How to Fix a Broken Zipper + FAQs

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We've all had a problem with a zipper. Zippers can get stuck, separate, come loose, won't close, the puller can come loose, and more. If you struggle with it, you'll make it worse. Don't stress yourself out - and definitely don't throw it away. At least not yet. Because we have a few simple zipper tips for you.
Sure, you could take it to the tailor, but that won't help you when you've just gotten dressed and are on your way out. Or even worse, if you have a fashion emergency at a party. And why should you pay for it? In most cases, you can quickly repair it yourself at home. And repairing zippers is one of the most useful fashion hacks you can learn.

Useful items for fixing a zipper

  • Soap, Vaseline or WD-40
  • cotton swab
  • Needle-nose pliers or tweezers
  • Wire cutting pliers
  • Scissors
  • screwdriver

Depending on the type of zipper repair you need, you may only need one or two of these items. Below are step-by-step instructions for the specific type of repair you need to do. First, let's quickly go over the names for each part of a zipper so that there is no confusion.

Definitions of zipper parts

  • Tape – The part of fabric on either side of the zipper.
  • Teeth – The individual knobs (also called elements) that make up the chain.
  • Chain – The continuous piece created when the two halves of a zipper interlock.
  • Slider – The device that moves up and down the chain to open or close the zipper.
  • Pull Tab – The part of the slider that you hold when moving the slider up or down.
  • Stop – The small parts at the top or bottom that prevent the slider from falling off the chain.
  • Pin – Small part at the end of a zipper that is inserted into the box.
  • Box – Properly aligns the pin to allow the two zipper halves to connect.
  • Separating - The bottom part of the zipper has a pin and a box that can be separated (jackets, hoodies, etc.).
  • Closed Bottom - The bottom stop goes over the bottom and is not separated (quarter zippers, pockets, etc.).

How to Fix a Stuck Zipper

A stuck zipper is the most common problem - and probably the easiest to fix. The cause is either that the teeth in the slider are jammed because they are not aligned properly, or that fabric or something else is caught in the slider. If that item is your skin, you should be extra careful (and perhaps see a doctor). Ouch.

  1. Don't try to force it. This could make the situation worse and damage the fabric and zipper. Remove the garment first so you have a better view and can approach the problem from the right angle.
  2. If fabric is caught in the slider, gently pull on the fabric, not the zipper (this could separate the teeth). If that doesn't work, use needle-nose pliers or tweezers to grab the fabric closest to the slider and gently pull. Wiggle it a little and gradually slide the zipper pull tab while pulling on the fabric until it comes loose.
  3. If there is no fabric or thread to pull out, use a pencil to coat the teeth with graphite (if possible on both sides of the zipper). You can also use a small amount of dish soap or petroleum jelly applied with a cotton swab.
  4. After it comes loose, check the teeth to make sure they are not damaged. Straighten them if they are bent. Also inspect the fabric for any damage or curling that could cause the same thing to happen in the future.

How to Fix a Zipper That Comes Out of Track

If one or both sides of the slider have come loose from the teeth, the zipper does not need to be replaced, just reattached. Depending on the type of zipper, this can be simple or a little complicated.

  • Find the bottom part of the zipper. This is usually the end closest to the ground (when you are wearing the garment). If you can spot it, look for the end with the extra square section of fabric behind the zipper.
  • Insert the teeth on this end into the slider. Use a screwdriver if you need additional leverage. Once both sides of the teeth are in the slider, move it up and down to lock it in place.
  • If the end you need to insert into the slider has a stop: Use your fingers to fold the stop away from the teeth so you get an angle to place the slider on the teeth.
  • If the tape is too stiff or you can't reach the angle by folding it, remove it with needle-nose pliers. Bend the back part first, then the front. Once you have got the slider on your teeth, put the stop back in.

How to fix a broken zipper

How to fix a zipper that comes loose

If your zipper seems to be working properly, but all the teeth come apart after you close it? This could mean that the problem is with the slider, the part that holds the two rows of teeth together. Over time, they can become loose or bend slightly, preventing them from properly doing their job of aligning the teeth in place.

