How to unjam a shredder

shredded paper

5th January 2017

4 Minutes

Whatever business you’re in, there are always going to be documents that you need to dispose of securely. For most offices the easiest, cheapest and most secure way of doing this is to use a shredder, but unfortunately, these are prone to suffering from a paper jam from time to time. The main paper shredder jam causes tend to be:

  • Putting in too many sheets of paper
  • Shredding the wrong materials
  • Not oiling (lubricating) your shredder

Shredder jams can be especially inconvenient when you have a large volume of sensitive material to destroy, plus fixing a shredder’s paper jam can also be a very fiddly and time-consuming business. Here’s our guide to how to unjam a paper shredder, as well as how to minimise the risk of one happening at all.

How to unjam a shredder

It’s a familiar situation. You’re half way through a huge pile of paper which needs to be destroyed and suddenly, without any prior warning, the shredder is jammed. But there’s no need to panic, you just need to follow a few simple steps to clear it.

1. Unplug the shredder

shredder unplug

This is the first and most important part of any attempt at fixing a paper jam. That’s because once you start to investigate the cause it could possibly start working again unexpectedly with potentially very dangerous results for you.

2. Empty the wastebasket

Shredder wastebin

Quite often the simple cause of a jammed shredder is that the wastebasket is full. Empty the wastebasket, reconnect the shredder to the mains and see if this has resolved the problem.

3. Switch to reverse


If the shredder jam has still not been solved then try running it in reverse – most have a control that let you do this and it may well shift the blockage. There is, however, a risk that it may make the paper shredder jam a little worse.

4. If the shredder jams in reverse switch back to auto/forward

shredder auto

If it’s now jammed in both directions you should then alternate between working it backwards and forwards as this can often shift the jam after a few attempts.

5. Reduce the thickness of your load before re-shredding

shredder light load

Do not feed in more paper than the machine can handle – giving it too much at once can cause paper to get jammed in the blades.

What if my shredder paper jam cannot fix itself?

If your shredder cannot unjam itself, you will need to do this manually.

1. Unplug your shredder

2. Remove the top shredding section

3. Use a pair of tweezers to remove all jammed strands of paper from the blades

4. Cut all curled pieces of paper

5. If plastic is causing the jam, use a screwdriver to clear the block

6. Use shredder oil to lubricate the blades

7. Set the shredder in reverse

8. Feed through a single sheet of paper to see if the jam is cleared

Want to know more about how to unjam a shredder? Our FAQs below has answers to some of the most common queries.

How to lubricate a shredder

Lubricating your shredder will help prevent jams and allow the paper to smoothly run through.

1. Turn the shredder on

2. Feed a shredder oil sheet through the shredder

3. Wait for the entire oiled sheet to shred

4. Feed through a few sheets of plain paper to absorb the excess oil

5. Turn off shredder

6. By hand, apply lubricating oil to the top of the blades

7. Switch shredder on in reverse to evenly distribute oil

8. Feed through a few sheets to absorb any excess oil

What should/shouldn’t I feed into the shredder?

One of the main reasons why you may have a jammed shredder is down to what you’ve fed into it.

Safe to shredBe careful when shredding
PaperCredit cards
Greetings cardsCDs/DVDs
ReceiptsLaminated card
Thin cardboardFolded sheets of paper

What other steps can I take to prevent a shredder jam?

Feeding paper in too quickly can cause problems so take care to ensure that the machine has completed shredding one batch of paper before you introduce the next. Another handy tip is to avoid crumpling up paper before you shred it as the machines operate far more efficiently with smooth sheets.

Hopefully the tips we’ve given you here will help to make next time your shredder is jammed a little easier to fix.

Make sure you safely get rid of your sensitive data – discover
our range of shredders today.

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