How to oil a paper shredder?

1 October 2021 Shares

Home Paper Shredders How to oil a paper shredder?

By 1 October 2021 Shares

How to oil a paper shredder?

Shredder maintenance tip: Clean your shredder with a ‘paper sandwich’

Is your shredder making weird noises? Does the shredder shred slower than usual? Then it looks like your shredder needs maintenance and cleaning. Check out the maintenance tips below.

Paper shredder maintenance tools

Regularly maintain your shredder with oil or lubricant sheets to keep the machine in top condition.

A new shredder fresh out of the box runs very smoothly and cuts your documents like a knife through butter. But over time, you will experience that the shredder is getting a bit rusty. To keep your shredder running like it came fresh out of the box, you need to perform maintenance regularly.


The leading cause for the weird sounds and slower cutting speed is that dust and paper particles accumulate over time between your shredder’s rotating cutting blades. The paper-cutting process generates this dust. A way to tackle this problem is by oiling your paper shredder. The oil ensures that the cutting blades run smoothly, and you keep the blades in good condition for a more extended period.

Do paper shredders need lubrication?

Yes, every shredder needs lubrication to keep it running smoothly. Regularly oiling your shredder with an official shredder lubricant will improve the lifespan and your shredder’s performance. You can use oil or lubricant sheets to lubricate your shredder.

A lubricant sheet is a pre-oiled sheet you can shred with your shredder. The sheet looks like an envelope. You can shred this package as a whole with your shredder to lubricate the cutting blades of your shredder.


But, how often and when do you need to lubricate your paper shredder with oil or lubricant and sharpening sheets? Let’s find out below.

How often should you oil and clean your paper shredder

paper-shredder-maintenance-oil-thumbThe rule of thumb is: Oil your shredder with official shredder oil when the collection bin is full or after intensive use of the shredder. Oiling your shredder will keep the blades running smooth, and it will ensure optimal durability. Besides, if you own a “micro-cut shredder” you should lubricate it more often than a regular “cross-cut shredder.”

Please also refer to the manual for instructions on how to oil your shredder. Some shredders come with an ‘auto-oil functionality.’ These shredders take care of the oiling process all by themselves. The only thing you need to do is make sure there is enough oil in the compartment.


  • Oil the shredder after intensive use or a full collection bin.
  • Buy official shredder lubricant for your paper shredder.

The 3 ways of oiling a shredder

Our guide below consists of three general methods for oiling your shredder.

  1. The direct method
  2. The indirect method
  3. Lubricant sheets

1) The direct method

The direct method involves pouring the official oil directly into the paper input. For this method, we urge you to use a bottle with a narrow spout to pour the oil in the opening without spilling it. This is how you apply the oil:

  1. Grab the bottle with official shredder oil.
  2. Turn/hold the reverse function of the shredder and keep it running for 10 seconds.
  3. Turn off the entire shredder.
  4. Pour the lubricant directly into the paper input from the left side to the right side in one smooth motion.
  5. Turn on the shredder and let it shred (without paper) for half a minute.
  6. The blades and the shredder are oiled successfully!

2) Indirect Method: The Sandwich

With this method, you apply the official oil in a cross shape to a sheet of white A4 paper. Let it soak in for a bit and place another sheet of paper on top of it. Now you’ve created a ‘sandwich’.

  1. Two sheets of A4 paper.
  2. Apply a thin line of oil from the top left to the bottom right of the sheet. And from the top right to the bottom left. Make sure that you do not completely soak the paper with oil.
  3. Allow the oil to soak into the paper for a few seconds.
  4. Take another A4 sheet of paper and place it on the oiled side of the other sheet of A4 paper. You have now made a ‘sandwich’.
  5. Turn on the reverse function of the shredder and wait for 10 seconds.
  6. Put your shredder in its normal position.
  7. Now shred the two sheets of paper or ‘sandwich’ into the shredder. Make sure that no oil spills out of the paper sandwich.
  8. Turn on the reverse function and allow the shredder to rotate for a further half a minute so that the blades are well lubricated.
  9. You have successfully oiled the shredder.

