Not Martha

my very stuck zipper

This is my very stuck zipper. I’m not sure how I managed to get this garment zipped up in the first place but now I cannot unzip it. Does anybody have tips on working free a zipper that is this crooked?

update: Thanks to everybody for the recommendations! I started with pencil lead and that did the trick nicely. After only a few back and forths I freed the zipper and didn’t have any damaged teeth. Yay!

· comments [52] · 09-15-2008 · categories:misc · mumbling ·

52 responses so far ↓

  • 1 chez shoes // Sep 15, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    A spritz of WD-40 and some persistence?

    Yikes. I’ve had some stuck zippers in my time, but none like that! Good luck.

  • 2 gt0163c // Sep 15, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    First, move the zipper as far down as possible. Unfortunately, your short end is the one with the stop, that’s going to make it more complicated, but don’t let that stop you. Now, with some WD-40 or maybe lots of soap and water (something make the zipper all good and slippery), just keep working on the long end to pull it out. Working it up and down a bit and the wiggling sideways some and, eventually, it should come out. It might help to, every so often, move the zipper up and down a little bit. I’m not sure if that helps or just gives the illusion of helping as it provides movement and a break from struggling with the thing.

    Good luck!

  • 3 sarah // Sep 15, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    For slow-moving zippers, I have used liquid soap in the past with pretty good results–so maybe it’s worth a try for stuck zippers too. I guess you could rub bar soap on too, that seems kind of messy though.

  • 4 Stacy // Sep 15, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    When mine was like that, I held the zipper pull and YKK side of the fabric together (left side of your photo) and pulled the opposite side of the zipper through. Then, at Hancock Fabric got a zipper fix kit for a new pull. Good luck!

  • 5 Bess // Sep 15, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    I’ve had some luck with sheer brute force, holding the zipper tab with a pliers and yanking the free side of the zipper through. (By “free side,” I mean the part that doesn’t have the zipper pull fixed to it. There must be a technical industry term for that — like “aglets” for the plastic bits on the ends of shoelaces — but I’ll be darned if I know what it is.) You might end up with a broken zipper, but that’s what you’re starting out with, so no loss, right? And I have had this actually work for me in the past, without screwing up the zipper.

  • 6 michelle // Sep 15, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Rub BAR soap (like dove or whatever you might have, but it has to be a bar soap) on the zipper parts to help give it some lube… I tried the wd 40 thing before, but I ruined the fabric (long story). After I lube it up with bar soap, I pull up on the longer/free end and down (usually with pliers to get a good grip) on the end with the zip stop. Sometimes you need two people if a tooth is broken in there. Good luck!

  • 7 rachel // Sep 15, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    I’ve rubbed the teeth with pencil lead before and it worked.

  • 8 Peanut Butter // Sep 15, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    You can try to lace the zipper track together to make it even and pull the pulley down really fast. You could use the open end or the release end and try to pull it through the pulley towards you. Sorry I know that’s your favorite one. It’s possible you just have to try to get the track running and the open end through the pulley.

  • 9 Lisa // Sep 15, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    I was recently trapped in a skirt with a broken zipper and thought I might have to cut myself out. A friend recommended very slowly wiggling the zipper throught the pull; alternating each side and only moving a tooth or two at a time…Now I am free!!!

  • 10 Michelle // Sep 15, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    My first thought was bar soap. The other Michelle says so, too, so that’s two for you! Good luck. :0)

  • 11 Kimberly // Sep 15, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Decades ago, my kindergarten teacher rescued me from a jacket with a stuck zipper by using bar soap on it. I thought she was a superhero. I’ve used bar soap every time it’s happened since, with fantastic results.

    Good luck!

  • 12 sherrieg // Sep 15, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    I’m sorry, I don’t have any helpful tips. But your zipper situation made me laugh out loud – I’m picturing you trapped in your sweater, doing everything in it (sleeping, eating, crafting) until the perfect comment comes along to help you out. Good luck!

