Zippers haven't changed much since they were first invented, and neither have the problems we all have with them. From stuck zippers to teeth that just won't clinch, here's how to fix all of the common problems.
Picture: Clare Bell/Flickr
The Zipper Is Stuck
Grab a graphite pencil and rub the pencil tip on the teeth. Try it again, and it should work. If that doesn't work, it's time to move on to a lubricant. Windex is good because it's not oil-based, but you can also use bar soap or lip balm. Start with the zipper all the way up and slowly apply the the lubricant to the teeth. Then inch the zipper down some more, reapply and repeat until the zipper comes all the way down. This is especially handy for fixing a zipper stuck in the fabric itself.
The Teeth Won't Stay Closed
One of the most annoying problems with a zipper is when the teeth won't close. There are a number of possible causes. Sometimes using a pencil (or a bar of soap) will smooth out the teeth enough so they will work properly again.
If that doesn't work, the slider might not be working properly. First, check to make sure a piece of cloth or thread isn't stuck in the zipper. Next, look at the individual teeth. If any of them are sticking out, grab a pair of pliers and move them back into place so they're all straight.
If the teeth are straight and clean, take a look at the slider itself. Over time, the slider starts to come apart and stops clinching the zipper teeth together. Grab some pliers and try closing the slider together until it catches the teeth again.
For jeans, the solution is a little more complicated. If you can, you need to remove the metal bumper at the bottom and replace it with stitches, or just tie it off in the middle if teeth are missing at the bottom. Unfortunately, this only really works with pants where you can actually get to the bottom bumper.
If that fails, or you're working with pants where you can't get to the entire zipper run, you might need to replace the zipper completely. While you can do it yourself with some pliers, scissors and thread, paying a garment repair shop may be more effective.
The Zipper Won't Stay Up
A common problem with the zippers on many pairs of pants is that they simply won't stay up. This can lead to all sorts of embarrassing situations. Unfortunately, you can't really fix this problem permanently unless you completely replace the zipper.
That said, you have two simple temporary fixes. The easiest is to slide a key ring through the zipper pull and over your pants button. This keeps the zipper up. If you prefer a little more flexibility, you can try a rubber band.
The Slider Broke Off
If the slider comes off completely, or if you need to replace the slider because it's not closing the teeth properly, then you need to replace the slider. To get the slider off, use some pliers to cut it off. Once that's done, reattach the new zipper slider by sliding it back onto the teeth. Replacing the slider is usually a simple task and should take only a few minutes.
The Zipper Pull Broke Off
When the pull breaks off a zipper, it makes it incredibly hard to pull the zipper up. The good news is that this is one of the easiest problems to fix. You can turn a paperclip or a keyring into a zipper pull. Just slide it through the tab on the slider. It's not the most stylish solution, but at least you'll be able to get in and out of your clothes.