Zipper repairs

Hjem » Zipper repairs

Edited on January 23rd 2024

When a zipper stops functioning, it can render, e.g. a fully functional coat,
completely useless and that is such a shame. 

However, many zipper problems can be solved without replacing the zipper, and most people already have all the remedies necessary in their own home. 

I go to great lengths to avoid replacing zippers, it takes a long time and can be quite costly. Some zipper problems do require changing it out, but you can go quite far without.

Click on your zipper problem in the list below and see what you can do to fix it yourself.

Happy repairing,
SySL redesign

zipper repairs
These are the tools you can use for the listed zipper repairs down below.
Zipper parts
Zipper parts. It also contains at least a slider, teeth and the tape itself, that all of the parts are attached to.

Click on your zipper problem

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Zipper comes undone/splits

A common zipper problem – the zipper suddenly will not close, although the slider slides. This means the slider is no longer able to close the teeth behind itself. Most often it is because of a dysfunctional slider. It can also stem from faulty or missing teeth – click on problem no. 4.

There are 3 reasons of a dysfunctional slider – poor quality (the metal of the slider is too soft to keep its original shape), putting too much pressure on the zipper (e.g. stuffing your bag too full) and lastly, it has become old and worn out. 

The slider needs to be squeezed back together with pliers (e.g. long nose/needle-nose pliers).
Press gently on both sides of the pull, on the mouth of the slider (see pictures), then try the slider by moving it back and forth. If it is still coming undone, try squeezing it little by little again and again. 

Be careful not to squeeze it too much, then the zipper can get too tight to pull (click on problem no. 2).
If the slider breaks (usually because it is too worn or poor quality), that problem can also be solved. Click on problem no. 3.

Zipper is pulling too tightly

You can use a candle to lubricate/grease the zipper teeth, making it slide easier.
Some suggest melting the candle wax with a lighter after applying it to the teeth. I have only tried putting the candle wax on, without melting it afterwards, and it has worked out just fine.

I use a tea light and lift it out of the metal holder. I then use the side of the candle.

This will only solve the problem momentarily, and when the problem reappears, you need to reapply the candle wax.

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Zipper slider has totally fallen off/fallen off one side/broke

The slider can be put back on. Remove, with the pliers, the stop at the top or at the bottom.
If your dealing with an open-end zipper, the stop is at the top, on the side of the zipper the slider is sliding on, usually the side with the small retaining box at the bottom.
If your dealing with a closed-end zipper, like on a pair of pants, you can remove either the stop at the bottom or at the top.

It is not always possible to reach the stop with your pliers. For example on jeans, at the bottom of the zipper, the area is tight to get to.
To put the slider back on, you can also cut between two teeth, as far down as you can get to on the zipper of your pants or as far up as you can on your coat (see problem no. 4). The difference is that you are deliberately damaging the zipper to put the slider back on.
Cutting between the teeth is the easiest and fastest way. You just have to remember that you can not use the zipper below (pants) or above (coat) the level of the cut.

The stop needs to be put back on, so you need to be careful when taking it off.
You can also sew a stop with a whip stitch several times around the zipper teeth, to prevent the slider from sliding off again.
You can buy the stop as a loose spare part.

You can also buy new sliders as a spare part or save old ones from clothes and bags before you throw them away. Remember that there are different types of zippers. The shape and size of the zipper teeth must match each other, if the new slider is going to be able to close the teeth.
You can use my zipper overview, at the bottom of the page, to help you find the correct slider.

ZlideOn has a replaceable slider, where the stop does not have to be removed, to put the slider back on. ZlideOn is simply clicked onto the zipper. Remember that ZlideOn comes in many sizes, so you also need to match it with the type of zipper you have.
However, I have no experience with ZlideOn and I have found that it is too expensive in comparison to reusing sliders from my stash.

