How to Lubricate Zippers Correctly?

how to lubricate zipper

Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link.

When it comes to camping or even everyday life, not many things are more frustrating than having a broken zipper. Once you understand how to lubricate zippers, you can set up all your gear and clothing to have the perfect sliding motion. Additionally, it should be much easier for you to open and close the bags or gear.

Whether you spend a lot of time outdoors or if you simply carry bags around every day, you are bound to run into a broken zipper. By following some of the top tips and methods that we provide, you can avoid zipper-related issues. Here, you can find some of the top ways and instructions that will make your zippers work smoothly.

Anatomy of the Zipper

anatomy of the zipper

Before you look at some of the methods to keep your zipper safe, you will need to understand the anatomy of a zipper. While not all zippers might have the same design and features, many of them are similar in some way or another. If you understand the smaller components, it will be much easier to fix your zippers.

  • Slider: The slider is the part of the zip that generally moves up and down.
  • Teeth: The teeth section is the part of the zip that is often sewn to the fabric.
  • Stop: The stop is the section at the bottom of the zip that keeps the zip from moving further than it should.
  • Insertion Pin: This section is what we call the zipper, and it is the component that connects the teeth.
  • Crown: The section that is used for the pull-tab to connect to the zipper and make it easier to move.
  • Pull-Tab: You will use the pull-tab to move the zipper up and down when you are opening or closing the unit.
  • Tape Extension: The tape extension is one of the longer parts of the zipper, and it is generally found on camping gear.
  • Chain: The chain is the ensemble one refers to once the zipper is fully closed and forms an almost solid chain.

The anatomy of the zipper might not be the most important part of the unit. If you want to understand why zippers fail, you might need to know this. It is also helpful when looking at the best ways to lubricate a zipper and will help you understand what to target.

Why Do Zippers Fail: Top 4 Reasons

Once you have the basics of the zipper under your belt, you should also understand why they fail. Most zippers often fail due to simple things happening. We have identified a couple of these reasons that will make most of your zippers fail. You will understand how they fail and which part of the zipper should be targeted:

1. Pull-Tab Breaks

One of the first issues is that the pull-tab breaks. We don’t always zip up clothing in a cautious manner, and when you pull the zipper of your clothing, you might find that it accidentally clips out from the crown. Most of the time, you can fix the pull-tab by fixing it to the crown, but many times it might just completely break off the holding mechanism.

2. Teeth can’t Close

Much like the other things in life, you might notice that the zipper teeth will often wear out. Once they are worn, they do not attach directly to the insertion pin. It can be hard to fix these zippers, and you might need to take them to a tailor to reinstall different zippers.

3. The Slider Falls Off

One of the most common issues will occur when the slider falls off. You will need to reattach the unit. Generally, you can remove the pin at the end of the zipper. Once the “STOP” is removed, you should be able to slide it on once again.

4. Sliders Catch Fabric

Nothing is more annoying than sliders attaching to the fabric. Generally, this is one of the easiest ways to fix a zipper, and you will only need to pull it gently. Do not be vigorous when pulling the zipper as you might damage or break the zipper. In some cases, the fabric can also tear.

Lubricant for Zippers

Before you start to lubricate your zipper, you need to understand which things can be used as zipper lubricants. There are a couple of household things that one can use for lubricating your zipper at home. Here are some of the most common things that you can use to apply to your zipper that acts as a lubricant.


The candle is one of the most common household products. However, it is commonly made from wax, and when refined, the wax can make a great lubricant. Since the wax will remain on the zipper for a while, you should use a white candle. The Amazon Basics Unscented White Tealight Candles  are white and unscented, which makes them a great option.

Lip Balm

lip balm

Lip balm is another thing that almost everyone has in their home. It has a smooth texture, and the texture will make it possible for you to create some lubricant for your zipper.

Olive Oil

If you have something like the Pompeian Smooth Extra Virgin Olive Oil you will be able to create some lubrication for your zipper. Olive oil is effective for cooking, but it has many uses. We would recommend that you only apply a few drops and move the zipper up and down. Adding too much olive oil can lead to a mess.

Window Cleaner

You might not think that cleaning products can work, but the Windex Cleaning Products have an oil base. The oily substance in the cleaning product can be added to your zipper. It should be much easier to apply due to the spray. Keep in mind that it might lead to discoloration in sensitive fabrics.

Zipper-Specific Lubricant

While some of the products mentioned above can be used as zipper lubricant, you might need to find a product that is dedicated specifically to the zipper. There are many products on the market today. However, the Zipper Lubricant and Zip Wax Marine Grade Lube is one of the best products on the market today, and it is easy to apply.

The Frog Lube Wipes are another alternative, and they feature a wipe design that is laced with lubricant. It works well for steel zippers due to the balm that will offer protection. According to the manufacturer, it should be perfect for reducing corrosion and making it last longer.

4 Steps to Lubricate Zippers

Now that you have a little more insight on the zipper and which lubricant you need to use, you might need to understand how to apply the lubricant. We have created a small guide that will guide you. The following step-by-step guide should make it possible for you to add grease correctly and get some better performance from the zipper:

1. Clean the Zipper

clean the zipper

One of the first things you will need to do is clean the zipper. Often, it might not even need lubrication, and you will only need to remove a few dirt particles. Unfortunately, everyday life will force you to enter dirty surroundings, and some of these particles might build up. Rust can also be frustrating, but when you keep the zipper clean, you will automatically see an improvement in the motion.

2. Apply the Lubricant

Depending on which lubricant you are using, you will now be in the position to apply the lubricant. When it comes to applying the lubricant, you should pull the zipper down as much as possible. Once the zipper is at the stop, you can apply the grease to the teeth. The teeth are the main part that will use the lubricant when the zipper moves.

Additionally, you will move the zipper up and down when the teeth have been lubricated, and it should move much more rapidly. You must try to lubricate every part of the tooth to make it move better.

3. Leave it on the Zipper

You might be tempted to remove the wax and the other substances from the zipper and teeth once you are done. However, you should leave it on the zipper to keep it lubricated. If it does not stay lubricated, you will need to reapply it to the zipper.

PS: When using candle wax or lip balm, we recommend that you wipe the zipper after a while. Wax will naturally harden when you leave it, and this could be frustrating when you are moving your zipper up and down.

4. Reapply as Needed

Finally, zipper lubricants will not last forever, and once you feel that the zipper is stuck again, you might want to add some grease to the unit again. The more you use the zipper, the more zipper lubricant should be applied.


With most clothing and outdoor gear, the zipper is one of the most important things you need to look after. If your zipper is working, the rest of your gear should also work much better. These methods should make it possible to keep your zipper lubricated. We hope we answered all the questions you had and that now you know how to lubricate your zippers like a pro.

Previous articleHow Should Chacos Fit? 5 Tips to Find Your Sandals
Next articleWhat are Switchbacks While Hiking?