Zipper Stripper

Q: Over the past year, I have had trouble with zippers that won’t go up. While a few of them are made of metal, most of them are constructed of nylon. I have replaced several zippers but feel there can’t be that many defective zippers. Can you please help me find a solution as I cannot continue to replace these zippers?

A: Most zipper problems can be traced back to solvent charge and crushed slides approximately 95 percent of the time.

Zippers that stick or won’t go up usually result because the lubricant is being removed from the metal zipper teeth by the solvent.

You may buy a lubricating stick from your supplier to correct the problem. If the zippers are sticking frequently, or if the damage is happening on nylon zippers, it is a good idea to check the detergent charge in your machine. This can be done through titration.

If the detergent charge is fine, then we need to look at some other issues that may be causing the problem. This can be done by setting up a zipper inspection procedure for a few days. Pay close attention to which work station is noticing the damage.

For example:

  • Have the customer service representatives inspect each zipper when receiving the order.
  • Have the tagger test the zippers prior to cleaning.
  • Have the drycleaner test the zippers prior to and after the cleaning cycle.
  • If the zippers are sticking after the cleaning cycle, check the detergent charge as noted previously.
  • Have the pressers check the zippers both before and after the pressing process. If it is being noticed after pressing, pay attention to how the items are being handled on the press.
  • Check to see if the same person is pressing the garments that are getting damaged. Often, there is one person in the plant who is a “floater” and only presses when there is heavy volume.
  • This situation would explain why zippers are not getting damaged all the time. If this is the case, review the pressing procedure with the employee to avoid further damage.
  • Check to ensure that the entire zipper pull is positioned off the pressure point of the press. The pressure point is the area of fabric located immediately under the head of the press. If not, this may be the cause of the damage. Whenever possible, overlap the zipper plackets so the zipper teeth are covered prior to closing the head of the press.
  • Check the condition of the press padding. Worn out pads are more likely to mash or crush the zipper teeth than resilient padding.
  • Make sure the pressure gauge on the press is adjusted to a setting that allows for adequate pressure for the type of fabric, yet won’t mash or crush the components of the zipper. Too much head pressure can result in damaged zippers.
  • Check to see if the items are being pressed on a drycleaning hothead or a laundry hothead press. Laundry hothead presses are about 25 degrees hotter than drycleaning hothead presses and can damage nylon zippers.