How To Get a Stuck Key out of the Lock

Keys and locks… They are part of life, and most of the time we don’t even think about them. But when things go wrong, we quickly realize how important they are. Keys wear out, locks rust, and before you know it, you’re stuck with a key. Or worse, one that’s broken in the lock. If the worst happens, you are faced with a dilemma. How exactly do I get the key? If you’ve ever been on the wrong side of a door and couldn’t get to the right side, here’s exactly what you need to know to open a key stuck in a lock.

How can keys get stuck in locks?

Before we know how to get the key out of the lock, there is another equally important question to answer. How exactly do the keys get stuck? Much of the explanation lies in the delicate nature of castles. Modern locks are complex, with many mechanisms that must fit together precisely for the lock to work properly. If any of these mechanisms are worn, bent or corroded, or if a layer of dirt accumulates, the parts may no longer work properly. The keys are just as guilty: As they wear out, they will eventually no longer fit in the lock.

To remove a jammed key from a lock.

When your key is in the lock, there’s one thing you should never do, no matter how tempting it is. Never try to remove the key on your own. Even if you have the upper body of the Hulk, this is not a problem that can be solved with brute force. First do what recommends and press your finger on the cap, then gently try to slide the key in and out. Wiggling the key and fork is often enough to restore it to its original state and remove the key. If this doesn’t work, try the following methods from Hunker ( Note that these methods only work if the key is still full – if it’s broken off in the lock, you’ll need to switch immediately to one of the alternative methods we’ll discuss in a moment.

  • Method 1 – Wrap some ice cubes in a plastic bag and press them against the button. The cold should compress the metal enough for the teeth of the wrench to release the pins.
  • Method 2 – Press the lock with one finger or hand while turning the key with the other. If the lock mechanism is loose, this should stabilize it enough for you to safely remove the key.
  • Method 3 – Apply a small amount of lubricant in spray form to the keyhole, just above the key. While applying the lubricant, gently shake the lock to loosen the key.

Removing a broken key

If the stuck key has become a broken key, you need to use a different strategy. Before trying any of the following methods, it is best to follow the advice of and prepare the lock by applying a lubricant with a graphite spray. Simply hold the tip of the spray bottle against the lock and apply a small amount of grease to the keyhole. Use a cloth to wipe off excess product. While this step is not essential, it makes the next step in the process much easier.

  • Tweezers method – Take a pair of tweezers. They should be thin enough to fit easily into the lock. If they are too thick, they will only push the broken key in further. Insert the tweezers with an even hand into the lock and carefully remove the broken part. This method works best if part of the key is still sticking out of the keyhole, even if only a little.
  • Paper clip method – Take two paper clips and bend them slightly to straighten them. Once they are as straight as possible, align each piece on either side of the wrench. Apply sufficient force to tighten the wrench with the threads. Slowly and steadily pull the key until it comes out of the lock far enough to be removed with your fingers.
  • Hot glue method – It may seem intuitive to use glue to remove an already stuck key, but when applied properly, this method is surprisingly effective. Remember, this method only works if the broken key is sticking out of the lock: If the key is broken and no part is visible, you must use another method. Using a glue gun, apply a small amount of glue to the end of the key. Wait for the key to dry before removing the glue. The key should slide straight out.
  • Extraction Tool Method – Insert one or two hooked extraction tools into the keyhole, just above the key cutouts. Hook the tool into one of the keyholes and pull. It may take a few tries, but the key piece should escape eventually.
  • Saw Blade Method – For this method you will need a mini hacksaw blade. The blade should be thin enough to fit through the keyhole: If it’s too thick, you may end up pushing the key back into the lock. Insert the saw blade, lower the saw blade and lock the key. Carefully remove the key from the lock.
  • Picks method – Insert a couple of picks into the lock and use them to pick the key. Pull gently to release the key. If the pliers seem too thick to easily penetrate the lock, avoid this method as it will push the key further in.
  • When to call the professionals – If you do not have the right tools to do the job, you should call a professional locksmith yourself. Using the wrong tool (or even the wrong method) can damage the lock and cost you more in the long run. With the right tools, a locksmith should be able to fix the problem and replace the lock in less than thirty minutes if necessary.

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