Key stuck in the door lock: how to get it out and what to do?

7 min

You are late somewhere, on the run you tie your laces and comb your hair, run out of the apartment, try to close the door very quickly, but the trouble is – the key is stuck in the lock. Has this ever happened to you? We are sure that if you are on this page, you have already managed to be convinced of the power of the law of meanness. Perhaps right now a stuck key is sticking out of the keyhole, and the first attempts to pull it out by force did not give any result. Then you have come to the right place – we figure out what to do if the key is stuck in the door lock, how to pull it out and not make it worse.

We assess the situation

First of all, you need to stop panicking and assess the situation sensibly:

  • if you have absolutely no skills in handling the lock, then in most cases it will be better to wait a little for the master than to try to do something on your own and only aggravate the situation;

  • if you know something about the device of locks, or even once installed or changed the lock yourself, then you can try to cope on your own;

  • if time is running out, even the most inexperienced person will try to do something on his own – this is in our blood, therefore it makes no sense to stop you – we will simply direct your efforts in the right direction so as not to make things worse;
  • be prepared for the fact that if the apartment is closed, you will have to turn to your neighbors or friends for some tool. If the key is stuck when the door is open and there is access to the apartment, then all the necessary tools can be found at home. And in general, when the apartment is open, you can act much more courageously and certainly try to solve the problem yourself before contacting the master;
  • if you managed to remove the key, then you should not rush to insert it back to try again to open or close the lock.

How to remove the key stuck in the lock?

For starters, you should try the easiest way to remove a stuck key from the lock. It is best suited if you have access to the apartment – otherwise you can contact your neighbors to borrow the necessary materials and tools. Thus, you can try to remove the key from the lever and cylinder locks.

The procedure is as follows:

  • splash a liquid into the lock cylinder, which cleans from dirt and rust, lubricates and has excellent penetrating properties – this is the famous WD-40. If it is not there, then you can take kerosene. If there is no kerosene, then try using machine oil or, at worst, vegetable oil, grease, silicone. The easiest way to fill is through a syringe or spire.

Do not use cotton swabs, cotton pads or other soft, fleecy materials – their particles can get into the mechanism, and then all further instructions are meaningless

  • wait 10 minutes for the liquid to do its job;
  • try to turn the key to one side or the other with a little force. Do not overdo it! Too much force cannot be applied;
  • if your hands slip, you can try using pliers, but then it will be difficult to control the level of the applied efforts, there is a great risk of breaking the mechanism, and then only the master will help;
  • if you can get the key, we do not recommend inserting it into the lock again. Ideally, the lock needs to be replaced.

If the key still fails

If you did everything as described above, but the key remained stuck in the lock, then you will have to use more drastic measures – physical force or spin the mechanism.

If the key is stuck in the cylinder lock, try the following:

  • hit the lock with a heavy blunt object;
  • with a correctly applied blow, the larva will fall apart into two parts, and this is already more than half the success;
  • it remains to move the lock tongue, and you can even do this with an ordinary screwdriver, and that’s it – the door is open, although the lock will have to be changed.

Perhaps you are in luck and the key is stuck in the lock when the door is not yet closed:

  • hitting anywhere and knocking out nothing is unnecessary, but you have to tinker with a screwdriver, it is best to take a minus one;
  • unscrew all the bolts that hold the lock, remove the lock mechanism, and then the fastener, due to which the key is stuck in the lock;
  • The good news is that you won’t have to completely change the entire lock, but you will need a new larva.

Drastic measures

If you need to get to the apartment urgently, and there is absolutely no time to wait for the master, and independent attempts did not help or even aggravated the situation, then you will have to take extreme measures. There are several options, and all are designed for people with physical strength:

  • try to knock down the door. You will need enough strength, but not the fact that the door leaf will give in. In the case of an old wooden door, everything is simple, but if a modern metal front door is installed, it will be very difficult to knock it out, and in some cases it is almost impossible;
  • cut the loops, but for this you will have to ask your neighbor / friend / relative for a grinder with a disc for metal. Naturally, the hinges should be visible, therefore this method is not suitable for doors mounted on hidden hinges. You can cut the key bolt;

  • another option is to drill the lock with a drill with a drill for metal.

