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How to Fix a Zipper on Jeans

Nothing is worse than putting on your favorite jeans in the morning and finding that the zipper won’t zip up. Sometimes the slider comes off one side of the teeth, or you notice several teeth bent or broken. The good news is that you do not need to throw away your jeans because you can learn how to fix a zipper on jeans!

The most popular method for fixing a separated zipper on jeans is to use pliers and sewing tools. Other popular methods include using a flathead screwdriver to repair bent teeth and shortening the zipper to replace the bottom stop. For more serious damage, replacing the zipper in the jeans can solve the problem.

In this article, you will learn what makes a zipper separate and break. You will discover seven simple methods for repairing a zipper in jeans. Finally, you will find quick hacks for emergency zipper situations.

How to Fix Zipper on Jeans

Why Does the Zipper on My Jeans Keep Falling Down?

The zipper on your jeans can keep falling for several reasons, including too much stress on the tape and an expanding slider.

One common reason that zippers get “too loose” over time is that they go through too much stretching. Do you like to wear jeans a bit tight and let them stretch out during the day? Plenty of jeans have a cut that looks best when you wear them quite snuggly, like slim-ft or skinny jeans.

But while the denim in your jeans can stretch to fit you easily, the zipper does not have the same level of flexibility. Too much pressure on its tape will constantly drag at the teeth, causing them to pull on the sides of the slider.

This can make the sides of the slider expand and lose their grip on the teeth.

Sometimes the same thing happens to a slider over time just from wear and tear. If you pull the zipper shut and the slider slips right back down to the bottom of the teeth, you probably have a worn-out slider that has expanded over time.

Another common reason for a zipper to keep falling down is that the teeth wore away and now do not have the same shape they used to have. Since the slider still has its original shape, it makes sense that it fits too loosely over the worn-down teeth!

Can You Fix a Zipper on Jeans?

You can fix a zipper on jeans most of the time, especially if you find a simple issue like a loose slide. You can also usually solve problems like missing or bent teeth or a zipper that has separated and come off one side.

Zippers contain a few essential parts you should know before you try to repair one, though.

  • First, the tape. This is the fabric section that holds the teeth and connects to the garment. You may need to locate this tape to remove the stitching that holds it to the jeans for some fixes.
  • When you think of a zipper, you probably picture a row of interlocking teeth. Most jeans zippers have brass teeth. If these do not slot together properly, you may need to fix bent teeth.
  • At the top and bottom of the zipper, on the inside of the jeans, you will find metal stoppers. The stoppers keep the slider from going off the end when you unzip or zip. This does not usually get damaged or need fixing, but you sometimes need to remove it to reach other parts of the zip.
  • The part you have to fix most often is the slider, the metal groove that runs up and down the zipper, forcing the teeth to close together or open. Jeans use a slider with a nose that points in a specific direction to close the teeth, which is not always the case with plastic zippers.
  • Finally, your zipper slider will have a metal pull or tab on top so you can easily open and close the zip.

How to Fix a Broken Zipper on Jeans: 7 Methods

Can You Fix Zipper on Jeans

You can fix a broken zipper on jeans by using simple tools like pliers or a screwdriver or through more complicated methods like shortening the zipper and replacing the bottom stop.

1. Pliers

The best way to fix a zipper that has separated or has the stopper only on one side is to use pliers. You can also use this method to fix a loose zipper that keeps falling open.

Flat nose pliers will work best for this task. Brass jeans zippers have lots of sturdy parts, which is why you need a helpful tool like pliers to take everything apart and then put it back together.

  1. First, tug the zipper slider down to the bottom if you can. You need it away from the top section of the teeth for this method.
  2. Find the top stoppers. These will look like two tiny brass clamps on either side of the tape. Use the pliers to pry those metal pieces off the tape, and set them aside.
  3. Next, use the pliers to pinch the top two teeth on either side and rip them out. Work slowly to try not to damage the fabric of the tape, but you probably will have to twist and tug quite firmly.
  4. Slip the slider and pull off the top over the missing teeth. Set it aside.
  5. Now you can put things back together! Start at the bottom of the zipper and pinch the two sides of the teeth back together, making sure they interlock properly as you go. When you reach the top, the teeth should look like you have just zipped them shut.
  6. With the teeth closed, you can slot the slider back onto them from the top.
  7. Finally, use your pliers one more time to pinch the tiny brass stop back into place on each side of the tape. Make sure you put the stoppers on as close to the remaining teeth as possible, with no gaps in between.

2. Flathead Screwdriver

If the pull and slider have fallen off your jeans zipper, the quickest way to fix it is to use a flathead screwdriver and a few judicious taps from a hammer.

