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How to Fix a Zipper that Separates

It’s so incredibly annoying the minute it happens. Stuck, separated, jammed, or just plain jacked up. Your zipper, although functional, can malfunction at the most inconvenient times. But knowing how to fix one? Can be one of life’s best-learned secrets. Pretty much every garment in your wardrobe has at least one zip. But it can be frustrating when you attempt to fix it and just can’t get it. In fact, broken zippers are possibly the trickiest fashion pieces to fix because the more you try and move the slider up and down (in various positions of sticking), your zipper can end up even worse than when you started.

Sure you can always take your busted zippered piece to the alterations shop, if you are in a hurry or don’t have other options for a dress or purse, it certainly would be nice to know how to repair those in a pinch. Not to mention, there aren’t too many shops with regular hours these days, so finding someone to cater to your pick-up or drop-off schedule might be a challenge. Plus, there could be a huge backlog of garments that need mending.

If you find yourself in a broken zipper situation, take a look around at your household items and search for pliers, tweezers or nail polish – it’s time to get crafty.

And there are a variety of reasons why your zippers keep malfunctioning, but it’s important to know the various parts of the zipper so you can understand how to troubleshoot best. A zipper is made up of teeth, a slider, and a puller from top to bottom. Now, onto a few scenarios:

Zipper Keeps Separating After Fastening

This is when those handy dandy pliers come in to save the day. If your zipper is seemingly working properly but then the minute you zip it closed, all the teeth go haywire? This means the slider is jacked up. The slider is the center of the zipper that keeps the teeth on track. With wear and tear, sliders will loosen and they are not as effective at putting teeth in their respective place. time, these sliders start to loosen and gape, which makes them less effective at fixing the teeth in place. This pocketbook-friendly approach is fairly simple.

When the slider is still attached to the piece of clothing, take the pliers, reach for a pair of pliers. You’ve got to attack the top plate and bottom plate of the slider. These attach to the puller. Grab your needle nose and pinch the plates together to diminish the gape. This will tighten enough to resemble its original form. Just don’t use too much pressure otherwise you will bust the slider. You want to do this part slowly, bringing the plates on either side of the puller until it’s snug.

If a Slider Escapes the Track

This situation calls for a screwdriver. If any part of the slider jumps off the track, the zipper isn’t hopeless, the slider just needs reattaching. First, locate the bottom of the zip. This would be the part of the zipper that faces down if you are looking at your garment. Next, you’ll feed the teeth into the slider. For extra leverage, use a flathead screwdriver. Once the teeth are inside both sides of the slider, use the puller to move it up and down the track to secure it in position.

The Zipper is Plain Stuck

Before you get too irritated, ensure the zip is clear of debris or threads. Try to remove it by hand if possible. This could solve your problem. But if you can’t get it to budge, take a pair of tweezers to clear the debris from the track or teeth. You can even gently wiggle the puller in both directions to break the offending item free.

Your Zip Keeps Falling Down

It can be a real pain when your zipper won’t stay put. But if you have some nail polish within reach, you may have a solution on your hands. Usually, the culprit is that the teeth are wearing down. By coating the teeth in clear nail polish to thicken the teeth which can help repair the zip to its previous working state. If you are still having problems, you may want to try using a few coats of polish. Just make sure the polish is dry before you attempt to zip up and down, otherwise you are going to end up with a sticky mess. A few other quick fixes include a safety pin or a paper clip.


While it’s certainly handy to have these tricks in your back pocket, the goal is to tend to your zippers in a way that keeps them intact. Yanking your zipper is never a good idea and definitely don’t put too much pressure on the zipper to hold. Both things will give you an instant bust and can easily be avoided. All in all, if you’re faced with a broken zipper – try to keep an even head and attempt these hacks instead. You may be surprised to find out just how easy it is to repair your own zippers.

But when a zipper’s time has come, you have to say farewell. Some zippers simply can’t be repaired so they must be replaced. Alterations shops handle zippers issues all the time and would be happy to assist you with your zipper woes.

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