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How to Fix a Split Zipper

One of the most common zipper malfunctions is a split zipper.  You’ve probably had this happen to you with a jacket or coat zipper.  After zipping your jacket, the zipper separates or splits open.  Most people think that a split zipper must be replaced, but that is not always the case.

I have fixed split or separating zippers many times without doing any sewing at all.  I’ll tell you how.

Here’s the most recent split zipper that I fixed in a matter of minutes without even picking up a needle or thread.  This particular zipper was on a work vest, and as soon as the owner zipped it, the zipper would split open every time.

Often the problem is not with the zipper, but with the zipper slide.  The zipper slide is the metal piece that slides up and down the zipper.  The zipper slide can stretch out of shape with use.  To fix the zipper and prevent it from separating, you may be able to tighten up the zipper slide by pinching it ever so slightly with a pair of pliers.  (If your zipper slide is plastic and not metal, then this technique will not work, and the zipper will have to be replaced.)

I have a pair of pliers specially made for zipper repair, but a regular pair of needle nose pliers should work for you.  You can see from this picture that I am using my pliers to squeeze the zipper slide just a tiny bit tighter.  Don’t squeeze too hard with the pliers or the slide won’t move up and down the zipper at all! 
I recommend tightening one side of the zipper slide and then trying the zipper out again.  If it still separates, then try tightening the other side of the slide, too.

After I tightened this zipper slide, I was able to zip the vest closed.  I pulled on it a few times trying to make it separate, but it wouldn’t.   Ah, I’m so happy that I was able to fix this one this way.  I certainly did not want to replace this zipper!

If you’ve got a jacket, coat, or any other item with a separating zipper, I hope you will give this technique a try.

I do not guarantee that a quick pinch of the zipper slide will fix your zipper.  Sometimes zippers really do need to be replaced, but I always recommend trying this method of repair first.

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85 thoughts on “How to Fix a Split Zipper

  1. I’ll have to remember this for the next time I get an annoying zipper!

    1. Yes, it can be a quick fix for those annoying split zippers.

      1. Hi Elaine , used pliers on my wallet which has a wrap around zipper it works, where can I get one of those taylor pliers ? Thanks Roseann

        1. Roseann, I just now saw your question about the tailor’s pliers. I’m so sorry for not getting back to you. I got mine from Hope that helps!

  2. Thanks for the great tip! I’ll definitely try it the next time I have this problem.

    1. You’re welcome, Betty. I hope you never need to use it, but if you do, I hope it works for you!

  3. Great tip!

  4. I really appreciate you sharing this! Thank you :o)

    1. You’re welcome, Terra.

  5. Where would I be able to buy a zipper pliers?

    1. Chris, I got mine from Wawak, a tailoring supply company. Here’s a link to their website and the page for the zipper pliers. Hope that helps! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

      1. Thank you so much. I get so much enjoyment and information from you! I love learning new ideas to save money and to be reminded of some I used to know! Also, you answer each person in such a pleasant and positive way. I want to teach my daughter to make the freezer pie crust.

        1. I really appreciate those encouraging words, Chris. Having people leave comments and questions on my blog is so affirming. It’s always nice to know that someone is reading along and learning.

          How did you find my blogs?

          1. Elaine, I think I found your blog on One Good Thing By Jillee. Also, I ordered the zipper pliers and they arrived today! I noticed the website has zippers too so I ordered a 30″ metal zipper. I can’t believe it was only $1.74! I needed one for my husband’s chore hoodie and you can’t get metal ones in stores anymore. Joann’s had order form for zippers and they were outrageously priced. I still can’t get over the good prices on the Wawak site. I also ordered a sleeve board for easier ironing. I so enjoy all your writings! Chris

          2. I love Wawak! I order all my zippers from them along with some other sewing and alterations supplies. They ship super fast, too! It’s great to have you reading along here!

  6. Thanks for the tip! My snowboots should make it through the winter, with both boots zipping/unzipping all the way

    1. thank you so much, Colleen, for letting me know that this worked for you!

