How to fix a broken zipper with pliers

A broken zipper is not the end of your garment or bag. In this article, I show you how to fix a broken zipper slider so long as the teeth of the zipper track or chain are intact.

Zippers close and open easily and more effectively than buttons but can be annoying when they break. The zipper slider may break or expand, rendering the zipper useless. If this occurs on your backpack, the items inside can easily fall off. If it is your garment, it may not be useful anymore until a tailor works on it. But the good thing is that you can salvage a garment or bag that has a broken zipper. Provided the teeth of the zipper are intact. In this article, I show you how to easily fix a broken zipper with pliers.

How to fix a that is on one side

When a zipper is off on one side, it means that it is beginning to wear out and the clamp has opened up more causing the chain to come off. The fix for this problem is very easy. You will need small side-cutting pliers and needle-nose pliers.


  1. Grasp the slider in one hand. Hold it firmly between your index finger and thumb.
  2. Close the jaws of the side cutter pliers and slide the resulting wedge through the gap on the slider side that has come off.
  3. Grip the slider firmly between your fingers and gently pry the gap with the pliers to expand it more. Be gentle to avoid busting the slider.
  4. Slip the zipper chain side that came off back into the slider.
  5. Slide the zipper all the way down to align both tracks to avoid ending up with a misaligned zipper.
  6. While keeping both zipper chains inside the zipper, use a pair of needle nose pliers to pinch together the back and front edges of the zipper slider to close the gap. Do not close the gap completely or the zipper will get stuck.

How to fix a zipper that came off

zipper repair kit for repairing a broken hood zipper
Zipper repair kit

When a zipper comes off, probably the stopper is not working properly or the slider is broken. This can happen on any zipper including on jackets, bags, and camping gear. If the stopper is missing or not working properly, the zipper slider goes all the way out. If the slider is broken, it can moe off at any point on the track

You can fix this problem easily by either replacing the zipper or stopper. However, you will need long nose pliers and nipping pliers.


  1. Squeeze the stopper at the top of the zipper with cutting pliers to unhook it from the zipper tape.
  2. Pull the top stopper out with pliers.
  3. Insert the zipper slider that came off and then install the new top stoppers.
  4. Clamp the stoppers in place using the long nose pliers. Do not squeeze the stoppers too much or the zipper will come off again.
  5. Test the slider by zipping it all through to the end to see if it comes off again.

How to fix a zipper that separates

If the zipper of your travel bag, backpack, or garment separates after you zip it up, the zipper slider could be worn out and needs replacement. A worn slider does not have the necessary tension to pull the chains together to zip and that is why they come undone after you zip up.

To fix this problem permanently, you need to replace the old zipper slide with a new one. However, you can fix the problem temporarily by squeezing together the front and the back of the slider. If that does not work, you can try to squeeze the sides of the slider together.

As I mentioned, a more permanent solution to a zipper that separates is to replace the zipper slider. Here is how to do it but you will need a pair of needle-nose pliers or a regular one.


1. Get a new replacement zipper slider from the store.

Make sure the new slider has the same number at the back as the broken one. The number indicates the size of the zipper slider.

Alternatively, you can consider a zipper repair kit if you don’t want to go back to the shop because you bought the wrong size slider. A typical zipper repair kit comes with various zipper repair parts including different sizes and types of sliders.

My favorite kit is the Zipper rescue zipper repair kit. It comes with a variety of zipper sliders. Some kits even come with a pair of needle nose pliers or end cutting pliers that you can use to finish the zipper repair job. One of the best zipper repair kits with pliers is the Meikeer zipper repair kit. It comes with 256 pieces of zipper repair parts and a pair of zipper install end-cutting pliers.

2. Pull the top stopper on the zipper tape.

Use long nose pliers to pull the top stopper tooth on the zipper chain. Plastic zipper stoppers tend to break so be sure to remove any remaining parts.

3. Slide in the new zipper slider onto the zipper track.

Once you insert the new zipper slider, move it all the way to the bottom to see if it moves freely on the zipper chain. Now try to zip up the zipper with the new slider to see if it zips up well. If the teeth engage without separating, your slider is good. You can now install the new stopper that came with the replacement slider.

4. Attach the new top stopper to keep the new zipper slider from coming off.

Hook the new top stopper onto the zipper tape where you pulled the old one. Crimp it in place using the needle nose pliers or any regular pliers with flat jaws. I find chain nose pliers handy for these kinds of tasks. But if all you have are pliers with serrated jaws, you can put a piece of cloth between the jaws to keep the teeth from damaging the stopper. Do not squeeze the stopper too hard or the zipper slider will come off.

Well, that is how to repair a broken zipper with pliers if the chain or track is intact. So, the next time the zipper on your backpack, sleeping bag, or garment fails, do not give up on it before trying zipper repair methods.

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Julio a.k.a Pliersman is the owner and creator of the Pliersman Website. A blog that informs and educates you about different types of pliers and their uses. Julio is a handy person and has used a variety of pliers including general-purpose and specialty pliers to accomplish tasks. He holds an electrical engineering degree and has previously worked as an O&M manager for minigrids where his love story with pliers and other tools began.