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Zip it! How to fix a broken zipper

Zipper drama? Don’t worry – you won’t need to replace your favorite bag or jacket when you follow our simple guide on how to fix a zipper.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

Zipper of a jacket with the label on.

Key steps

  • Take care to regularly clean the zipper teeth to keep it functioning well.

  • Use pliers to fix bent zipper teeth.

  • Don’t overfill your bag to prevent zipper damage.

  • Trouser zippers falling down? Use a paper clip to attach it to the button and hold it in place.

Whether it's your bag's or the zipper on your jeans that got stuck or simply broke, don't despair. There's a way to fix it. Follow this step-by-step guide for how to fix a zipper so you won't have to replace it or throw away your favorite clothing items.

Make sure that you regularly keep on top of your zipper cleaning. A good cleaning routine for the zip will ensure you keep preventable issues at bay.

How to fix a broken zipper: bag

With the following steps we’ll show you how to fix a broken zipper on a bag, easily at home. These steps can be applied to any type of bag from make-up bags to handbags:

  • Is the thread stuck? Here’s your simple fix:

  1. You will need a sharp toothpick and scissors.

  2. Check to see where the thread is stuck.

  3. Using the toothpick, pry the threads away from the zipper teeth.

  4. If they are loose but not coming away, use scissors to cut the thread.

  5. When removing the thread, take care not to warp the zipper teeth.

  • If your bag zipper has crooked teeth, use these steps to fix it:

  1. You will need pliers, warm water, mild soap and cotton buds.

  2. Use the pliers to realign the crooked zipper teeth with the straight ones.

  3. Alternatively, try pulling the zipper head to straighten them as the bent teeth enter into it.

  4. Once the teeth are inside the zipper head, give it a gentle squeeze to straighten the teeth.

  5. Reopen the zipper. Using a cotton swap dipped in your warm, soapy water, clean the zipper teeth, paying particular attention to the area which was previously crooked.

The Poll

Would you be more likely to buy a Cleaning or Laundry product that had a QR code visible on the pack over a product without a QR code? 

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Is your zipper head broken or loose? Simply replace it with a paper clip!

How to repair a zipper: clothes

Use this simple guide to fix the zipper on your jacket or other clothing items:

  • You will need a graphite pencil or wax candle.

  • Rub the pencil or candle back and forth over the front and back of your zip.

  • Pull the zipper head up and down. This should smooth out the movement of your zipper.

  • You can repeat the above steps until your zipper is moving normally again.

  • Once you’re sure it’s working fully, clean your zipper teeth using warm water and a soft cloth.

With the above hacks for how to fix a zipper bag and more, you can rest assured that your favorite fashion item won’t need to be thrown away. If DIY zipper fixing isn’t you thing, or there is something else wrong with your clothing, why not check out our guide for how to recycle old clothes and give your clothing a new lease of life.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on fixing broken zippers

How do you fix a zipper that has come off its track?

A zipper that has come off its track isn't too big of a problem to fix, so don't let it leave you with your pants down! Simply hold the zipper head in the correct direction, slot one side of zipper teeth into the zipper head, then do the same for the other, and pull gently till successful. It can become too fiddly if you try and do both at the same time, so be patient!

Can you fix a broken zipper with a fork?

Yes, but there is a catch: it only works if your zipper doesn't have a stopper (a small bit that keeps the zipper in place at the bottom). You can fix a broken zipper with a fork by feeding the zipper head through the two middle prongs of the fork, bringing the two halves of the zipper track together, and pushing the zipper head back on to the track. It's a great trick, but be sure to secure your zipper on the track afterwards.

How do you fix broken zipper teeth?

The above tricks work for teeth that are crooked, but how do you fix broken zipper teeth (i.e. teeth that are missing)? A zipper is nothing without its teeth, and luckily, you can fashion new ones to replace them. You can attach (by sewing) small brass clips that are designed for this purpose in place of missing zipper teeth. However, the same effect can be achieved with a cotton bud. Simply cut a tooth-sized section of cotton bud, then cut this vertically on one side, so that it opens up. Fit it around the zipper track, sew the two ends in place, and voilà!

How do you fix zipper bulge on a dress?

Dresses are often form-fitting, so it's obvious why a zipper bulge isn't a particularly welcome problem. Zipper bulges on the backs of dresses usually happen when the dress is too tight or when the waist is too small: both cause the fabric to bunch up and create bulges. The quickest solution for fixing a zipper bulge is resizing the dress to expand these areas.

Originally published