Rain, snow, mud, or sludge, my zippered riding boots have been my go-to shoes for these past few winter seasons. So you can imagine my dismay when last week I was trying to zip them up over my skinny jeans and the zipper got stuck midway up its track. No matter what type of brute force I tried to exert, every time I tried to zip the zipper it simply would not budge. Unable to fix the problem myself, I took my boots to my local cobbler where he quoted me a whopping $60 to replace the zipper–60 bucks—I don’t think so! After all, for 60 bucks I could probably shop the end of season shoe sales and get myself a brand spanking new pair of zippered riding boots. I was about to chuck my broken boots in the Goodwill pile, when one of my fellow shoe loving friends saved the day (and my bank account) by suggesting an economical, at-home remedy for sticky zippers using Band-Aid brand Friction Block Stick. And guess what? It worked. While your mileage may vary, you should definitely give this trick a shot before paying for a cobbler or sending your boots to the saddest place on earth—the shoe graveyard. Since I know you appreciate options, I’ve also included some other easy DIY options to fix stuck zippers on boots, jackets, purses, jeans, or any other zippered item causing you grief.

  • Band-Aid Brand First Aid Friction Block Stick Method: Pick up a Band-Aid brand First Aid Friction Block Stick ($4.76 at Walmart.com) from your local drugstore. The Friction Block Stick looks like a mini-deodorant stick and contains a waxy substance that is supposed to be rubbed on blister- or chafing-prone areas of your feet and body. To un-stick a stuck zipper, rub the Friction Block Stick up and down the track of both sides of your stuck zipper and then start gently shimmying the zipper up and down.
  • Candle Wax Method: Rub an (unlit) candle up and down the teeth on both sides of your stuck zipper. The wax from the candle should help the zipper glide back into place. I recommend using a natural colored candle, since the wax from a colored candle could rub off on your boots/purse/zippered jacket and stain the material.
  • Beeswax Lip Balm Method: Rub a clear-colored, beeswax lip balm stick (cherry colored lip balm could stain!) up and down the teeth on both sides of your stuck zipper. If you have beeswax lip balm in a pot, that will work too. Just stick a cotton swab in the pot and rub it up and down the teeth on both sides your stuck zipper.
  • Graphite Pencil Method: Rub the pencil tip from a traditional (non-mechanical) graphite pencil up and down the teeth on both sides your stuck zipper. I’ve found that this method works best on stuck metal zippers rather than stuck plastic zippers.
  • Crayon Method: Rub a crayon up and down the teeth of both sides your stuck zipper. Use a crayon the same color as the fabric the zipper is attached to in case any rubs off on it.
  • Bar of Soap Method: Rub a bar of soap up and down the teeth of both sides your stuck zipper. Use a translucent or natural-colored bar of soap to help prevent staining.
  • Windex Method: Of all the methods listed above, the Windex method is the most heavy-duty method. If you’re lucky, it will help unstick your very stuck zipper that wouldn’t even budge with the other methods. First, spot-test the fabric surrounding the stuck zipper to see if it is damaged or stained by the Windex. If all is good to go, soak the fabric surrounding the zipper with Windex and then very slowly pull the zipper in the “un-zip” direction. You will need to pull down the zipper in increments. Each time you pull on the zipper, maintain tension on the zipper and try to pull it just past the point where you think it won’t go. Relax your grip and then repeat this process until you have worked your way all the way down the zipper.

Note: With all of these methods, you should spot-test the fabric first to make sure the candle wax/bar of soap/beeswax lip balm/etc. does not damage the fabric surrounding the zipper. Suede fabrics and silk are especially prone to damage or staining from these lubricating agents, so proceed with caution.