  1. Hold the slider up and notice the gap at each side where it should fit over the teeth. Insert your screwdriver into this gap and use it to wedge the opening a little bigger. This allows you to easily put the slider back on the teeth.
  2. Now place one side of the slider opening over the teeth. Use a few hammer taps to close the slider so it shuts firmly onto the teeth.
  3. Use the same steps to close the slider onto the second side of the teeth as well.
  4. Align the teeth and use the hammer to securely close them together.
  5. Then draw the slider up and down to make sure it works.

3. Safety Pin

While not a great permanent solution, you can use a safety pin to fix a zipper that keeps falling open without going through all the trouble of taking everything apart to repair it.

All you have to do is open the safety pin and put the sharp end through the opening in the pull. Tug the pull and the slider up to the top, closing the teeth. Then fasten the safety pin to the denim of the jeans, holding the zipper pull in place!

4. Without Tools

In some cases, you can fix a broken zipper without tools. That said, you will find it easier to make repairs if you have a pair of pliers handy!

  • For a separated zipper, see if you can reinsert the teeth on the loose side and use your fingers to squeeze the slider shut.
  • For a stuck zipper, try adding a dab of laundry detergent and using your hands to work it into the teeth.
  • If the zipper has all its parts in working order, but it will not stay zipped, try pinching the top and bottom of the slider firmly to see if you can tighten it up by hand.

5. Replace Bottom Stop

The best way to fix a zipper with missing or broken teeth is to put in a new bottom stop at a different point on the teeth. This only works if the missing or broken teeth lie in the lower half of the zipper, though. If you find missing teeth in the top half, you will need to replace the whole thing.

  1. Use flat-nose pliers to carefully pry the two metal stoppers off the top of the zipper. With the stoppers gone, slide the pull and slider off the top and set it aside.
  2. Push the teeth together with your fingers, making them look zipped shut. As you do this, note the spot with either broken or missing teeth. You may want to insert a safety pin in the jeans close to this point so you can easily find it again.
  3. Now you need to put in a new bottom stop right above the damaged area of the teeth. You can buy a new brass stop and use pliers to insert its prongs into the tape, blocking off the teeth at this point. Or you can use a sewing machine to stitch several lines of back-and-forth-stitches across the teeth at this point, forming a bar tack.
  4. Carefully slot the slider, pull over the top teeth, and tug it downward to ensure it opens the teeth correctly and stops at your new stopping point. Then draw it up to make sure it can also close the teeth.
  5. Finally, use the pliers again to pinch the top stops back into place, and you should have a shorter but functional zipper in your jeans!

6. Replace Zipper With Buttons

If you don’t want to repair the moving parts of a zipper, you can replace the entire thing with a few buttons on your jeans instead. This method does require a sewing machine and some basic sewing skills, but it takes less time than replacing the zipper with a new one.

  1. Use a craft knife to slice off the teeth on both sides of the tape. Try to cut along the tape as close to the teeth as possible, and make sure you do not slice into the denim of the jeans.
  2. Place two plastic buttons evenly spaced on the inside of the fly so that the flap on the other side will rest on top of them when you put the jeans on.
  3. Stitch the buttons into place a little loosely so that you can wrap your thread between the buttons and jeans five times, creating a thread shank between the button and the denim.
  4. Close the fly and use sewing pins through the top of the fly to mark the button locations. This will allow you to put the buttonholes in the right spot.
  5. Use the buttonhole attachment on your sewing machine to measure the button you used. That way, your machine can sew a buttonhole in the correct size to fit that button.
  6. Finally, sew the button holes on your sewing machine.
  7. You will need to use a seam ripper or craft knife to open the center of the buttonhole after stitching its edges on the machine.

7. Replace Zipper

If you try a few zipper repairs and nothing works, you may need to replace the zipper.

  1. Use a seam ripper to pick out the interior stitching holding the tape to the denim, allowing you to remove the old zipper. Try not to mess with the top stitching on the outside of the jeans.
  2. Get a new zipper of the same length as the old one if possible. If not, use a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine to create a new bar tack stitch to shorten the new zipper. The stitching across the teeth acts like a bottom stopper.
  3. You will notice the top ends of the tape stick out over the slider. Use a hand needle and thread to tack those ends of the tape to the back of the tape. This makes the top of the zipper look neater when you finish.
  4. Pin one side of the tape to the jeans exactly like the old zipper.
  5. Use a zipper foot on your sewing machine to stitch down the tape as close to the teeth as you can go.
  6. Pull the slider to close the zipper and then align the second side of the tape to the jeans, using sewing pins to keep it in place.
  7. Use a hand needle to stitch the second side of the tape to the jeans, just to hold it in place.
  8. Unzip the zipper and use the zipper foot to stitch the second side securely in place, sewing over your hand stitches.
  9. Finally, use the hand needle one last time to create a handmade bar tack across the bottom of the teeth so that the slider will not come off.

