Everyone’s packed for the school run and ready to go. Then, just as you’re walking out the front door, there’s a cry! And a crash! Then suddenly — crayons and papers everywhere. Do you know how to fix a backpack zipper? Can you do it fast? The answer is yes, if you know a few simple tricks.
First, Identify the Problem
Even the best toddler backpack zippers can fail from time to time. If you want to know how to fix a backpack zipper, you first have to know what went wrong. Turns out, there are five main ways a zipper can fail. Do you know what they are?
The slider is stuck on fabric
The slider is the part of the zipper that you pull up and down. It closes the zipper by bringing the interlocking teeth together. Then it opens the zipper by gently unlocking the teeth from one another.
Sometimes the slider catches on some of the fabric on one side of the zipper. If that’s your problem, you’re in luck. It’s pretty easy to fix.
The slider sticks on the teeth of the zipper
In this instance, the zipper isn’t caught on anything, but won’t move along the track. This is another quick and easy fix.
The track is pulling away from the backpack
What if the zipper itself is in working order, but it’s coming unstitched from the backpack? This, too, is reasonably easy to remedy. You don’t even need to know how to fix a backpack zipper. You just need to be able to sew a few quick stitches.
The teeth don’t close
Take a look at that zipper. There’s no fabric stuck in the slider, but the slider won’t go up and down. Worse, the teeth of the zipper won’t come together. Or maybe they do go together but pop apart again.
What do you do?
A broken slider
There are a couple different ways the slider can break. First, the zipper pull can break off. The zipper pull is, as you might have guessed, the part of the slider that you pull on to open or close the zipper.
Alternately, the slider itself may bend or break so that it no longer travels up and down the teeth. You can fix this quickly and easily, if you have the parts and the know-how.
Next, Gather Your Tools
If you know how to fix a backpack zipper, and you have the right tools, you can have that backpack sorted in minutes.
What you’ll need
You probably have most of these at home already. If not, they’re generally cheap and easy to come by.
- A graphite pencil, lip balm, liquid laundry soap or a bar of soap (trust me)
- A cloth or rag
- Small pliers
- Needle and thread
- Different sizes of replacement zipper sliders (you can find these cheap online)
Consider keeping these things together in one place, like a backpack first aid kit.
How to Fix a Backpack Zipper
Now that you’ve identified the problem and have your tool kit handy, it’s time to get to work.
If your zipper is pulling away from the backpack
If your zipper works, but is pulling away, secure it to the backpack with a few quick stitches. Later, you can give it more attention.
How to fix a backpack zipper caught on fabric
If you can see fabric caught in the slider, that’s a pretty easy fix.
First, try to tease the fabric out by jiggling the slider up and down. Be gentle! You don’t want to break the slider or catch more of the fabric in it.
If that doesn’t work, try gently pulling the fabric away from the slider.
How to fix a stuck or broken slider
What causes a slider to stick? Quite a few things, actually. These may include:
- Bent zipper teeth
- Dirt, debris, or grime between the teeth
- A bent slider
Your first line of defense is to lubricate the teeth. Were you wondering why lip balm is on your list of tools? This is it.
Lip balm, bar soap, liquid laundry soap, and graphite pencils can all act as a lubricant. Simply apply your lubricant of choice to the teeth near your stubborn slider and gently wiggle until the slider comes free.
But what if the zipper teeth are bent? It happens! If some of your zipper teeth are bent or sitting askew, use your pliers — again, gently! — to pull them straight. Then try the zipper to test your fix.
And a bent slider? What can you do about that?
The slider consists of front and a back pieces. As it travels along the track, the teeth slide between the pieces. But if one of the pieces becomes bent, the slider may stick, or it may fall off.
In this case, you’ll need to go to your toolkit, choose a new slider, and attach it. This video shows you how.
What if the zipper pull breaks off?
That’s easy! Thread a paperclip through the hole where the pull attaches, and use it instead. For a more permanent solution, use a key ring.
If the teeth don’t close or won’t stay closed
This problem is as common as it is annoying. But by now you already know the tricks we’re going to suggest.
First, check to see that there’s nothing caught in the teeth or the slider. If there is, gently remove it. Also clean away any grime or dirt.
Next, try your lubricant.
If that doesn’t work, check whether there are any bent teeth. Gently straighten them.
Finally, if the problem is with the slider itself, you may have to replace it.
An Ounce of Prevention
The best solution, of course, is to stop the problem before it happens.
First, avoid overstuffing the backpack. This can be hard when you have a toddler. But zipper stress is a major cause of bent teeth and sliders.
Next, check your zipper regularly to make sure it’s clean and that the teeth and slider are in good working order.
Finally, fix any ripped stitches, loose threads, or bent teeth as soon as you notice them.
A backpack fail is annoying, but it isn’t the end of the world, if you know how to fix a backpack zipper.
Featured image source: pixabay