My old dirty salt encrusted daypack looks new again and ALL the zippers work perfectly!

Saving Stuck Zippers

A while back,  I pulled our old daypack out of its storage place and found it was totally salt-encrusted and water stained. None of the zippers would budge. That wasn’t going to work.

A couple years ago we’d won a new one and this one got thrown under the bed and forgotten; now we wanted to use both. Oops! I was afraid it was just a goner.

Figuring that I had nothing to lose, I soaked the daypack in some hot vinegar water for an hour, and that got the two largest of the three zippers working.

I used a 5 gallon bucket and put almost a quart of cider vinegar* in it, then added boiling water (I’m guessing about 3 gallons — it’s not rocket science) and then added the daypack and used our grill tongs to push it down into the water. A couple of times during that soak time I used the tongs to swish things around.

On the third zipper, Dave squirted straight vinegar into the zip pull and then used pliers to pull. Now it works too!

Daypack-after-washingFiguring that the daypack was already totally wet, I ran it through the washer on gentle then dried it in the dryer (normal heat). Looks great and all works perfectly — I just put a bit of ZipCare on the zippers to keep them from having problems again. Woo-hoo! (Read about ZipCare here; buy it from Amazon here.)

*Cider vinegar is more acidic than distilled white vinegar, making it a better choice for dissolving salt encrustation.

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  • Jan Bogart
    Posted at 01 October 2014 Reply

    Good to know. i’ve thrown quite a few items out. thanks….

  • Chris&Janet
    Posted at 01 October 2014 Reply

    A light coating of Chapstick on the teeth will delay a recurrence for quite some time. The crystals generally won’t form, or they will fall off. Also the coating includes UV shield.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 02 October 2014 Reply

      The biggest problem with using Chapstick is that it will attract dirt and sand, which in turn can jam the zipper. All depends on where you are whether that’s likely to be a problem.

  • Barbara Lowell
    Posted at 02 October 2014 Reply

    Wow so great. I use vinegar a lot but didn’t know that ACV was more acidic. Thanx great rehab story. I like WD40 for zippers sometimes too depending on the situation, more for metal corrosion.

  • Louise
    Posted at 07 October 2014 Reply

    Great tip! It would have never occurred to me to try this. Oh, vinegar, is there anything you can’t do? 🙂

  • Frank Collins
    Posted at 17 May 2015 Reply

    Go to your dollar or any cheap store and get some candlesticks. Rub the candles on the teeth of the zippers and they will work good as new

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 18 May 2015 Reply

      Wax will work in a pinch, but I’ve found the liquid gets down in the zipper much bettter and doesn’t hold dirt in.

  • Charlotte Caldwell
    Posted at 19 September 2017 Reply

    We just had a zipper issue with our Bimini. It was a test of will to get them unfrozen despite the (intermittent) care we gave them. The issue was not the big fat plastic zipper, it was the metal zipper pull which had corroded, on all of them. We used vinegar, WD40, rust remover, and the damn things just stayed shut. It took liberal amounts of zipper grease, plus one person holding and one person pulling( with pliers) before they budged. Never again! I really thought we were going to have to cut them open ( of course this was hurricane prep, otherwise the Bimini stays on). Why don’t they make the zipper pulls stainless or heavy plastic, for marine use?

  • Cathy Coyne Wehle
    Posted at 20 September 2017 Reply

    Good info

  • Pauline Kussrow
    Posted at 20 September 2017 Reply

    Dylan Kussrow

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