What do you do when your zip won’t budge? Learn how to unstick a zipper with these 14 smart tips and tricks with common household items. These are genius ways to fix a zipper which always happens at the most inconvenient times. But we have genius zipper fixing ideas that you can try the next time you’re “stuck” with a sticky zipper situation.

Imagine with me for a moment: You wake up late so are in a hurry to get ready and out the door. You run to the closet or dresser and quickly throw an outfit together (all the while hoping it looks like you put in a little more effort than you did).

14 Ways to unstick a zipper collage

You start to zip things up and then it happens: the worst nightmare of rushed dressing…..the zipper gets stuck.

Panic-stricken, you try every trick you can think of, even asking someone in your house to help. But all efforts prove to be in vain. What can you do? It’s too late to piece together another outfit and you certainly can’t go out in public unzipped.

Luckily for you, we’ve found effective ways to unstick a zipper on your broken zipper. So before you call in sick, why not give one (or more) of these a try?

Now, if it’s an article of clothing – jacket, pants, or your favorite boots –  that you’re struggling to get zipped or unzipped, all these tips will work best if you can get the garment off. If not, many of them will still work and you can always ask a friend or roommate to help you out!

How to Unstick a Zipper

1. Add Paperclip Pull To Your Zipper

Sometimes a little extra leverage makes it easier to unstick a stuck zipper. Insert a paperclip into the hole of the zipper pull, and pull the paperclip up to get the zipper going again like a pull tab.

If you don’t have a paper clip handy, you could use a key ring, or if you have one, a fork. Simply slide one of the fork tines or fork prongs into the hole and pull the zipper upward.

You could also try pliers or a wire coat hanger. Just be thoughtful and don’t apply too much force. The idea is not to break the zipper. You simply want to get it moving again.

Psst…a pair of pliers works too! In fact, needle nose pliers come in REALLY handy to get some leverage over  common zipper problems.

How to fix a zipper collage

2. Soap Your Zipper

Rub a bar of soap along the zipper to lubricate it. You may need to apply soap to both the inside and outside of the zipper to coat it thoroughly.  The bar soap coating lasts for a long time!!

3. WD-40 To The Rescue

Of course, you can’t go wrong with a couple of sprays of WD-40 to get your zipper going. That stuff is a miracle worker.

But don’t spray WD-40 directly on the zipper. That might stain your clothing. Instead, spray a bit of the WD-40 on a cotton cloth and rub that cloth over the zipper. That will get the zipper gliding smoothly along the tracks again.

4. How About Coconut Oil?

Have some coconut oil in your house? Rub it along the length of the zipper to get it moving. Again, be careful to not get the oil on the clothing itself, as the coconut oil will leave a grease mark. But coconut oil is an excellent lubricant for even the most stubborn of zippers!


5. No Coconut Oil? Vaseline Works, Too

Fix a stuck zipper with a dab of Vaseline. Rub a dab of Vaseline on the teeth of the zipper. The zipper will get that extra “grease” it needs to slide up and down the teeth with the petroleum jelly.

Don’t use too much Vaseline as it can stain your clothes if you’re not careful.

6. Wax Your Zipper To Get It Going

You likely have a roll of wax paper in your cabinet. Surprisingly, it works well for lubricating zippers. Simply rub the wax paper back and forth over the zipper to transfer the wax. That will help the zipper slide up and down with more ease.

7. Soap It Up—Again. But With Dish Soap.

A little dish soap may be all you need, and it’s safe for most fabrics. Just squeeze a drop of dish soap on a Q-Tip and apply it to the zipper teeth. If that doesn’t work, you can try applying the dish soap directly onto the zipper, aiming for the space between the teeth.

8. Draw On Your Zipper With a Pencil

The graphite in pencils can get zippers unstuck. Just rub the pencil lead of a graphite pencil against the zipper teeth. A handy trick to know if you’re stuck in class or at work and don’t want your fly open.

How to fix a zipper

9. Draw On Your Zipper With a Crayon

Crayons work, too. It works best if the crayon is the same color as the zipper, but, in a pinch, don’t sweat the color of the crayon. It’s more important to get the zipper unstuck.