3) Lubricant sheets or oil sheets

In addition to shredder oil, you can also use oil sheets. A lubricant sheet looks like a thin envelope with an already oiled sheet of paper in it. The only thing you have to do is shred the lubricant sheet. It looks quite similar to the ‘sandwich’ as we described above.

  1. Grab an oiled sheet.
  2. Turn on the reverse or reverse function and wait 10 seconds.
  3. Put your shredder in its normal position.
  4. Shred the lubricant sheet.
  5. Turn on the return function or reverse function and let the shredder run for another half a minute so that the blades are well lubricated.
  6. You have successfully oiled the shredder.

Which method do we recommend?

First, you should check the manual for the manufacturer’s advice on how to oil your shredder. If there is no precise method indicated, we recommend using the indirect method. This way, you minimize oil spillage on your machine and the use of excess oil.

For your safety, you must always use official shredder oil or lubricant for oiling your paper shredder. When using another type of oil, you are at risk that your shredder catches fire.

Recommended shredder tools

Shredder Oil
Blended oil to prevent jams and ensure optimal performance


12 oz. Bottle with Nozzle
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16 oz. Bottle with Nozzle
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12 oz. Bottle with Nozzle
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16 oz. Bottle
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16 oz. Bottle
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1 Gallon Bottle
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Lubricant Sheets
Apply the right amount of lubricant everytime with ease


Pack of 12 Sheets
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Pack of 40 Sheets
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Pack of 15 Sheets
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Pack of 24 Sheets
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Shredder Bags
Convenient shredder bags for keeping work areas clean and tidy


9 Gallon – 100 Bags
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14-20 Gallon – 50 Bags
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6-7 Gallon – 100 Bags
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6-7 Gallon – 100 Bags
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25-33 Gallon – 100 Bags
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32-38 Gallon – 50 Bags
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15 Gallon – 25 Bags
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15.8 Gallon – 50 Bags
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6-8 Gallon – 100 Bags
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Frequently asked questions and tips

What is shredder oil?

Shredder oil is a special type of lubricant for sharpening and lubricating the cutting blades of a shredder. It is important to use official paper shredder oil for your shredder, ideally of the same brand. It is not advised to use a generic oil lubricant or silicone spray to oil your shredder.

Do not use aerosol oils to lubricate your shredder. Such lubricants are petroleum-based and can be a serious fire hazard.

When do you need to oil a shredder?

As a rule of thumb, it is recommended to oil your shredder when you empty the wastebasket of the shredder. Also, when you have used the shredder intensively it is recommended to oil the blades.


Keep in mind that micro-cut shredders require maintenance more often than cross-cut and strip-cut shredders.

What are lubricant sheets?

Lubricant sheets are envelopes that help to extend the life of the machine by applying lubrication on the cutting blades, this helps to reduce friction and keeps the blades sharp and clean. Simply feed the sheet inside the feed opening of your shredder to lubricate the blades.

The advantage of shredder lubricant sheets over regular shredder oil is that it is more convenient to use. You don’t have the hassle of using a bottle with liquid oil that you need to pour inside the feed opening of your shredder. Just grab a lubrication sheet and shred it, that’s all you need to do. No more drips and spills.

What are shredder bags?

Most paper shredders contain a compartment where the shredded paper falls in. When the bin is full you need to empty it in order to use your shredder again. But where do you discard the shredded paper?

You can empty the wastebasket in another trash can, but chances are that your floor ends up with small paper shreds and dust. If you want to prevent this from happening, we recommend using paper shredder bags.

You can hang these bags inside the wastebasket of your shredder. When the shredder is full you only need to remove the shredder bag and close the bag.

Before purchasing shredder bags, make sure the bags have the correct capacity for your shredder. Check the user manual from your paper shredder to find out the capacity of the wastebasket, for instance, 4 gallons.

Keep your shredder clean

Make sure you keep your document shredder clean from the dust and small pieces of paper. Due to paper shredding, dust collects between the cutting blades.

