Introduction: How to Open a Locked Door the Macgyver Way.

Picture of How to Open a Locked Door the Macgyver Way.

I learned how to do this when i got locked out of my dorm at BYU-Idaho and it works great!! and all it takes is things you can find in your friends room or from the hall.

Supplies needed:
Vacuum Cleaner
(the pictures are from different doors because my camera is acting wack, but you should get the idea)

Step 1: Tie Floss to Paper

Picture of Tie Floss to Paper

take your floss and tie it to your piece of paper

Step 2: Slip Paper Over the Top of the Doorway

Picture of Slip Paper Over the Top of the Doorway

now take your piece of paper floss combo and slip it through the top of the door. this may take a little finesse, or another sheet of paper to shove it through.

Step 3: Lower Paper

Picture of Lower Paper

Now that you have the paper over on the other side of the door lower it down until you can see it under neath the doorway

Step 4: Grab Paper

Picture of Grab Paper

you should be able to see the paper. if you cannot grab it with your fingers then a captured hanger works great to fish it out.

Step 5: Tie Floss to Vacuum Cable

Picture of Tie Floss to Vacuum Cable

now that you have the floss through both the top and bottom ends of the door tie the floss to the vacuums cable at least 4 or 5 feet away from the plug.

Step 6: Push Cable Underneath Door and Pull on Floss

Picture of Push Cable Underneath Door and Pull on Floss

now what you want to do is push the cable underneath the door a little ways. and then gently pull on the floss. you'll want to go slowly so you don't break the floss. but pull on it till you think the cable is about where the doorknob is and try to hook it over the doorknob. this may take a few minutes but eventually you should be able to hook the doorknob.

Step 7: Open the Door

Picture of Open the Door

once you've hooked the doorknob take hold of both ends of the cable and pull back and forth and try to turn the doorknob. this too can take a few minutes but just push on the door a little and be patient and you should be able to turn the door knob and be back in your room!!

Step 8: Disclaimer

Picture of Disclaimer

this may not work with all doorknobs/ doors
for example just looking at the door knobs around my house it won't work with a doorknob that doesn't turn when its locked and if you have stuff hanging on the back of the door it may block the floss and paper from going down or from the cable coming up. also some cables may be too smooth to grip the doorknob.
please don't use this to break into peoples rooms. your just going to get caught, it takes several minutes and is very obvious.

thanks for reading though, this is my first Instructable so please give constructive criticism. but i thought that the world needed to know how to open a door with floss, paper, and a vacuum. thanks for reading!!


MatthewP233 (author)2018-01-09

So good!

MuhdS16 (author)2016-07-05

I just break my door ,i kicked the door and nobody get mad

AuraeB (author)2016-05-30

It works! Just used this to unlock the door to our upstairs studio where the cat was locked in. After an hour of trying to pick the lock, this worked in less than 15 minutes! Thank you for the method. It will come in handy with a toddler.

AdrienneK3 (author)2016-05-21

My nephew locked our bathroom door. It's a push lock so we figured it would be easy to open. WRONG! After 30 minutes to no avail, i came across this "life hack" ... since it was our bathroom, we didn't have access to floss so i used sewing thread and doubled it to male it stronger. Also i used 12 foot extension cord bc i read that smooth cords sometimes didn't work. And we got into the bathroom in 5 minutes! Super easy and saved my husband from breaking the door down.

MaddyS8 (author)2016-05-06


susanrm (author)2016-02-03

Thank you thank you thank you!! I had tried everything else, but this worked. Dental floss failed because it got caught in a seam in the wood and broke, but I have strong fishing line that worked. Also, the phone cam trick was a huge help.

