A paper shredder is one of those things you never appreciate until it fails. The entire office uses it day after day, and it only gets attention when someone runs a paperclip through it. But paper shredders aren’t designed to be used indefinitely. Even the most durable, like heavy-duty cardboard shredders, eventually get dull blades. And well before the blades get dull, they need to be regularly lubricated, just like any blades. There are a number of ways to do this, but the easiest method is to use a sharpening and lubricant sheet.
We’re about to review three of the best paper shredder sharpening and lubricant sheets available. We’ll start by looking at the Nuova Shredder Sharpening & Lubricant Sheets. These are half page-sized sheets, and come in a 12, 24, or 36-pack. Second, we’ll review the Amazon Basics Paper Shredder Sharpening & Lubricant Sheets. These sheets come in a 12 or 24-pack, and can be run in either direction, to work with smaller printers.
Last, we’ll examine the Bonsaii Paper Shredder Lubricant Sheets. These sheets come in a 12-pack, are half-page sized, and are made with environmentally-friendly recycled paper and vegetable oil. Which one of these is the best of the bunch? Let’s take a closer look at all of them, and see how they stack up.
How to Sharpen and Lubricate Your Shredder
Before we talk about sharpening and lubricant sheets, let’s begin with the basics. How do you sharpen and lubricate your shredder? To begin with, you need to read the manual. Sharpening and lubricant sheets are suitable for most models of shredder, but not all. Look to see if there are specific recommendations that tell you to use a different method. For example, if your manufacturer includes a bottle of oil and instructions for use, use their oil. That said, in the absence of any other specific instructions, a sharpening and lubricant sheet is normally ideal.
There are three general methods, and the first is the most basic. Using the direct method, you pour lubricating oil directly onto the blades. Oftentimes, there’s even a hole or series of holes where you can add oil. If not, you can use a small squeeze bottle with a spout that’s small enough to fit into the paper slot. This method is effective, and will definitely oil your blades. On the other hand, it’s wasteful, and you’ll end up spilling a lot of oil no matter what your approach. Besides which, oil alone isn’t going to sharpen your blades. It will only keep them lubricated.
The next method is much less wasteful. Take a piece of office paper, and apply a small amount of oil in a cross or an X pattern. Wait about 10 or 15 minutes, and the oil will have soaked through the paper. Now, stick the wet piece of paper to a dry one, to give it a bit of stiffness. Take the two pieces together, and run them through your shredder. This will apply oil directly to the blades without spilling a bunch of it. On the other hand, it still won’t sharpen your blades.
The third method is to use a sharpening a lubricant sheet. A lubricant sheet is similar in part to the paper method we just described. It consists of a thin packet, with an oiled piece of paper inside. Much like a homemade oil sheet, you just run the packet through your shredder to apply the oil. However, these sheets are made with a special abrasive paper, similar to a very fine sandpaper. As the blades cut through, they aren’t just oiled. They also grind against the grit, which polishes imperfections and sharpens them.
There are a few other things to keep in mind when maintaining your shredder. First, if you’re applying oil directly, make sure to use a proper shredder oil or lubricant. If your shredder’s manufacturer sells one, use it. If they recommend a particular brand, use that. Never use WD-40, similar penetrants, or general household lubricant. These oils can pose a hazard if the shredder gets hot, and may catch fire. Actual shredder oil is formulated to prevent this from happening.
Another thing to remember is that even the best sharpener has its limitations. If you jam a paperclip into a shredder and it dents one of the blades, the ding might not “buff out.” Sharpening sheets are meant to correct for the ordinary dulling that happens over time. As long as you’re only cutting paper – or credit cards, if your shredder allows – your sheets should keep up.
Along the same lines, make sure to keep your shredder clean. Dust, small bits of paper, and other debris can get run through the blades repeatedly. This in turn will cause them to dull faster than they should. To extend your shredder’s life, it’s smart to vacuum out the paper slot periodically to remove this debris.
Finally, when you’re using a lubricant sheet – or any other lubricant method – put a fresh plastic liner in your bin. The oil will contaminate any other paper in the trash, and you won’t be able to recycle it. Set your normal scraps aside, run the lubricant sheet into its own liner, and throw that one out. That way, you won’t be wasting perfectly good paper.