  • 13 kerry // Sep 15, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Blow Torch?

  • 14 John // Sep 15, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    I’ve had good luck with and Elmer’s dry spray lubricant (yep from the people who make the glue, go figure) called Slide-all it works like WD40 but doesn’t leave that oily mess on clothes that is a pain to get off. That and lots of yanking is the best I can recommend.

  • 15 rachel // Sep 15, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Pencil lead always works. They even sell graphite lubricant in tubes for this kind of thing.

  • 16 Julie in Houston // Sep 15, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    I’ve heard that if you rub a pencil over the zipper it will loosen it up. Something with the lead. It’s worth a try.

  • 17 Connie // Sep 16, 2008 at 5:06 am

    Be very careful with WD40. I think you’d end up with a stain that would be hard to remove. And since most polyester is made with petroleum products, the WD40 (a solvent) might permanently damage the fibers. I think the bar soap and even graphite (from pencil lead) are your best bets. The bar soap works best on nylon (plastic) zippers but graphite works best on metal zipper teeth. Graphite in it’s powder form is what is used to lubricate locks like the ones in your front door. That’s why pencil lead works on metal teeth.
    Other than those two things all that’s left in my bag of tricks would be to “wackle it roond” as my Scottish relatives would say. I always find there expressions so very descriptive LOL! Like “feeling peely wally” when you look sick or pale.

  • 18 NyteRayn // Sep 16, 2008 at 6:09 am

    OH man! I hate when that happens!!!

  • 19 tps // Sep 16, 2008 at 8:29 am

    I agree with Bess—sheer brute force!

  • 20 swinefactory // Sep 16, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Uh, just grab with both hands, and pull the zipper apart in one strong pull. The zipper head itself will easily break in half, releasing the zipper tracks. Then just spend $5 at your local garment repair shop and have them repair the zipper.

  • 21 Marc // Sep 16, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Wackle it roond! :D

  • 22 Nicole // Sep 16, 2008 at 11:00 am

    I was once trapped in a knee-high boot, and we had to use a combination of pliers and wiggling the lining out of the mess. Once the fabric is looser, it’s easier to pull.

    Good luck!

  • 23 dGreek // Sep 16, 2008 at 11:01 am

    vote for obama. he will fix everything.

  • 24 Val Ann C // Sep 16, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    I had a ski parka with a similar stuckness. Nothing would budge it. Then I got the jacket soaking wet and was able to work it free.
    Good luck.

  • 25 Aloe // Sep 16, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    My vote is for the WD-40. Don’t worry about staining– trip through the washer will wash off any residue. BTW WD-40 is the best way to get off oil stains.

  • 26 sabine // Sep 16, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    I have the same problem with my favourite vest. I just put it on unzipped. Better than damaging the whole thing.

  • 27 lamazone // Sep 17, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Ask Sarah Palin, she’ll say it’s all part of the divine plan of God. Or maybe she’ll shoot you out of your.. trousers was it?

  • 28 Kristyn Eagleton // Sep 17, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Ask my husband to do it. He always gets me out of a stuck zipper mess. I have been messing up zippers since I was a little kid. Now I mess up my kids zippers all the time.

  • 29 Alison // Sep 17, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Graphite pencil lead. Just rub a pencil above and below the “sticky” part and PRESTO!

  • 30 María // Sep 18, 2008 at 2:05 am

    Nosotros en casa utilizamos para las cremaleras atascadas VELA (frotamos con la vela en la cremallera y, con paciencia, termina desatascándose).

    We, at home, to fix a stuck zipper use simply a candle. Just rub with the candle and, then, patiently, up and down with the zipper to unstuck it.

  • 31 higg // Sep 18, 2008 at 6:51 am

    i think you have to put it in the freezer and then hit it with a hammer… oh no, hang on, that’s chewing gum.

  • 32 Saple // Sep 19, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    I have no idea….

  • 33 Sally // Sep 20, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    It’s days later now!
    Don’t keep us in suspense!
    Are you free?

