What’s worse than when a trusty clothing closure fails us and we can’t get our zipper up or down? Zippers are designed to be convenient – and they are! But it can be more than a nuisance when one breaks for one reason or another. Thankfully – when it comes to broken zipper pulls, there are many ways to fix them.
Zipper pulls can be fixed easily by replacing the pull with an official replacement or one of several home items like a safety pin or paper clip. If the zipper slider is causing the zipper to malfunction, this can be replaced without having to replace the entire zipper.
In this article, we will go over how to fix a zipper pull – including 7 DIY hacks using items around your home. We’ll also cover how to replace a zipper pull on jackets, bags and tents, as well as how to replace a zipper slider.
Can You Replace a Zipper Pull?
The short answer is yes! And there are multiple ways to fix a zipper pull. When you’re dealing with a broken zipper, the first thing you should do is determine what is causing it to fail.
If the pull tab on the zipper slider is what has broken off – it’s a relatively easy fix. Technically a zipper can be pulled up and down without a pull – but let’s be honest, it’s a nuisance. Putting something easy to grab on in place of where the original pull was will help.
In a pinch – zipper pulls can be replaced by many small household items – such as key rings, paper clips or safety pins – but these don’t usually look especially great. For a more permanent fix, zipper pulls can also be fixed with official replacement pulls that can easily be purchased online or at fabric stores.
Another reason the zipper pull may not work is that the slider is no longer functioning. Sometimes the terms zipper pull and zipper slider will be found to be used interchangeably – so it’s important to distinguish which is causing the problem.
If the slider is broken, the zipper may be hard to slide up and down. Or – once you’ve zipped up the item, the two sides of the zipper easily pull apart from each other. These are both clues that the slider probably needs to be replaced.
The good news is – if the zipper slider is the problem, that doesn’t mean the entire zipper is out of commission. The whole zipper doesn’t need to be replaced, only the slider itself – which is an easier fix than it might appear to be at first.
How to Fix A Broken Zipper Pull: 7 DIY Hacks
A broken zipper pull doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it can be super annoying when you’re trying to get your zipper to work. Thankfully – a broken zipper pull is a minor problem that’s not that difficult to fix.
The main function of a zipper pull is to give you something to grab onto to get the slider up and down – in turn, zipping and unzipping the item. Anything you can get through the small hole on the zipper slider can function as a temporary or permanent pull. Of course – some items may be more attractive than others. This can help you decide if you want the replacement to be a forever fix or not.
Some zipper slides are equipped with a locking mechanism. If you look closely at the slider as you push it up the zipper – you’ll see the mechanism moving up and down over the zipper teeth. When the mechanism is up, the hole where the pull will go through will be larger.
If this is the case with the zipper you’ll be fixing – it may be necessary to put the slide in a position where the mechanism is in an up position to get the new pull-through.
Below we will go over 7 hacks to replace broken zipper pulls – all with items you can find lying around the house. You’ll have your zippers up again in no time.
1. Key Ring or Paper Clip
A key ring or paper clip perfectly replaces a missing or broken zipper pull. Both options are made of metal, so they will be sturdy enough to function as a zipper pull for a while.
The keyring must be thin enough that the end will fit through the hole on the slider when open.
To replace a zipper pull with a key ring or paper clip, locate the hole on the side of the slider through which the original pull would have been threaded. Open the key ring or paper clip a bit so the end is easily accessible.
Now – slide the end of the key ring or paper clip through the hole – threading it all the way through so that it can hang loosely on the zipper slide.
Neither of these options will look the most fashionable on your clothing. If the fix was done on a garment you like to wear – it will function fine, but you’ll probably want to replace it with something more sightly.
If the replacement happens to be on a zipper on a backpack or bag that is a bit more inconspicuous – you might not mind having the pull be a key ring for a while.
2. Safety Pin
I’m sure I’m not the only one with loose safety pins lying about. Thankfully if I need to fix a broken zipper pull, all I need to do is locate one of these!
Safety pins make a great replacement for a broken zipper pull, and can be easily put through the hole of the slide, then clipped closed to stay right in place.
Safety pins are also pretty sturdy, so they should last a little while as a substitute. But, like key rings and paper clips – safety pins might not make the most aesthetic permanent replacement for your zipper.
3. Bit of Fabric or String
Many items can be used to fix a broken zipper pull. If you happen to be on the go when the break occurs – you may not have a lot of options at your disposal. A bit of fabric or string will work fine for a temporary fix for a broken zipper pull.
For an easier time threading the fabric or string through the zipper slider, choose something on the stiffer side. Anything floppy will be more difficult to get through – not impossible, but possibly frustrating.
If the only options you have are soft and pliable, wrapping the end tightly with a small piece of tape can help you thread the slider more easily. Also, if you happen to have a sewing needle at your disposal that will fit through the slider, this can also help.
To replace the missing pull – thread the fabric or string of your choice through the hole in the side of the slider. Cut the fabric scrap or string to your desired length and tie the ends together so that they will stay in place.
Paracord is a great option for a broken zipper pull replacement. Paracord is a finished zipper pull of choice for many items – clothing and accessories alike, especially for things made for the outdoors.
Paracord comes in all colors and thicknesses, so you can easily select one that matches the item you’ll be fixing and keep this as a permanent fix once you’re done. It can even be tied in multiple knots if you want to get fancy.
Paracord is thick and relatively stiff, so it should be easy to get through the slider hole. Thread the paracord through the slider. Once it’s through, tie it at the desired point with the desired knot. Cut any excess cord below the knot.
To keep the cord from unraveling – burn the ends quickly with a match or lighter once you’re done.
