How to fix a stuck metal zipper

Updated May 30, 2018

If you've ever owned an article of clothing, a suitcase or sleeping bag that has a metal zipper, chances are, you've experienced a stuck zipper at least once. Sometimes the teeth do no align properly when pulling up a zipper, which could cause a bind. Other times, the fabric on the garment or zippered item gets caught between the zipper teeth while you are pulling the zipper up or down. In either case, spending a little time working the zipper can get it unstuck without damaging your garment or sleeping bag.

Examine the zipper at the point it has stopped moving to see what's causing the bind. Look carefully on the inside and outside of the item to see if fabric has been caught between the zipper teeth. Often bulky items, such as puffy winter coats, have a little slack in the fabric, making them prone to zipper snags.

Gently tug at any fabric that may be stuck in the zipper. Grab the fabric as close to the point of the snag as possible and pull slowly to avoid tearing. If the fabric still will not come unstuck, pull the fabric with one hand while moving the zipper pull up or down with the other.

Pull the length of your zippered item, if it is flexible, to straighten the zipper as much as possible. Hold the zipper straight and taught with one hand while moving the zipper pull up or down with the other. Often this is enough to get the zipper mobile again.

Enlist the help of a friend if your zipper still will not come unstuck. Hold the fabric taught and straight at the point of the zipper as in the previous step. Ask your friend to tug at any snagged fabric. If a snag isn't the problem, ask your friend to move the zipper pull up or down forcibly while you hold the fabric taught.


Graphite is helpful for zippers that bind up frequently. Graphite is a metal lubricant. If you do not have any graphite powder lubricant, simply rub a pencil tip up and down the teeth of the zipper to help the zipping motion. If your garment or other item frequently get caught in the zipper, pull the fabric away from the zipper teeth every time you zip or unzip the item. Eventually you will remember to do this rather than dealing with the snagged fabric.

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About the Author

Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.