How To Unblock Shredders - Unjamming The Beast!

Last updated on 

February 26, 2021


Imagine you have a busy day of work ahead of you. You’ve woken up early, had a cup of coffee, and are ready to face the day. You get to the office, start in on your day’s work, and remember that one of your important errands is to shred a pile of documents you no longer need. You begin shredding and it seems to be going quite quickly, until… the shredder gets jammed.

There’s a strained whirring sound and then the motor cuts out. Maybe tiny specks of paper sputter out of the machine. What do you do? You have so much to get done and can’t afford to be stuck trying to deal with this catastrophe!

You might have been in this situation already, but if you haven’t then you’ll most likely realise how problematic a jammed paper shredder can be. If you’re looking to find out how to sort out this relatively common issue, then keep reading!

Show that Shredder Who’s Boss!

  1. Unplug the shredder- this might seem to be common knowledge, but it is a crucial step in getting your shredder back in working order. When you notice a jam, unplug the machine as this will give you time to properly assess the blockage. Once you have identified where the shredder is jamming, you can move on.
  2. Check your waste bin- a common reason for shredder jams is that the collection bin is simply too full to allow new material to be deposited there. Emptying the collection bin will eliminate this problem, giving the paper space to go again. This might not be the cause of the issue, but it is worth ruling out, however simple. The jam might clear if you plug the machine back in, but if it doesn’t, you’ll need to continue your efforts.
  3. Use the manual “reverse” feature- click the reverse button or slider so that the shredder is now running backwards. Instead of drawing paper into the opening, the grip on the paper should loosen and the paper be pushed back. Keep your clothes and fingers clear of the teeth while this is happening.
  4. Switch back to auto- if the shredder continues to jam in reverse mode, then unplug the shredder again and switch the machine back to normal, forward mode. When you plug it back in and the shredder starts going again, this should resolve the issue. Keep an eye out for continued jamming.
  5. If the jam continues- you might need to keep alternating between forwards and reverse in order to loosen the jammed paper. Not every jam will be the same so use your own judgement. Once the paper is released, make sure the shredder is in auto mode and continue shredding.

Preventing Jamming

  1. Read over the manual or specifications of the shredder. If the shredder has an 8-sheet capacity, then do not try and administer 15 sheets all at once. You might think you are saving time and resources but if a jam occurs and you get stuck trying to rectify it, then you might end up adding time to your day rather than shortening it, not to mention the added frustration.
  2. Make sure there are no laminations or plastic sleeves hindering smooth shredding. If your shredder is only designed for paper, and cannot handle plastic and other materials, then try to avoid this mistake. This could damage the teeth and motor in the long run.
  3. Avoid shredding paper clips and staples. Not all shredders can handle chewing through these small, seemingly insignificant metal bindings. If you are using a personal or small commercial shredder and you experience a jam, it might be due to a staple or paper clip getting stuck in one of the teeth. As in point 2, this can damage the teeth and motor.
  4. Make sure your pile of papers is even and straight. Inserting papers skew or in an imbalanced way can lead to jams and blockages. When shredding multiple sheets at once, extra caution must be taken to ensure correct insertion.

Share Your Knowledge

If you see a co-worker or friend struggling with a jammed paper shredder, why not lend a helping hand? Now you have some basic tools, tips, and tricks to help you diagnose and rectify a shredder jam, so why not be the hero and help a colleague who’s battling? They will undoubtedly appreciate it, and might even become equipped to pass the knowledge and experience on to others.

Eventually, in a perfect world, we’ll have no more paper shredder jams and we’ll be able to shred paper to our hearts’ content! Doesn’t that sound amazing? Much better than the first part of the story isn’t it?

Prevent the first part of the story from happening. Take control over the dreaded shredder. Never again lose your cool over a jam.

I am a tech geek. I love techie things and also love electronics. Together with the two traits, I have created With my site, I aim to answer all of your questions about office equipment in general and especially shredders. Let me know if you have any questions.

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I am a tech geek. I love techie things and also love electronics. Together with the two traits, I have created With my site, I aim to answer all of your questions about office equipment in general and especially shredders. Let me know if you have any questions. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to &

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