5. Zip Tie
Zip ties are such a handy thing to keep around the house! They’re not only great for keeping all of your electronic cords organized – but they work great for fixing broken zipper pulls too.
Zip ties are great as zipper pulls because – being stiff – they’re extremely easy to get through the slider, and they’re sturdy. Zip ties come in all different colors and can be clipped to any length – making them a versatile option. And this fix is quick!
To fix a broken zipper pull with a zip tie, simply slide the pointed end of the tie through the slider. Next – close the zip tie by sliding the pointed end through the end with the casing.
When closing the tie – be careful not to close the loop too tight. A zip tie only slides one way – once it has been tightened, you can’t loosen it again. If the loop made by the zip tie becomes too tight, it will be difficult to cut to remove the tie if you ever want to replace it with something else.
6. Zipper Pull TabThere are all sorts of official zipper pull tab replacements that can be purchased online or at fabric or craft stores. These zipper pulls come in all sorts of styles and colors, and materials. – there’s a zipper pull replacement out there for each kind of zipper.
Zipper pull replacements are often made of metal, and you could find a similar pull to the precise one you’ll be replacing. There are rubber and plastic pulls, too – and official pulls made of paracord! Some people may intentionally replace a boring zipper pull with something more exciting and decorative.
Zipper pull replacements can work similarly to a safety pin or a clasp on a piece of jewelry. They will have a small hook that can open by pressing in on one side. Once this is open and slid through the slider, let go and the hook will be closed – keeping the new pull in place on the zipper.
Some cord pull replacements come as a loop with a graspable piece of rubber at the end. To use this type – simply thread the loop through the slider, then thread the rubber end through the loop, essentially tying the cord in place on the slider.
Replacement zipper pulls are cheap and can easily be found under a dollar per piece. You might just want to buy a few to have around – it never hurts to be prepared!
7. Replace Zipper Slider (Without Replacing the Zipper)
If the zipper pull extension isn’t what’s causing the problem, it may be the slider itself. If the slider is sticky – doesn’t pull easily up or down, has come off of the teeth on one or both sides, or the zipper won’t hold together after it’s been zipped – this is a slider problem.
Thinking about messing with the inner workings of a zipper might seem daunting at first. But I promise – it’s not that difficult. And it doesn’t involve replacing the whole zipper.
Sometimes when a zipper slider starts to malfunction, it simply needs to be tightened up. This is often the case when a zipper easily splits open. The easiest fix here is to take a pair of pliers and gently press down the top plate of the slider.
Over time – sliders can tend to open up, which is what causes them to not lock the zipper teeth together tightly anymore.
Test the zipper again after pressing with the pliers. If the zipper still pops open, you may need to tighten it more, so continue doing so with slightly more pressure each time. If this works, great! The slider is fixed for now – but prepare yourself, it may need to be fully replaced soon.
Like zipper pull replacements – zipper slider replacements can be purchased easily online and at stores. Often these will come as kits with everything you need to get the job done. When buying a slider replacement – make sure you get a slider that will be compatible with the zipper that needs fixing.
To replace the entire slider, you’ll have to remove the broken one. At the bottom or top of the zipper, there is a metal stopper. Take a pair of needle nose pliers and gently bend them to loosen and remove this piece.
Once the stopper has been removed – the new slider can be slid right onto the zipper. Make sure both sides of the zipper teeth line up and test the zipper before putting a new stopper on end.
It’s possible that you can squeeze the same stopper back into place if it wasn’t too bent during removal. But you may need a new stopper. These are included in many slider replacement kits.
If the stopper was damaged during removal and you don’t have a new one – putting in a few stitches with a needle and thread should do the trick. Make sure you sew enough times over that the slider will stay on the teeth and you should be good to go!
How to Fix a Zipper Pull On:
A lot of outdoor wear utilizes paracord-style zipper pulls. They are sturdy and look the part for outdoor gear. If the metal portion of the zipper pull on your jacket has broken off for some reason – an easy fix would be to replace it with a new piece of cord.
Choose a paracord that is a similar color – or one that accents the material of the jacket – to be the new pull. Put one end of the cord through the slider. Leave a small loop and then tie the two ends of the cord together.
To finish – burn the ends quickly with a match or lighter to melt them, so they don’t unravel
A broken zipper on a bag essential renders it unusable. But fixing a broken zipper pull is easy enough that you won’t have to throw out any bags because of this problem.
So many items can be used to replace a broken zipper pull, but it’s best to choose something that won’t look completely out of place. You’ll also want something that will last.
If you need a quick fix and/or the bag isn’t particularly a fashion statement – using a key ring or zip tie are both great options. Both of these fixes can take a broken zipper to functional in just a couple of minutes and would be sturdy enough to last quite a while.
If you want something that looks more official – you may want to purchase a zipper pull replacement. These come in all sorts of colors and styles – there is sure to be one out there that will match the bag.
Zipper pull replacements are super easy to install and should also only take a few minutes to put in place.
Trying to zip up a ten with a broken zipper pull is frustrating. These long, rounded zippers usually require more to hold onto to zip them smoothly.
The best zipper pull replacement for a tent would be a paracord-type option. Using a loose cutting of paracord would do the trick. You can also easily purchase cord-style pull replacements online.
There are many ways a zipper can break – thankfully, there are also many ways to fix them. If you find yourself in a bind with an irritating zipper situation – that doesn’t mean your garment or bag should go in the trash!
So many little things can work as a replacement zipper pull – and the fix can be done in minutes. First, determine what’s causing the zipper not to work and then use one of the hacks above to get it functioning again in no time! You’ll never have to throw away items with broken zippers again.