterior screws, you just need to unscrew them. Afterward, use the screwdriver to secure the lock mechanism.
  • If the knob has no screws, your screwdriver is also a friend as you will use it to penetrate the cover plate. You just need to force the screwdriver into the plate, so you can expose the screws; it’s easier if the lock frame has a notch.

Afterwards, you can now twist the lock.

If you’re up for it, you can also use a drill instead of your good old screwdriver.

5. Force your way into the door

If push comes to shove and you can’t unlock bathroom door twist lock, use your body strength to force your way into the room. After all, privacy locks are not that secure and can be easily defeated.

You can either use your feet or torso as a battering ram to enter the room. If you have an actual battering ram, a crowbar, or a hammer, then use them to attack the door. You can also demolish the door with other solid equipment.

This is your chance to be in an action movie, but be ready to install a new door.

What is a Privacy Lock

As the name suggests, a privacy lock is a type of lockset used primarily to close an interior door for privacy instead of protecting items behind it.

It is commonly used in bedrooms and bathrooms where solitude matters most. There are two variants of privacy locks: those with buttons and those with turn pieces. There’s also a privacy lock with key.

It need not be said that this type of device is meant to be an auxiliary lock rather than a main one. Privacy locks are easy to hack, so they should only be used in rooms where valuables are not stored.

Emergency keys

Privacy locks have emergency keys that look like an earpick. They have a flat end and a looped or curved head that serves as a handle.

The flat end goes into the hole and matches with the groove of the lockset. When twisted, it rotates the turn piece or undoes the push button, thereby unlocking the door.



How do I remove the privacy lock?

As previously stated, you can remove a privacy lock with the help of a screwdriver and a hammer. Whatever type of door knob, the goal is to expose the screws.

It will take more time to penetrate the cover plate if it does not have a notch. Otherwise, if it has a hole near it, you can insert a flathead screwdriver or any other substitute keys to loosen its fastening.

Doing so will expose the screws, and you can work on removing the privacy lock.

How do you open a privacy lock with a credit card?

Insert the card between the door and the jamb right in the area where the latch is located. With a few wiggles or a strong push, the card will push the latch into the door, thereby unlocking it. With practice, you can master this cool trick.

How do I unlock the Kwikset privacy lock without a key?

Kwikset privacy locks are among the most common, and you can easily undo them using an emergency key or any of the previously mentioned substitutes. The goal is to unlock door with key through its pinhole.

If the unit is not knob-based, fret not as you can also unlock a lever door handle with a privacy key or any other substitute items.

Read more: The easiest way to pick a Kwikset door lock.

How to undo a smart privacy lock?

If your bedroom or bathroom has a modern lock, you can easily open privacy guard locks with the help of the app in phone.

Since you can monitor devices and locks linked to your smart home system, you can set your open privacy protection password for your privacy locks with just the tip of your finger.


Privacy locks are not made to secure items or protect a room from break-ins. It might be ironic that these locks are made for privacy yet are easy to hack.

On the bright side, knowing how to open privacy lock is useful when you have kids who play with door knobs or when you always twist the turn piece thinking you unlocked it.

Defeating locksets has never been this easy. It’s so easy you might as well teach your children too, so they don’t lock themselves out.

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