How to repair a luggage zipper

Frequent travelling may expose your luggage to more risks of wear and tear. Although most luggage companies provide good warranty offers and repair services, luggage that becomes damaged while you're travelling can be quite stressful, especially if you don't know how to attend to the damage. One of the most common damages incurred by luggage is a broken zipper. Knowing how to repair this can save you a lot of money and trouble.

Inspect the damaged portion of the zipper to see if there's stray thread in the teeth of the zipper. If there is, simply use a small pair of scissors and tweezers to get rid of the thread trapped in between the zipper's teeth.

Lubricate the teeth of the zipper with oil or wax to aid in moving a seriously stuck zipper that doesn't completely open or close. Carefully check to see if the zipper isn't working properly because its teeth are caught in the fabric of the luggage or any of the clothes placed in it. Depending on how thoroughly the fabric got stuck in the zipper, you may have to risk forcing open the zipper with the stuck material getting damaged. This may also cause a busted zipper that you must either repair or replace.

Evaluate the kind of damage on the zipper to see if it's worth repairing, realigning or replacing due to more serious or irreparable damage.

Repair a gap in a luggage's zipper by removing the metal stop at the end of the zipper. Use a pair of pliers to pry the metal bar away from the zipper's fabric. The metal stop is a little shiny band placed at the bottom of the zipper and it is meant to stop the slider every time you open the zipper.

Carefully move the slider down the zipper until you reach the portion just below the lowest teeth.

Realign the zipper by slowly closing it. If the zipper is undamaged, it should mesh smoothly until you reach the top end portion of the zipper.

Stitch across the bottom of the zipper where the old metal stop was located. Start the stitching from the back part of the zipper. After securing the zipper with about 15 to 17 cm (6 to 7 inches) of thread, cut the thread with scissors and lock the stitch. Ideally, the stitches serve as the zipper's new stopper.

If your zipper is beyond repair, you may have to replace it entirely. Remove the slider of the old zipper completely using pliers. Then remove the zipper needing replacement and make sure you don't rip the cloth to which it is attached.

Attach the new zipper on the area where you removed the old zipper. Use straight pins to assist you in securing the new zipper's place on the luggage.

Sew the zipper to the luggage. Sewing ideally starts with stitches coming from the inside of the luggage.


It is best to use thread that goes with the colour of the luggage's zipper.

Things You'll Need

  • Scissors or cutter
  • Pair of pliers
  • Strong nylon thread
  • Needle for strong nylon thread
  • Straight pins
  • Wax or oil (optional)
  • New zipper (optional)
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About the Author

Rianne Hill Soriano is a freelance artist/writer/educator. Her diverse work experiences include projects in the Philippines, Korea and United States. For more than six years she has written about films, travel, food, fashion, culture and other topics on websites including Yahoo!, Yehey! and Herword. She also co-wrote a book about Asian cinema.