Repair your Broken Zipper

It can be quite easy to repair your broken zipper. Read on and discover how you can learn this skill.

Did you ever have one of those zippers that would come apart after you zipped it up?

Many years ago I had a zipper split on my backpack. I went and had it replaced. The place I took it to did a poor job and did not align things very well. A few years later the zipper started to separate again (chronic over stuffing). I was intending to take the backpack into another place to repair it but then I read a book and one of the things in the book was how to repair zippers.

I tried it and it worked. I still have that backpack after over 35 years.

Over the years I have shown over 50 people how to repair their own zipper. Someone would come into the store and I would notice that their zipper was not working. I would then ask if I could repair it for them. I was able to repair all but one of them.

The other day I came across this article and video describing how this person does it. I did it slightly differently.

First, read the Treehugger article and watch the videos and then I will tell you what I did differently.

All good?

In the video, he does the repair on a nylon zipper. He mentions that nylon zippers are somewhat forgiving. When you have a metal zipper of a heavy duty plastic zipper it is a bit different. I always slide the zipper to the very beginning. That way all the teeth in front of the zipper/slider. If for some reason both sides don’t line up when you are at the beginning and one side of the zipper has an excess of material/zipper you need to fix that first. What has worked for me is to pull on the side with the excess material below the slider so that the first set of teeth are evenly matched up. (This is harder to write than to demonstrate).

So now you have the slider at the beginning of the zipper and all the teeth are aligned. I take a pair of pliers and compress the rear of the slider – just a bit. As he mentions in the video you don’t want to overdo it. If you do make it too tight I have had some success in taking a knife and spreading the trailing end of the slider apart a bit. Sliders can handle some amount of crimping and prying but not too much.

Try it. Does it slide nicely? Do the teeth hold together?

In a pinch, a hammer will work but it is not very easy to gauge how much you are crimping the slider. So use caution when this happens. If you are in the backcountry this a rock and your knife might have to be your tools.

Broken Zipper
You need to replace the zipper or sew up the area below the break. Installing a zipper stop will also help.

These are some damage that you can’t repair using this method. See the photograph to the left. In a pinch, you can just sew up the zip from the break down so that it is sealed shut. To protect the thread you could install some zipper stops above your quick repair (they will cost you about 10 cents each and you just crimp them in place).


In most cases, there is no need to replace the zipper or to throw away the garment. You can repair your broken zipper.  You will be saving some of the earth’s resources when we repair things instead of throwing them away and honouring the people that produce them.

If you would like to be shown how to do this just stop by the store and ask me to show you.

It is a rewarding skill to have when you can repair something.