Nuova Shredder Sharpening & Lubricant Sheets
The Nuova Shredder Sharpening & Lubricant Sheets are flat paper packets that measure 8 9/16 x 6 inches in size. This is about half the size of a sheet of printer paper, and is designed for standard-sized shredders. On one side, you’ll see the words “SHRED IT” printed in bold red text, with an arrow underneath. That pretty much sums up what you need to do. You insert the packet into your shredder with the arrow pointing down, and run it all the way through. Because it’s designed only to run in one direction, it will work only with shredders that accept 8 9/16-inch paper.
Once you’re done shredding, you’re not quite done lubricating. With any lubricant sheet, you won’t have coated 100 percent of every blade. After shredding the lubricant sheet, run your shredder in reverse for about 10 seconds. This will ensure that the oil gets spread out evenly across your blades.
The Nuova sheets utilize an all-natural abrasive that won’t leave any toxic dust or residue. They should be run approximately once a month, or once every 500 sheets of shredding, whichever comes first. When used as recommended, they’re surprisingly effective. The whole maintenance process takes less than a minute, and the blades are as sharp as ever. You’ll definitely notice a difference in how smoothly and quickly your shredder runs. These sheets are available in a 12, 24, or 36 count. Bizarrely, the 12-pack is actually the best value, so it actually makes sense to order more smaller packs.
Amazon Basics Paper Shredder Sharpening & Lubricant Sheets
The Amazon Basics Paper Shredder Sharpening & Lubricant Sheets are different from the Nuova sheets in a couple ways. To begin with, while they have the same physical dimensions, they can be run in either direction. If you run them through the narrow way, they’ll fit through a 6-inch CD slot easily. They’re even small enough for some larger manual hand shredders.
The Amazon Basics sheets come in a 12-pack or a 24-pack, and are the most affordable of our three choices. The 24-pack is a fantastic value no matter how you cut it. On the other hand, you won’t get the same oiling performance as you will with the other sheets. We’ve generally had good experiences with Amazon Basics products, but the oil here is tacker than necessary. It doesn’t seem to flow well once it’s applied to the blades. This can be mitigated by religiously following the instructions and running the shredder in reverse for a full minute. Even so, you’ll find yourself using these sheets a bit more often. That said, they do a fine job of sharpening. We had no issues there.
Bonsaii Paper Shredder Lubricant Sheets
The Bonsaii Paper Shredder Lubricant Sheets come in a 12-pack, with the same half-page size as the last two options. They work with the wide side going in first, with arrows showing which direction. Feed it in, run your shredder in reverse for 10 seconds, and you’re good to go. They do a good job of sharpening, and leave your blades as keen as they were on day one. They also do a reasonably good job at lubrication, enough to last for over 500 pages of shredding.
The main selling point of the Bonsaii sheets is that they’re made of recycled paper and loaded with vegetable oil. As a result, they’re biodegradable and environmentally-friendly. This sets them apart from mineral oil lubricants, which are not biodegradable. We were initially hesitant to try these sheets, since vegetable cooking oil can actually damage your shredder. But Bonsaii seems to have done a good job with their formulation, and the lubricant works as advertised. It flows enough to coat all your blades, and doesn’t wear out too quickly.
As you can see, each of these sheets offers its own benefits and drawbacks. We started with the Nuova Shredder Sharpening & Lubricant Sheets, and they’re still our favorite for most applications. They’re highly effective, they’re easy to use, and they don’t have any noticeable drawbacks. On the other hand, there are reasons you may want to go a different direction.
The Amazon Basics Paper Shredder Sharpening & Lubricant Sheets, for instance, are capable of lubricating narrower shredders. On the downside, the lubricant isn’t as free flowing as the other sheets, so it doesn’t last as long. You’ll find yourself running more sheets in order to maintain the same level of performance.
The Bonsaii Paper Shredder Lubricant Sheets are the most environmentally-friendly option of the bunch. We’re still not 100 percent sold that vegetable oil can be as effective over time as mineral oil. But we didn’t have any trouble, and we haven’t seen any reports of other people having trouble. If you prefer to use an all-natural, biodegradable lubricant sheet, these are the way to go.