  • 34 Karan // Sep 22, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Ask my brother to wear it…when he was little, he never seemed to be able to keep his zipper pulled up, so I’m guessing he can do the same for yours.

  • 35 jackie // Sep 22, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    If possible zipp it all the way up or up as far as you can. take both sides and pull the zipper appart by hand. then try to make the zipper head go back down in a more orderly fashion. you might have to make it go up and down and pull the zipper appart several times before it will actually work. I do this with back packs and luggage!!! Hope it works.

  • 36 doane // Sep 23, 2008 at 9:06 am

    I remember my mom always rubbing the side of a candle onto stuck zippers?

  • 37 p // Apr 21, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    pencil lead was incredible- I had the same type of zipper jam!

  • 38 Ella // Jun 29, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Oh my God!! A minute ago, I was stuck in a very expensive dress that has a stiff zipper, alone. I just did the pencil lead thing, not actually thinking it would work, and it instantly went down!! Amazing!!!!!

  • 39 Daniel Brambley // Dec 8, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    get some needle nose pliers and open up the zipper slider on the side that doesnt have the stop tab, then remove the stuck zipper from that side easy peasy :O) once free, close the zipper slider again with the pliers and your good to go, also worth rubbing it with a pencil before trying it on again, simples hehe

  • 40 christene Rupp // Jun 18, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Brand new Purse!! Zipper got stuck on the fabric! Panic!Bar Soap! :) Thank you!!

  • 41 Marion // Oct 5, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Thanks for all the tips. I used bar soap, lead, patience, perseverence and kept my tongue in my closed mouth. M

  • 42 CT // Dec 10, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Awesome!! The graphite powder worked. My jacket had two of its plastic teeth that weren’t aligning and I couldn’t get the zipper off. Be patient, use ample graphite to coat the teeth and work the pull back and forth until alignment occurs. Voila it’s off!!

  • 43 Lilly // Dec 13, 2011 at 7:17 am

    WD-40 works when pencil lead wont

  • 44 Paul // Jan 13, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Zipper on my NEW leather jacket got stuck half open and half closed. Pencil lead worked like a charm for me. Thank you!

  • 45 Mimp // Apr 4, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    We had a much worse situation, a metal double zipper that was off by one tooth so it was impossible to zip it all the way down…

    We separated the zippers to join the majority of the teeth together. Very carefully from the middle of the interlocked teeth we pushed the edge of the teeth out of alignment with the tine of a dinner fork. Once separated we were able to jump one of the zipper clasps at a time, (trying to brute force all 6 interlocked teeth inside the two clasps at the same time was unlikely.)

  • 46 ANN // Jun 5, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    I had success with graphite powder. Had to wash the jacket afterwards. No problems

  • 47 Elliott // Nov 30, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    I just used chapstick, rubbing it into the zipper, back and front, above and below the sticking point. With just a bit of tugging the zipper came loose and unzipped all the way. YAY !!!

  • 48 Handsome Dude // Nov 30, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Using a bar of soap works great for me. Make sure to give it a good amount of soap and keep it we. It takes a few attempts but it works great. Thank you.

  • 49 Ina // Dec 15, 2012 at 5:58 am

    OMG the exact same thing happened to me but it was a dress not a skirt. I tried the tip of putting lead pencil and also used candle wax but in the end what helped was pulling the zipper using pliers

  • 50 may // Jan 7, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Thank God! My favourite bag’s zipper is finally free after 6 hours! Imagine not being able to get ur wallet out for that long! Thanks for the great advice everyone. Tried the candle first and then the pencil. Before finding this website I had used a pair of scissors to try and cut the fabric lining the bag loose which also happened to be what was stuck in the zipper teeth. That only left me with an inch wide hole in the inside of my bag.

  • 51 PaulQ // Mar 14, 2014 at 5:19 am

    I used the lead pencil on a rucksack zip and it worked

  • 52 Marilyn // Apr 17, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Rub soap on the zipper.

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