How Can You Fix a Broken Zipper on a Backpack? 

 June 28, 2021

By  Keith Terrell

There are several ways in which the zipper on a backpack can break. It can get stuck because the teeth have bent out of alignment, the zipper teeth may have become separated or the slider may have come undone. 

If your backpack zipper is broken and can't slide it can be fixed by adding some graphite from a pencil, laundry soap or some candle wax. If the teeth are bent you can try using a pliers to correct it. A broken pull can be replaced by a paperclip or key-ring.

funny zip mouth characters

In most cases, these issues can be fixed by using tools available at home. Perhaps the zipper needs lubrication or a tooth needs to be straightened. Either way, there is a lot you can do by yourself to salvage a broken zipper.

The following are some popular tried and tested methods:


If your zipper feels broken because it refuses to go up or down, it is probably a problem with lubrication. Graphite is one of the best things to use if that is the case. Now, where are you supposed to get graphite around the house? It is actually as simple as using a number 2 pencil.

Rub it up and down on the zipper. Try to get the graphite into the area where the zipper is stuck. Once you are done applying the graphite, try to move the zipper. If it is a simple problem of lubrication, the zipper should become unstuck and you should be able to move it. 

If not a number 2 pencil, graphite sticks are easily available in the market. 

Laundry Soap

If a graphite stick does not offer enough lubrication, you may want to take it a notch above. Laundry soap will provide the broken zipper with a boost of lubrication. Take a little laundry soap in a dish and add a few spoons of water.

Mix the two until you get a semi-thick solution. Then, take a cotton swab and drench it in the solution. Use this cotton swab to wet the zipper. Once you have done this a few times, try to move the zipper up and down. It may not move immediately. If that is the case, attempt to wet the area a few more times with the cotton swab until the zipper becomes unstuck.

If using laundry soap by hand does not work, you can always consider laundering the backpack altogether. If you have a washing machine, stick the backpack into the machine and give it a whirl. If there is any dirt or grime stuck in the zipper, it will come undone in the washer. You can try lubricating the zipper again after washing the backpack. 

Candle Wax/Crayon

Speaking of lubrication, another effective method is to use candle wax or a crayon to get the zipper moving. Household wax is usually very effective on a stuck zipper. If there is no household wax, you can use an old candle or a wax crayon stick.

The method of application is the same as using a graphite stick. Simply rub the wax stick onto the affected area until it is smooth enough for the zipper to move up and down with ease. Again, this may take a few attempts. Keep applying the wax on the area until the zipper can slide without getting stuck. 

What is great about this method is that it does not leave any stain behind (unless you are using a colored crayon). The wax will simply melt away eventually after repeated friction with the zipper, so you do not have to worry about any color spreading onto your backpack.  

Fix Bent Zipper Teeth

There’s a good chance the problem with your backpack is not lubrication. If you look closely, you may find that the zipper has bent teeth. No amount of lubrication will help until you fix the bent teeth. Use any handy tools from your toolbox that you feel comfortable using. Pliers typically work the best. 

Grab the bent tooth with a pair of pliers and manoeuver it so it straightens. You may need to repeat this a few times to get it right. However, be careful that you do not pull too hard as the tooth may come out of the tape altogether. When that happens, there is not much you can do to save the zipper. Straightening the tooth may require a delicate hand. 

Fixing a Broken Pull

The pull breaking off is actually a fairly common occurrence but one that can be fixed easily. If you do not have too much time and have to be somewhere soon, there are several temporary fixes you can try.

One of the most effective is to use a paper clip. Simply open one end of the clip out and put it through the hole where the pull usually goes. Alternately, you can convert a keyring, a telephone wire connector, or anything else small, nimble and malleable enough into a zipper pull.

In due course, when you do have time, you can replace the makeshift solution with a new zipper pull. 

Zipper on a backpack

Fixing a Broken Slider

Fixing a broken slider has fewer makeshift solutions. When a slider is broken, you may simply have to replace it. But removing it and installing a new one is actually quite an easy process. Use pliers to cut the broken slider off. You can then reattach the new slider simply by sliding it slowly back onto the teeth. This should not take too long if you can get the slider to go into the right grooves and hit the right angle. 

You may need to replace the slider if it comes off entirely or if it is not closing the teeth properly despite several attempts to lubricate and fix the zipper.

Final Thoughts

A zipper is perhaps the most important component of a good backpack. The backpack can have several pockets and a lot of storage space. But if the zipper does not work, there’s hardly any point of all that storage space.

Even a good backpack can throw the zipper out occasionally. Thankfully, there are enough and more home remedies you can try to fix a broken zipper. So try all the tricks and tips at home before you absolutely need to replace your bag.

About the author

Keith is a one bag traveler and the owner of Backpacks Global. His go to backpack is the Osprey FarPoint 40.

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