How to Fix a Zipper With Quick and Easy Steps

Published November 1, 2019
Woman fingers fasten the zipper

You're getting ready to go out, and as you go to zip up your favorite skirt, the zipper gets a mind of its own and abandons its track. Don't panic! There are simple ways to fix these frustrating zipper issues. The best method depends on the specific issue you're dealing with.

Fixing a Zipper That Keeps Popping Open

A popped zipper is embarrassing and annoying, and it's tempting to simply throw the offending item in the trash. But before you throw away that skirt or piece of luggage, give this method a try. There's a good chance you can save it.

Things You'll Need

Gather the following tools and supplies:

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Bar of soap
  • Magnifying glass

What to Do

  1. Remove all tension on the zipper. This means taking off the garment or emptying the bag. Place the item on your work surface.
  2. Examine the zipper. Is there something in the way of the teeth? Check for and remove loose threads and bits of fabric.
  3. Move the slider all the way down to the bottom.
  4. Run a bar of soap along both sides of the zipper. This can help lubricate the zipper and make it run more smoothly.
  5. Use the magnifying glass to examine the zipper teeth. Do any of them appear bent? Carefully bend them back into place with the needle-nose pliers.
  6. Move the zipper slider up and down a few times to make sure everything is working. If it still separates, repeat these steps. If it's working fine, put the item back into use.

Unjamming a Stuck Zipper

A stuck zipper can drive anyone crazy, especially since it seems like this only happens when you're in a hurry. Fortunately, you can fix a stuck zipper in a matter of minutes with this easy method.

boy zipping his jacket at home

Things You'll Need

Look for the following tools and supplies:

  • Tweezers
  • Magnifying glass
  • Bar of soap, lip balm, graphite pencil, candle, wax paper, baby powder, or anything else waxy or powdery

What to Do

  1. Remove the garment if possible. It will be easier to work on it if no one is wearing it.
  2. Use the magnifying glass to check the spot where the zipper is stuck. Is something caught? Often, a zipper catches because a piece of thread or the edge of the fabric has gotten into the slider along with the zipper teeth.
  3. If there's something caught, move the slider up a little if you can. Use the tweezers to pull on the caught item as you move the slider back down. This may take several back-and-forth tries before the item comes free.
  4. After you've removed the item or if there's nothing in the teeth, use wax or powder to help the zipper move freely. You can use whatever you have handy, as long as it isn't sticky. Great options include a bar of soap, a candle, lip balm, wax paper, a graphite pencil, corn starch, baby powder, or anything else you have around. Rub this all along the zipper teeth.
  5. Work the slider up and down a few times to make sure it's running smoothly.

Getting a Broken Zipper Back on Track

If one side of your zipper is no longer attached to the slider, it can seem like an impossible issue. However, this is actually really easy to fix. You'll need a hand sewing needle and thread here, but the actual sewing required is minimal.

Broken Zipper

Things You'll Need

In addition to the item with the broken zipper, grab the following:

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Needle
  • Thread in same color as the zipper
  • Scissors

What to Do

  1. Examine the item to see if you can access the end of the zipper. If it's buried in fabric, carefully snip the threads to free the end of the zipper.
  2. Slide the zipper slider all the way down to the bottom of the zipper. Thread the loose side into the slider and work it up and down to make sure it works properly. If the sides don't line up, use the pliers to adjust any bent teeth.
  3. Take a look at the zipper slider. Did the side of the zipper slip out because the slider was bent open? If so, use the pliers to bend it shut.
  4. Move the slider up to the top so the zipper is closed.
  5. Thread the needle and sew several times around the bottom end of the zipper. This will keep the ends from separating. If you need to, sew the end back into the garment.

Replacing a Zipper Slider

If the slider is broken, you don't necessarily have to replace the entire zipper. You can buy a new slider and simply replace this little part. This is especially easy on heavy duty zippers like those uses on luggage, outerwear, or even pop-up campers.

Things You'll Need

In addition to the broken zipper, you'll need these things:

  • New zipper slider, salvaged from a scrap zipper or purchased from the fabric store
  • Pliers
  • Bar of soap

What to Do

  1. Start by removing the old zipper slider. You can do this using the pliers, but be careful not to damage the teeth of the zipper.
  2. Thread one side of the zipper slider onto one side of the zipper teeth, starting at the top of the zipper.
  3. Once the new slider is in place on one side, slide it all the way down to the bottom of the zipper.
  4. Thread the other side of the zipper into the slider from the bottom. Move the slider up so it joins both sides.
  5. Apply some bar soap to both sides of the teeth to make sure the zipper moves smoothly.

Replacing a Broken Zipper Pull

A broken zipper pull is one of the easiest zipper repairs you can do. This will take only a few moments, and your garment or bag will be back in service.


Things You'll Need

Gather the following tools and supplies:

  • Replacement zipper pull, available on Amazon or in fabric stores
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Magnifying glass, if desired

What to Do

  1. Use the pliers to remove the existing zipper pull if it's still attached.
  2. If needed, use a magnifying glass to help you see where to reattach the new pull.
  3. Close the new pull according to the manufacturer's instructions. Often, you can do this by hand, but some models require pliers.

Good Instructions and Patience

These zipper repair methods can help you solve many of the common zipper problems; however, if they fail, you may need to sew in a new zipper. This is a bit more involved, but it's one of many DIY clothing repairs you can tackle with some good instructions. With a bit of patience and a few supplies, you can solve any zipper issue and have your items back in service in less than an hour.

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How to Fix a Zipper With Quick and Easy Steps