When in a pinch and without a proper lock, it’s good to know some nifty tricks that can help you stay safe. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to lock the door even if you don’t have a lock.
If you want to lock a door without a lock, you have several options. For one, you can try barricading the door with big, heavy items, block it with a door wedge or put on a portable lock. Furthermore, you can remove the handle from the outside. If you have double doors, you should bind the handles.
Each of these options has its pros and cons, and the success of each depends on proper execution. If you want to learn more about locking the door without a lock and staying safe, read on.
Table of Contents
1. Create a Barricade
A barricade is the simplest form of locking the door without a lock. You’ve probably seen it done a thousand times on TV shows and movies. However, in real life, it’s a bit more complicated.
You have to know the way your door opens. Generally, your door will open either to the outside or to the inside. Barricading works in both cases, as long as you block the door in the way it opens — along the direction in which it opens.
This goes for double doors and sliding doors. It makes sense because otherwise, anyone would be able to remove your barricade and enter your home or your room without much trouble. You can use this method on inside and outside doors.
Rather than just keeping your door locked, you can rely on a barricade to protect you from brute force attacks as well. So, anyone kicking or pushing would not be able to enter.
Barricades come in two forms.
This is a form of a barricade that you come up with on the fly. You can use all sorts of objects that are around you to put them against your door. Of course, you have to find ones that are big enough to actually block the door.
The items should be made with strong materials, and they should be high enough as well. If the objects are too small, you won’t be as safe against force attacks or perhaps even against any intruder trying to enter. Items you can use for safety are:
- Anything heavy and strong
You can even stack them to ensure your safety. Just make sure that you have something wider than your door at the base.
Another option is constructed barricades. They would be pre-made and sold at an appropriate store. The most common ones are security bars, which you would install along the width of the door.
There are also ones that you would place at the bottom of the door. Both work well, and you won’t need as many materials or as much effort to install them. Of course, if you’re caught in a situation where you don’t have access to a constructed barricade, you wouldn’t be able to use it, so an improvised barricade would do.
Pros and Cons of Barricades
Here are some pros of locking your door with a barricade:
- Both improvised and constructed barricades are great against brute force attacks
- Barricades are easy to set up
Here are some cons of barricades:
- When using a barricade, you don’t secure the front part of the door
- The strength of improvised barricades depends on the items you choose, so if you choose small ones, you risk your safety
2. Use a Door Wedge
Door wedges are similar to the constructed barricades we’ve mentioned already. Of course, they are more common than constructed barricades, which makes them ideal for those situations when you don’t have much on hand, but you need a way to lock the door.
They serve the same purpose as barricades — block the doors from moving. But, you are more likely to have them around. A wedge won’t take up a lot of space, and it won’t take a lot of time to set up.
You would normally use a door wedge to keep the door open, but in this case, you would use it to keep the door shut. The position of the door wedge on your door will depend on the way your doors open.
A doorstop or a door wedge will usually be used at the bottom of the door in an open position, but in this case, you would close the door and stick it at the bottom of the door. You can also place it under the door handle as well, thus restricting its movement and preventing any entries.
A door wedge will work well, despite the force used on the door. In fact, the more force is applied, the harder it will become to open.
You don’t need a manufactured doorstop or a door wedge for this to work. You can also make one from what you already have in your home. For example, you can use a shoe — which is particularly useful when you’re away from home — to block the door. You can also use a chair to block the handle — similar to what they do in movies or TV shows.
Pros and Cons of Door Wedges
Here are some pros of using a door wedge — whether improvised or manufactured — to lock a door without a lock:
- They are small and simple tools for blocking the doors if you don’t have a lock
- They are easy to improvise in a pinch
- They work even if you don’t have a traditional handle
Here are some cons of using this method:
- This method only works if your door has an inswing
- They usually need force from the other side to truly work well
- If you use an improvised wedge, it won’t be as strong as a real thing
3. Get a Portable Lock
If you travel a lot or you simply have a lock that doesn’t work well, you can get a portable lock, which is the simplest solution for this problem — even if not always readily available. It’s pretty easy to add a portable lock, and it doesn’t require any trade skills. You can do it on your own, pretty quickly, although it may work best for inside doors.
There are many different types to consider. Here are some of them:
Addalock is a portable lock that holds your door so no one can open it, even with a key. Essentially, it renders the knob useless, and it works for all sorts of doors. You won’t need any tools to make it work, and you can attach it with ease.
Each lock comes with a set of instructions so you can set it up, but you can also find videos online.
Addalock is not expensive, and you won’t need to make any changes to the door, which is especially useful in cases where you can’t alter anything — for example, rented apartments, AirBnB’s, hotel or hostel rooms, etc. However, it also works as a permanent lock for your door.
A door bull is a form of a barricade, but also a portable lock which is attached to the door and the frame at the same time. The force doesn’t affect it much, and it will keep you safe.
It works only for inswing doors, and it doesn’t take much work to install it. Just like Addalock, it works best for inside doors. As someone applies force on the other side, the Bull will keep the door firmly closed.
To attach it properly, look at the manual or check out this video:
Travelers Security Lock
This lock is, as the name says, perfect for travelers as it can be attached and removed pretty quickly. It blocks the doorknob, just like Addalock, although it may be more secure than that. It can take more force than other options.