Zipper teeth
have fallen off/are broken

If this problem occurs at the bottom of e.g. a pant or at the top of a coat, you can sew a new bottom or top stop on, above or below the affected area, so that you can continue using the unaffected part of the zipper. It only works if you have enough of the unaffected zipper left above or below the stop. I mean, you need to have a big enough opening left in your pants to pull them over your hips, and as much as possible left of the zipper at the top of your coat to not freeze your neck.

Make sure to pull the slider back on, before sewing the stop, if it has fallen off. 

In the picture with the pants, I pushed the teeth, below the “new” stop, back together again to make it look tidy, but it is not necessary for the zipper to function. 
Also, make sure to have the correct number of teeth above and below the “new” stop, to prevent the slider from pulling the zipper unevenly. This only applies to a closed-end zipper like the pant zipper in the pictures.

However, sometimes this problem may require replacing the entire zipper.

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Zipper coil is partly deattached from the tape

1.-3. The seam attaching the coil to the zipper tape is ripped, which can cause the slider to derail or not being able to close it. (The part broken on my zipper is marked in picture no. 2.) I have removed the stop so I can sew there too.

4.  The coil contains a string to stabilize the coil. This must lie in the outer edge of the coil, as the teeth (i.e. the middle part of the coil on each side) must be free to intertwine with the other side of the zipper coil. It is ok to sew in that string.

5. The zipper slider must be able to slide freely on the right and wrong side, which is why I usually place my starting knot between the tape and the coil. It is also important that the thread is pulled tightly to the coil itself, i.e. no puckers, otherwise the slider can snag on the thread ripping the seam again.
In my example, I used a black sewing thread, i.e. contrasting sewing thread, so you can see it in the pictures. Normally I use a matching thread.
I always use double thread for better strength.

6.-7. I use a back stitch, one stitch for each “coil”. Start your stitches a little before the ripped seam and sew until a little after the ripped seam, for better longevity. 
Finish with a knot, also placed between the coil and tape, like with the starting knot.

8. This is how it looks from the right side.
Put the stop back on.

9. And this is what it looks like from the wrong side.
The seam is placed as close to the edge of the tape as possible, so the slider does not run into the seam and wears it off.

The plastic piece at the bottom
is worn out

With this problem it is very difficult to fit (and retain) the pin into the retaining box and therefore it is hard to keep the zipper closed. It tends to split because the pin keeps falling out of the retaining box. 
This is a very common problem, but very difficult to repair. Usually, this problem requires a complete replacement of the zipper.

lynlås er i stykker
reservedele til lynlås

The retaining box or insert pin has fallen off/is lost

The original parts can not be reattached, but you can buy spare parts, e.g. on Amazon.
However, it will never become as strong as the original. The original parts are pressed on by a machine, together with the plastic piece mentioned in the previous problem. 

If the plastic piece is also worn out, it becomes even more difficult to repair (click on problem no. 6).

Zipper overview

If your zipper breaks, it is easier to repair it, if you know how it is constructed. For instance, if you need to find a new slider that matches the one that broke, it is helpful to know what you are looking for. 

Zippers come in different:

  • widths
  • lengths
  • colors
  • materials (metal or plastic)
  • types (coil, metal- or plastic teeth (Vislon))
  • functions (open-end, closed-end, etc.)

So when you need to find  a “new” slider, consider the following on your broken zipper:

  1. which type of zipper and teeth (coil…?)
  2. width
  3. its function (closed-end…?)
  4. which direction it runs
  5. i.e. color (though not important for function)

There is a more detailed description under each image, and just below the image section, you can find links to YKK’s website (in english), which has a more detailed overview available.

I will not talk on different brands available. When I need spare parts I will choose what I have available in my saved stash. But I will say that my preferred brand is YKK, as I have found them to last longer. (And I am not sponsored to say this.)

You can find more advice on zipper repairs at

I hope this step-by-step problem oriented tutorial on zipper repairs,
was helpful to you.
Please do not hesitate to ask me, if you have any
questions on the topic.

Best regards,
SySL redesign


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