After a while, dust and small amounts of paper may get stuck between the edges, which will harm the performance. You can use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust and paper particles from the feed opening and the cutting blades.

What is paper shredder oil made out of?

Paper shredder oil isn’t just a generic oil. The oil is specially designed to be used as a lubricant for paper shredders. But what is the oil made out of that makes it so ‘special’. According to research by Keith Barlow, from, the composition of shredder oil goes as follows:

  • Solvent Refined Hydrotreated Middle Distillate (30-40 Percent)
  • Severely Hydrotreated Light Naphthenic Distillate (60-70 Percent)
  • Butylated Hydroxy Toluene (< 0.2 Percent)
  • Commercial Oleic Acid (2-8 Percent)

Can you use WD-40 to oil a shredder?

No, it is not recommended to use WD-40 or other universal lubricants or penetrating oils to lubricate your shredder. Also, vegetable oil or another type of generic oil is not recommended to use as a lubricant for your shredder.

Also, it is not recommended to use olive oil. This oil should not be put into a paper shredder. Putting olive oil in a paper shredder can damage the machine.

Always use official shredder oil. Please check your shredder’s user manual to find out what type of oil is recommended by the manufacturer.

Can you sharpen paper shredder blades?

No, you can’t sharpen the blades of a shredder yourself. You can read about using aluminum foil or metal sharpening sheets for sharpening the blades of your shredder on the internet. But this isn’t a recommended method for sharpening the knives.


Prevention of the problem is better than finding a solution to the problem. So, to prevent your shredder’s blades from getting blunt, it is essential to perform regular maintenance on your shredder by oiling the shredder and removing clogged paper particles and dust inside the feed opening.

How long should a paper shredder last?

It all depends on the quality of the shredder and how the operator uses the shredder machine. Always follow the guidelines on using the shredder, which you can find in the manufacturer’s instruction manual.

Things to keep in mind are the maximum amount of documents you can feed per pass, the type of materials you shred, and how often you clean the shredder with oil or a shredder lubricant sheet. Lubricant sheets keep your shredder in top condition.

What shredder should you buy?

Do you want to buy a new paper shredder? Read more about paper shredders here

9 Comments on “How to oil a paper shredder?

  1. For a fellowes[model w11c] paper shredder, how many sheets can be put in at one time?

    1. Dear Gloria, thanks for your question. According to Fellowes you can shred up to 11 sheets per pass. We recommend not pushing the shredder to its limits, so adviced is to use 8-10 sheets for this shredder. All the best, Pim –

  2. “Official” shredder oil is nothing more than canola oil. So sayeth the “official” MSDS. So, make your sandwich with canola oil, and feed it to your shredder.

    1. Thanks for your explanation. Still we recommend to use the official shredder oil to avoid any malfunctions and possible problems with your product warranty.

    2. Hi! Do you use this method yourself without incident? I was going to try coconut oil but now she has me in a panic with the “shredder may catch on fire” bit! I’m on O2 so fire’s a real worry! I’ve NEVER heard of that happening, have you? I’d really like to use diy home oils if they’re safe! I’m on a fixed income so prefer not having to buy MORE specialty items, you know? Thanks so very much for your kind help!

      1. As you can read in the article, we strongly advise to only use official shredder oil (sheets).

  3. Hmm . . Keith Barlow said he didn’t know anything about the compounds he found in the one he recommends and sells! Really? A generational ‘expert’ should be better than that. They are ‘distillates’ and come from mineral oil, the same as petrol / gasoline etc. (Just google / bing / whatever the names – simple.) Meanwhile another website says don’t pour mineral oils in because of the fire risk! So what does Fellowes say: Their data sheet ( says “Canola based”. Canola is vegetable oil used for cooking! Two ‘experts’ with two totally different products. I’d strongly recommend that official products are over-priced. They might be slightly different form a cheap generic product, but for what benefit is unknown. The jury remains out.

  4. I have paper or something stuck to my blades. I can’t use the right side of shredder. How do I unstick whatever’s stuck? I’ve tried scissors, tweezers, soaking it in oil. Nothing is dislodging it

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