Zipper jams this is how the zipper works again

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Zipper broken? Or is stuck or no longer holds? Do not give up yet. Many zippers can still be saved. Plus: Why you should always close zippers before washing them.

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Let’s be glad we have it, because before its time, clothes could only be closed with buttons, ribbons, hooks and eyes. The American Whitcomb L. Judson patented the first zipper in 1892, and several other inventors have steadily improved it. Zippers were not used for everyday clothing until the 1920’s.

This is what YKK means on the zipper

If YKK is written on your zipper, you own a zipper of the world’s largest manufacturer: YKK is the registered trademark of the Japanese manufacturer"Yoshida Kōgyō Kabushikigaisha". The has been producing zippers since the 1930-ies and is also represented in Germany since 1967. When the letters "OPTI on the zipper, it comes from the largest German zipper manufacturer OPTI, today part of Coats GmbH.

But sometimes zippers don’t like the way we do – they jerk, jam or don’t hold anymore. But that’s why we don’t always have to replace them right away or give the garment to the used clothing collection. Sometimes these little tricks help:

Zipper jerks

If the zipper can only be closed with a jerk, it may be that it is stuck together. In case of metal zippers, a soft pencil can be used to move the zipper back and forth on the teeth. The greasy graphite from the pencil makes the zipper glide more easily again. The pencil method is not suitable for light-colored zippers and also not so good for plastic zippers.

For light-colored and plastic zippers, we spread soapy water on the teeth with a cotton swab to make them move more smoothly. Vaseline also works well. Or you can put a drop of silicone spray on a rag and rub it over the teeth of the zipper.

zipper always opens

If the zipper of the jeans does not stay where it should, namely on top, we can first try to make it work again using pliers. To do this, we carefully press the two sides of the slider together a little with the pliers. We do this with feeling so that the slider doesn’t break or end up too tightly compressed. It is better to try several times. If the slider is tighter again, it grips better and closes more easily again.

If this doesn’t help, we thread a key ring into the slider and fix the ring with the button on the waistband when closing it.

Zipper jams: bent teeth

If some hooks/teeth on our zipper are bent, we try to carefully straighten them out again with pliers.

If one of the teeth in the lower part is missing, we can close the zipper at this point. Then the zipper is a little shorter, but can still be used.

If the zipper is stuck and the slider handle is broken off

If the slider handle is broken off, we can still use our zipper, but it is quite tedious to close the zipper with the slider only. Solution: thread in a paper clip, a small safety pin, a leather or textile thong, a key ring or a special carabiner from the haberdashery department and the zipper is easy to operate again.

Zipper repair – does not work in some cases

In some cases, however, the zipper is not salvageable:

  • When several teeth are missing
  • When the textile tape of the zipper comes apart
  • when the end piece of a separable zipper is missing

If the zipper needs to be completely replaced, it is usually cheaper to buy zipper yardage instead of ready-made zippers. This is especially worthwhile in the case of bed linen fasteners.

Always close zippers before washing

Always close zippers before washing – good for the zipper and other laundry

To keep zippers running smoothly, we need to take care of them. This is what we can do for a long zipper life:
Always close zippers before washing. If they are left open, the little teeth can get caught and bent that way. Besides, open metal zippers do not do good to the other textiles in the drum.
Always clean zippers well: Zippers that often get dirty or dusty, such as those on shoes, tents or backpacks, should be cleaned regularly with soapy water and an old toothbrush and kept smooth with soap, candle wax or pencil graphite. Some outdoor gear manufacturers recommend silicone spray for plastic zippers.

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