How to Fix a Broken Zipper

When a zipper breaks on any clothing item it can be extremely frustrating. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to replace the item or pay for costly zipper repairs. There are ways you can fix these issues on your own.

However, not all zipper fixes are the same. The first thing you need to do is to identify the cause of the zipper issue. Here is a rundown of the most common issues causing a broken zipper and how to fix them all.

Zipper Teeth Not Lining Up

zipper teeth

When you attempt to zip up a zipper and nothing happens, it can be frustrating. This is a common zipper issue and it is typically caused by the little teeth not lining up. When the zipper remains open, even when the zipper head has moved to the top—this is a teeth issue. This is a relatively quick fix if you have the right supplies.

Gather the Following Supplies:

  • Needle nose pliers
  • Extra-strength sewing thread
  • Heavy-duty sewing needle

Step One: Once you have your tools, use the pliers to carefully remove the metal stopper at the bottom of the zipper. Then, pull the zipper head to the bottom, right before the last teeth. Don’t pull the zipper head off completely. Get your sewing kit ready.

Step Two: Arrange the teeth of the zipper, using your fingers. Make sure one side isn’t folded or bunched. Lay them flat and align the teeth. Then slowly pull up on the zipper head. Check to see if the teeth are locking together. You may need to start over and try a few times until the teeth click.

Step Three: Use your extra-strength needle and threat to sew several stitches over the place where the metal stopper was. The idea is to completely replace the metal stopper with the thread.

Step Four: Zip up your zipper head and enjoy your fully-functioning zipper.

Zipper is Stuck

Stuck zippers happen to everyone and they can be so frustrating. When the zipper is stuck, it typically feels like it’s getting caught on something, even if there isn’t anything in the way. Here’s how to fix it:

Gather the Following Supplies:

  • Graphite Pencil
  • Tweezers
  • A-Tip
  • Windex

Step One: Use the tweezers to attempt to remove any cloth that may be stuck in the zipper. Do not try to tug too hard on the zipper or on the cloth as it may break.

Step Two: Start with the pencil and rub the tip along the teeth of the zipper, as shown above. This should loosen it up.

Step Three: If the pencil doesn’t, spray Windex on your Q-Tip. Start with the zipper up and slowly apply your lubricant to the teeth. Inch the zipper down slowly and repeat until it comes undone.

**Note: Lip balm, olive oil and petroleum jelly are all suitable lubricant alternatives to Windex

Replacing a Broken Zipper

replacing a broken zipper

Sometimes zippers can be fixed, and other times they need to be replaced completely. If you need to replace your zipper, here’s how to do it.

Gather the Following Supplies:

  • Scissors
  • Seam ripper
  • Pins
  • Measuring tape
  • New ready-made cloth zipper
  • Sewing machine or heavy-duty needle and thread

Step One: Remove the broken zipper with your seam ripper and your scissors, carefully avoiding damaging the garment.

Step Two: Make sure the new replacement zipper is the right size or length and pin it into place.

Step Three: Make a straight line of stitching close to the edge of the zipper top. You can do this on a sewing machine using a zipper foot feature. If you must do it by hand, you can.

Step Four: Unzip the zipper and pin the non-sewn side to the inside of the garment. Use a needle and threat to hand sew the zipper tape to the garment. Only use the inner layer of fabric that was present from the zipper before, otherwise your stitches will show through your garment.