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11 Brilliant Ways to Fix a Zipper

Before you throw out your tool bag or tent, try using these tried-and-true tips and tricks for fixing a busted zipper. We'll walk you through how to fix a broken zipper yourself.

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How to fix a zipper on a bag

If you have a broken zipper on your bag, you can begin fixing it 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. You’ll also want to make sure you remove the zipper stop, if there is one, by cutting it with pliers. Once the zipper slider is off, you’ll want to 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 you’ll want to attach a new zipper top stop onto the top of the zipper. You can do this using pliers. Find out some more secrets a handyman won’t tell you.

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blue camping tent in the woods with door flap openRonTech2000/Getty Images

How to fix closed-loop zippers on tents

You’ll first want to remove the stitching around the lower end of the zipper with a seam ripper. Also, 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. You’ll then 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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suitcaseSyda 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 due to the teeth getting worn. To fix this, you can slightly lubricate the teeth using candle wax or petroleum jelly. Just be sure the teeth don’t get clogged up with the lubricant you use. This is just one of many home improvement hacks you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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Bag of repairman's work toolsfstop123/Getty Images

How to fix a zipper that is too long

If your zipper is too long, flapping past the length of your tool bag, you’ll want to cut the zipper to the length you want from the bottom. You’ll then need to remove the metal stoppers from the cut off piece with pliers and reattach it where you want it, also with the help of pliers. 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 doesn’t have metal stoppers, you’ll want to use needle and thread to make stopping stitches at the bottom of the zipper.

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black zipper on pink and blue backgroundt: Andrii Zastrozhnov/Getty Images

How to shorten a molded-tooth zipper

Molded tooth zippers have very 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 the type of 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 at them until they come off. Finish by squeezing the stop in place above the last tooth on each side.

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close up of zipperАнатолий Тушенцов/Getty Images

How to shorten a continuous coil zipper

To fix a zipper with a continuous coil (the teeth are a continuous coil of nylon), you should know that you cannot pull out the teeth. Instead, you’ll have to cut them out. To do this, clip the front part of the coil in half, right before the zipper tape. Now, 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. You can check out this video, as well.

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close up of broken zipperprill/Getty Images

How to repair a zipper with missing bottom teeth

To repair missing bottom teeth on your zipper, you’ll first need to 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. You’ll flip the bag, or whatever item it is, 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 garment right side out and use a sewing machine or needle and thread to re-tack the bottom portion of the zipper. For more details, check out this tutorial. Here are 40 home repairs that you may not know you can easily do yourself.

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metallic zipperA 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. Now, slide either one through the tab on the slider and you have yourself a temporary zipper pull.

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Close-up of soap bubbles with water on a blue background.Viorika/Getty Images

How to fix a stuck zipper with laundry detergent

If your zipper is stuck, you can try fixing it by applying liquid laundry detergent. Simply apply a dab of laundry detergent to your stuck zipper as a lubricant. You’ll 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 is unstuck. Did you know the surprising reason all of your zippers have the letters “YKK” on them? (Seriously!)

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Sezeryadigar/Getty Images

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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front loading washing maching close up. closed door with laundry and suds inside.Andrey Nikitin/Getty Images

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 stay stuck. Then, apply more lubricant to get the zipper working properly. Now that you’re ready to conquer zippers, find out these fascinating facts about them and 15 other things you probably use every day.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman

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 travel adventures on Instagram: @living_by_lex, send her a message: [email protected], and check out her website: