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How to Lock a Door Without a Lock: 10 Secure Methods

When staying in US hotels, building codes state that all rooms must have a lock on the inside for guest privacy. These locks can only be opened from the outside in an emergency. 

However, when staying in hostels, room shares, Airbnb’s, or using a communal bathroom, functioning locks may not always be provided. 

If a bedroom door doesn’t have a lock, or it’s not trustworthy, it can be reinforced with various temporary or permanent contraptions.

Read on to learn how to lock a door without a lock and what the best temporary door locks are. 

1. Use a Door Jammer Pole

They should be fitted at an angle, with the prongs around the door handle and the base plate securely on the floor. The base plate is designed to resist sliding when pressure is applied, preventing inward doors from swinging open. 

When fitted around a doorknob, these poles can also prevent the handle from being turned. Such poles are adjustable in height, enabling them to be temporarily fitted to any door with handles at any height. 

2. Remove the Door Handle

Removing the door handle is another way to lock a door without a lock. When the handles are removed and the door is closed, it’s extremely difficult to open without specialist tools or the door handle itself. 

Equipment needed to create this DIY lock includes a screwdriver and/or a flathead. Make sure the handle is removed on both sides. Keep both handles within your possession. Don’t leave a handle on the other side of the door. 

Otherwise, the person on the other side can wedge the handle into the door to open it again. This method is suitable for doors that open inwards and outwards. However, this solution doesn’t offer protection from the door being kicked in.

3. Bend a Fork Into the Latch

Another secure way to lock a door without a lock is to use a fork. This DIY door lock is quick to make and easily transportable. Other equipment needed includes pliers and wire cutters. 

First, use pliers to bend a quarter of the prongs inwards to a 90-degree angle. Then, cut half of the fork handle off using wire cutters. Fit the bent prong end into the door latch, close the door, and slide the handle between the prongs to secure it in place. 

If tools aren’t available, this lock can also be built without tools. Bend the tip of the fork prongs within the door latch itself and secure a second fork handle through the prongs once fitted. 

4. Wedge a Doorstop

If the room has a doorstop, use it inwards to wedge the door closed. Place it under the door as tightly as possible. A heavy-duty doorstop should prevent the door from being opened fully, but it’s unlikely to withstand brute force. 

However, having a doorstop in place can alert you that someone is attempting to enter, giving more time to escape or call for help. This method doesn’t work if the door opens outwards instead of inwards.

5. Secure the Back of a Chair

A standard wooden or metal dining room chair offers another way of locking a door without a lock. The back of the chair needs to be the right height, preferably higher, than the door handle. To lock a door with a chair, turn it around and angle the top back of it under the door handle. 

This prevents lever door handles from being pulled downwards. It also creates pressure that prevents or delays the door from opening. This option is only suitable if the door opens inwards. For extra security, consider tying the handle to the back of the chair.

This method is not 100% reliable, as the chair can slip or break if brute force is applied. This is particularly the case if the chair is wooden. But it can delay an intruder, giving you time to get help or escape.

6. Tie Rope Around the Handle

For lever door handles or doors that open outwards, the door can be locked using a strong rope or metal chain. A belt can also be used, but it won’t be as secure. 

To lock the door, tie one end of the rope to the handle and the other to a heavy object in the room. Suitable options include a refrigerator, a bed, or a couch. Make sure the rope or chain is pulled taut, with no slack. 

This way of locking a door prevents the lever from being pulled downwards and opened. It also stops outward-opening doors from being opened, as the resistance from the rope tied to the heavy object keeps it closed when pulled. 

7. Install a Security Bar

For a longer-term solution, a secure way to lock a door without installing a lock is to fit a security bar over the inside of the door. These only work for doors that open inwards, not outwards. 

A custom-built security bar is made from thick metal or steel. Fit brackets on either side of the door and position the bar in place. Make sure long, thick screws are used to secure the brackets. 

Security bars prevent a locked door or an unlocked door from being kicked in. They also prevent an intruder from picking a lock and entering the room. It’s possible to make a DIY security bar for an unlocked door using wood. 

Simply nail or screw a strong wooden block on either side of the door. To remove these DIY security bars, the nails or screws need to be taken out. 

For this reason, DIY security bars are best fitted to doors not in use in buildings with another entrance, like a side door in a barn, garage, shed, or outhouse. 

8. Fit a Floor Barricade

Floor barricades are another contraption that can be permanently installed on a door without a lock. There are two parts to these devices. The first is a panel that’s screwed into the floor. Doors can still be opened and closed like normal when the panel is installed.

The second part is the barricade itself, which is a heavy-duty block with two long bars on it. The bars slot securely into the floor panel when the door is closed. This prevents someone from being able to force entry. 

9. Use a Portable Temporary Door Lock

A portable door lock is a universal solution to locking a door without a lock. It’s temporary and easy to install on any door. It doesn’t require any drilling or screwing to install. They can be used in bedrooms or shared bathrooms.

These temporary locks usually have a long, curved middle section that slots into the door latch when open. Behind the spout are two metal side plates that fall between the door and the frame when the door is closed. 

This prevents the door from being opened more than an inch when someone outside attempts to open it. Because they stop doors from swinging inwards, these portable locks are not suitable for doors that open outwards.

10. Move Furniture in Front of the Door

To barricade a door quickly in an emergency, move heavy furniture in front of the door. This only works if the door opens inwards instead of outwards. Blocking enough furniture in front of the door can prevent the door from being pushed open. 

It is not foolproof, and the door can still be pushed open eventually with enough force. However, it buys time and enables an escape. 

When locking a door without a lock using furniture, only use heavy items. Ideally, these should block the entire width of the door. Beds, couches, bookshelves, refrigerators, washing machines, and heavy cabinets are good choices. 

To decrease the likelihood of the door being pushed open, pile lots of furniture in front of the door. If possible, line the furniture up until it reaches the parallel wall to lock it in and prevent sliding. 

Conclusion

There are many ways to lock a door without a lock. Some of these solutions are temporary, while others are more long-term. In the home and elsewhere, locks are among the most essential of security measures a person can take, so they should always be in place when possible.