How to Fix a Broken Metal Zipper

Things You'll Need

  • Pliers

  • Zipper stops (optional)

Sturdy metal zippers are often used to hold jackets closed.
Image Credit: deyangeorgiev/iStock/Getty Images

A broken zipper doesn't mean the end of your jacket or favorite pair of jeans. Often metal zippers fail when the slider comes off or becomes uneven. Rethreading the metal zipper from the bottom can fix these breaks. Even missing teeth at the top or bottom of the zipper can be fixed by changing zipper stops, although missing teeth in the middle of a metal zipper mean the zipper will have to be replaced.

Slipped Slider

Step 1

Use needle nosed pliers to remove the rectangular metal stop at the bottom of the zipper. Be careful not to bend the stop excessively, because you will put it back into place later. Spare zipper stops are often sold in fabric stores.

Step 2

Remove the zipper slider from the broken zipper. Rethread both sides of the zipper through the holes on each side of the slider. If the fabric at the bottom of the zipper is frayed, trim the fabric. Use a small flat-head screwdriver to guide the fabric in smoothly.

Step 3

Move the slider up and down to make sure it is now working properly. Replace the stop at the bottom of the zipper using pliers.

Missing Teeth

Step 1

Remove the zipper stops near the missing teeth with needle-nosed pliers. The bottom zipper stop looks like a metal rectangle across the bottom of the zipper. Top zipper stops look like large rounded teeth. The zipper stops can be removed carefully and reused, or you can buy new stops.

Step 2

Move the bottom stop up the zipper to cover the missing teeth at the bottom of the zipper, and replace it using pliers.

Step 3

Measure the location of the new stop based on the missing zipper teeth. The top of the zipper has two stops that need to line up correctly for the zipper to work. Remove the zipper teeth from the opposite side of the zipper to line up the stops.

Step 4

Replace the top zipper stops using pliers, lining them up on opposite sides of the zipper.


When purchasing metal zipper stops or sliders, keep in mind that zippers come in different sizes. The zipper size may be marked on the back of the slider. Another way to measure the zipper size is by measuring the width of the slider in millimeters.

To repair a metal zipper on a pair of pants, cut the stitching connecting the two sides of the placket with a seam ripper or pair of scissors before beginning, to reach the bottom of the zipper more easily. Once the zipper is repaired, replace the stitching by hand or with a sewing machine.

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