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Fix frozen zipper stuck from salt spray or corrosion

Intro / synopsis: Zippers are often exposed to corrosive conditions and, with the exception of plastic zippers (which lack the strength for a lot of applications), they are metal and tend to gum up with corrosion products like white rust.

WD-40 [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] is a well-known lubricant and can often help, but actually removing the corrosion products with vinegar [in bulk on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] (a mild acid) and a toothbrush is also suggested here. Periodic application of beeswax [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] or other wax can reduce the exposure of the metal and slow the formation of those sticky corrosion products.

Q. Hi. I've got a rollerblade bag from the 90's that worked great for years. One season in our old garage and it no longer works.

It is nylon and doesn't show any damage. It is frozen in place a few inches from the top. I have tried the soap and some vinegar [in bulk on eBay or Amazon (adv.)].

Is it possible it melted in place? Got any other suggestions? I attach a photo:

rollerblade bag 2b   rollerblade bag 2a  

The bag is in good shape for its age and the rollerblades are inside awaiting a ride. Haha

Ella Smith
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin
April 30, 2023

A. Hi Ella.
No, I'm sure garages aren't holt enough to melt plastic zippers; and I don't see much evidence of severe corrosion in those photos either. Is there a chance that the cloth is caught in the zipper? Reach a finger through the opening to the underside of the zipper and try to feel if something is stalled on the track. That's my guess :-)
Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

⇩ Related postings, oldest first ⇩

"Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty"
by Robert D. Friedel
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Q. I am having great difficulty dissolving crystallized salt spray from the inside of the zippers of my boat bimini top. The zip-in side curtains have never been used and, therefore, have six years worth of weathering. The zipper itself is plastic and in fine condition, but the zipper "pull" is metal and "seized" from the salt air/spray.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Richard Garnett
Personal/Boater - Jackson, New Jersey

Q. I have a frozen zipper as well, corroded by sea salt. How does one fix this?


Curt Dommeyer
- Manhattan Beach, California

WD-40 in bulk
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A. Please try WD-40 [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] gentlemen. If it's brass it can be cleaned up with chemicals. If it's aluminum and WD-40 cannot get it moving at all, I think you have little hope. Actually, Richard, you are not seeing crystallized salt. Salt is instantly soluble in water.

Most likely it is aluminum corrosion products that look a lot like dried salt. Once the original lubricants are gone, if the aluminum starts corroding into voluminous corrosion products, the corroded parts are actually bigger than the raw parts so they don't fit anymore, but WD-40 can hopefully getting them going again and the corrosion products will then wear away with use.

Good luck.

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Muriatic (Hydrochloric) Acid
on eBay or


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A. For those of you who want to repair corroded delrin type and/or metal zippers, try dilute muriatic acid [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] (approx. 10 parts water to 1 part muriatic acid). Make sure to wear rubber gloves [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] and goggles [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] and apply with a soft-bristle tooth brush ONLY to the zipper. Avoid any cloth material because the acid will degrade that material pretty quickly. You'll probably see some reaction on the heavily mineralized portions of the zipper, but keep applying until the zipper is freed up.

I live in one of the most corrosive environments in the world and all of zippers eventually fall prey to corrosion, but this technique does work. Two rules, be patient and protect your skin and eyes. Muriatic acid is potent stuff, so make sure to dilute it! As well, remember your Chemistry 101 basics and always pour the 1 part acid INTO the 10 parts of water. Good Luck.

Dan Harding
- Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
February 18, 2008

thumbs up sign  WD-40 [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] and heat gun [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] or hair dryer. Worked great THANK YOU! ! !

Ron Brown
- Redondo Beach, California
July 31, 2009

thumbs up signGreat results! I read all the above responses, and started experimenting on my husband's dive equipment bag that had every zipper solidly frozen.

I used water, a tooth brush, and all I had was apple cider vinegar [in bulk on eBay or Amazon (adv.)], but I gave it a shot. I first used water to dissolve as much as possible right around the metal zipper pulls on the plastic zipper. I used a pin to take off chunks. I then poured the vinegar around the areas. I just hoped for the best while expecting little while waiting as one response had said--overnight.

My husband approached me when I least expected it, saying that all zippers now opened easily! No WD-40 needed, which he had not wanted due to the oily nature.

The water and vinegar solved the problem amazingly!!! I probably would have cut the bag to get the equipment and bought a new bag had it not been for this site!

Linda Simpson
- Laguna Beach, California
May 30, 2015

Marine Aluminum Restorer and Polish
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Q. I have aluminium zippers on my Caravan. The pull tab is aluminum and the zipper teeth are plastic and the pull tab has got aluminium oxide build up between the pull tab and the plastic teeth I have tried silicone spray, WD-40, and still the zippers won't budge. Before, when we got the van, they jammed up and I managed to free them as there was not that much aluminium oxide build up on them so after freeing the sippers last time I rubbed candle wax all over the zipper and they worked fine ... but after leaving them for awhile they have corroded up again. This time they will not budge as per everything I done in my description above. We do not live by the sea, we live inland -- boiling hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. Can anybody suggest something on how I can free up the zippers please?

