Got a Zipper that Won’t Stay Closed? Here’s How to Fix It

A broken zipper can happen to anyone, but with a few basic tools and a few simple steps, you can fix it up good as new.

It’s a horrible feeling to zip up your favorite jacket or backpack, only to realize that the closure comes undone immediately. Luckily, fixing it on your own is completely doable, and it should only take you less than an hour from start to finish. Use our handy guide below to learn how to fix a zipper, and we’ll also go over some related problems that are easy to solve.

Tools You’ll Need:

As this is a relatively simple project, you’ll probably only need a pair of needle nose pliers to get the job done. Depending on the level of damage, you might also need to buy a new zipper slider and zipper stoppers, or a small amount of laundry detergent and a cotton swab to clean it.

Remove the Old Zipper Slider

Start by taking off the stopper at the bottom, which keeps the zipper from sliding off the garment, using your needle nose pliers. Then, carefully pull off the old slider, and inspect the level of damage it has.

Tighten It if Necessary

If your zipper slider looks crimped and distorted, you might just need to quickly adjust it to fix the zipper. Use your pliers to carefully bend it back to its original shape, without applying too much pressure. You might be able to complete this step without taking off the slider completely, too, depending on how badly it’s misshaped.

Put in the New Slider

If tightening it up isn’t working, it’s time to install your new zipper slider. Dispose of your old one and pop on the new, making sure it’s in the same direction and on the same side. Then, you’ll need to attach the stopper back on using your pliers. If the old stopper was made of plastic, you might have some troubles reusing it, so it’s likely easier to purchase and affix a new one.

Other Problems You Might Encounter:

A broken zipper pull: If it’s just the pull on your zipper that snapped off, there are some crafty fixes you can use until you get a new slider. You can just attach an old key ring, or even a soda can tab, to help you slide it on and off. This is only a temporary fix, of course, but it can make life easier in the moment.

A zipper stuck on dirt or gunk: Sometimes, your zipper might just be stuck on some dirt caught inside the teeth or slider. To get it out, you can try to use something sharp and pointy, like a pencil or sewing pin, to budge it out of the zipper. You can also try laundry detergent; pour a very small amount into a dish and dilute it with water. Then, dip a cotton swab into the mix, and coat the zipper teeth with it. Keep doing this until the zipper can move without issue.

A zipper detached at the seams: The zipper fabric itself can rip off from your garment, too. If that ever happens to you, you’ll need to sew it back on, either by hand or using a sewing machine for a more secure finish. If you don’t have any sewing experience, it might be best to bring it to a professional tailor.

Photo credit: CGN089/Shutterstock

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