Your Guide to Repairing a Zipper

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Your Guide to Repairing a Zipper

The zipper is an invention that makes clothing and many other common products more versatile and durable. For many people, however, a broken zipper means that a piece of clothing may no longer be wearable. This does not need to be the case, as there are many steps that you can take in order to repair a broken zipper and allow it to once more function as normal. In some cases, zipper repair may require tools, but most of these tools are easily found in a hardware store or online via eBay. In cases where the zipper is ruined to the point where a replacement is needed, these are also found on eBay.

When you find that you have a zipper in need of repair, it is important to understand how to diagnose the problem, how to perform simple repairs, and how to realign the teeth and make certain that there are no foreign particles or other issues that may make this difficult. Understanding basic repairs and how a zipper can become broken in the first place can help extend the life of an item and provide you with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

How Zippers Work

Zippers are relatively new devices in the world of fashion, as they were invented in the middle of the 19th century but not become popular for several decades. Although the zipper is simple to use, it is not something that can be made by hand. In fact, only precision machines made after the Industrial Revolution are capable of making a modern zipper.

In spite of this, the zipper relies on two basic mechanical principles known as the hook and wedge to function. Essentially, the zipper track is made from both hooks and hoops that are designed to hold the hooks in place. The zipper's slide contains several basic wedges, which are devices that direct force in certain directions to force the hooks and hoops together. Sliding the zipper up and down either forces a secure bond or tears that bond apart.

Types of Zippers

There are several kinds of zippers apart from coil zippers which are the most common. Coil zippers use a slightly different design than other zippers and feature a spiral or ladder shaped coil that includes the teeth that interlock.

Zipper Type


Jeans zipper

Stronger construction than coil zippers; Metal teeth

Invisible zipper

Coil zippers that face inward

Separating zipper

Used for attaching two separate pieces of clothing together

Double-slider zipper

Two sliders; Usually found on backpacks or purses

It should be noted that while some zippers may use the same design, they are not the same in build. An example is the type of zipper found on most luggage. This is typically a coil design that is extremely thick and durable, making repair much more difficult than zippers on clothing.

Common Problems

For all that the zipper is an epitome of simplicity and efficiency, there are common problems that necessitate a repair. One of the most common is a misalignment, when the two sides of a zipper's track no longer align properly. Another common problem is when the teeth of a zipper either become stuck or refuse to stick together. Some people also discover that the zipper slider is either broken or not working properly. These problems can be resolved fairly easily, with the right tools and, in necessary, replacement parts.

How to Repair a Zipper

When it comes to repairing a zipper, there are some important steps to follow in order to make sure you do the repair correctly. These steps including examining the damaged zipper, cleaning it, and if necessary removing and replacing the metal stop.

Examine the Zipper

The first step to repairing your zipper is to perform a careful examination and discover what the problem is. It is important to determine if the problem is due to an issue with the pieces that make up the zipper or if the problem is due to foreign material becoming trapped in the zipper. If the problem is due to the zipper actually missing pieces, such as one or more teeth, it may be easier to simply replace it. It may also be helpful to lay the zipper flat and attempt to open or close it several times on a flat surface in order to see how it works and what issues arise.

Clean the Zipper

If the problem is due to foreign material such threads or larger pieces of fabric getting caught in the zipper, it is necessary to remove them. In some cases this may be achieved by pulling on the fabric while simultaneously pulling on the slider, but often more intricate methods are necessary. Threads and pieces of fabric that are truly caught in the zipper can be removed with the help of embroidery scissors or a razor. Embroidery scissors are short, narrow scissors that can allow for a very close trim. Some types of embroidery scissors are actually bent to allow the user to apply them in small spaces.

Lubricate the Teeth

Along with removing any threads or fabric from the teeth of a zipper, it is helpful to make certain that the teeth are not rusty or in a condition where they might jam. One way to make certain that the teeth can function properly is to lubricate the teeth. This can be done with certain oils as well as with beeswax, which is less messy and can be run up and down over the teeth a few times while the slider is pulled to one side. This simple act, along with the removal of debris like threads and fabric, can in some cases restore a zipper to working condition.

Remove the Metal Stop

If cleaning the zipper does not help, many common problems can be fixed by first removing the metal stop that prevents the slider from falling off. With the metal stop removed, it is possible to perform simple repairs such as realigning the teeth or replacing the slider. This is most easily done with a pair of needle nose pliers. These narrow pliers can take hold of the stop and with enough pressure, it can pop off of the zipper. Then, all that is required is to flatten the zipper in order to realign the teeth or taking off the slider and replacing it with a new one.

Replace the Metal Stop

Once the metal stop has been removed, it is sometimes difficult to replace in the same manner. In some cases, it may be possible to buy a new stop and use special tools to put it in place. The easiest and least expensive way to replace the stop is to create a new one using a needle and thread. This requires very strong, thick thread, but all you need to do is start from behind the zipper and sew back and forth until you have made a new stop that keeps the slider from coming off. Then, it is necessary to tie a knot and ensure that the thread is in place. In some cases, people who have a zipper with missing teeth on the lower portion of the zipper may use this technique to create a new stop above the missing teeth in order to restore their zipper to working order.

Buying Zipper Repair Supplies on eBay

The tools that are necessary to repair a zipper can be found on eBay. In order to find the necessary repair tools or replacement zippers on eBay, using the search bar is a helpful way to find what you are looking for. This search bar is found on any eBay page and can provide a list of results from very generic terms such as 'pliers' or very specific terms such as 'embroidery scissors'.

Once you have entered your search term, you can evaluate the different items on display and make purchases based on price and quality. Some items may be used and others may be brand new. When making a purchase, it is always important to read the product description. This information can make it easier to make an informed decision and to know what particular items may work well for your situation. Many sellers have years of experience on eBay, and a careful buyer should also read seller feedback profiles and other information before making a purchase.


A broken zipper does not mean the end of a particular piece of clothing, luggage, or purse. In many cases, a zipper can be repaired in order to once again function properly. Before attempting any repairs, it is helpful to be aware of how zippers work and what kinds of zippers are available. Along with this, you should know the common problems that might befall a zipper. In many cases, the zipper can be fixed by making certain that the teeth are aligned properly.

Other simple methods of fixing a zipper include cleaning any foreign debris, like thread and small pieces of cloth from the zipper with embroidery scissors. Beeswax is also helpful in lubricating a zipper and allowing the slide to work better. Many other problems can be resolved by pulling off the stop at the bottom of a zipper and removing the slider or realigning the teeth. A replacement stopper can be made with needle and thread. More complex problems can usually only resolved with a replacement zipper, but attempting repair first can save money if it is successful.

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