Broken Zipper Hack

Sometimes you need a quick broken zipper hack instead of a complicated repair. For instance, what if your pant’s zipper broke at work? You can try these emergency solutions for a temporary fix on your jeans.

  • If your zipper doesn’t stay up, you can use the safety pin method if you have a pin handy. If not, you can also pull the zipper shut and then coat the teeth generously with hairspray. It will harden and keep the teeth shut temporarily.
  • If your zipper is stuck and won’t close, see if you have any vaseline, soap, or wax handy. If this happens in a public place, find a restroom and use a squirt of hand soap. Rub that into the teeth to lubricate the slider and allow it to slide shut.
  • If you lost the pull on the zipper and can’t grip the slider to open and shut the fly, try inserting a paper clip or a key ring into the slider. This way, you can easily open and close the zipper.

How to Replace a Zipper on Jeans by Hand

If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can replace a zipper on your jeans by hand. However, this method requires some serious patience and hand strength because you will not find it easy to stitch through denim by hand!

  1. First, use a seam ripper to remove the old stitching holding the broken zipper to the jeans. Try to only pick apart the stitching on the tape to avoid damaging the jeans as much as possible.
  2. Pull out the old zipper and measure it. You want to get a new one of the same length so it will fit in your jeans.
  3. Pin the new zipper in place by aligning it under the flap. Put it exactly where the old zipper fit before you took it out.
  4. Thread a needle with cotton thread that matches the jeans. You may want to use extra-sturdy button thread to provide more durability.
  5. Tie a knot at the end of the thread and insert the needle from the back of the tape so the knot doesn’t show.
  6. Make small stitches down the length of the tape, holding it to the denim.
  7. Sew as close to the end of the zipper as you can, but don’t stitch over the teeth yet. Tie off the thread once you get to the end of the first side.
  8. Next, close the zipper and pin the second side of the tape into place.
  9. Once again, stitch neatly down the side of the tape.
  10. This time when you reach the bottom, wrap the thread around the teeth, making large stitches to act as a bar tack and keep the slider from falling off.
  11. Tie off the thread and try out the new zipper!

How to Fix a Zipper That Won’t Stay Up on Jeans

The best way to fix a zipper that won’t stay up is to use the pliers method described earlier in this article, but you can also use several easier hacks, like applying nail polish or inserting a round key ring for a quick fix.

  • Remove the pull from the slider and replace it with a circle key ring, slotting it on just as you would slide a new key onto the ring. Pull the zipper shut and then hook the key ring around the button on your jeans. This will hold the slider in place so it can’t slide down and let the teeth open!
  • Sometimes a zipper won’t stay up because the teeth have worn down over time. Try painting both sides of the teeth with clear nail varnish to bulk them up a bit. Let this dry and then try closing the zipper.
  • You may also find it useful to keep an emergency zipper repair kit on hand to provide quick fixes.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Zipper on Jeans?

Many tailors or seamstresses charge at least $15 to replace a zipper on jeans, though the fee may rise as high as $75 depending on the complexity of the issue. Some dry cleaners can quickly fix a damaged zipper and will likely only charge around $10 for that service.

Taking out and replacing a zipper in jeans requires serious effort, though, as you have to pick sturdy stitches out of the denim to remove the old components. For that reason, some tailors charge $25 or more for the task.

Is it Worth it to Fix Zipper on Jeans?

It is almost always worth fixing a zipper on your jeans, as it will save you time and money and help protect the environment!

Fixing a broken zipper on your jeans means you do not have to spend time searching for new jeans that fit you. Plus, it takes a long while to get new jeans broken in to fit your body. You don’t want to start that process from scratch when you have your old, favorite jeans just the way you like them.

Second, fixing the zipper on your jeans can save you money. This does depend on how much your jeans cost, of course. If you bought $10 clearance jeans from Walmart or Marshalls, you may not want to pay a tailor $25 to replace a zipper.

On the other hand, if you invest in quality jeans and can repair yourself following the instructions in this article, you will save a lot of money by not buying new jeans!

Finally, making jeans uses a lot of water and energy. This means that you should avoid throwing away a perfectly usable pair of jeans if you can. Instead, respect the environment and repair your old jeans to keep wearing them for years.

What is the Easiest Way to Fix a Jean Zipper?

The easiest way to fix a jean zipper is to use any emergency hacks listed in this article, like looping a keychain over the button to hold the zip shut or applying laundry detergent to loosen stuck teeth. But the most effective way to fix most zipper issues in jeans is to use the plier method, which allows you to take apart the problem pieces and realign them correctly.

The most difficult way to fix a broken zipper is to take out the old one and sew in a new one, either with a sewing machine or by hand. While this requires significant effort, it offers the best solution for a broken zipper that you can’t repair. In a pinch, most tailors can also replace a zipper in jeans for around $25.