how to clear a jammed paper shredder

Got yourself into a jam? We’re here to help resolve this situation and hopefully prevent it from happening again. Let’s explore how to clear a jammed paper shredder, including some basic troubleshooting and tips to prevent it.

Signs of a Jam Problem

Before you power off the machine, take a look at the below symptoms to see if you’ve been encountering shredder jams.

  • Gets stuck in the reverse mode
  • Doesn’t properly shred the paper each time
  • Pulls paper to one side or doesn’t pull it at all
  • Only works for a portion of a shredding session
  • Blinking indicator informs you of jammed paper
  • It won’t cut the paper
  • Machine makes high pitch noises during use

How to Clear a Jammed Paper Shredder

If you’re using your paper shredder to discover that it starts jamming, here are some safe and effective ways to remove the shredder paper without any damage.

1. Switch off the Shredder

First and foremost, unplug the shredder from the socket, making sure that there’s no electricity or power to the source. Be extra precautious about this step, as you could experience a home fire, or worst-case scenario, injure your fingers.

Some shredders have an auto-on mode, so keeping it switched off will reduce any safety hazards.

2. Empty the Paper Bin

Often, paper shredders can become jammed if the paper bin is too full, causing the paper to push up into the machine. After emptying it out, if you find that the shredder still doesn’t continue working once you’ve plugged it in and switched it on, then there could be a fault with the actual bin.

3. Take the Top off the Shredder

Next, take the top off of the shredder. This should be easy to do. Ensure that you’re not pulling the shredder. Once you’ve removed the lid, you can take a glance into the device to evaluate if you can see what’s causing the jam.

4. Run the Shredder in Reverse

If you encounter paper jams frequently, switch the shredder to the reverse function. The reverse switch should be clearly labelled on top of the machine. When you’ve located it, keep the shredder in reverse for around three seconds to help to eradicate paper jams. Once the shredder starts reversing, pull the loose pieces of paper from the shredder.

5. Switch Between Reverse and Auto Forward Mode

If reversing the paper shredder isn’t enough to remove the jammed paper, you can try switching between the reverse button and auto-forward mode for three seconds each. This method can help to dislodge the paper jam from the shredder blades.

See if this process has loosened the jammed documents. Pull them out from the shredder and try to resume shredding to check if the jam has cleared.

Useful Tips to Preventing a Shredder Jam in the First Place

A jammed shredder can be a big problem to fix, and the best action is to prevent its cause in the first place. Here are some tips to use with business and home shredders.

Don’t Overfeed the Machine

We get it. You want to get the shredding job in the office done in a short amount of time. But loading the shredder with too many sheets of paper can create a jam. Instead, check the machine’s sheet capacity before you use it to ensure that you don’t exceed the recommended number of sheets. Some shredders can only take two sheets at a time, so don’t go beyond this because if it jams, you might end up wasting more time fixing the shredder.

Stick to the Recommended Materials

Not all shredders can shred the same materials. Most of the best machines will accommodate paper clips, CDs, and credit cards. But you should always check the materials it can accept. Otherwise, you can cause some serious damage to the cutters and at worst, you may even injure yourself.

Use Shredder Oil Often

Caring for your shredder’s blades can help to make your machine jam-proof. Regularly oiling it can encourage the blades to move freely and smoothly, extending the machine’s life. Word of warning – if you encounter a paper jam, don’t use cooking oil or other oil that’s not specifically suited for the shredder.

Don’t Get Caught in a Jam

Knowing how to clear a jammed paper shredder is vital in any office or home settings. But above everything else, always exercise safety and caution when dealing with a paper jam.

Do you have any advice on getting out of a paper jam situation at the office? Share your thoughts in the comments.


  1. Shredder top with cutting blades does Not come off some shredders! Example: Royal microcut (1630mc), bought at Costco (late summer 2019).
    Not supposed to jam but does. Supposed to auto-reverse but doesn’t.
    Nice looking shredder but that’s all I can say for it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *