how to get fabric out of a zipper

How To Get Fabric Out Of A Zipper

Zippers are fashion staples. From tote bags to wallets, suits, and pouches, they hold pieces of fabric together, keeping the apparel secure. However, if you are a zipper enthusiast, the chances are that you’ve come by their most common frustration–a zipper sticking on the fabric.

Whether you’re adorning a jacket or a piece of a suit, a stuck zipper can make getting out of the cloth a bit daunting. Even worse, if your zipper doesn’t budge, you risk tampering with both your fabric and your zipper if you handle it without proper care. Luckily for you, there are a few simple ways to navigate curves. Read this piece to the end for a step-by-step process on removing a fabric on a stuck zipper and tools to use.

Step-by-Step for Removing a Fabric on a Stuck Zipper

1. Know your type of zipper

What is the design of your zipper? Is it a continuous coil, molded plastic, or metal? Identifying the material of your zipper features will help your process of picking the ideal tools for use if the problem lies with the teeth.

 Coil zippers are the most common. They come with coiled nylon or sometimes polyester, woven or stitched onto tape. Unlike other types of zippers, coils are more lightweight, with a smoother texture. They are an excellent pick for bags and pockets. 

 Molded plastics are the most cost-efficient since the teeth are made of cheap plastic, molded directly onto the zipper tape. They feature stiffer teeth, making them ideal for tote bags and children’s clothing.

 Metal zippers feature metallic teeth that are fastened onto a tape. They are a great choice for heavy-duty apparel such as leather projects, coats, and duffle bags.

2. Check whether the problem lies with the teeth.

 Believe it or not, your zipper will only skid off its way whenever there is a defect in its teeth. Identifying the problem beforehand can help you come up with a fast-paced solution to bail you out.

Three common problems that can cause your zipper to lurk onto the fabric include:

  • If it slides open

For your zipper to stay up and stick on, every single tooth should be flexible enough to budge. If the zipper slides open, examine the teeth from top to bottom and identify the place where the teeth indent.

  • If it is broke

A broken zipper is daunting to pull up or down along its groove. If the teeth are okay but you are still applying too much pressure to move the zipper an inch, check on the zipper head for indicators of a broken part.

  • It’s misaligned

 Misaligned teeth can cause the zipper to skid off the groove and stick on the fabric. If this is the case, check the thread for a tooth that is stuck out. In case you find any, use pliers to straighten it up. Also, with continuous use, the thread can loosen out. So you should check it regularly and tighten the slider using pliers. 

3. Identify the stuck fabric.

Now that you’ve known the cause of your zipper sticking on the cloth, focus on pulling the piece of fabric out. You may need to either pull the head back or the cloth out.

If the groove and the teeth are perfectly fine, use the head’s handle to pull it backward. With this, the piece of fabric will come out quickly, without applying too much pressure.

If the head sticks tightly on the garment, you can alternatively use your hand to pull the garment away from the zipper. Don’t be too rough, as you can tear the fabric. Keep it gentle, and apply even pull until the piece comes out.

 If the snag on the fabric is tiny, you can’t get hold of it using the hand and use a pair of tweezers for a better grip. Also, you can dislodge the fabric using a safety pin.

Either way, pay close attention to the fabric, making sure that you don’t wrench it. Once done, check if the zipper effortlessly moves back and forth on its groove.

4. Check for a piece of fabric jamming the teeth.

 When in a hurry, you can roll the zipper head over a tiny fabric, causing some piece of cloth to jam the teeth. If this is the case, opening the zipper can be challenging since the head cannot go past the jam backward.

  • Pull the fabric out using your hand.

 Your hand is the first hand-on tool to use when the jam is not too tight. Turn the cloth inside out, then get hold of the snag. Pull it gently out of the teeth, making sure it doesn’t wrench. 

If it’s some pieces of thread jamming the teeth, use a pair of tweezers to get hold of them and pull gently. Make sure they do not unsnap. 

  • Apply paraffin, candle wax, or bar of soap 

Paraffin, candle wax, or a bar of soap can help you effortlessly move the head over the piece of fabric. Using a cotton swab, apply any of the above gently and evenly around the jammed place. Also, spread some of the wax, paraffin, or soap on the rolling head. 

Once done, move the head gently backward. If it doesn’t get past a certain point, stop. Trying to move it can cause further damages to the teeth and even the head itself. If it moves, go on gently until you are way past the jamming piece of fabric. 

  • Use a razor blade 

Zippers not only apply to bags and small pieces of apparel, but they also come in handy in tents and backpacks. The fabric used to make tents, for example, is too heavy, and when stuck, you may not remove it easily using either tweezers, hands, or detergents. 

 If your tent zipper is stuck with fabric along its groove, use a razor blade to cut the lurking piece off the head. Make sure not to slice the groove or the zipper thread. 

Prevent further obstructions

 You’re now done removing any piece of garment lurking on either the zipper or the teeth. To make sure the problem doesn’t recur, here are a few hacks to help you prevent further obstructions.

  • Correct frayed edges 

 Frayed edges are prone to snagging, especially if they are coupled with ragged holes and wrinkles. Using your regular iron, smooth the wrinkles in all areas surrounding the thread. You can as well stitch the ragged holes to keep the groove more efficient and barrier-free. 

  • Lubricate the zipper teeth using a graphite 

Graphite in your regular pencil is a better dry lubricant for the zipper thread. Using the pencil, rub the teeth from top to bottom, then pull the head back and forth to spread the lubricant. This way, the zipper head will move through the groove effortlessly without causing snag onto your fabric or dents on the teeth. 

  • Clean regularly 

Stuck on messes such as grease can cause the zipper head to lag when pulling. To increase its shelf-life, use water and any suitable lubricant to remove the mess off both the zipper head and groove. 


If you keenly follow the hacks we’ve recommended, you shouldn’t find removing a snagging fabric from your zipper. Otherwise, if you’ve tried all these hacks, all to no avail, it will be better to either replace the head or take your zipper for repair.

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