How to Get a Zipper Back on Track
You’ve just unzipped your bag to grab a personal item out or put an item in. You go to zip it closed and boom: you find that the zipper fell off its track and it’s stuck. Now you have to deal with holding your bag together by hand — and what if your stuff falls out?
Fortunately, getting a zipper back on track is an easy task when you’re equipped with the right knowledge. If you’re wondering how to get a zipper back on track, you’ve come to the right place.
Fixing a Broken Zipper Slider
As you open and close your bag’s zipper over time, it goes through normal wear and tear. At a certain point, one side of the zipper can get worse and wear out faster than the other side. When the bar that keeps the zipper slider on track wears out, the clamp widens, and a space opens on one side — which can cause the slider to disconnect from the side. Sometimes issues with one track can cause the zipper to stick to the other side, too.
The solution to both these issues is to fix the slider’s clamp to put the zipper back on track again.
Tools You’ll Need
When it comes to determining how to get a zipper back on track, the most common cause of a derailed zipper is usually the slider. To get started, get a good pair of quality pliers — you’ll need one to fix the slider.
4 Steps to Fix a Broken Slider
1. Inspect the Zipper and Tracks
As tempting as it may be, don’t start adjusting your zipper without inspecting it first. The first part of learning how to get a zipper back on track is to closely inspect the track and slider to see what’s wrong. If you’re not observant, you might fix the wrong issue.
For example, both slider edges can widen when they lose clamping power. When the zipper hangs from one side of the track, it looks like one is perfect and that you need to fix the other side. But if you adjust your zipper as if that’s the problem, you likely won’t fix your zipper properly.
Another common problem you’ll find while inspecting the zipper is an issue with its track. Sometimes tracks are missing or the teeth are bent. If your track has missing teeth, you’ll need to place a zipper stop before the spot where it gets stuck.
You can create a zipper stop by stitching where the missing teeth are using a needle and thread. To get it right, make sure your zipper pull is above this section for a seamless zip. This ensures your slider won’t run over the area with missing teeth. This temporary fix will be handy until you can take your bag to a tailor for a new zipper.
If your zipper teeth are metal, you can use pliers to straighten any bent teeth. If they’re plastic, you should be able to fix them using your fingers. The issue could also be with the stops on the track. When you inspect your zipper, you should be able to determine exactly how to get a zipper back on track.
2. Use Pliers to Widen the Slider
To get the clamping effect, you must start by widening the slider. Open the sliders with your pliers and unstitch the closings at the ends to expose the ends of the tracks. Be cautious with this step because you could easily break the slider with too much pressure. You could also chip paint off the zipper.
3. Put the Tracks Back on the Slider
Once the slider is wide enough, you can put the tracks back on the slider. You can either fix the zipper with your hands or with a fork. We recommend using a fork, as it’s a bit easier than using your fingers.
Start with the closed side of your bag. If you’re using a fork, place the slider on the middle prongs. The other prongs will be inside your backpack, then pull the fork up.
Now that the slider is on both sides, ensure the tracks are aligned. Move the zipper up and down to make sure it works but be careful you don’t run it off the tracks.
4. Tighten the Sliders
The final step is to pinch the sliders with your pliers to make them tight. Just be wary you don’t pinch the zipper too hard, or you could end up with a zipper on just one side.
Now that you’ve finished all four steps, run your zipper up and down. If it glides smoothly, you’re done. But if it doesn’t, go back to step two and start over. You’ve now successfully learned how to get a zipper back on track.
How to Fix a Zipper that Fell Off Track
Things You’ll Need
- Coconut Oil
- Petroleum Jelly
- Masking tape
2 Methods for Fixing a Zipper that Got Off Track
1. Add Lubricants to the Zipper Teeth
Sometimes all your zipper needs is lubricant to run smoothly. Luckily, you don’t need to buy anything fancy for this. You can use household items such as petroleum jelly, ChapStick, lotion, or even coconut oil.
Moderately apply your lubricant so that it doesn’t get all over your bag and potentially stain it. Some lubricants can even stain the zipper, so be sure to apply small amounts until it starts to glide easily.
2. Use Masking Tape
A little-known fact is that you can use masking tape to help thread your zipper up through the bottom of the track. Getting the zipper aligned correctly can be difficult, especially if you have shaky hands. Masking tape can give you a smooth surface, which can make getting a zipper back on track easier.
To start, simply wrap small pieces of masking tape around your bag or travel backpack’s tracks. Make sure to leave plenty of room for it to hang off the tracks. Use this smooth area to get the slider onto the track easily.
How to Fix a Zipper That Keeps Popping Open
It's tempting to donate a bag with a popped zipper — but be sure to try this technique first before you get rid of a purse, travel backpack, or rolling suitcase. You have a high chance of saving it. Here’s how:
Things You’ll Need
- Bar of soap
3 Steps to Fix a Zipper that Pops Open
1. Release tension on the zipper
Relax the tension on the zipper. From here, make sure the bag is empty and on a hard surface.
2. Inspect the zipper
See which direction the problem is coming from. Starting with the zipper at the bottom is ideal, as it enables you to see if there are bent zipper teeth.
3. Use a bar of soap to grease the zipper
A bar of soap is your friend. You want to run it along the zipper to help it run more smoothly. If things are out of place, pliers can help you bend things back into shape. Try the zipper out a few times to make sure everything is working and you’re good to go.
How to Fix a Stuck Zipper
Anyone who has a stuck zipper knows how annoying it can be, especially because it tends to happen just when you're pressed for time. Fortunately, with this simple technique, you can quickly unstick a zipper.
Things You’ll Need
- Wax paper
- Graphite pencil
3 Steps to Fix a Stuck Zipper
1. Identify the problem area
Is there something caught in the zipper? A thread or fabric edge that has gotten into the slider and the zipper teeth frequently causes a zipper to catch. If you can, raise the slider a little if something is caught.
2. Use tweezers to get the object out of the zipper
As you drag the slider back down, use the tweezers to pull on the caught item. Before the item comes free, it can take multiple back-and-forth attempts.
3. Use wax paper or a graphite pencil to free the zipper’s path
Use wax paper or a graphite pencil to help gently free the zipper. Take the shiny side of the wax paper or the graphite point of the pencil and run it along the zipper. Repeat this step until the zipper is clear and zips without resistance. After you remove the caught item, you’re all set.
A broken zipper can send you through various states of distress when you’re in a time crunch. One of the most useful fashion tricks is learning how to fix a broken zipper. You don’t have to spend money to fix your zipper, you just have to learn how to get a zipper back on track.
All zippers go through normal wear and tear, so you’ll likely need to use one of these methods at some point. Now that you know how to get a zipper back on track, you can keep your bag around for years to come.
At Tote&Carry, all our bags — including our Neon Pink Apollo 2 Circle Purse and the Black Apollo 1 BFF XL Set — feature high-quality zippers and premium materials that stand the test of time. But if you find yourself with a stuck zipper on one of our bags, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.