  7. Thank you so much for this tip!My favorite winter coat was saved:) I was about to get raid of it…genius,just genius:)

    1. Rosemary, I am so happy that this worked for you! I can’t even count the number of coats/jackets that I have fixed using this technique. It wasn’t my genius, that’s for sure, but for the life of me, I can’t remember where I learned this.

      Glad you are able to wear your favorite coat now!

  8. thanks, I tried your tip and it worked, now I don’t have to buy a new fleece for my child for school.

    1. Yay! I love when one of my tips helps someone to save money or get more use from an item. Thanks for reporting back, Wendy!

  9. Thank you very much for the tip – I’m definitely going to try that out next time one of my zippers split! 🙂
    I found you via Google +, I’m just learning to hang around there. 😛

  10. Thanks for stopping by! I’m definitely still in the learning stages with Google +. Perhaps I will “see” you there!

    1. Yes 🙂
      Well, have a very nice Easter Monday. 🙂

  11. Thank you! I just fixed a much needed backpack zipper as we are traveling right now. Pinching one side only worked.

    1. So glad this worked for you, Anna! And thanks so much for letting me know. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  12. Thank you for sharing! you just saved my son’s favorite backpack!

    1. I’m so glad to know this worked for you! Thank you for letting me know here, Sandra!

  13. I tried this and the zipper slide broke in half…

    1. I’m sorry this didn’t work for you, Megan. It’s always worth a try.

      1. Is it possible to fix a zipper that has come apart completely from one side, can they be rethreaded or do I need to buy a new purse?

        1. Narelle, you would have to take the purse to someone who repairs zippers. It’s really hard for me to say without being able to see it. I hope you can find someone to help you with it! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  14. this worked for me on my sons new coat i had just purchased a month ago , but i noticed the zipper is “thick now and doesn’t lay flat… its also harder to zip up but if it was any looser this tip would not have worked for me…im thinking i got a faulty jacket and no receipt to return. so all in all thanks for helping me fix it, without putting out mooooore money!

    1. I’m glad it worked for your jacket, but I’m sorry that the zipper doesn’t lie flat. Not sure why that happened. But if this keeps you from having to buy a new jacket, I suppose that’s a good thing. Thanks for sharing!

  15. This is like so awesome ! I mean dude thanks a tonne !! This problem was happening with my school bag…thanks a lot for posting this..thank you so much 🙂 🙂 🙂

    1. I’m so glad that this tip worked for you! I really appreciate your letting me know, too.

  16. I just tried this on my Columbia jacket, and it worked perfectly, thank you very much

    1. I’m happy to have helped you save your Columbia jacket! We love our Columbia fleeces here!

  17. You are a life saver. My daughter has a pair of leather shorts she’s wearing next weekend for a pageant and the zipper just separated!! Thank you for posting this. Worked like a charm!!!

    1. I’m happy to help out!

  18. Thank You soooo very much. My winter coat had the zipper separation problem in this cold Oklahoma weather. Being in college, I did not have the money to replace the zipper let alone the coat. I did not have any needle nose pliers so I just used scissors. It worked just fine! Thank You again 🙂

    1. I would never have thought of using scissors, but I’m so glad that it worked for you! This is such an easy fix, and I would hate to see someone buy a new coat when it’s not at all necessary. Stay warm!

  19. Does it have to be a metal zipper for it to work? Sheri.

    1. The zipper part doesn’t have to be metal, Sheri, but the zipper slide would have to be. I don’t think you could tighten a plastic zipper slide. It would probably break if you tried. But if the zipper is ruined anyway, it couldn’t hurt to give it a light squeeze anyway just to try it.

    1. You’re welcome, Monica! I’m glad that it worked for you!

  20. Thank you so much for this , fingers crossed but I think I just fixed my favorite pair of boots(spring is not really happening yet here in Michigan)!! I had to be a little more agressive since they are leather and the zipper is a little more heavy duty but so far they are zipping great. Thank you!!