Rub the crayon along both sides of the zipper. It may be a good idea to teach the kiddos this trick if they have some sticky zippers.

10. Candle Wax Works, Too

Unstick your stuck zipper by lightly rubbing a candle along your zipper. The wax coats the tines to make pulling the zipper easier for your zipper repair.

11. Never Get Stuck With a Stuck Zipper Again!

If you have an expensive clothing item, it might be worth your while to invest in zipper lubricant. These products should prevent stuck zippers altogether. They also teach you how to clean your zippers so loose debris doesn’t cause a zipper malfunction.

12. Chapstick Is Not Just For Your Lips

Did you know that you can use Chapstick to lubricate your stuck zippers? Nifty! This is a big benefit to all those women (and men!) who always have a tube of Chapstick nearby. (And why not learn how to make your own lip balm?)

baby powder to unstick a zipper

13. Powder Your Way Loose

Talcum powder, baby powder, cornstarch, and similar products can help loosen a zipper that won’t budge. Simply sprinkle a little on the zipper teeth.

If you want to avoid a big mess, sprinkle the powder in a small bowl and then use a little paintbrush to work the powder around into the zipper.

14. Windex Will Work Well

Spray Windex on that stubborn zipper. Window cleaner will get that zipper working again.

Watch the video below for even more Windex hacks.

15. Check For Debris and Grab Your Tweezers

Sometimes a little piece of dirt or a loose thread is all that’s locking the zipper in place. Check to see if that’s the case with your zipper. If so, you can sometimes pull the stubborn muck out with a pair of tweezers. You could also try a toothbrush to brush away any dust that’s interfering with the zipper’s ability to move up and down.

16. Dissolve the Salt

Sometimes living near the beach or other bodies of saltwater can cause the zippers on our clothing and bags to get stuck. If that’s the problem, you need to dissolve the salt buildup.

First, try using soap and water to clean the zipper. Use a toothbrush and a mild dish soap.

If that doesn’t work, try an acid-based cleaner, like lemon juice or vinegar. Mix equal parts lemon juice or white vinegar with water and use the same toothbrush as before to gently scrub away the salt residue.

If that doesn’t work, you can always try soaking the zipper overnight. Sometimes it just needs a little extra time to work.

How to fix a zipper with pinch of fabric

17. Pinch The Fabric—Above the Zipper

Here’s a pretty simple trick to try. Pinch the fabric right above the top of zipper to get the fabric to pull taut. Sometimes the smoothing of the fabric helps the zipper teeth come together better so they catch the pull can slide up.

18. Pinch The Fabric—Below the Zipper

Sometimes it works the opposite way. Try to pull the fabric below the zipper taut at the bottom of the zipper. And you’ll get the same effect. The zipper teeth will come together and the zipper can start moving again.

Get That Stubborn Zipper Unstuck With These 18 Zipper Hacks

When you have a part of the zipper that’s stuck, it can be incredibly frustrating. Especially when you’re in a hurry. So before you get super discouraged, remember these additional tips.

  • Take a deep breath!
  • Don’t pull on the zipper. It’s likely to break, especially if it’s a cheap zipper.
  • Check the zipper to see if there is a lining that got caught under the zipper. Moving that out of the way may be all you need to do.

Then if those things don’t work, try one of our helpful tips to get the zipper moving again.

If you can’t get the zipper going, or if it breaks while you’re trying to get it moving again, replacing a zipper isn’t a big deal. And it can be very cost-effective if it’s an expensive or well-loved article of clothing. If you don’t feel up to doing it yourself, check with your local seamstress or tailor to replace the old zipper stop with a new zipper stop. You can often find them through an online search or working with your favorite dry cleaner and soon you will have a working zipper slider.

Did you find these 18 zipper tips helpful?

tips and tricks to unstick a zipper

Here are more clothing tips and tricks:

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  1. These are helpful tips on how to get a zipper unstuck. I am always having to help my students get their zippers unstuck!

  2. I had no idea there were so many methods on how to fix a stuck zipper. The zipper on my daughter’s gym bag is constantly jamming. I’m going to try some of these tricks next time!

  3. I can’t even tell you how many jackets and jeans I have almost tossed over the years over this. I am so glad that I learned how to fix a stuck zipper!