Brian Stocks
- Willow Tree N.S.W. Australia
January 23, 2018

A. I finally got my zippers freed up. I bought some calcium and lime scale remover [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] powder and diluted it down 50 mil of water then just the tip of a teaspoon of powder then used a syringe and put a few drops between the zipper and the pull tab, gave it a tap after leaving for 5 minutes, it then came free. I then sprayed the area with water to dilute what was on the zipper and material. I then sprayed silicone spray [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] on the zipper teeth and the zipper now moves freely.

Brian Stocks [returning]
- Willow Tree N.S.W. Australia [returning]
February 7, 2018

A. Had salt water air corroded/stuck zipper on a kite bag. Read everything. Looked in my wife's pantry. Only rice vinegar [in bulk on eBay or Amazon (adv.)], so tried that. Saturated all entry points of zipper-pull with zipper using syringe to apply drops. No luck. Then heated area with blow-dryer [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)]. With a little effort the 1st stuck zipper was free. Cleaned white powder on zipper with same vinegar using Q-tips [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)]. Repeated application-soak x 10 min, heating to remaining stuck zipper and it too was free.

Paul Stobie
- Kihei, Hawaii USA

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A. If and when you get the zipper to move, use pure bees wax [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] and apply it on both sides of the zipper after heating it up in a small sauce pan and run the zipper up and down several times so the bees wax gets in between the teeth of the zipper. If it is a metal zipper, I have used a product called Blaster [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] which is like WD-40 but works better to loosen rust or electrolysis between metals.

peter yzerman
Automotive Tech - Port Hueneme, California USA
December 13, 2018

thumbs up sign  I found this thread after trying to find a solution to a zipper that was stuck fast from 7 years on a pontoon boat and despite a good spray of WD-40, which didn't make any difference, decided to try vinegar. I soaked the zip in a container of white vinegar for several hours and was delighted when my husband said it had worked. Had to go and see for myself as I didn't believe him...and lo 'n behold it was now working again.

Lyn Bayens
- Mandurah, Western Australia
October 20, 2019

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A. CLR, toothbrush , and Singer sewing machine oil worked on mine for a suitcase. The zip pulls had turned green with corrosion and stuck fast. CLR [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] dissolves it instantly but it took a few goes to get the corrosion dissolved inside the zip. I just kept spraying, brushing, then dripping the oil on.

Jo Smith
- Bundaberg. QLD. Australia
December 3, 2019

thumbs up sign Success on fixing a frozen zipper. Thank you for your suggestions I have fixed a zip on an outdoor couch cover similar to heavy duty type caravanning awnings. It is a very solid zip but was stuck shut. I followed the advice and soaked the stuck end of the zip overnight in white vinegar [in bulk on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] and to my surprise the next day I was able to unzip it. Once the zip was dry of the vinegar I used a lead pencil and transferred as much graphite as I could up the entire length of the zip. Works well. Thanks again.

Jocylyn Noone
- Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
April 15, 2020

A. After using the muriatic acid and a pick to get the corrosion off, I tapped on the zipper with a wooden block and Hammer. It works! I would also suggest safety goggles [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)], and baking soda [in bulk on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] to stop acid reaction accidentally spilled on cloth, and lots of water.

Mark ahlert
- Houston Texas
October 20, 2020

Q. Assalamoalykum.
Titleist backpack Zipper jammed with Oxide corrosion.

corroded Titleist zipper 32107-1c corroded Titleist zipper 32107-1b corroded Titleist zipper 32107-1a

I hope that this issue is going to solve my problem. I have a backpack which was stored for couple of years and I suddenly found a need of it. But then as indicated in the query all the zippers were jammed with oxide corrosion. Please help me resolve and restore the backpack.


Syed Shazli
- Karachi Pakistan
October 4, 2020

A. Hi Azher. Based on the green/blue corrosion I'd guess that these zippers are brass with tin or nickel plating on them rather than aluminum. So I'd try the toothbrush and vinegar [in bulk on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] suggestions above. You might find that the WD-40 [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] doesn't hurt :-)

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

thumbs up sign WOW! The vinegar and toothbrush method really worked to free up the 3 zippers on my portable medical device bag. Thank you!

Georgetta Busler
- Brunswick Ohio
January 12, 2021

Door-Ease Lube Stik
on eBay or


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A. After reading through the thread, I tried dabbing CLR (product name for "calcium, lime, rust" remover) [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] on the zipper slide using q-tips [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)]. In seconds the deposits (whether they were corrosion or salt, I do not know) dissolved, and the zipper now slides easily.
Quick, non-toxic solution.
I rinsed off the remaining solution, dried with hair dryer [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)].
Sprayed a little WD-40 [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] on slide and lubricated the (plastic) zipper with a stick of "Slider Sticker". It's a sliding glass door track lubricant with Teflon.

Gary Brooks
- Cape Coral, Florida
September 29, 2021

thumbs up sign Repeated soakings with vinegar, WD-40, and a hair dryer worked on the heavily corroded zipper pull (nylon zipper) on my foul-weather jacket. Thanks to all for your suggestions!

N Anderson
Mariner - Any place we 'drop the hook'
October 12, 2021

thumbs up sign Application of the vinegar worked perfectly well in this case of corrosion of the zippers.

Srinivas Rao
hobbyist - Hyderabad, India
December 23, 2021

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