Why Do You Need To Oil Your Shredder And How To Do It Right?

Maintaining a paper shredder is essential for its longevity and performance, and one crucial aspect of this maintenance is the use of shredder oil. In this detailed guide, we will explore everything you need to know about shredder oil, from its purpose and benefits to application methods and alternatives.

Shredder oil is a specially formulated lubricant that keeps the blades of a paper shredder in optimal condition. Made from synthetic or vegetable-based materials, shredder oil is safe for the shredder's components. Its primary function is to reduce friction between the blades, ensuring they stay sharp and effective over time. Unlike general-purpose oils, shredder oil doesn’t gum up or leave residues that attract dust and debris, which can clog the shredder.

Why Do You Need to Oil Your Shredder?

Investing in shredder oil is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it enhances the shredder's performance by maintaining blade sharpness and reducing friction. This ensures that the shredder can handle paper efficiently without straining the motor. Regular use of shredder oil significantly extends the shredder's lifespan by minimizing wear and tear on the blades and other moving parts. This preventive maintenance reduces the likelihood of mechanical failures and the need for costly repairs.

Additionally, well-oiled blades are less likely to cause paper jams, which can be frustrating and time-consuming to fix. Proper lubrication also results in quieter operation, making the shredding process less disruptive in office environments.

Can You Use Alternatives to Shredder Oil?

The simple answer to this question is no, you should not use alternatives to shredder oil. Here’s why each of these oils, which are sometimes used as alternatives to shredder oil, is not recommended and can be dangerous:

Vegetable Oil: It can create stickiness on the blades and paper, attracting dust and causing clogs.

Mineral Oil: It can make paper stick to the blades and degrade the shredder's components over time.

Canola Oil: Similar to vegetable oil, it can become sticky, attract debris, and clog the shredder.

Aerosol Oils: These are often petroleum-based and pose a fire hazard due to high friction and heat in the shredder.

What Happens If You Don’t Use Shredder Oil?

Neglecting to oil your shredder can lead to several issues. Over time, the lack of lubrication increases friction, which causes the blades to wear out faster, leading to decreased performance and a shorter lifespan for the shredder. Dry blades are also more prone to jamming, which can be frustrating and time-consuming to fix. Additionally, the increased friction from unlubricated blades can cause the shredder to overheat, potentially resulting in permanent damage to the motor and other components. Regular oiling helps to mitigate these risks, ensuring that the shredder operates smoothly and efficiently for a longer period.

How Often Should You Oil Your Shredder?

The rule of thumb is you should oil your shredder with the shredder oil whenever the collection bin is full or after heavy use. Regular oiling will ensure that the blades operate smoothly and extend the shredder's lifespan. For those with a "micro-cut shredder," more frequent lubrication is necessary compared to a standard "cross-cut shredder."

Always consult the manual for specific instructions on how to oil your shredder. Some models are equipped with an "auto-oil functionality," which automatically handles the lubrication process. Your only responsibility is to ensure that there is enough oil in the designated compartment.

How to Apply Shredder Oil?

Ensure the shredder is turned off before applying shredder oil, which can be done using several methods.

Direct application method: This method involves squeezing a few drops of oil along the length of the shredder blades. After applying the oil, run the shredder in reverse mode for about 10-20 seconds to ensure the oil is evenly distributed across all the blades. This helps to cover every part of the cutting head and provides thorough lubrication.

The Dahle 20722 Shredder Oil - 1 Gallon Bottle, perfect for high-capacity and heavy-duty shredders. This premium shredder oil is designed to keep your commercial-grade equipment running smoothly, ensuring peak performance and longevity.


For those with smaller shredding needs, the Dahle 20721 Shredder Oil - 12 Ounce Bottle is ideal for home and small office shredders, providing the same high-quality lubrication in a convenient size for less frequent use.

Whether you're maintaining a heavy-duty machine or a compact shredder, Dahle has the right oil to keep your equipment in top shape.

Lubricant Sheets: The second option is to use pre-oiled lubricant sheets. These sheets are fed through the shredder just like a regular piece of paper. As the sheet is shredded, it releases the oil onto the blades, ensuring even distribution and ease of application.

Are There Shredders That Don't Require Oil?

Yes, Dahle stands out as the only brand offering oil-free shredders that not only reduce maintenance but are also cost-effective in the long run. These advanced machines incorporate a unique oil-free cutting cylinder design. This design utilizes 3 points of contact to efficiently pull paper straight through, preventing jams. Additionally, aggressive teeth on these cylinders provide exceptional shredding power without relying on oil for lubrication.

Dahle's oil-free shredders are a practical, low-maintenance solution. Not only do they eliminate the need for regular oiling, but they're also cost-effective in the long run. You'll save on consumables like shredder oil, while enjoying the benefits of a smooth-running shredder that tackles tough jobs.

All Deskside and Auto-Feed shredders of Dahle are oil-free as well as most commercial models in all categories except High Security. Among these, the Dahle 50114 oil-free office shredder is a good pick featuring an Oil-Free/Hassle-Free shredding system, which maintains high performance without the need for oil, making it environmentally friendly.

What is the Difference Between Oil-Free Shredders and Auto-Oil Shredders?

Oil-free shredders and auto-oil shredders offer different approaches to maintenance. Oil-free shredders are designed with self-lubricating blades or advanced materials that eliminate the need for manual lubrication, making them maintenance-free in terms of oiling. These shredders are ideal for users who prefer a hassle-free experience, although they may still require occasional cleaning.

On the other hand, auto-oil shredders are equipped with an automatic lubrication system that periodically applies oil to the blades from an internal reservoir. This ensures that the blades are consistently lubricated without manual intervention, maintaining the shredder's performance and extending its lifespan.

While oil-free shredders rely on their special blade technology to stay maintenance-free, auto-oil shredders continue to use traditional shredder oil but automate the lubrication process.

Still Have Questions About Shredder Oil?

Regularly oiling your shredder is a small investment of time and money that pays off in enhanced performance and longevity of your equipment. By understanding the importance of shredder oil and following the proper maintenance routine, you can ensure your shredder remains a reliable tool for years to come.

If you're still unsure about the best maintenance practices for your shredder or need advice on choosing the right shredder oil, we’re here to help!

Contact our experienced support team at (800) 992-5279 where  Our experts can provide personalized recommendations to ensure your shredder remains in top condition.

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