Untzboy (author)2016-01-13

I tried this, and it worked. More interestingly, I found that having a smartphone with a forward-facing camera helps a ton. If you open your camera app, you can push the phone under the door just enough so that the camera is looking straight up at the handle, but you can still see the screen. It serves as an extra eyeball you can stick under the door. And if the room you're trying to access is dark, just turn on flash mode. The screen will brighten more than usual. If you push the phone under the door just barely, the light from the screen will largely bounce off the bottom of the door, and right back into the camera lens, making the image even easier to see.

laurelo (author)2014-11-04

I stumbled on this method and IT WORKED! I got locked out of my closet and my brother got me in!! Ingenious!! The only thing he changed was he wound duct tape around part of the chord where he thought it would land in the knob.(so it would attach easier) took a while and then it popped open! Come to find out that I had 2 purses hanging on the knob which made it even more difficult, but he did it!!

rhino21 (author)2010-02-07

Just fyi, in my experience this only works when the lock is one of those that you push button in to lock, not the general twist the bump on top of the knob type of lock. Sorry if thats confusing...

ste0 (author)rhino212014-08-29

agreed, we have a twist button lock where the knob locks up, so the rubber cord is not able to turn the knob at all

ystockdale (author)2014-04-28

It took my husband and I about 10 minutes, but it worked! Also, we used ribbon because the floss was locked in the room. Lol

bimmer31 (author)2013-05-14

Wow thanks! I also found this site in my quest to open my door. It has a method that only requires a credit card or some paper clips to open locked doors.

bimmer31 (author)2013-05-14

Wow thanks! I also found this site in my quest to open my door It has a method that only requires a credit card or a few paper clips to get it open

asaphk (author)2012-12-11

Took 3 minutes...
used a regular electric cable and fisherman's string...

bbuenaventura (author)2012-12-07

OMG!!! It worked!! I was so desperate so I thought I had nothing to lose but this thing worked. Thank you very much!!

kewrw28 (author)2012-12-02

Try using a kitchen knife, that's what my six year old does.

the_hackers (author)2012-01-12

WORKED PERFECTLY. Me and my roomate tried to get into our ex-suitemates empty room with the coat hanger method, but with no luck and hours of hard work. We then saw this instructable and thought we would try it it. Operation door unlock was a success and on the first try.

ayantifovich (author)2011-12-04

Just tried it. Got the floss and the cable finally placed after a dozen attempts. However, it's impossible for the cable to get a grip on the handle as i pull it from under the door. The sharp edge of the door is preventing smooth cable movement. But all in all it was fun trying.

fullmoon2day (author)2011-10-19

Well done, will try it but with a normal foor handle but overall I like the smart idea.

nosut (author)2010-05-15

I just thought I should point out but a method that would prob be easyer on this door is to actually just use a credit card or some type of card like that. Since the doors latch has the curved side facing the outside of the room simply slipping a card into place  between the door latch and the jams hole and the door will open with just a push. I have used this method many times on that style door. 

prankster43709 (author)nosut2010-09-18

Ya I use that to get in my house when the deadbolts not licked. It's extremely simple lol

musick_08 (author)prankster437092011-08-08

I hope you mean when the deadbolts not locked? lol im just kidding, just had to say something :P

jlassen (author)2011-06-14


dorian_rpg (author)2010-06-25


peanut man (author)2010-06-13

you go to BYU-I! it rocks! my dad teaches there and its always great to go and do things up there like the library, the concerts, the gym, the planetarium. OOOO and locking the collage students in their dorms with rope. :-) That is hilarious, but the boys just get ticked, the girls flip out and its way funny. :-)

Bright Shadow (author)2008-12-19

I'd rather just pick the lock.

paise (author)Bright Shadow2010-05-30

I was thinking the same thing. It was one of a few trade skills learned from my youth that have had some benefit, though lawfully, in my adult life. LOL! 