  1. Take your needle-nose pliers and position them above and below the top and bottom plates of the slider. The top panel faces outward and the bottom panel faces inward toward the garment.
  2. Squeeze them together to slowly compress the top and bottom plates. You should see the small gap between the plates close, and the plates should remain parallel to each other without forming an angle.
  3. Test the zipper and make sure it still moves. If it doesn't move, you've closed the gap too tightly. If it moves freely after squeezing, you have successfully repaired it. Here is a short video showing the process.

How to Fix a Zipper That Keeps Opening or Won't Stay Closed

If your zipper keeps opening or falling down, it usually means that some of the teeth have moved out of position or are worn out. Look closely at the zipper to see if any of the teeth are out of place or missing. If they are bent, use needle-nose pliers to carefully push them back into position.

How to fix a falling zipper on a pair of jeans

This is one of the most unpleasant problems, but also one of the easiest solutions. If the zipper on your favorite jeans keeps falling down, simply insert a key ring (or something similar) through the hole in the pull tab, and when you zip up, hook the key ring over the top button before closing it. No more XYZPDQ comments. You're welcome.

How to Fix a Zipper with Missing Teeth

Missing zipper teeth are probably the most difficult repairs to make yourself, requiring sewing experience and purchasing materials. Usually the entire zipper needs to be replaced. And if you can do that yourself, you probably aren't reading this. So if you have a problem with missing zipper teeth, we recommend you contact a seamstress or alterations shop.

How to fix a zipper with a missing pull tab

Another annoying problem with an easy solution. If the pull tab on your zipper is missing, use a paper clip.

How to fix a curled zipper

Hoodies are particularly susceptible to kinked zippers. The reason for this is that the zipper tape is almost always made of polyester, while the rest of the hoodie is usually made of cotton and is much more susceptible to shrinkage than the zipper tape. Avoid this by always washing your zippered garments in cool water and tumble drying on low heat.

How to fix a broken zipper

Best practices to avoid zipper problems

Zippers that break or wear out due to manufacturer defects are extremely rare - it is almost always the users who are too rough or careless with them. Below are some best practices to keep in mind when using zippers. Follow these six rules to avoid stuck and broken zippers for the life of your garments.

  1. Handle the slider carefully. Don't force anything if it doesn't move smoothly. Always check if something is jammed, even if you don't see it right away.
  2. Keep the zipper straight. Don't overstuff your pockets like a madman. And when full, keep the two sides close together when zipping up.
  3. Open the zipper fully when undressing. It can damage the zipper if you take off your clothes with the zipper half unzipped, as tempting as that may be.
  4. First button up, then close the zipper. When you put on a pair of pants, the zipper will work better if you fasten the top button first like a normal person.
  5. Close zippers before ironing. Also, be sure to place the pull tab in the correct position and not press the iron directly on the zipper.
  6. Close zippers before washing. Open zippers can become damaged if they get caught in the washing machine or on other items like your favorite t-shirt. Yuck.

How to fix a broken zipper

Where does the name “zipper” come from?

It was the BF Goodrich Company that in 1923 applied the Sundback closure to a new type of rubber boot, which was the primary use of zippers in the early years. The boot was originally called “The Mystik,” but it didn’t sell. As the story goes, the company's president came up with the crucial marketing idea: "What we need is an action word... something that dramatizes the way the thing closes... Why don't we call it Zipper?"
The Universal Fastener Company was renamed Talon, set up a manufacturing facility in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and began mass producing zippers. By 1930, 20 million zippers were being sold per year, and by the mid-1930s the fashion world took notice of the zipper and began using it on all sorts of clothing. By the end of World War II, Talon was selling 500 million zippers per year, only to be overtaken by YKK in the 1970s.

How to fix a broken zipper

What are the best zip up hoodies?

Every major clothing brand has its own version of the zip- up hoodie . The better hoodies tend to have higher quality zippers that don't break or warp as easily. Some have metal zippers, others have coil or molded plastic zippers.

The beauty of the zip-up hoodie is that you can control your body temperature and comfort by zipping it fully, halfway or not at all. Look for zippers that have a “lip” of fabric covering the zipper – in most cases we can print across the chest (which is not otherwise possible with full-zip hoodies).

The best hoodies we offer for customization are American Apparel, Bella+Canvas, and Next Level. These hoodies are super soft, have a fashionable fit, are durable and look great with a screen print. We also carry premium performance apparel brands like Under Armor.

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