9 Bathroom Locks That Can be Opened From the Outside

It is unsettling to imagine a bathroom door without a lock, as it isn’t a room that you would want someone to burst in the door whenever they please. However, privacy also comes with a price.

Whether you accidentally lock yourself out of the bathroom or worse, a young child locks themselves in, having a mechanism for unlocking your bathroom from the outside in case of emergency can save you in sticky situations. To fit your bathroom needs, look below for a variety of 9 locks (including privacy door handles) that can open from the outside.

1. Push-Button Handle

Arguably the most common lock in modern bathrooms is a door handle with a push-button lock. It is not only simple to lock and unlock from the inside but also outside.

Exterior Unlocking Methods

Most locksets come with a key for emergency unlocking, though it is not rare for keys of any size to become lost. Thankfully I have found through experience that keys aren’t always necessary.

I have always sworn by the bobby pin method with push-button locks. All you need is a bobby pin, and you can unfold it enough for one of the ends to fit into the hole entirely. It’s simple: push the hair accessory into the hole and apply pressure until you hear the click of the door unlocking.

2. Ball Style Knob With Twist Lock

Harrier Hardware Privacy Door Lockset, Ball Style Knob (Satin Nickel)
Ball Style Knob With Twist Lock (Amazon)

Perhaps the most traditional form of a bathroom lock, standard doorknobs are offered with push-button or twist-button locks. Though it may not be as easy to unlock a twist lock from the outside, it is certainly possible. 

Exterior Unlocking Mechanisms

Some twist-lock knobs come with a key, but some list a mini-screwdriver as their unlocking tool instead. 

To find a screwdriver that will work for unlocking this kind of doorknob, make sure that the body of the screwdriver is narrow enough to fit inside the hole as far as it can go. You may have to feel around to find the grooves of the lock until you can push and twist to get the lock undone.

3. Pinhole Style Lock

A wider variety of locks and bathroom door handles are being added to the market to target more contemporary bathrooms. With its sleek design, the pinhole-style lock allows for a unique handle shape by locating the push-button lock in a different area.

Exterior Unlocking Mechanisms

A “pin” key is included and can be used to unlock the door by inserting it in the hole on the exterior.

As mentioned in the first lock I discussed, button-style locks are not too difficult to open without a key using a bobby pin, paper clip, screwdriver, or any narrow item that fits.

4. Sliding Door Pocket Locks

Sliding bathroom doors have become increasingly popular for bathrooms and can save space by fitting entirely into the wall when opened. Because they don’t utilize standard handles or knobs, sliding doors use locks suited to their design.

Exterior Unlocking Mechanisms

Growing up, I always had sliding doors for the powder rooms in my home and found them extremely easy to unlock from the outside (maybe even too easy!). A coin that fits in the small slot of the handle is the trusted choice, but I have found that I have been able to unlock the door just by twisting it with my fingers!

5. Locks With Exterior Coin Slots

Privacy Door Lever, Door Lever with Lock, Locking Door Handle Set for Heavy Duty Interior Bedroom Bathroom Door Handles Keyless Locksets, Reversible for Left Right Side Handed, Matte Black (1 Pack)

Instead of even bothering with a keyhole, some bathroom locks are specifically compatible with your spare change.

Exterior Unlocking Mechanism

There isn’t much explanation needed. Keep coins on hand in case of emergency and use them in the slot to unlock.

6. Deadbolt Vacant/Occupied Lock

Schlage Lock Company B571626 Occupied Indicator Deadbolt, Satin Nickel

Deadbolt locks with privacy indicators are great to help public restroom users avoid the awkward knock on the door to check its’ occupancy.

Exterior Unlocking Mechanisms

The deadbolt pictured may appear stressful to unlock from the outside but is quite simple. The lockset includes a key to be used in the small hole shown on the lock’s exterior.

Without the key, it is possible to unlock the door by using a hard object like a screwdriver and placing it on the colored part of the outside lock. Applying pressure, you can try and turn the colored portion so the vacant signal will appear and the door can unlock.

7. Round Pocket Door Lock

If you are looking for a sliding door lock that offers additional security than the standard, a round pocket door lock is a great selection.

Exterior Locking Mechanisms

On the exterior portion of the lock, there is a slot to unlock in emergencies.

You can use a flat-head screwdriver or a coin to unlock the door from the outside. Place the tool into the slot and turn with force to undo the lock.

8. Handle With Standard Key Lock

Schlage Lock Company AL53PD SAT 626 KDC 11-096 10-025 Al Saturn Entry Leverset 2-3/4" Bs Sc1 Chrome, Plastic, 4.75" x 9.5" x 8"
Entry Lever Lock

Primarily used in public restrooms, a bathroom lock designed with a standard key slot is one of the best options for high-security needs.

Exterior Unlocking Mechanisms

This lock is more difficult to unlock from the outside without a key. Therefore, make sure that you keep track of the two keys that come with the lockset, as picking it open might not be too easy.

The simplest way to attempt opening a lock of this nature without a key is by inserting something flat, like a credit card or butter knife, placing it between the door and the wall, and sliding it up and down over the area where the lock will be working.

9. Magnetic Sliding Pocket Door Lock

Unique from others, this bathroom lock uses magnetic technology that functions to pull the door securely into the wall when closed to prevent it from bouncing back open and causing possible damage.

How the Lock Works

A sliding lock is featured on the interior, as shown on the far right side of the photo above. You slide the lever up and down to lock and unlock the door instead of twisting the lock, setting it apart from other sliding door locks on the market.

Exterior Locking Mechanism

This set comes with a pen to be used to activate the emergency release of the lock. Because the key’s designed to work with the magnet, it is unlikely other objects will work. 


I like it when I'm able to fix everything that needs fixing around the house. In order to do that, I have to do a lot of research. This site will cover everything I learn and maybe help others do the same.

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