One particular benefit of it is that it’s really small, so you can take it with you with ease. Of course, the main negative is that it doesn’t work for outswing doors. There should also be a slight gap between the door and the frame — but don’t worry, it can be as tiny as ⅛ of an inch (3mm).
Take a look at this tutorial to learn how to set it up.
Pros and Cons of Portable Locks
Here are some good sides to having a portable lock:
- They are usually small and light, making them easy to carry
- They are easy to set up
- They add extra safety and even force can’t remove them
Here are some disadvantages to these locks:
- They can make entering and leaving harder (if you want to do it)
- They are not as good as regular deadbolts against force attacks
4. Remove the Handle From the Outside
This option is a bit harder than other options on this list, and it might not be that viable if you are not allowed to make any alterations, or you don’t have the tools. However, it’s still a good thing to know for when you’re in a pinch.
Not all doors have locks, but you can always remove the doorknob and the mechanism on the other side — the outer side. Most doors have a spindle, though, and a handle on the outer side, both of which can be removed to restrict access to the room you are in. If there’s no knob or spindle, the latch on the door won’t pull back, and the door should stay shut.
You’ll need a screwdriver for this to work, or you can make one out of objects you may have on you. More on that later.
Keep in mind that this method could prevent you from moving freely in emergency situations and that you will have to put it all back together in the end.
Here are some steps that will help you do this:
- Unscrew the screws on the plate of the handle. Look for hidden screws too.
- Remove the plate from the door.
- Pull the doorknob out of the latch system.
If you don’t have a screwdriver, you can use a fork, a paperclip, a bobby pin, or anything of similar shape. If your doorknob has depressed screws, you need to press on them to pull the handle away, which can be done with a paperclip or something equally thin. If your doorknob has to be pried off, use a tool like a fork or a spoon to do it.
Pros and Cons of Removing the Door Handle
Here are some advantages to this method:
- This method can be used for inswing and outswing doors
- It’s easy enough to do with proper tools
Here are some disadvantages to this method:
- If you remove the door handle, you won’t be able to leave easily
- It’s not good against brute force
5. Bind the Handles of Double Doors
If you have any sort of double doors, you can introduce a temporary measure of binding the handles as a way to restrict entry to that area. Generally, this method doesn’t work that well against force, but it’s good if you want to prevent children from entering or just to slow someone down.
If you have a child safety lock, you can also use that. Otherwise, you should bind the knobs or handles safely to each other, and the other person shouldn’t be able to open the door. As long as your doors are inswing, this method should provide temporary restrictions.
Pros and Cons of This Method
Here are some pros to this method:
- It’s easy to set up
- It won’t damage your door
Here are some cons to this method:
- It’s not effective against force attacks
- It’s not that secure unless it’s your kitchen cabinets you are securing
6. Anchor the Doorknob on Outswing Doors
We’ve covered many ways of locking inswing doors if you don’t have a lock, but many people will need some sort of locking mechanism for outswing doors as well. There aren’t that many, but anchoring the door is a viable solution you can try.
Most other solutions are rendered ineffective by the fact that the person trying to get in would be able to get in with ease when it comes to outswing doors. Imagine if you barricaded an outswing door — all they would have to do is remove your barricade. Door wedges, portable locks, etc. would be completely meaningless.
However, anchoring the door is an excellent method for these situations, even if a bit improvised. To do it, you would need something heavy and strong to attach the doorknob to and something to connect the two objects to each other. For this, you can use:
- Wires (if long enough)
- Shoelaces attached to each other
And more. Whatever you can think of that is long and strong enough will work—the better the connecting material, the better the security of your room. The “anchor” should also be strong and possibly even attached to the floor. Consider objects like the fridge, a big sofa, washing machine, stove, etc. If you want to lock more doors, you can just bind them together.
Pros and Cons of Anchoring Your Door
Here are some advantages to this method:
- Great for outswing doors
- You will likely have access to all the materials necessary for this to work
Here are some negative sides to anchoring the door:
- You need something stable and secure, or this method won’t work
Why Should You Know How to Do This?
While regular locking systems are optimal, in some cases, you won’t have access to them. So, this is the next best thing. Instead of feeling scared and unsafe, you can add an extra layer of security to your space.
If you’re a traveler and you don’t feel safe in your hotel room, hostel room, or Airbnb, you can use any of these methods to lock your door. Perhaps your door lock broke late at night, and you don’t feel safe — these methods are great for you too.
Sometimes even bathrooms can be locked this way. So, these tips are basically for anyone who needs extra protection against intruders, and they don’t have the time or the means to call a locksmith immediately.
It’s an excellent skill to have, and you never know when you’ll need it.
As you can see, locking the door without a lock can be an easy thing to do. However, these solutions are best used as temporary measures. If you can, always install a proper security system, a deadbolt, and similar mechanisms.
If you travel a lot, the best thing to do is to carry a portable lock, but you should also have a multi-tool object with you — you never know when you might need it. Remember to secure windows and other entry points, too, and check whether the door is inswing or outswing. If using a door wedge, make sure that the person trying to enter can’t push it away from the other side.