    1. I’m so glad it worked for you, Andrea! Hope that zipper keeps holding for you.

  21. Thanks so much for this post! I found it on Google when I was searching how to fix a split zipper on my leather wallet. Your method worked! I am so thankful! It is a wallet that is special & can’t be replaced. It is about 6-7 years old and is in perfect condition other than the zipper problem. Your advice took care of that. Thanks so much! What a blessing!

    1. I’m always happy to know that someone was able to fix a zipper this way. I’m very happy that it worked for you, Melanie. And thanks so much for letting me know.

  22. It obviously works for sone types but I’m struggling with a zipper that is closed at both ends, made of plastic, and the sides of the zipper clasp is tight fitting over the teeth. There is no room to put the teeth back in. Any ideas.
    Wondering Teeth

    1. Sounds as if that zipper may indeed need to be replaced, Mark. It might be worth it to take it to a tailor or alterationist to see if it can be repaired and how much that would cost you.

  23. it truly works. thank you, couldn’t find a pliers so i used a nail clippers that looks like a pliers

    thank you

    1. That’s great! I’m glad this method worked for you!

  24. Hi Elaine, I used pliers to fix a wallet with all around zipper it worked.
    Thanks Roseann

  25. So happy I found this tip, managed to fix the zipper on my duvet cover in no time. Thanks so much!

    1. I’m happy to hear that it worked for you, Jamie!

  26. Thank you so very much for your wisdom, as a result I fixed a plastic zipper on my coat that I was so frustrated with and about to through out !! Your a life saver !!!

    1. Thanks Elaine! You just saved me time and money with this tip when the zipper on my son’s beloved hoodie kept separating. Fixed in about 5 seconds!

    2. I’m so glad to know this worked for both of you! Isn’t it great to fix a zipper so quickly and easily?

  27. I just purchased a diaper bag at a consignment shop this morning and didn’t see the broken zipper until I got it home. The one end of the slide was completely off and after seeing a way to fix that on google, I realized it was also separated. I was so frustrated because I really like this bag and want to use it for my newborn who’s due next march, and for my one year old until then. That’s when I clicked on your page here. Lifesaver!! I used needlenose pliers and it zips and unzips perfectly! Thank you so much for the helpful advice!la

    1. You’re welcome, Laura! So glad it worked for you!

  28. Thank you! This will be very useful!

    1. You’re welcome, Trish!

  29. Thank you!! You saved my pants!

    1. I’m glad it worked for you!

  30. if you don’t have pliers i just hit the zipper with the bottom of a flat screwdriver

    1. it worked

      1. Good thinking using a screwdriver instead of pliers, Mariela! Thank you for sharing that, too!

  31. Thank-you I was so shocked this really works!

    1. Yes, it really does work! 🙂

  32. Thank you for posting the information. It saved us from buying a new screen tent. Thanks again.

    1. I’m happy to know that this method worked for you!

  33. Thanks for the helpful info. It was the quick fix that my coat zipper needed!

  34. After wasting an hour without pliers I found your URL. With an over-tightened one-way zipper, a downward finger pressure on the tail end while opening makes it a pleasure to use.

    1. So glad it worked for you, Jim!

  35. THANK YOU so much for sharing this tip!! I never would have thought to do this but I tried it and it worked perfectly!! YAY for simple fixes!!

    1. Alli,
      I’m happy to know that this worked for you!

  36. Hi Elaine, really thank you for your tips! I had tried quite a few methods but they didn’t work. I had put aside my new pouch bag just because I couldn’t fix the zipper. Been thinking about getting a replacement, but before that I decided to try one last time, then I found yours! Big thank you to you, hope to see more from you😊

  37. Absolute lifesaver !
    was close to punching a wall I was getting that frustrated with my zipper ( plastic )
    Tried this and worked first time !

    You’ve saved me from hours of stress 🙂

    1. Chris,
      I’m so glad this technique worked for you! I’m happy to be the one to save your hand from punching a wall in frustration. 🙂

      Thank you for letting me know!

  38. I am certainly going to try it! Thank you for saving my purse!

  39. whoah this weblog is wonderful i love studying your posts.

    Keep up the great work! You recognize, lots of people are hunting around for this info, you could help them greatly.

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