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How to mend a broken zip

Don’t replace a favourite bag or coat because the zip broke. Read on for tips on how to mend a zip instead.


By Cleanipedia Team

Broken zip on jeans with safety pin / Broken zip on black coat

Key steps

  • Always keep your zip clean to ensure it functions well.
  • Fix bent teeth by pressing them with pliers.
  • Graphite or wax will help a stuck zip get moving.
  • Pressing pliers on the zipper head should help secure a zip that keeps opening when done up.

The zip is the crucial feature on so many of our clothes and accessories, but it can be a troublesome friend. A dysfunctional zip makes a useful item suddenly not so useful, but don’t panic — there might be an easy solution to the problem. In this simple guide we’ll show you how to mend a broken zip with a choice of approaches, depending on the issue.

Avoid having to fix preventable issues with your bags and clothing by including the zip in your regular cleaning routine.

How to mend a zip: methods for the most common zipper faults

Whether you want to learn how to fix a trouser zip, need help with a stuck zip, or your zip keeps opening from the closed end, we’ve got you covered right here.

  1. Got a handbag with thread stuck in the teeth? Here are some steps for an easy fix:
    1. First, identify where the thread is stuck.
    2. Using a toothpick, gently pull the threads until they are separated from the zip’s teeth.
    3. Once loose, use scissors to cut the thread. Now you should be able to remove the thread pieces.
    4. Take care not to warp the teeth as you pull the thread loose.
  2. Crooked zipper teeth are one of the most common faults — especially if you’ve over filled a handbag or forced a coat zip closed when it’s stuck. Here’s how to fix it:
    1. Using pliers, press the crooked teeth together to realign them with the straight ones.
    2. Alternatively, pull the zipper head over the area with the bent teeth.
    3. Once they enter the zipper head, give the head a gentle squeeze with pliers. This should straighten the teeth.
    4. Once you have realigned the teeth, reopen the zip.
    5. Mix warm water with a mild soap, such as Dove.
    6. Dip a cotton bud into your warm, soapy water.
    7. Clean the zipper teeth, paying particular attention to the area you have just fixed.
  3. Is your zipper head broken or loose, and you are away from home and can’t replace it? Don’t panic! A paper clip is a great alternative and will do the trick until you can fix the zipper head.
  4. If you have a broken zip on coat fronts or even pockets, it’s likely to be one of two faults: a stuck zip or a zip opening from the bottom while it’s closed. Here are the steps to fix a stuck zip:
    1. Rub a graphite-based pencil or wax candle back and forth over the zip front.
    2. Repeat step 1, but this time, rub the back of your zip.
    3. Leave the graphite or wax to soak for 2 minutes.
    4. Gently pull your zipper head up and down over the area you have just rubbed with graphite or wax.
    5. If need be, repeat steps 1–4 until the zip movement is smooth and normal again.
    6. Once you’re sure the zip is working 100% again, clean the zip down with a damp, soft cloth.

Now we’ll show you how to fix a burst zip that’s opening from the bottom while closed:

  • First, identify if there are any crooked zip teeth. These could result in the zip not closing properly. If you spot some, fix them by following the steps above.
  • If you spot any broken or missing teeth, the zip will need replacing. If you feel up to the DIY zips can be replaced at home, or why not ask for the help of a tailor? This will help you not only save a beloved item but also minimise waste. If you can’t replace the zip, why not check out our guide for how to sew a button on clothing as a great alternative.
  • If neither of these issues are on your zip, use a pair of pliers to press the two sides of the zipper head together gently. This should allow it to align the zipper teeth closer as it pulls closed and eliminate the issue.
  • Make sure the zip is clean as dirt between the teeth could prevent it closing properly.

If you’re out and discover your trouser zip keeps falling down, there’s an easy temporary fix. Attach a paper clip to the button and zipper head. This should hold it in place, until you can get a more permanent fix in place.

With our simple steps you now know how to mend a broken zip with ease.

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Originally published