Seven ways to get a zipper unstuck

zipperThere are basically two reasons why a zipper gets stuck: either there is something (like thread or fabric) caught in it, or the teeth of the zipper aren’t sliding into place and locking together. ¬†Either way it can usually be unstuck, but it takes a bit of patience and a gentle touch.

So the first step is to examine both sides of the zipper and see if you’ve inadvertently zipped something into the mechanism. If that’s the case, it’s a matter of dislodging the zipped-in material. If gentle tugging with your fingers doesn’t work, try gripping the zipped-in material with tweezers. The big point here is patience – if you get frustrated and just yank like hell you might be able to force the zipper past the obstruction, but you’re equally likely to break the zipper.

If there’s nothing stuck in the zipper, it’s probably refusing to budge because the teeth are corroded or sticky. The answer here is to apply some kind of lubricant to the teeth. Here are several options:

  • Put a few drops of Liquid soap on the stuck part of the zipper
  • Rub the stuck part of the zipper with a pencil lead (the graphite acts as a lubricant). This is fine if you’re dealing with a dark colored zipper but a disaster if you’re working with a light-colored one. This method is mainly for metal zippers – with nylon zippers it won’t do much good.
  • Rub the zipper with a wax candle
  • Rub the zipper with lip balm, like Chapstick
  • Rub the zipper with a wax crayon
  • Work a couple drops of clear cooking oil into the zipper
  • Work some WD-40 into the zipper. About a million years ago when I did a lot of camping this was a lifesaver more times than I can count. We had a tent that seemed to be made primarily of zippers and after the first two trips, they ALL stuck. So a spray can of WD-40 was right at the top of the must-have camping supplies list.
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