How to fix a sticky door knob

If you have a sticky doorknob, you don’t have to replace it. You can fix it in place relatively quickly, and with minimal effort. Here’s how to fix a sticky door knob.

Sticky door knobs are almost always due to dirt or improper lubrication. But if you use the right lubricant, you can clean and lube the door knob in one step.

Repair a sticky door knob

how to fix a sticky door knob
Here’s how to fix a sticky door knob. Push the latch bolt in, then squirt in a bit of silicone lubricant. Turn the knob a few times and let it dry.

It can help if you have a screwdriver and you take the door knob off, but it’s not strictly necessary. I did that with the first one I fixed, but my second one went just as well without taking it apart, so I save the effort now. All you need to fix your sticky doorknob is some silicone lubricant.

The right lubricant is key

Resist the temptation to use regular WD-40. WD-40 has its uses, but regular WD-40 isn’t the right stuff for this. It may do an OK job of cleaning out some of the crud, but it won’t lubricate well and will probably leave your doorknob sticky again in short order. What you want is silicone lubricant. There is a silicone lubricant sold under the WD-40 brand, and it’s fine. Just don’t assume all WD-40 is WD-40, and that the WD-40 your grandfather used is the right stuff for this. It’s not.

Silicone lubricant is great for this because it maintains its slipperiness after the carrier dries. And ultimately in doorknobs, a dry lubricant is what you want, since oils tend to gum up and get sticky.

The process to fix a weak or sticky door knob

Press the latch bolt into the door as far as it will go, then squirt a bit of silicone lubricant into the assembly. I squirt a little at the top and let it flow down. It doesn’t take as much as it seems like it should. release the latch bolt, then turn the door knob back and forth a few times to distribute the silicone. At first, the door knob will probably stick even worse than it did before. That’s OK. Just turn it back and forth and it should free up at least a little bit better. You may also see some old dirt ad grime running out of the latch assembly. Wipe it away with a rag or tissue.

After that it’s just a waiting game. It may take a day or two for the carrier to dry, especially if you sprayed a lot of it in there. But after it does, you’ll find your once weak or sticky door knob works almost like new. Most of the interior doorknobs in my own home are more than 50 years old, and they all responded well to this treatment. The hardest part is waiting for the carrier to evaporate so the lubricant can really do its work. You can continue to use the door knob as you typically would, it just may not work quite as freely as you’d like right away.

And that’s how to fix a sticky door knob. It’s really that simple. And it’s much faster than replacing all of them. You can still replace the knobs if they’re worn out, but if you buy the same brand, you can lubricate and leave the latch mechanism in place and make the process go much faster. If you do have to change the mechanism, here’s a tip for that.

The alternate method

If you really want to take the doorknob apart, you can remove the two screws, take the knobs off either side, then spray some silicone lubricant into the latch mechanism from inside the door as well as from the latch itself. Doing this certainly doesn’t hurt, and in theory it would lubricate the mechanism more thoroughly. But in practice I didn’t notice any difference in operation between the knobs I fixed the easy way and the ones I fixed the harder way.

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