Paper shredders are used in the home and in offices to protect identities and confidential information contained in documents that are to be discarded. Paper shredders cut documents into small strips or confetti-like shapes that are nearly impossible to reconstruct. Some paper shredders can also shred other items that may contain important information, such as computer CD-ROMs or CD-RWs and DVDs. Paper shredders need little maintenance, except occasional cleaning and oiling of the cutting blades.

Check for obvious problems; make sure the shredder is plugged into an electrical outlet. Plug the shredder in and then set the shredder to "automatic." Feed paper into the shredder to make sure that the shredder is operating properly.

Verify that the shredder is not jammed with paper, which can cause some shredders to stop operating. Turn off the shredder and unplug it from the electrical outlet. Remove any pieces of paper that you can see by grasping the paper and pulling it out.

Set the shredder to "manual" and then plug the shredder into an electrical outlet. Switch between forward and reverse on the shredder to remove any remaining paper. Repeat the process until all paper is removed from the cutting blades. Oil the cutting blades using machine oil to ensure they operate smoothly to avoid paper jams.

Empty the paper receptacle basket because some shredder models will not operate if the basket is full. Place the shredder back on the basket according to manufacturer's instructions; some shredders will not operate if installed improperly on the basket.

Turn the shredder power switch to the "off" position and allow it to cool down if it has over-heated. Wait about 30 minutes for the machine to cool off. Make sure there is no paper jam while the machine is cooling down. Oil the cutting blades after the shredder cools down to avoid paper jams and ensure smooth operation of the blades.


Preventative maintenance, such as oiling the cutting blades, will help improve shredder performance.

Empty the shredder basket regularly to avoid small pieces of paper becoming lodged in the cutting blades.


Never attempt to perform maintenance on a shredder while it is plugged into an electrical outlet.

Never place your fingers near the cutting blades when the shredder is plugged in or operating.

Never attempt to clear a paper jam with your hands while the shredder is plugged in or operating.

Never shred an item that your shredder is not designed to handle.

Remove all staples and paper clips from documents before shredding to avoid damaging the cutting blades or causing a paper jam.