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How to Open a Locker Lock

A girl opening a locker combination lock
Last Updated on August 5, 2022
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Many of us have been there. It’s the first day of school and as you walk up to your lustrous new locker, fear starts to kick in as you wonder, “how do I open my locker lock?”

Whether you've never opened a combination lock before or need a little reminder of the technique, this short and sweet guide will teach you how to unlock your locker step-by-step!

We'll start by discussing how to use a locker lock (both padlocks and built-in locker locks) and then look at a few ways to bypass the lock, just in case you ever forget your combination.

Let's get to it!

How to Open a Locker Lock With the Combination

Before you learn how to unlock a locker, you'll need to ensure that you have the correct combination.

Most padlock combinations will consist of three numbers between 0 and 39. However, if your lock is built-in to the locker, these numbers might go higher—sometimes up to 99. Regardless, your locker combination will consist of three individual numbers.

For the steps below, I'll be using the combination 35-9-17.

Each number will need to be rotated and aligned with the indicator arrow at the top of the lock.

Step 1: Clear the Lock

rotate the locker lock dial three complete turns to the right

The first step to opening a locker is to clear the internal gates. This is done by rotating the dial clockwise (right) three full rotations.

Clearing the lock needs to be done before any attempt to enter the combinations numbers. If you feel like you have messed up entering your combination, you'll need to clear it again before trying again.

To ensure that correctly clear the lock, it helps to choose a random number and rotate the dial until you pass that number at least three times. If you want to play it safe, you can rotate it an additional turn or two.

If you would like to learn more about how combination locks work and why it is necessary to clear the lock, check out this incredibly well-done video here!

Step 2: Enter Your Combination

Enter your locker combination - right, left, right

With the lock cleared, it is now time to enter your combination.

For a quick reference, remember to turn "right-left-right!"

  1. First Number: After clearing the lock, continue turning the dial clockwise (right) and stop on your first number. In my case, it is 35.
  2. Second Number: Now rotate the dial counterclockwise (left) and stop on your second number. In my case, it is 9.
  3. Third Number: Rotate the dial clockwise (right) and stop on your final combination number. In my case, it is 17.

Step 3: Open the Lock

To open locker lock, pull down on the body to release

Once you've entered your last digit, pull down on the lock body to open the lock.

If the lock is built into the locker, you'll now be able to open the door.

If the lock doesn't open, try the following:

  • Rotate the dial a couple more numbers to the right (clockwise). The gates in these cheap locks are not always aligned correctly.
  • Clear the lock and try entering the numbers again.
  • Double-check that you are entering the correct combination.
  • Sometimes books, bags, or clothing can restrict the internal latch and jam the door. Apply upward and inward pressure to the door and then quickly jerk the door open.
  • Ask for help. If none of the above work, you might have been given the wrong combination, or something is broken. Don't worry, you are not the only person this has happened to!

Step 4: Lock the Locker

open a locker lock step 4

When you are done with your locker, you need to make sure that you lock it correctly—simply closing the lock is not enough.

Once you close the lock, give the dial a couple of turns clockwise to clear the gates and reset the lock.

If you don't complete this step, someone could walk up and open the lock because the combination you entered is still active—the internal gates are still correctly aligned.

Tips, Tricks, and Other Security Advice

  • The safest way to protect your combination is to memorize it and protect those three digits with your life. While combination locks can be bypassed in various ways, the safest and most subtle way for someone to break into your school locker is using the correct combination.
  • Most times, you don't actually need to hit the correct number to unlock a locker lock. The internal gates of these cheap locks are wide, so you can rotate the dial near your number instead of hitting it directly. For example, if your first number is 5, you might be able to get away with hitting any number between 3 and 7. Knowing this can help you speed open your locker!
  • Practice! Spend a little time practicing entering your combination. Not only will this help you speed open your locker, but it will also aid in memorizing your combination!

How to Open a Locker Lock Without the Combination

If you lose or forget the combination to your lock and have no other means of acquiring that combination, there are some alternative ways to open the lock without the combination!

It's important to note that you should only apply these methods if you own the lock—meaning you bought it with your own money.

If the lock came with your locker, then the school owns the lock, and you can find yourself in some real trouble tampering with school property—not to mention, it just isn't the right thing to do. It's always easier to just ask your school for the combination.

Crack the Combination

Finding our last number to our combination!

You've probably seen a movie where the high school hero is getting back at the local bully by tapering with their locker. He twists and turns the dial on the lock, and within minutes—click!—he is in.

Is this movie magic, or can it actually be done?

The truth is, while cracking the combination on a locker lock takes much longer than 2-3 minutes, it's frankly a lot easier than you would think.

If you would like to give this cool method a try, I've already written a full-length guide to cracking locker lock combinations.

Trial and Error

Have you ever wondered how long it will take you to find the combination of your locker by entering every single possibility?

A standard Master Lock has 40 digits and 64,000 combinations. That will take you nearly 200 hours to try out every combination.

However, if you've only forgotten one number or have a general idea of your combination, trial and error is an excellent method to use! Using pen and paper, write down all the possible combinations that you think it could be and get to work! Additionally, if you have a general idea of the combination, the cracking method above might help significantly speed things up!

Shim the Lock

Shimming is an excellent lock bypassing technique that utilizes a thin piece of metal—such as a cut-up soda can!

It's done by inserting the metal shim into the shackle hole, which compresses the locking mechanism that holds the Shackle closed.

You can easily shim most cheap padlocks using a soda can. Below is a great video walking you through the process!

Cut the Shackle

If all else fails, you can always choose the destructive route and cut the Shackle of your padlock.

While you'll have to front the money for a new lock, it's better than never having access to your locker again. But then again, homework you can't get to is homework you can not do. And it's a way better excuse than your goldfish eating your homework!

Final Thoughts

Always remember, “right, left, right!”

If you can remember these three words, staring at your locker with fear and embarrassment because you don’t know how to open it will forever be a thing of the past!

I hope you enjoyed this little guide, and if you have any suggestions to make it better or if you have any questions, please consider throwing me an email! I always love to hear from my readings!

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