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How Do I Fix a Stuck Zipper?

Rubbing soap into a zipper may loosen it.
Rubbing the sharp end of a pencil over a zipper can help unstick it.
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  • Written By: Adam Hill
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 14 April 2014
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Almost all of us have had the frustrating experience of trying to undo a stuck zipper. Whether the teeth have separated, or a piece of fabric is caught in them, it can be quite a challenge to solve the problem. Fortunately, several good methods exist for getting a stuck zipper to move again. Sometimes it is necessary to take certain precautions, depending on how fragile the fabric is around the zipper or how valuable the garment is.

With any luck, it will be relatively simple to unstick a zipper after it gets caught. One of the best things to do first is to stop zipping as soon as it feels like something is getting stuck. Many times, the problem is that the inner lining of the garment has become caught in the zipper's teeth. If it is not too far in, simply tugging gently on the lining from the inside of the garment may be enough to dislodge it. In general, it is not a good idea to pull the zipper up or down, because doing either of those things could make the problem worse.

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Sometimes a stuck zipper is much more difficult to fix. For these situations, a variety of simple home remedies have been found to be quite helpful. One of the most common of these is to apply paraffin, bar soap or candle wax to the area that has become caught in the zipper. Gently rubbing the wax in and working the zipper tab back and forth is often enough to loosen the jammed fabric. It is usually best to apply the soap or wax with a cotton swab, to make sure it gets as close to the jammed fabric as possible.

Another simple method for repairing a stuck zipper is to rub the writing end of a sharpened pencil on the teeth of the zipper where it is stuck. Doing this will apply a small amount of graphite to the area, which works as a natural lubricant to let the teeth of the zipper function more smoothly. If these methods do not work, it is sometimes beneficial to soak the garment in a solution of saltwater for a few hours before attempting to undo the jam. Failing that, a soak in vinegar or rust-removing cleaner may finally do the trick. Some find that soaking the garment in cola can loosen a stuck zipper, but this will probably not be a suitable option for more valuable articles of clothing.

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Discuss this Article

anon944442
Post 39

My zip had a clever locking mechanism. When the tag was pulled down to open the zip, the lock was pulled away from the zip teeth. The problem I had was that the tag was worn and the locking mechanism wasn't unlocking properly. I resolved this by superglueing the locking part in the open position.

anon943675
Post 38

The cotton swab and liquid soap worked like a charm. Thank you.

anon942936
Post 37

A much simpler method which is worth trying. It involves simply pulling the jammed piece of material in the opposite direction while pulling the zip in the closing direction!

anon942093
Post 36

I used a combination of these suggestions with great success! I first rubbed soap along the exposed teeth and tried to wiggle the zipper a little. Then I used the needle nosed pliers and had my husband pull the zipper in the opposite direction. It felt as if we were going to rip the backpack apart but only the stuck zipper came apart. Finally! Thanks for the tips!

anon940258
Post 35

Wow! I haven't worn my favorite coat in weeks because the fabric was jammed so far in there! I just tried wetting a q-tip, rubbing it in a bar of soap, rubbing it over the top of the zipper (so the soapy water drips into the zipper) and it worked immediately! Thank you!

anon323711
Post 34

I had a stuck zipper on my new aldo boots, and I tried the soap method! It worked great!

anon319836
Post 33

I tried the pencil tip on my boot zipper and it worked perfectly!

anon276230
Post 32

I'm a teacher and zippers are constantly getting stuck! The pencil idea works well.

anon276107
Post 31

My purse zipper was stuck for days and I tried putting soap on it after reading through your suggestions and it worked like a charm! Thanks so much!

anon275075
Post 30

Thanks so much for the pencil trick! It worked like magic!

anon262287
Post 29

I had a piece of plastic stuck in my zipper. After tugging on it for a while, I rubbed the graphite from a pencil on it and then gently pulled it again and it worked. Thanks for the suggestion.

anon238713
Post 28

@anon174264: The needle nose pliers suggestion worked like a charm! Thank you for this brilliant solution!

anon199689
Post 27

Bee's Knees Zipper Wax works like a charm and gets stuff unstuck!

anon179502
Post 26

Dish washing liquid worked for me! Mine is a heavy-duty plastic zipper (of my diving equipment bag) that I haven't opened for years. I tried soap but couldn't reach the teeth. So, I put about four drops of dish washing liquid all round it and voila!

anon178089
Post 25

I was very skeptic about the pencil but still gave it a try because I was desperate. It worked!

anon174297
Post 23

yes. try wiggling it. It works! wiggle both sides of track. and unzip. wiggle again. and unzip. and there it is!

anon174264
Post 22

I had very tough, ballistic nylon briefcase with a huge metal zipper that got caught in the piece of ballistic nylon that normally lays over the zipped seam. Bar soap did not work. Liquid soap did not work - at first.

