Zippers complete many of our favorite fashion pieces, from that trusted pair of jeans to those cozy winter jackets. The versatile fastener also comes in handy on boots, purses, and travel bags. Though small, zippers cause a big headache if they get stuck or break. Luckily, some simple solutions can fix a broken zipper without incurring the cost of a tailor or a replacement item.

Eliminate pressure

The first step when facing zipper issues is to gently pull and wiggle the zipper tab to see if it is just momentarily stubborn or if there's a bigger problem. It's so tempting to give it a good yank, but this is a bad idea. Putting too much pressure on your zipper won't solve any problems and may cause damage you can't repair, including ripping your clothing. Instead, slowly pull the zipper up and be cautious of too much resistance.


Try tweezers

Tweezers come in handy for more than just plucking your eyebrows. If strings or threads are obstructing the zipper's path on your favorite accessory, try to remove the snarled thread with your tweezers. Hold the item steady, and slowly pull the runaway fabric so that you can eliminate the blockage without disrupting the zipper teeth. Tug the slider and gently wiggle the tab to help dislodge the interfering material.


Apply Vaseline

Vaseline works wonders on chapped lips, and the same can be said for stuck zippers. Petroleum jelly is very slick and will lubricate even the most stubborn contraptions. Stick a cotton swab in Vaseline, and then massage it into the affected part of the zipper. This might free up whatever is getting in the way of the zipper. Plus, the jelly should wash right off the zipper without staining your item like an oilier substance might.


Grab pliers

Try using pliers to fix zippers that come undone or separate. If you can fix the slider, which is attached to the top plate, it could give your zipper a second chance at life. Place pressure on the slider plate with your pliers to tighten it back down around the zipper. With care and a bit of luck, you can get it working again without any extra cost.


Use a screwdriver

A screwdriver is another good tool to have on hand when a zipper malfunctions. If the slider falls off, you might be able to reattach it. Feed the teeth at the zipper's bottom back into the slider with a flathead screwdriver. Once the teeth are in place, lock it in by gently tugging the slider on the track. Your zipper will be as good as new!


Pick up a pencil

An everyday writing utensil may get your stuck zipper moving again. Grab a pencil and lightly coat the affected teeth with the graphite. This will lubricate the teeth and support smooth zipping. The more graphite you apply to the zipper track, the more likely you are to undo the jam and get your sweater, jeans, or jacket back to optimal condition.

person using a pencil Matthew Horwood / Getty Images


Squirt on some dish soap

If you're still in need of more lubrication to get your zipper running perfectly, try some dish soap. Just a little bit can help the slider get back to its usual easy movement up and down the track. If you're planning on wearing your clothes out for the day, use a cloth to dab the dish soap exactly where you want it, so you don't get any on the fabric.

dish soap Scott Heins / Getty Images


Thicken with nail polish

A small bottle of clear nail polish could prove to be the magic ingredient if you think your zipper is worn down from constant use. A generous coat of clear nail polish can thicken the teeth, restoring your zipper. If the first coat doesn't do it, try a few more coats, taking the time to let each coat dry ahead of applying the next one.

nail polish Noam Galai / Getty Images


Stock up on safety pins

Safety pins are a must-have for any fancy outfit, just in case you need to secure your clothing or fix a broken piece, and they can also serve as a quick fix when a zipper just doesn't cooperate. Keep a spare safety pin at home so that if you're out and about, you have a solution to last until you get home. If the pull tab falls off mid-zip, you can also loop a safety pin through the slider for a temporary fix.


Change the bottom

Sometimes, a zipper stops working because some teeth are missing from the bottom. Depending on the garment, this might be a hopeless situation, but in some cases, you can change the "end" of your zipper and get it back in working order. Use pliers to remove the metal stops at the bottom of the zipper. Replace them further up the line, where the teeth start. Squeeze in place, and you have a new, slightly shorter zipper!

jacket zipper Luke Walker/BFC / Getty Images


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