9 Bathroom Locks That Can be Opened From the Outside


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It is unsettling to imagine a bathroom door without a lock as it isn’t a room that you would want someone to burst into 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

SCHLAGE F40 V Acc 619 Bed & Bath (Privacy) Cylindrical Lock, 1 Pack, Satin Nickel
Schlage Cylindrical Lock (amazon link)

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 it is also designed to be unlocked from the outside using a specific tool.

Exterior Unlocking Methods

Most locksets come with a special 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 to unfold it enough for one of the ends to fit into the hole entirely. Then, it’s simple: push the pin 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 link)

Perhaps the most traditional form of a bathroom handle and lock, standard doorknobs are available 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 others list a mini-screwdriver (amazon link) 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

Kwikset 91550-001 Halifax Door Handle Lever with Modern Contemporary Slim Square Design for Home Bedroom or Bathroom Privacy in Satin Nickel
Pinhole Button Handle Lock (amazon link)

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 (amazon link) 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

HOMOTEK Privacy Sliding Door Lock with Pull - Replace Old Or Damaged Pocket Door Locks Quickly and Easily, 2-3/4”x2-1/2”, for 1-3/8” Thickness Door, Satin Nickel
Sliding Door Pocket Lock (amazon link)

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 here. Simply 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. If you tend to have quite a few visitors to your home, or you run a bed and breakfast, then this type of lock may be relevant to your home as well.

Exterior Unlocking Mechanisms

The deadbolt pictured above may appear stressful to unlock from the outside but is actually 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 still 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

Kwikset 335 Round Bed/Bath Pocket Door Lock in Satin Nickel
Round Pocket Door Lock (amazon link)

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 (amazon link)

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

Cavilock CL400B0328 Cavilock CL400B-PR-38-RH Magnetic Privacy Pocket Door Pull Set with RH Snib/LH Emergency for 1-3/8 Inch Thick Doors
Magnetic Pocket Door Lock (amazon link)

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 is designed to work with the magnet, it is unlikely other objects will work. 

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