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How to Unstick a Zipper

There are many different common reasons why zippers can get stuck. For example, zippers may snag on a piece of fabric or cloth, or one of the zipper teeth may get out of line. Also, the plastic or metal or teeth may break or get a bit worn out.

But worry not! The good news is that most of the time, there is something you can do to help you save the day.

Don’t Struggle

If you start to feel the zipper starting to get stuck and is no longer moving smoothly, it is time to stop zipping, or else, you will only make things worse! If you are wearing the garment with the zipper, remove it if possible and inspect the issue.

Retract the Fabric Slowly

If ever there is fabric caught in the zipper, try to pull it away as gently as you can. Use a pulling motion to the fabric and not the zipper. You can get a much better grip if you use tweezers or needle-nose pliers.

Once again, avoid pulling on the zipper. If you pull on the zipper, it may end up separating the teeth, particularly on zippers with nylon or plastic teeth. Ease out the fabric slowly from the zipper slider and slide the zipper pull tab down or up gradually for the final release.

An important tip to remember here is to hold the slider of the zipper by the body. This part is closer to the zipper teeth as compared to the small pull tab. Doing so will provide more control and power.

Realign the Zipper Teeth

If the zipper teeth still look out of place, you can use your finger to smooth these back together again, if possible.

Check the Garment and the Zipper

Before you rezip, make sure you check along the zipper to ensure that the fabric has been moved away from the zipper and that you have removed any loose threads.

What to Do If Everything Else Fails

Unfortunately, there are instances when nothing you do will save a broken or damaged zipper. But instead of tossing away the garment, you can simply replace the old zipper with the zippers available by the yard at If you are not confident to do it yourself, you can also hire a seamstress to do it for you.

It is especially worthwhile if you are dealing with an expensive garment. Weigh the price of replacement vs. throwing away the garment by pricing the zipper cost, the cost of paying a seamstress, and the cost of your own time.

Tips for Your Zippers to Keep Zipping

  • To protect your zippers and ensure that they continue to work well, make sure to close them completely at all times and turn garments inside out before you wash them.
  • If metal zippers no longer move smoothly, use the lead of a Number 2 pencil and rub it on the teeth. The “lead” is graphite that can help lubricate the metal teeth for the zipper slider to move more smoothly. You can also achieve the same effect if you use a bar of soap and rub it on the zipper teeth.

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