How To Get A Backpack Zipper Unstuck While On The Go

When you're in a rush to pack your bags and head to the airport, there's nothing more anxiety-inducing than a stuck zipper on your backpack or luggage. Before you start frantically unpacking your bag and tossing items aside to quell the angry zipper gods, there are a few hacks you can try with some everyday items lying around the house.

First up, check for any bit of fabric that may have gotten caught in the teeth. If you can't see any, coat the zipper with a bit of hand soap, dish soap, or laundry soap mixed with water — whatever cleaning agent you have on hand. Chapstick or petroleum jelly are good backups. Even WD-40 will work. Sometimes, dirt and debris can work their way into the metal or plastic, leaving the zipper a bit stiff. In this case, all it should take is a little lubrication to come unstuck. If you have time to throw your luggage in the laundry, even better, provided that it's machine-washable, of course.

Try a pencil or pliers

If you don't have any soap, grease, or jelly available, ask someone for a plain 'ol graphite pencil, preferably the traditional wooden variety. Use the writing end to draw on the teeth where the zipper won't budge. As well, twirl the pencil around in a circle between the zipper and the track, releasing graphite dust. Give the zipper a few tugs up and down. Repeat until you get some movement. Similar to a cleaning agent, the graphite acts like a lubricant.

If the harder you try, the more stubborn the zipper becomes, the problem might just be bent zipper teeth. In this case, grab a pair of pliers and gently pull the teeth back into their correct position. Don't pull too hard, as you could risk damaging the zipper beyond repair. A pair of pliers will also work if the zipper becomes too loose, failing to hold the teeth in place. All you have to do is close the gap on the slider so it can hug the track properly. Hello, secure luggage.