Weissensteinburg (author)2008-08-24

Mythbusters had a Macgyver episode, where they tested things he did. They were able to pick a lock with the filaments from a light bulb.

unjust (author)Weissensteinburg2010-02-05

iirc not the filament, but the wires that support it.  subtle, but significant difference. 

norad (author)unjust2010-02-06

it was a halogen light bulb filaments.

unjust (author)norad2010-02-27

i believe you misunderstood, or they misspoke.  the filament wire is *very* fine(1-2 thousandths of an inch), , where as the wires that support them are reasonably rigid and more along the lines of 28 gauge spring steel.

look at a clear household light bulb, and you'll see a few heavy wires, and if you look very closely you'll see the filament is actually a twisted coil of very thin wire.  halogens are functionally the same. 

as a locksport enthusiast, and lighting designer, and having dealt with more than my share of broken lamps (bulbs) in that line of work, i can't imagine what you could use the filament for as it's not rigid or strong enough to do anything constructive in a pin tumbler lock.  the supports however could be excellent.

sleepykisser (author)2010-02-16

 Tthis is ingenious, but is mostly for dorms.  They have the doorknobs that always turn on the inside, but are automatically locked on the outside.  (so the school can avoid fire safety and theft lawsuits)

Plus, you have your choice of pals from which to borrow the vacuum, floss and paper.

lobo_pal (author)2010-02-06

Good method and very creative, but my door has a handle that points down. Just curious if you've ever run into something like that.

I suspect your door handle plate has been taken off at sometime (maybe just to confuse any house-breakers). When you unscrew the door plate you will probably be able to withdraw the square (usually) shaft that goes thru' the door and goes into the other handle socket. Simply withdraw the shaft, turn it round to the desired position and screw everything back as it was! Job done! (You may find the shaft is 'captive' on one side or the other of the door. It will only be held by a little screw. Undo it. Turn the shaft to desired position. Put back together again. Don't forget to put the little locking screw back!) Hope that solves your problem. 


No, it's made that way, so you can just coat hanger it from the outside. Looks like this.
vvvvv                       vvvvvv
vvvvv                       vvvvvv
vvvvv                       vvvvvv
vvvvv                       vvvvvv
vvvvv                       vvvvvv
      vvvvvvvv            vvvvvv
                  vvvvvv   vvvvvv

lobo_pal (author)lobo_pal2010-02-08

Downward handle as apposed to horizontal handle.

Ian01 (author)lobo_pal2010-02-13

 So it looks a bit like this?

lobo_pal (author)Ian012010-02-14

Yes, but the handle is flat with the door. I'm thinking about a way to use the vent that takes up the lower third of the door.

rocksalt2342 (author)2010-02-10

I'm pretty sure McGyver would have used a paperclip,
but if he ran out, I'm sure he would have done this.

chuckr44 (author)2010-02-10

This is creative and looks like it will work. Most vacuum cleaner cords are a little sticky and they can grip the doornknob.

luvit (author)2010-02-08

 i once locked my self out of my apartment. i kicked the door in. that was painful. then i locked myself out, again. i kicked the door in, again. my door is really messed up.

greatpanda (author)2010-02-08

So...since you've got a vacuum cleaner anyway, you could grab the paper from behind the door by sucking it out, as long as it's got a detachable tube (most do).  Makes me want to go lock something...

=SMART= (author)2010-02-07
Haha inventive,

Other ways;
  1. Find the area with the bolt/catch on the door
  2. Make mental note of this
  3. Stand back
  4. Kick area hard with heel of foot
  5. Make sure you are close enough to follow through the kick when the door breaks.
  6. Bingo
Doldrum (author)2010-02-07

 my dorm room door has a dead  bolt on it :( so if I get locked out im skrewed 

tankguy (author)Doldrum2010-02-07

 I have an idea, replace the vacuum cleaner cable with a hook of some sort and hook around the handle of the deadbolt and slide it to unlock the door. I just came up with that and haven't tried it but it just might work.

Vanquish (author)2010-02-07

Good job, not ideal for outside doors as most have dead bolts

GreenD (author)2010-02-06


tamakid (author)GreenD2010-02-06


von rad (author)2010-02-06

Pure genius!

Draxis (author)2010-02-06

Very cool, looks like fun as well XD. Have you ever tried a credit card though? they work if you have enough room to wiggle them where the bolt thing is on the doorknob that connects to the door frame. this is a little faster, but only works if you have the room to slide in the card, your method makes a nice backup plan though :D

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