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How to fix common zipper issues

Everyone has dealt with a zipper that didn’t close as expected. Sluggish operation and quirky components can make it seem like you have no choice but try to find a pricey professional sewer to replace it or simply to toss the item. But there’s no reason to spend a lot on a repair bill or give up on your favorite jacket, bag, or pair of jeans, as many zipper problems are easy to repair once you determine the issue and invest in a few basic products. 

Parts of a zipper

When attempting to fix a zipper that just isn’t working properly, it’s important to understand its components. Although a zipper is a fairly simple gadget, it’s made of several key parts that depend on each for the zipper to open and close effortlessly. 

To understand how a zipper operates, first look at its foundation, called tape. This is the portion sewn into other material to secure the zipper in place. On top of the tape are the teeth, which serve as the tracks of the zipper. The slider is the part of the zipper that fits over the teeth and opens and closes them. A pull is attached to the slider and does precisely what its name implies — pulls the slider over the teeth for an opened or closed position. Finally, small objects called stops are positioned at both ends of the teeth to prevent the slider from slipping off track. 

Types of common zipper issues

When a zipper isn’t operating as it should, the problem may be in one or several of the essential components. The fixes for issues that commonly affect zippers are often quite simple to perform. Below are zipper issues you may encounter, along with methods for correcting them. 

The zipper doesn’t move smoothly or jams

Zippers that are sluggish when pulled or get stuck mid-way on the track are usually an easy fix. Take a cotton swab and dip it in lotion or vaseline. Rub it along the teeth and over the section where the zipper tends to jam. This provides lubrication that helps the slider move easily over the teeth. 

The zipper tends to get off track 

Occasionally, zippers dislodge from their tracks, making them impossible to open or close. Use pliers with small tips to grasp the teeth while you maneuver the slider back in place over the teeth for a quick fix. 

The zipper isn’t angled correctly 

This is another issue that prevents a zipper from operating precisely. To correct the angle, place a piece of string beside the pull and tie it. Work the track in place with one hand while pulling the slider with the string, moving it back and forth on the track until the angle is accurate. 

The zipper’s track splits  

When zipper teeth separate on both sides of the slider, the problem often appears to be unfixable. However, using pliers to tighten the slider where it comes in contact with the track will usually correct the split. After gently squeezing the pliers on both sides of the slider, maneuver the zipper back and forth over the track until the split is fixed. 

While most sliders are made of metal, a few are constructed of plastic. Keep in mind that this hack won’t work on a plastic slider, as it can’t be shaped like most types of metal. 

The zipper pull is missing 

When a zipper’s pull has fallen off, it’s difficult to maneuver the slider. Fortunately, replacement zipper pulls are available and come in a wide selection of sizes and colors. Check your zipper before you buy, and be sure to choose one that’s similar in size for a good match and secure fit. 

When it’s time to replace a zipper

Sometimes zippers wear out and can’t be fixed. Missing teeth and damaged sliders are all signs you may need a new zipper. Installing a new zipper is fairly straightforward but requires a little sewing know-how. It’s also easiest with a sewing machine. Whether you use a needle and thread or a machine, tutorials are available online to walk you through the zipper-replacing process. 

What you need to buy to fix common zipper issues

Vaseline Original Petroleum Jelly

This quality petroleum jelly is made by a trusted brand and is suitable for numerous beauty purposes, personal care needs, and household uses. It provides lasting lubrication when used to fix stuck zippers. 

Sold by Amazon

Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Hand Cream

Not only is Gold Bond hand cream reasonably priced, highly moisturizing, and great for hands, its rich formula will provide ample lubrication to keep zippers working properly. 

Sold by Amazon

Q-Tips Cotton Swabs

With soft tips made of thick, real cotton and sticks that are both flexible and strong, Q-Tips are some of the most popular cotton swabs on the market. This large pack includes 500 swabs. 

Sold by Amazon

WORKPRO 7-Piece Plier Set

This set contains seven versatile pliers, including several with narrow tips that are up to the task of grasping small items like zipper components. Crafted of forged steel, they are also built to last. 

Sold by Amazon 

Channellock 8-inch Long Nose Pliers

The durable tips of these pliers are long and thin, making them perfect for doing intricate tasks. They are made of carbon steel that will hold up to years of performing numerous types of DIY jobs. 

Sold by Home Depot and Amazon

Everbilt Twisted Jute Twine

If you need versatile twine, you can’t go wrong with this affordable option that’s made of sustainable jute that’s recyclable and biodegradable. 

Sold by Home Depot 

Zpsolution Zipper Pull Replacements

Replacing a missing zipper pull is simple with these pull replacements that feature lobster claw clasps that attach with ease. They are made of strong zinc alloy and come in several finish options. 

Sold by Amazon

Brother Computerized Sewing Machine

Despite its reasonable price, this sewing machine comes with features novice and pro sewers love, including 70 stitches and an easy-to-use control panel. It’s manufactured by one of the most trusted brands in the industry. 

Sold by Amazon

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Jennifer Manfrin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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