How to unjam a shredder – Easy step by step guide

Shredding documents is vital to the security of many businesses’ security, so your shredder is an important part of a home office. Like any other piece of equipment though, even a good shredder can break down. The most common source of frustration with a shredder is a jam.

A shredder can get jammed up from being fed documents too quickly, becoming overloaded, or just from something that managed to float its way in there in-between uses. 

Most shredder jams can be sorted out with relative ease. These jams shouldn’t be a problem, but others can be tricky. Trying to unjam a shredder in the wrong way can cause some real problems. You can damage the blades or the motor of a shredder permanently.

The inner workings of a shredder aren’t often repaired, so an incorrectly cleared jam might mean a whole new shredder. Using the right method to unjam a shredder can avoid any problems and get your equipment back up and running as soon as possible.

How to Unjam a Shredder

The steps you should take to to unjam a shredder are going to vary depending on how bad your jam is. This basic solution should work for the majority of shredder problems. If they don’t, then you can try the additional tips and tricks at the bottom to see if they help you too.

  1. If you’re in the process of shredding when you notice the jam, stop immediately.
  2. Next, go ahead and unplug the shredder to make sure that it’s completely off. The last thing you want is to catch your hand in it.
  3. Empty the shredder bin and ensure that it isn’t full. This can be the cause of shredding stopping or material getting tangled around the blades.
  4. Remove the top of the shredder. This will give you much easier access to the shredder blades themselves.
  5. You should then try to remove the paper from the underside, below the shredder head and blades.
  6. Slowly pull out the larger paper caught in the blades. This should be relatively easy to pull out, but you may need to pull pretty hard.
  7. Use a screwdriver to pry out the smaller pieces of material that are jammed in there.
  8. When turning the shredder back on, check everything is functioning properly before you begin feeding high numbers of sheets again.

Again, following these steps should get your shedder completely clear. If it doesn’t then keep reading.

How to Unjam a Shredder – Other Solutions + Tips


That method will work for the simple jams that are usually to blame for shredder problems. However, some shredder problems can’t be solved that easily. In these cases, there are some extra steps you can take. 

Reverse Function

If your shredder has a reverse function, then this is going to come in handy. Run your shredder in reverse to try and clean out any jammed paper. Turn it back off afterwards, and once again try to get out anything that might still be in the blades.

Make the most of the reverse switch on your shredder if you have one. This can be the easiest way to get yourself out of a paper jam.

Oil the Shredder

The best thing to do if you still can’t clear a shredder jam is to apply some oil to the shredder. Shredder oil can be applied along the opening of your shredder. Leave this to soak in for 20-30 minutes. Once this is done, your paper will have softened and will be easier to unclog.

Oiling a shredder can take care of even the worse jams, those that come from shredding hard materials. Many times, the shredder blades are actually where the issue lies, so it’s a good idea to give your paper shredder a good oiling regularly anyway. So, try to add it to your regular office maintenance list.

Use something thin to unjam

Something else you can do is to use something thin to try and dislodge the paper stuck in your shredder. For this, the majority of people out there would try and use tweezers to get the paper out of the shredder. They typically work well for this purpose.

Obviously, this won’t make a different if you’ve been shredding things that are hard, like credit cards. But, it can make a big difference if you’re trying to unstick paper.


These methods should allow you to clear up a shredder jam with relative ease. The good news is that most of these issues can be avoided the majority of the time though by being a bit more careful with the device.

If you’re using your shredder quite a bit, remember to take it at a slow pace. When shredding things that are tougher than paper, even more care should be taken to avoid having to unjam it in the future.

To do this, you should always make sure that you empty the wastebasket of your shredder. If the waste basket becomes full, then it’s going to be much more likely that you end up with problems with your shredder in the future too.

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About Steve

Hi, I'm Steve. I've worked for the past 8 years in a major furniture retailer in the UK, so I know my way around a desk or two. On the weekends, I spend time with my kids or I'm probably outside in the garden doing something or other!

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