Tricks To Save A Broken Zipper

If you've ever worn a piece of clothing with a zipper, chances are, you've encountered a situation where your zipper has broken at least once — even though they've been around for almost a century, as per Slate, they can be temperamental. It can be tempting to just toss the affected item, assuming it's beyond repair, but if the piece of clothing is expensive or has particular sentimental value, that might be tough to do.

Luckily, you absolutely don't need to throw anything out because of a broken zipper. You'll want to start by taking a close look to figure out exactly what's wrong — whether there's something like a pull tab missing, whether it's just stuck, if the teeth have separated, leaving two useless halves of a formerly functional zipper, etc. Then, when you have your diagnosis, you can use one of the following tips to hopefully save that broken zipper.

Here are 14 zipper-saving tips and tricks using everything from ordinary household items to simple tools.

Clear nail polish

For a well-used zipper where you suspect the issue may be that the teeth are a bit worn down, grab a bottle of clear nail polish, as Cosmopolitan recommends. Then, just as you would to your own nails, apply a thin coat or two of the polish to the teeth of your zipper, allowing for dry time between coats. This extra layer just might restore enough of the zipper teeth shape that it becomes functional again.

Petroleum jelly

So you have a zipper that's functioning, but it requires super strength to get it all the way closed. There's a fix for that. According to Family Handyman, you should grab a jar of petroleum jelly such as Vaseline and use it as a lubricating agent to allow the zipper to slide more easily. The substance should be applied with a gentle hand, though — don't just slather the petroleum jelly all over the zipper, as that could cause more problems than you had to begin with.

A pencil

If the metal zipper on your favorite jacket or bag isn't working as well as it should, getting annoyingly stuck in certain spots, you just need to find a regular pencil to try fixing that particular issue, as The Spruce suggests. The graphite found in the pencil's lead works as a lubricating agent that should allow your zipper easier movement — all you need to do is make sure your pencil is sharp enough to have a decent amount of lead, then rub it gently over the zipper's teeth.


You've taken a close look at your malfunctioning zipper and spotted what looks like a few pieces of fiber wrapped in amidst the zipper's teeth — even the smallest bits obstructing that zipper's path can wreak havoc. Luckily, this one is an easy fix — as Cosmopolitan suggests, grab your trusty pair of tweezers and try to gently pull out any fibers or other particles stuck in the zipper. Once removed, it should be smooth sliding again.


Getting into slightly trickier fixes — if you find your zipper slider isn't staying on the track, making it virtually useless, try this tip before tossing the garment or item. As Cosmopolitan instructs, start at the bottom of the zipper and begin to feed those rogue teeth into the slider manually. A basic screwdriver, which even the least handy homeowners likely have kicking around, can be just the implement to help squeeze those zipper teeth back into their proper position. Once they've been fed in and everything is on the right track again, you should be able to use the zipper properly.


If your zipper teeth have somehow gotten a bit misshapen, perhaps due to some unexpected force, grab some pliers for this quick fix. As Gear Patrol explains, you should be able to use the pliers to gently bend any of the zipper teeth that are preventing it from functioning the way it should. Once they all look properly lined up — it may take a little bit of trial and error, depending on the size of the zipper you're working with — your zipper should be good as new.

Laundry detergent

If you're dealing with a zipper that's just stuck and won't move, Family Handyman suggests reaching for a common household ingredient that nearly everyone will have on hand — liquid laundry detergent. As with other lubricating tricks, you don't want to saturate your zipper — instead, apply the detergent to the problem area with a cotton ball or cotton swab. The little extra help should do the trick in getting your zipper moving again.


There are virtually endless uses for a can of WD-40 at home, and if you're dealing with a metal zipper that's stuck, you just might want to reach for this multifunctional substance to help you out, as The Spruce recommends. However, don't risk damaging and staining your garment by spraying the WD-40 all over it — instead, get some of the product on a cotton ball or swab, and apply to the stuck zipper. Hopefully, the powerhouse properties of the WD-40 will lubricate it enough that it'll be back in working order.

​​A cycle in the washing machine

So you've tried every type of lubricating substance imaginable to fix a stuck zipper, and yet it's still not even budging. Don't worry — there's one more trick you can attempt. As per Family Handyman, the culprit may be dirt or grime stuck in your zipper in spots where you just can't see or access it. Try tossing the item with the zipper into the washing machine for a cycle to clean out anything lingering in the little crevices between those teeth or within the pull tab — you should have more success afterward.

Bar of soap

For a quick and easy way to fix a hopelessly stuck zipper, all you need to do is grab a bar of regular soap, according to Masterclass. Then, just rub the soap along the zipper, and hope that the waxy substance helps to lubricate it enough that you can get it moving again. As a bonus, bar soap is a little easier to control than liquid lubricants, so you should be able to really target those problem spots.

Lip balm

When you're dealing with a stuck zipper, the one thing that never works is being too forceful with it, and the one thing that almost always works is lubricating the zipper enough to get it moving again. For anyone who has a tube of lip balm on them at all times, as Masterclass suggests, just grab your moisturizing balm and rub it gently over the zipper to lubricate it. Just be careful if you're dealing with a tinted balm — you don't want to stain the zipper or the material near it.

A new pull tab

You might assume that a zipper without the pull tab would be essentially useless, given how challenging it would be to zip and unzip without that handy tab to hold onto. However, as Apartment Therapy outlines, a broken pull tab is actually one of the easiest zipper issues to fix. Simply grab your choice of tab — a paper clip will work in a pinch, although you can also find zipper tags or charms for a more permanent solution — attach it to the zipper, and you're good to go.

Elastic band

Sometimes you want to carefully repair a piece you love, and sometimes, you just need a quick fix to get you through the day — this trick falls into the latter camp. As Sew Guide suggests, you can temporarily fix a zipper that's constantly sliding down by using an elastic band to attach the zipper's pull tab to the garment's button if there's one nearby. It may not look the greatest, but it will get the job done until you can grab pliers for a more permanent fix.

A zipper repair kit

Okay, yes, unless you're serious about zippers and have one of these kits laying around your house, you'll likely have to buy the kit for this fix — however, if you've exhausted all your other options and just can't seem to repair your broken zipper, this might be your last hope. As Popular Science explains, these types of kits typically have a few different pulls and stops of varying sizes, so you should hopefully be able to find the exact fit you need to repair your garment.