best practices for paper shredders

How to clean and maintain Paper Shredders


In South Africa, the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI Act or POPIA) has set certain conditions involving responsible parties who are required to lawfully process the personal information of certain persons.

Companies can still process data and they are not required to get permission from individuals to process personal information, but POPI aims to protect individuals from harm which includes identity theft and discrimination.

Many companies in South Africa have had to prepare for the implementation of this Act, and they have had to review and change how they process and destroy different documentation that contains sensitive information.

Paper shredders have always been renowned for their ability to destroy documents and therefore protecting sensitive information. They have increased in reputation with POPI coming into effect.

With more businesses using paper shredders to effectively destroy hard copies of documents, it is necessary to ensure that paper shredders are maintained and cleaned in the right manner to ensure that they last, and to avoid any unnecessary damages. You may get the latest updates sent straight to your phone with the EskomSePush app. Keep up with Eskom, City Power in Johannesburg, and the City of Cape Town by following their respective social media accounts. To find out more about the best printers for sale in South Africa, or our affordable copier rentals, get in touch with a consultant today. We also offer SME financing options too.

how to clean paper shredders
shredded paper

How to clean and maintain paper shredders


Maintain it by using it frequently


One of the best ways to make sure that the paper shredder remains in good working condition is to use it regularly. If paper shredders are left standing, the lubricant on the metal blades can dry up and the blades can become dull, making them less effective.

Another important task is to ensure that the shredder is run in reverse frequently to prevent the blades from wadding up with paper.


Emptying it


Many businesses report issues with their paper shredder after they have used it extensively. The lack of room in the disposal bin causes the blades to slow down, which can impact the gear and motor, which can potentially damage both.

The bin should be emptied frequently, even if it is not full yet.


Clean it


Unplug the shredder from its power source before cleaning it and once it is switched off, proceed by removing the lid from the main container. Consult the instruction or manufacturer’s manual if you are unsure of the process, but in most cases, you can simply lift the lid and remove the paper from the blades and dust it off.

If there are any ink smudges, a damp (but not wet) cloth can be used to clean the blades but avoid getting any liquid into the shredder directly. A paper towel can then be used to wipe off the ink and any residue and the shredder can be left to air dry.


Oil it


One thing that many people may not realize, is that paper shredders must be lubricated frequently with shredder oil, ensuring that the blades can operate at optimal efficiency.

Not only will frequent lubrication lengthen the service life of the paper shredder, but it will also prevent the motor from overheating or burning out. When the machine is oil, sediments that were deposited in the blades can be loosened, allowing the blades to move freely.

Paper shredders should be oiled at least once a week and if they are used more frequently, they should be oiled daily. If the business uses a cross-cut shredder, the machine should be oiled more frequently as it tends to create finer dust particles.

Oiling should only be done when the shredder is not in use by holding the lubricant over the blades, and gently squeezing it through the length of the opening. This process only takes a few seconds and once complete, the paper shredder must be run in reverse for 15 seconds so that the oil is distributed evenly.

To remove excess oil, shred a few sheets of paper once the oiling is complete.


Follow the Guidelines of the Manufacturer


Many manufacturers have specific guidelines on how to use a specific paper shredder effectively. This is especially important where continuous run and cooldown times are concerned. 

The manufacturer will provide the specifications of the machine on the box and pamphlet/booklet, product pages, handbooks, and the official website. Manufacturers will also provide extensive guidelines on proper cleaning and maintenance.


Know the machine’s capacity and ensure that it is followed


Each paper shredder has its own recommended capacity, and all users must know what the capacity is before using the shredder. The capacity should never be pushed beyond its limits and reference to the paper ratings must be made, based on the weight of the paper.

Fi heavy sheets are being shredded, or card stocks, the sheets must be adjusted accordingly to ensure that the cutting blades are not jammed. If any jamming occurs, the paper can be backed by running the shredder in reverse. Do not pull the paper out manually if it becomes lodged.


Do not run the shredder without giving it a rest


Paper shredders are not designed to be used non-stop without a cooldown period. By running them consistently, the service life of the machine will be shortened, and it can adversely affect its function.

Even if it is a heavy-duty shredder with a continuous rated motor, ensure that there is a cooldown period according to the manufacturer’s guidelines to prevent the parts from deteriorating.

High-quality paper shredders typically have a warranty that can differ from one manufacturer to the next, and therefore the instructions must be followed, and the purchase receipt must be kept if repairs are needed during the warranty period.

Best Practices for Paper Shredders


  • If the paper shredder does not run but is plugged into a power source and turned on, ensure that the bin is installed correctly.
  • Do not fold papers before they are placed in the shredder.
  • Do not put adhesives or papers with glue residue in the paper shredder as it can cause paper jams.
  • CDs and credit cards must be fed through the shredder individually, using the designated slots on the paper shredder for this purpose. If a paper shredder is not designed to destroy such items, do not try to force them through the blades.
  • Follow the cooldown times for the type of shredder religiously to avoid overheating or burning out the motor.
  • If the shredder slows down or it makes a whirring sound without any movement, it can be from over-feeding or fast-feeding papers through the shredder.

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