Easy Fixes for Zipper Issues

June 30, 2015

Zippers, buttons and fasteners are the weak points of any garment, but can often be fixed at home. Before taking your jacket or jeans to the tailor, try one of the following fixes for common zipper issues.

Easy Fixes for Zipper Issues

My zipper has broken

The pull tag has come off

If the tab snaps off your zipper, you can make an emergency repair by threading a safety pin or paper clip through the hole in the slider.

Some sliders don't have a hole, but the tab clamps into two slots on either side of the slider. Find an old item of clothing with a similar zipper; use a pair of pliers to pry off the tab and fit it into the broken zipper.

The teeth don’t line up properly

Thread a new bumper

When a zipper gets misaligned, it becomes impossible to close fully and the fitting will "gape." On a coat or other garment where the zipper opens completely, it's often easiest to replace the old with a new zipper, but if the zipper is sewn into a dress or a pair of trousers or jeans, you may be able to save it.

  1. Using a pair of pliers, pull off the bumper (the metal stopper at the bottom of the zipper). You may need to use a bit of force to remove it. Open the zipper, stopping just one or two teeth from the bottom.
  2. Lay the garment on a flat surface and arrange the zipper's teeth symmetrically and straight. Close the zipper up halfway, making sure the teeth lock together correctly.
  3. Use a needle and thick thread to make a few stitches at the bottom of the zipper, where the bumper used to be. This will stop the slider from coming apart when the zipper is fully opened.

The zipper has caught on the fabric

Keep the fabric taut

Pull the garment taut along the length of the zipper. Ask someone else to pull the fabric out from under the slider; avoid pulling on the slider itself if at all possible — it may get damaged or stuck further.

The zipper is jammed

Lubricate the teeth

A stuck zipper can be eased using one of many everyday products — be sure to apply the product both above and below the point where the zipper is stuck.

  1. Rub a soft pencil along the teeth of the zipper — the graphite of the "lead" is an excellent lubricant.
  2. Run the edge of a bar of soap, some petroleum jelly, a cotton swab dipped in olive oil or a stick of lip balm along the zipper.
  3. If none of the above works, try soaking the stuck section of the garment in a bowl of warm water and 500 millilitres (two cups) of dishwashing liquid. Give the concentrated soapy solution an hour or so to penetrate the teeth and slider.
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