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11 Brilliant Ways to Fix a Zipper

Before you throw out your tool bag or tent, try these tried-and-true tips for fixing a broken or stuck zipper.

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how to fix a zipper on a bagPEERAPIXSCOM/Shutterstock

How to Fix a Zipper On a Bag

Broken zipper on your bag? You can fix it! Start by removing the old zipper slider off the zipper. To do this, bring the slider to the top of the zipper. You can use a seam ripper to remove fabric stitching if needed. Make sure you remove the zipper stop, if there is one, by cutting it with pliers. Once the zipper slider is off, slide a new one on from the top of the zipper, making sure the zipper slider’s nose is facing toward the top of the zipper. Now attach a new zipper top stop onto the top of the zipper. You can do this using pliers. Here’s how to fix a stubborn jacket zipper with WD-40, as well as brilliant other ways to use WD-40.

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how to fix a tent zipperCultura Motion/Shutterstock

How to Fix Closed-Loop Zippers on Tents

First, remove the stitching around the lower end of the zipper with a seam ripper. Be sure to take off the metal stop at the bottom of the zipper without tearing the fabric. Now you can take off the old zipper slider. Take your new zipper slider and position the zipper teeth into the top grooves of the slider. Push them through to the bottom. Next, pull the zipper gently to test the slider’s proper placement on the zipper tracks. Again, the slider should be installed nose first. If everything is intact, you’ll want to pull the slider up until locked track teeth are in sight at the bottom. Then sew a new stop at the bottom of the zipper tracks.

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zipper teeth repairSyda Productions/Shutterstock

Zipper Teeth Reluctantly Closing

Zipper teeth repair: If you’re having a hard time closing the zipper on your bag or suitcase, it may be the teeth are wearing out. To fix this, slightly lubricate the teeth using candle wax or petroleum jelly. Just be sure the lubricant doesn’t clog up the teeth.

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how to fix a long zipperModestas Stragys/Shutterstock

How to Fix a Zipper That’s Too Long

If your zipper is too long, flapping past the length of your tool bag, you’ll need to cut the zipper from the bottom. Using pliers, remove the metal stoppers from the cut-off piece and reattach it where you want it. You just need to pry the teeth open, remove and use a little force to reattach the bands in the desired spot. If your zipper lacks metal stoppers, grab a needle and thread to make stopping stitches at the bottom of the zipper.

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how to shorten tooth zippersVDB Photos/Shutterstock

How to Shorten a Molded-Tooth Zipper

Molded-tooth zippers have strong molded teeth fused onto the tape of the zipper. To fix a molded-tooth zipper, cut off the top portion precisely, since the teeth should be numbered. For a zipper with a grooved top stop, slide in the teeth and tighten with pliers (one of the tools every DIYer should own). Otherwise, remove the teeth, gripping them above the mark with a pair of pliers and pulling until they come off. Finish by squeezing the stop in place above the last tooth on each side.

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How to Shorten a Continuous Coil ZipperEduard DeStudio/Shutterstock

How to Shorten a Continuous Coil Zipper

Before trying to fix a zipper with a continuous coil (the teeth are a continuous coil of nylon), know you can’t pull out the teeth — you’ll have to cut them out. To do this, clip the front part of the coil in half, right before the zipper tape. Take your top stop and squeeze it above the last tooth until it’s situated in place on each side of the zipper, so that the last piece of the coil is crimped under the top stop.

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How to Repair a Zipper With Missing Bottom TeethPupes/Shutterstock

How to Repair a Zipper With Missing Bottom Teeth

To repair missing bottom teeth on your zipper, first take off the bottom stop. Hold the article the zipper is attached to firmly and pull the stops off. You may need pliers to do this. Next, remove the tack at the base of the zipper. Flip the item inside out, find the tack and remove with a seam ripper. Now insert a new and larger bottom stop that covers the missing teeth, pushing the prongs of the bottom zipper stop into the fabric right above the old zipper stop. Close the prongs with pliers to secure it into place. Now turn your item right side out and use a sewing machine or needle and thread to re-tack the bottom portion of the zipper.

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What to Do If a Zipper Pull Breaks OffA Light A Glow/Shutterstock

What to Do If a Zipper Pull Breaks Off

If a zipper pull has broken off and you need a quick fix, grab yourself a paper clip or a key ring. Slide it through the tab on the slider and you have yourself a temporary zipper pull. Here’s how to use Sugru moldable glue for when the zipper pull comes off your favorite coat.

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How to Fix a Stuck Zipper With Laundry DetergentAndrey_Popov/Shutterstock

How to Fix a Stuck Zipper With Laundry Detergent

If your zipper is stuck, apply a dab of liquid laundry detergent as a lubricant. Pour a small amount of the detergent into a dish, then a small amount of water and mix. Dip a cotton ball into the mixture and coat the teeth with the solution. To test the zipper, gently try to unzip. If it budges only a little, then you’ll need to return it to its original position and repeat the process until the zipper moves freely.

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How to Fix a Stuck Zipper With a Pencilkamon_saejueng/Shutterstock

How to Fix a Stuck Zipper With a Pencil

If your zipper is stuck, grab a graphite pencil and rub the tip on the teeth. Test the zipper to see if it budges, and if not, bring it back to its start position and rub more of the graphite on the teeth until the zipper comes all the way down.

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How to Fix a Stuck Zipper In the LaundryMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

How to Fix a Stuck Zipper In the Laundry

If a zipper is still stuck after lubricating it, try putting the item in the washing machine to remove any dirt or gunk that may be causing the zipper to stick. Then apply more lubricant to get the zipper working properly.

Alexa Erickson
Alexa is an experienced lifestyle and news writer, currently working with Reader's Digest, Shape Magazine and various other publications. She loves writing about her travels, health, wellness, home decor, food and drink, fashion, beauty and scientific news. Follow her traveling adventures on Instagram: @living_by_lex, send her a message: [email protected] and check out her website: