How to Unclog a Paper Shredder

Let’s straight discuss how you can unclog a paper shredder.

How to Unclog a Paper Shredder?

Sometimes, the paper shredder gets clogged, although small-sized shredder gets stuck too often in comparison to the larger/heavy purpose shredding machine. The problem affects you in many ways like it holds up your shredding process, irritates the colleagues in the office, etc.


But the clogged paper shredder can get unclogged by applying certain methods. Start from a simple step method to check if the problem is small. But sometimes detailed checking is needed to get the root cause because of which a shredder is not working over the paper bundle.

Here in this article, we have discussed some solutions that can be applied in case your shredder stops working. But before applying any solution, must unplug your shredder to avoid further worse condition and to avoid stuck paper inside the shredder.

Solution One: Check over the Waste Basket

Sometimes the problem is very simple, because of which paper shredder stops working. Like this one, which is a very common and easily resolved issue.

  • After unplugging the switch look over the wastebasket

  • If it is empty the problem is at some other part

  • But if the wastebasket is full, then it is the reason behind the clogged shredder

  • When the basket is overloaded with shreds, it stuck the system as the coming paper doesn’t find any place to go further after the shredding process
  • Simply, empty this basket and refix it at the place again (if it is removable)

  • Then start the process again

Solution Two: Use ‘Reverse’ and ‘forward/auto’ options

This solution is only applicable to some (modern) products that come along with the built-in options of reverse and forward.

  • In the first step, switch towards ‘reverse’ (use the button over shredder that is added for this purpose only) option

  • Plug the switch again

  • Reversing the shredders sometimes clear the jam inside (usually work over minor jams only)
  • But if you still feel some clog, unplug again the shredder

  • This time press the ‘forward/auto’ button (the button description worries from product to product)

  • Now, plug the switch again

  • Keep switching (for some time) between these two ‘reverse’ and ‘forward’ options until the clogged shredder comes under the normal condition again
  • After this, use a paper to check how much the solution has worked

Solution Three: Reduce the amount of paper that you are inserting inside a shredder

This is another simple cause that stuck or clog a shredding machine. Sometimes people feed too many paper bundles for shredding, in a single go. This overload or larger amount of paper insertion starts jamming the system and becomes a problem quickly.

To check whether this is the reason behind jam or not reduce the paper amount or smaller the size of a paper bundle. Then after inserting this small paper bundle (at a single go) starts the shredding system again, if it works normally again, then the problem is resolved.

Solution Four: Manually (many options like cleaning) unclog the shredder

When you see that the above discussed simple applicable methods haven’t given you the solution. Then move forward towards manual options. Because manually cleaning the shredders often gives results.

To apply this method, use the following discussed steps, and stops at the step where you get the solution.

  • First of all, unplug the shredder (like we did in previous methods). Because it’s needed for the safety measures. Shredders have shard blades inside, when you clean them manually with a switch on, they may cause any harm or accident.

  • In the next step, remove the shredding mechanical portion (top shredding portion). Modern shredding machines (usually) contain two parts, the mechanical portion (which does all the shredding) and the wastebasket portion, both can be removed separately

  • If you have this type of shredder, then remove its top mechanical portion to clean the inside machine Place it over the newspaper or where you find it appropriate, because cleaning will be going to create a mess around

  • Now, to clean the blades of this mechanical portion and to pull out the paper pieces (that usually cause the jam inside), firstly use the pair of tweezers. Tweezers sharp ends help in collecting the thin sized shreds from the small ends of blades

  • Instead, you can use your hands (after making sure the system is unplugged) to collect the shreds that are stuck inside the blades. This helps in making the process quick and smooth because using your hands provides a better and easy grip

  • Start pulling the shreds (either with tweezers or hands) from the top side of the blade. Then move towards the bottom side gradually, to make sure all the blades are clear

  • At next, cut down the curled or coiled around small shred pieces, which remained left or weren’t taken out through tweezer. For this cutting process, use a sharp knife or pair of scissors (one blade only) or a pinch (if it works) and make the slices.

  • After making the stuck pieces tiny with cutting, tug them out of the blade ends
  • If you still find hard paper pieces or some plastic material (mostly found after shredding hard cards like Credit cards, CDs, etc.) stuck inside the blades (usually seen at the bottom sides of the blades) use pair of pliers or screwdriver

  • Through this pair of pliers or screwdrivers, you can remove the hard plastic and paper that gets stuck inside the bottom of the blades. Apply the prying or yanking motion with these metal tools to remove stubborn materials inside
  • After using these tools and applying such steps usually, the shredding starts working again
  • To check how much your method has worked, insert a single sheet/paper inside the system (after making it compiled and plugging again). if it works/shreds you have succeeded, otherwise apply something else




Using such tools (tweezers, scissors, knife, screwdriver, etc.) requires extra caution. Do not apply the method in a hurry or do not make it extra fast, rather keep it slow and smooth. Otherwise, the blades get damage and their repairing process will cost too extra money.

Solution Five: By Feeding heavy material cardstock

This is a little unbelievable method but sometimes works best rather than other methods. Only you need for this method is a ‘cardstock’ or hard material paper. Simply insert this hard paper or cardstock inside the center of the paper slot while running the shredder carefully.

Then apply a gentle (little amount) pressure to put it inside (this pressure is needed because the inside system is jammed already and doesn’t allow further papers to come inside). But, if it is not working stop doing it any harder, because it may damage the shredding machine and apply some other method.

Solution Six: Use Lubricants

This (dryness of blades and system) is another simple problem or most overlooked issue among paper shredders. By using lubricants sometimes, the system gets unclogged as it was just stuck because of dryness.

  • First of all, open the mechanical portion (to check which place needs the oil more)
  • Pour few drops of shredder’s oil inside the system, especially at the points where jam seems worse
  • Leave the parts (blades and others) as it is for about half an hour, to make sure the oil has been soaked completely
  • After that run the ‘forward’ button over the shredder to smooth the whole system or to make sure the whole system is soaked properly
  • Apply the ‘reverse’ mode too, if you find it necessary
  • Now, use the shredder, as softened shredder’s blades work better and more smoothly


The article above contains a few best possible solutions/answers to the question of how to unclog a paper shredder. This article is completely based on the true information and is compiled after making proper research. So, read it carefully to get the needed solution.