Then I put needle-nose pliers (closed) into the "tunnel" created between the piece that had gotten caught and the rest of tunnel, and pushed. That created an outward force on the fabric, away from and perpendicular to the zipper line, which is something I could not do with my fingers alone. 10 seconds. Done. Thanks!

anon170226
Post 21

I have a northface backpack and the outside lining is caught in the zipper! I can't get the fabric out of the zipper! No matter how i gently tug the fabric it will not come out! I paid $140 for it and I really don't want to break it, any suggestions! Please

anon159815
Post 20

graphite worked straight away to a stuck zipper. great tip

anon155725
Post 17

The pencil method is amazing. I rate that.

anon155166
Post 16

Just used the pencil method on a stuck boot zipper that was driving me insane and it worked in less than 10 seconds! Thank you!

anon154639
Post 15

oh my goodness. bar soap worked like a charm. thank you.

anon154180
Post 14

Thank you so much! I had my bean bag stuck for a while and now i can finally open it again! Thank you, thank you.

anon133938
Post 12

What about a lace dress? there's nothing stuck in between but it's so hard to zip it up.

anon130245
Post 11

I used the bar soap method on the zipper of a new pair of boots. The zippers were getting stuck, but I could not find anything that was causing them to stick. Not caught on fabric, no broken tooth. I tried liquid soap, which did not work, but then I rubbed bar soap directly on the zippers. This worked immediately. I zipped them up and dow a few times to make sure it wasn't a temporary fix, and they slid perfectly.

anon123442
Post 10

Thank you very much for your tip regarding using liquid soap. My super-stuck zipper was plastic but the soap worked liked magic.

anon93873
Post 9

I just used liquid soap applied with a Q-tip to remove a piece of fabric stuck in a plastic suitcase zipper. Thank you for the tip!

anon78676
Post 8

i just tried the bar soap method and it worked! thank you thank you!

anon77721
Post 7

My wife's sari got stuck in the zipper of her coat and after reading the above article, I applied soap with a q-tip and it worked like a charm. Thank you. Vembar

anon51216
Post 6

what if the zipper is stuck without anything between its teeth?

ellefagan
Post 5

Do not use wax, except as a last resort because it is so difficult to remove any wax that may get into the fabric, and it may leave a stain that won't budge, worse than the original zipper-sticking :-)

Pencil graphite washes out easily enough *usually.* but not always, so think before you apply anything that might ruin the fabric.

The first suggestions is best - always zip carefully, and if you can, remember to give a quick look to the zipper before zipping up to spot threads or fabric that may be an obstruction to the zip-up -- and if a zipper sticks, stopat the first hint of stuckness.

And *gently* works best, to free fabric that caught in the zipper. Often it is just a loose thread from the seam that does it. Pulling hard at the thread or stuck fabric may seriously damage the garment or the zipper.

And Anon4 is right about the difference in approach with a plastic or metal zipper.

For metal zippers, as on jeans, one dot of liquid soap is nice and safe, worked in with a cotton swab or eyebrow brush. Anything more is likely to stain the fabric, and then you won't be able wear it that day, anyway.

Go *gently* with plastic zippers and with all zippers when you try to unstuck them.

If you pull hard at stuck zippers, you may succeed only in damaging the zipper unfixable. Then the zipper will need to be replaced, or the garment is ruined.

Thanks for this "food for thought."

elle

anon49739
Post 4

Lubricating a plastic jipper is not helpful; most zippers now are plastic rather than brass or metal.

anon49569
Post 2

Many pencils nowadays don't contain graphite.

anon49567
Post 1

putting it into vinegar won't harm the material?

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