Related: How do I quickly open or close a jammed zipper?:

In an emergency situation, what would be the fastest way to open a zipper, provided that the use of the pull tab is disabled, and access to the top stop and box pin are inaccessible?

Zipper Terminology
(source: zippersource.com)

Neglecting issues of damage to what lies behind the zipper, is there a specific method by which to easily separate the teeth with an instrument such as a knife from the middle? Where easily is defined as factor of minimal applied force and accessibility of said tool.

  • 1
    Hmm, in my limited experience with this issue, I've just pulled the two sides away from the zipper in opposite directions and usually just unzips itself pretty easily. The times I've had real trouble is when the zipper is stuck on both sides of the teeth, then it's like very hard to pull it apart.
    Sep 16, 2015 at 9:53
  • Some of the confusion with this question is with the term "pull tab". Many people, including sewing stores, often refer to the part the moves as the "pull tab". It isn't though. The part the moves is called the "slider", and the "pull tab" is the handle that attaches to it. To make it worse, the image is missing a label for the slider. ¶ So by "without pull tab" in this question really means "without access to the slider". I.e. how does one open a closed zipper when only the middle part of it can be accessed? (Or at least that's my understanding of what's actually being asked.) Apr 12, 2023 at 2:54

4 Answers 4


Use a paper clip - If the zipper is not stuck and the issue is just with a pull tab missing or not being functional.

Insert it into the area where the pull tab attaches with the zipper slider and it will perform just like the pull tab. For zippers that need a lot of force, use proportionately stronger paper clips.

I have used this successfully for opening suitcases that have missing pull tabs.

  • "insert [] where the pull tab attaches []" - maybe it was poorly phrased, but my question was asking what to do if the only accessible part was the teeth itself. That said though, this answer does work even by inserting paper clip with force into the teeth... Don't think the zipper I tested it on will ever work properly again though. Sep 16, 2015 at 14:37
  • 1
    You can also use a pen, or something else with a pointy tip. And done correctly you can actually use zipper again, possibly with a new pull tab.
    – holroy
    Sep 16, 2015 at 16:57

I've had success doing this by jamming a very skinny nail or needle into the teeth.

  • Could you give a more detailed explanation of how you opened the zipper using a nail? Sep 16, 2015 at 23:37

Insert the ring of a key chain into the zipper slot.


use your nails, place it at the beginning of the zipper and slide to the end worked in 5 seconds.

  • Hi anymous, Welcome to Lifehacks. Your answer was downvoted due to it's lacking enough detail for a novice to do successfully. Are the nails your fingernails? What is "it?" Where is the beginning of the zipper? Does "slide" mean the zipper "slide" or is it something you do (slide - the verb)? Which end do you mean—the open position or the closed position? A picture or diagram would be helpful.
    – Stan
    Sep 25, 2018 at 16:40
  • Also note that in this case there is no "beginning of the zipper". Both ends, including the slide are hidden, and the zipper must be opened from the middle. Apr 12, 2023 at 12:54

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