How to Clean a Shredder

Using a shredder is important in order to get rid of those important papers in a flash without becoming the target of identity thieves or prying eyes. But if you don’t clean and maintain your shredder, you may become the one that’s prying, as in prying out the paper when it gets jammed inside the shredder. So, as for most things in life, preventative maintenance is best.

Cleaning your Shredder

Before you clean your shredder, be sure that it is turned off and unplugged if it has a cord. The only thing you want to shred in the machine is paper, not your fingers.

Once the machine is securely off, you should be able to disassemble it fairly easily by removing the lid from the main container. You simply lift it off in most cases. If you’re having trouble, don’t try to force the pieces apart and risk breaking the machine. Instead, consult the owner’s manual or call the manufacturer for assistance.

Your shredder shouldn’t require a good deal of cleaning, since as previously stated, the only thing that you – hopefully – is put inside it is paper. You should be able to clean off any ink smudges or dust with a cloth or paper towel and either a teaspoon of dish soap for hand washing mixed with lukewarm water, regular vinegar or rubbing alcohol.

If you’re using the water and dish soap solution, mix it in a cereal sized bowl using your hands or a spoon. Then dip a cloth or paper towel inside and wring it out so that it’s not dripping wet. If you’re using the vinegar or rubbing alcohol, you can simply pour the solution directly on the cloth, but not directly on the shredder.

Then use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe of any residue from the cleaning solution. Let the machine air dry or use a dry paper towel or cloth.

*To clean sharp or hard to reach areas, you may want to use a cotton swab.

Maintaining your Shredder

You should not have to clean your shredder very often, unless of course you spill something on it or in it. However, one thing that you do want to do on a regular basis is oil your shredder. It is recommended that you do this once a week, though more if you use your shredder a lot or have a tiny shredder that is more likely to get jammed up. More often than it being dirty, lack of lubrication is most likely the cause of most paper jams that will occur.

You will want to use a special kind of oil that is specifically made for paper shredders. It is conveniently known as “shredder oil.” Just pick up a bottle at your nearest office supply store. It is available in a dropper-type bottle or an aerosol can. Check your owner’s manual or ask an office supply store employee to determine which type of shredder oil will be best for your machine.

Oiling your Shredder

Applying shredder oil to the shredder is a fairly simple task, as long as you don’t spill it and end up with too much in your machine. There are two ways that you can accomplish this task.

Put the oil directly on the shredder

All you have to do is turn the bottle upside down and add a couple drops to the area where you insert the paper, just the inside of this area of course. Start on the left side of the opening and put in one or two drops, then continuously squeeze the bottle as you quickly move the bottle from left to right. (Think about how you would apply glue to a piece of paper. You want enough that it will do its job, but not so much that it is damp and seeps through the paper.)

Run the oil through on a piece of paper

If you don’t feel comfortable squirting shredder oil directly into the shredder, you can squirt it on a piece of paper instead. Don’t saturate the entire sheet of paper with the oil. That will be way too much. Instead, “paint” stripes in a diagonal pattern on the paper every two inches or so. Or, if you’re using the aerosol can, go ahead and lightly coat the entire sheet. Key word: lightly.

Once you’re done putting the oil on the paper, just run it through the shredder as normal. (Of course, if you’re going to go this route, you will have to turn the shredder back on first.)

Clean off any excess oil

To remove any buildup of shredder oil from your machine, all you have to do is run two or three pieces of paper through it as normal. (Of course, use pieces of paper you don’t care about, since they will probably become a gloppy mess.)

That’s it. Enjoy your clean paper shredder, and keep up the good work.


  1. Instead of oil, try the shredder cleaning sheets – it’s a lot less messy. They run through just like a piece of paper.

  2. WD-40 on a piece of paper works.

  3. How do you clean the sticky stuff in your shredder????

  4. Melanie says:

    I’m guessing that the sticky stuff is the adhesive on mailing envelopes and the like. The dish liquid, vinegar or rubbing alcohol could work on the sticky stuff. Try each one until you find the one that works for your specific type of adhesive.
    Source: houzz – Paper Shredder

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