In all these cases, you will have to change either the lock or the door, and therefore these methods are used when it is necessary to get into the apartment very urgently.

If all else fails, you will have to call the master.

How do I remove the key from the padlock?

When the key sticks in the padlock, many immediately go to drastic measures – they cut the handle of the lock with a hacksaw. If you do not mind the lock, and you have a hacksaw at hand, then this is a working and one hundred percent option, otherwise you will have to act in almost the same way as with the mortise mechanism, because the key jams for almost the same reasons.


  • smear the WD-40 mechanism or kerosene, wait and try to turn the key, i.e. the technique is the same as described above;
  • you can try to heat the lock, but it is logical to check this method only in the cold season, since the big problem with padlocks is sensitivity to low temperatures.

What if the key is broken and stuck in the lock?

Probably worse than just a stuck key can be a key stuck and broken in half. This can happen as a result of careless handling of the lock, attempts to remove the key, or if a poor-quality lock and the same poor-quality key were used.

In any case, the following techniques can help:

  • pour WD-40 or kerosene (or oil, or silicone, etc.) into the keyhole, wait 10 minutes and try to pull out the rest of the key. You won’t be able to hook on the shard with your bare hands, so you can use pliers or tweezers;
  • you can try to pull out the key with a magnet if high-quality metal was used in its manufacture;
  • you can try to put the jigsaw blade into the keyhole, press it against the key and pull it towards you until you can hook the remainder with tweezers or pliers;
  • a curious way is to use a lighter and a glue stick. However, the method works if the key remains in the lock in the neutral position.

Why does the key get stuck in the door lock?

It is useful to know the reasons for the key stuck – this can significantly reduce the risk of getting into unpleasant situations.

The key can get stuck in the lock due to the fault of the one who uses this key:

  • the key cannot be used for other purposes, i.e. if you regularly open bottles for them, cut the scotch tape on packages, then do not be surprised that sooner or later you will find yourself with a stuck key;
  • if you apply unreasonably great force when opening the lock, you can damage both the locking mechanism itself and the key;
  • someone who slams the front door often and forcefully may one day be punished by the door – the key will get stuck in the lock;
  • getting debris into the castle;
  • incorrect door installation or gradual skewing of the door leaf;
  • operation of the locking mechanism in high humidity without proper care;
  • you once lost a key, ordered a duplicate, but the master did not make it accurately enough.

It may be that the reason lies in a poor-quality lock or key. It happens that the pins in the lock are made of too soft metal, and as a result, they do not move away when the key gets inside, but block it. In this case, even careful handling of the lock will not help, so choosing a lock from a reliable manufacturer will be the best prevention.

What can be done to ensure that the key never gets stuck in the lock?

In principle, everything is clear from the previous point – you just need to avoid common mistakes when operating the lock:

  • do not use the key for other purposes;
  • do not insert anything into the keyhole except the key;
  • duplicates should be ordered only in verified places. Having saved 50 rubles once, then you will have to spend money on calling the master and a new lock;
  • the door should be opened and closed very carefully and carefully;
  • the castle is not a toy for children;
  • the skew of the door must be eliminated in time, and it is advisable to call a master for this – you can only make it worse yourself;
  • clean the lock regularly. Engine oil or kerosene is poured into the mechanism with a syringe or syringe, then several times fall asleep the key into the well and wipe off the dirt that will be on it. To get oil on all parts of the mechanism, it is necessary to turn the key several times.

Let’s do it again! If you doubt your own abilities, then it is better to immediately seek help from a professional.

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Passionate about DIY for over 10 years and all the new tools, I give you through this blog all my advice, tips, tests in all areas: carpentry, electricity, masonry, gardening, home automation ...


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