Sticky Door Lock: How to Remove a Key Stuck in Lock?

Chuck Williams

November 23, 2022


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It is definitely not a pleasant surprise to insert your key into your lock, only to end up with a key stuck in door lock which is not keen to come out of there. What a sticky situation! Fortunately, there are various ways to resolve this situation and get your stubbornly stuck key out of the lock.

First of all, you definitely want to keep your composure and handle the key gently. Do not panic and try to forcibly yank the key out of the lock! This can pose the risk of your key breaking in the lock, which would worsen your woes. A broken key in the lock will stack up your issues, since there will be more efforts and time needed to get a broken key out of the lock. Additionally, you will have to bear the costs of getting a replacement key. So be careful there!

While there are DIY methods to let you get a key stuck in a lock on your own, you need to keep in mind to be extremely careful. As aforementioned, you can risk damaging your key or even the lock. We will go over the measures you can carefully take to try resolving the issue on your own, but when in doubt or if nothing works, seek the services of a professional locksmith to safely remove the key from the lock. A locksmith can save you time and effort and implement an optimal and prompt solution!

Why Does a Key Stuck in Lock?

There can be different causes behind why a key gets stuck inside the lock. It is possible that your key has worn down and lost its shape over time, in which case you would need to begin using a new key after removing the current one. Alternatively, there may be an issue with the lock itself. It could have worn down over time and usage, it may require to be repaired or replaced or it could have been not properly maintained. Alternatively, the cause may even be an attempted lock tampering.

However, before you can get to determining the root of the issue, you would likely prefer to get that key out of the lock. Fortunately, there are various ways that might be able to get a stuck key out of a lock.

Spray Lubricant Into the Keyhole

Are you able to remember the last time you lubricated your keyhole, if ever? If your answer is no, then here is the likely culprit behind a key stuck in door lock: the lack of lubrication. If the keyway severely lacks lubrication, then the dryness results friction which adds up over time. If neglected long enough, this friction can grip on the key and not let go. Another alternative issue is the excessive build-up of rust and grime, which a lubricant can also help loosen up. Hence, make sure to lubricate your locks now and then as a part of lock maintenance, in order to keep your locks working properly.

Fortunately though, it might still not be too late to lubricate the keyhole! These are all problems that the right lubricant can aid with loosening up. So buckle up with a lubricant that has a small straw nozzle that can accommodate getting the lubricant into tight spaces. However, before you reach out for that good old friend WD-40, hold up!

While WD-40 is an excellent solution for a wide range of needs, WD-40 does not serve as an optimal solution for locks. This is because it can attract grime accumulation in the keyhole, which is quite counterintuitive. Hence, you should ideally avoid WD-40 and other oil-based lubricants. If WD-40 is all you have got in a particularly bad situation though, then using it for once would not hurt much and do the needed work.

However, lubricants like graphite, silicon, and Teflon are the best for locks. Once you have made the choice of your lubricant, it is time to aim the lubricant straw nozzle directly into the keyhole and spray some amount of lubricant into it. Once you have done that, carefully try to pull out the key after wriggling it around.

Contract the Lock Metal With Ice

This method may evoke your skepticism, but it is indeed capable of resolving certain cases of a stuck key. This especially can be the case if you happen to be living in warm weather which could have expanded the lock metal. That can be a reason behind a key stuck in the lock. In this case, what can contract this expanded metal back? Ice, indeed!

Once you have got an ice pack, hold it against the keyhole edge for a minute or so. This may contract the metal and free the key teeth from the lock pins it is stuck into. Then you may be able to pull out the key after giving it some jiggles.

Defrost the Lock

Now we are going to consider the polar opposite situation: the icy cold weather causing that stuck key. Harsh winters are capable of accumulating ice into a keyway, which can jam a lock and in turn get a key stuck in a door lock. The solution is to dissolve that problematic ice.

You can melt it by spraying it with a de-icer spray or 3:1 white vinegar and water solution. Or you can bring the heat, through the use of blowing the warm air of a hairdryer towards the lock or a holding a holding a lighter next to the lock. After the application of either method, wriggle your key around and then try to gently pull it out.

Push the Keyway Plug

A plug is the circular section that surrounds the keyway. If it loosens up, then it can lose its correct alignment and move within the cylinder, which can especially happen if the key is inserted. When that happens, the key may be unable to move about properly. Fortunately, the solution to this issue is super easy!

Insert the key into the keyhole as much as possible. And then push on the plug, while twisting and wiggling the key around and pulling it outwards. Make sure to be careful, so that you do not damage any part throughout the process!

Key inserted in a cylinder

Call a Locksmith to Promptly Get Your Stuck Key Out of the Door Lock

A key stuck in the door lock is highly disruptive and inconvenient. It typically tends to be preceded by signs like a worn down lock or key which should be promptly resolved before such issue arises. While there might be ways for you to get the key stuck in a door out on your own now that you are facing this issue, you must be very careful to not break the key in the lock or damage your lock throughout the process. It is also entirely possible that your attempts to remove the key may end up being futile, as it can be a more complicated case than these methods can resolve.

This is why it is best to call a locksmith if you can not easily take out your stuck key. Our expert Whitby locksmiths can safely remove your key stuck inside the door lock in a prompt manner without posing any unnecessary damage. Additionally, we can help replace your key or lock, as well as make any necessary repairs to get your locking system back to working as good as new!

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