How to Fix a Sticky Lock

Whether it is a new key that doesn’t quite glide or a mailbox key that always gets stuck, a sticky lock is always a hassle! Before you go through the trouble of changing the locks or getting a new key, here are some tips to get your lock working without busting the budget or upsetting the management.


In a Pinch

If you are in a rush and need to remedy a sticky lock, the most convenient way is with olive oil from your pantry. In order to fix the lock using the olive oil, simply rub a small amount of the oil on your key and insert the key in the lock. After inserting the key make sure to turn it to both the right and the left. After you remove the key make sure to check the lock by both locking and unlocking the door.

This also works very well for pesky mailbox keys. However, oil isn’t always the best long term fix due to its propensity for catch grime and dust. The oil can eventually become hard and the dust and dirt can cause the lock to no longer function. While this still happens to be a great short term solution for easily unstuck locks, for a long term fix consider something for extra sticky situations.


For Extra Sticky Situations

In situations where olive oil doesn’t work liquid graphite is a good fix. Liquid graphite is purchasable at automotive stores and hardware stores and will generally run around six to ten dollars making it a fairly affordable fix. The graphite comes in a bottle with a plastic tip that will need to be cut so make sure to have scissors or a knife on hand in order to deal with this.

To use the graphite, cut the tip off of the nozzle and place the nozzle in the lock. Spray the graphite into the lock by squeezing the bottle– keep in mind that it doesn’t take much to get the lock moving. It is also a good idea to place some graphite on the actually lock mechanism and the area where the lock mechanism sits within the door jam, doing this extra step with insure that the lock is properly coated with the powdered graphite. After you spray the graphite into the lock, place your key in the lock and slide it in and out a few times to make sure the lock is adequately lubricated. If needed, feel free to add more graphite until the lock is moving smoothly.

About the author

Annmarie Stockinger


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  • I like your tip about using olive oil to fix a sticky lock. After using the oil, I would make sure to clean the lock as well. I wouldn’t want the lock to get messed up because I left the oil in there too long.

  • There was a time that I got home, but the door gives me a difficult time to open then I call the number that gives me by the owner of Cavalier Estate since I’m the only one living here in Tampa and I’m just a college student, girl and have no idea how to fix that lock, and thank God the maintenance help me out, they were like a friend that I can lean on.

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