How to Unlock a Door With a Coat Hanger

Updated April 17, 2017

Locking yourself out of a room of your house or locking your keys inside your car can be an expensive mistake if you have to call a locksmith to fix the situation. Before pulling out your checkbook, try using a wire coat hanger (or in some cases a small screwdriver) to remedy the situation. You can open several types of interior house doors (those with pop or twist locks) and car doors (older models, with lock buttons that pull up to open) in this manner in an emergency situation.

Check your lock to determine if it is a "pop lock" or a "twist lock." A "pop lock" has a button on the doorknob that you press to lock the door. A "twist lock" has a button on the handle that you turn to lock and unlock. Both types of locks have small holes on the doorknobs.

Untwist the top of a wire coat hanger and straighten the wire.

Insert the hanger wire into the hole on a door knob with a "pop lock" and push firmly until the lock releases.

Insert a small flathead screwdriver into the hole of a doorknob with a "twist lock" until it sinks into the groove of the lock, then twist to the left until the lock releases.

Check the lock mechanism on the car door to determine its type--a wire coat hanger will only work on lock buttons.

Untwist the top of a wire coat hanger and straighten the wire.

Bend one end of the wire to create a small loop or hook that will go into the car. Bend the other end of the hanger to create a handle that you will grip from outside the door.

Insert the hanger between the car window and the rubber seal, then manoeuvre it until it's positioned over the lock.

Manoeuvre the loop or hook onto the lock, then pull up firmly to unlock the door.


If you are unsuccessful in opening your house door with a wire coat hanger, you might manage it by using a flat butter knife or a credit card to jimmy open the lock. If you are unsuccessful in opening your car door with a wire coat hanger, use the wire hanger hook to try to pull the actual keys out of your car

Things You'll Need

  • Wire coat hanger
  • Small flathead screwdriver
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About the Author

Kate Kotler began her writing career in 1997 as a news writer. She is the editor-in-chief of and writes the DIY Diva blog for ChicagoNow (a "Chicago Tribune" affiliate.) She is the founder of Geek Girl on the and is working on a novel.