Avoid frustration and learn how to fix a zipper. Fixing a broken zipper can be like pulling teeth – literally! Zippers are fantastic ways to close all kinds of openings, but when they go wrong and won’t fasten properly it is difficult to sort out the problem and get the zip to pull itself together.
How to Fix a Zipper
Zippers are one of the best closing mechanisms and they are used on a wide variety of items. Bags, clothing, camping gear and sports wear, soft furnishings and just about anything you can imagine that needs firm closure. It is no wonder that when something goes wrong with a zipper it is very frustrating.
Parts of a Zipper
Knowing the parts of a zipper is a useful start to the process of learning how to fix a zipper. Zips come in nylon or metal these days and in all sorts of sizes, but the principle is the same.
Two rows of teeth link together and are pulled up by a puller and the teeth are closed by a slider (also called head). The slider is an important part of the mechanism that gets the teeth to link together. There is a stopper or clip at the bottom of the zip and the zip locks at the top when the puller is pressed down.
The 3 most common types of zipper are plastic (nylon), metal and invisible. Problems occur in all these different types so it is worth learning how to fix a zipper to save money on new clothing and accessories.
Prevention is always better than cure so if you have a zipped garment needing to be washed make sure the zipper is closed before you throw it into the machine. Always try to pull the zipper down gently and do not rip open the garment pulling on the zipper.
How to Fix a Zipper - Problems and Solutions
There are several little problems that can upset the routine of a zipper. Some are easy to deal with while others just simply need a new zip and that is that.
The following six different problems often occur with zippers and these are the suggested ways you can deal with them. Learn how to fix a zipper!
Zipper is Stuck
How to fix a zipper when the head won't move up or down:
- LUBRICANT - If the zipper is not sliding up and down smoothly along the length of the zip try rubbing some graphite pencil (lead pencil) along the teeth. Apply the pencil on the opening of the slider and on the teeth just in front of it. Another lubricant is soap, petroleum jelly or lip balm. This may also help a zipper that is caught in the fabric. Once the zipper is released, give it a good clean and ensure there is no rust or buildup that will make this happen again.
- FABRIC - Sometimes zippers get stuck with a piece of cotton, ribbon or fabric from the garment itself. Anything stuck in the teeth of the zip will prevent it from sliding up and down. Do this gently so you don't damage the zipper or the garment itself. A needle or pair of tweezers may help you ease out the obstruction. If the problem was stuck fabric, press or stitch the fabric away from the zipper once the problem is solved so this does not happen again.
- TEETH - Double-check that the teeth are interlocking correctly. You may see that one of the teeth has been missed or there are 2 in a row. Gently pull the zipper up and down in small motions to clear it.
Teeth Keep Popping Open
How to fix a zipper when the teeth pop open even when you carefully do the zipper up:
- THREADS -The cause of this problem could also be something is stuck in the zipper but a more stubborn problem than the one before. Get pliers or tweezers to help pull it out whatever is stuck. It could just be a piece of thread or fabric.
- SLIDER - When the teeth of the zipper open up all the time it is very annoying. However, before you rush off and get a new zipper check the slider. It may be that the slider is not pulling the teeth together all the way to the top. As soon as the teeth of the zipper are not properly interlocked they are going to pop open. Check the slider and tighten it so it pushes the teeth closer together as it slides up the zipper. Take the pliers or tweezers and gently push the slider closer together to connect the teeth so they interlock as the slider goes up the zip.
- TEETH - Check the teeth to see if they are damaged. Damaged teeth may mean you just have to replace the zipper.
Zipper Damage on Jeans
Learning how to fix a zipper on jeans is a common problem because they are worn more often than most other clothing. The zippers on jeans are more tricky to fix since the zippers are heavy and made of metal.
- PARTIALLY CLOSE - If the damage is lower down on the zip it is possible to close the zip and then hand stitch a stopper point just above the damage. The zipper will still work, but the opening and faulty part will have been secured so the zipper does not pop open. It will mean that you need to try on the jeans and see if you can still wiggle into them.
Unfortunately, if the teeth are damaged higher up you may have to replace the zip.
Zipper Keeps Sliding Down
How to fix a zipper when it keeps sliding down - This is not an easy repair to make because the puller part of the zip may be damaged and therefore it is not locking at the top when it is pressed down. It may also be that there is too much pressure at the top of the zipper causing it to slide down.
How to fix a zipper that slides down:
- SECURE TOP - A temporary solution could be to use a keyring ring and slide it through the puller and then hook it onto the top button of the zipper opening on the waistband. You can also add a hook and eye to the top to keep it closed. This may feel a little clumsy and in that case, a repair with a new zipper could be the best solution.
- LOCK - The puller on the zip mechanism should lock when it is pulled up and then pressed down. If the locking part of the zipper is faulty then the zipper is not able to snap down at the end and lock. Insert a safety pin at the top of the zip as a temporary device. The zipper may have to be replaced if the locking mechanism is faulty.
Zipper Slider is Faulty
The slider mechanism is the part of the zipper that closes the teeth. If this is faulty it may need to be tightened with pliers or simply replaced.
It is possible to cut off this part of the zipper and take a slider from another zipper and use it to replace the faulty slider. This would save the bother of replacing the entire zip.
Zipper Pull Broken Off Completely
This is an easy repair to make. Simply thread a paper clip or small key ring holder into the hole where the puller used to be and there you have a new puller for your zipper. Some thick thread or string threaded through the hole will also do the trick.
How to Fix a Zipper - In Conclusion
Zippers have been around for over a hundred years. Originally known as clasp lockers they have evolved into the current zipper style of teeth and a slider, guided by a puller.
Trying out the simple fix-it plans suggested above for how to fix a zipper may help save the day. However, a completely new zipper is often the only answer to repairing this essential gadget. Or better yet, find a new use for your item with a broken zipper!
More Zipper Articles
If you do need to replace a zipper, here are some articles that can help you.
Thank you for a temporary fix in regards to a zipper that will no longer lock. My husband is a carpenter and his work pants are very pricey. The zipper has failed as it will no longer lock and the zipper slides open. Adding a circular keyring to the zipper pull and looping it over the button closure will keep the zipper from opening. A very good temporary fix! What he needs is a new pair of work pants 😉