7 Items You Cannot Put in a Paper Shredding Machine

March 8, 2023
March 8, 2024

When it comes to disposing of items using a paper shredder, one of the most common questions is whether or not you can shred certain materials. The answer is usually yes, but there are several items that should never be put in a paper shredding machine. They can render it useless or even become a fire hazard. Here are seven things you can’t put in a paper shredder, along with explanations for why.

Stapled documents

Stapling documents is often a common practice in offices and homes for documents such as invoices, financial statements, brochures, resumes, and so on. While they help you to keep your records organised, stapled documents are often not recommended to put in paper shredders. This is because they include metals that can lead to jamming issues. A paper shredder will also have to work harder to process too many stapled documents, which will cause it to wear out. It’s a good idea to take out the staples before shredding any kind of document, especially if you have a small paper shredder because its blades aren’t designed to shred metal. 

Laminated paper

Laminated paper is mainly used in items like credit cards, passports, medical records, and so on. Although laminated paper can be shredded, it is not recommended to do so. Paper shredders with a rotating blade are unable to break through the layers of the laminated paper as they are glued together. Hence, laminated paper cannot be recycled and will contaminate the rest of the recycled paper waste. This is especially important if your company recycles paper waste to lower its carbon footprint. If your company uses a lot of laminated paper, it’s a good idea to research recycling businesses that specialise in recycling laminated paper.

If you are still uncertain about the types of documents you should shred, take a look at this buying guide for paper shredders

Binders and hardcovers

Shredding binders and hardcovers using a paper shredder is not recommended, as most are only designed to shred paper. Binders and hardcovers are also much thicker than regular paper and can lead to issues such as jamming as well as wear and tear. They may also contain metal components such as staples, paper clips, or other items that can damage the blades of the shredder. Standard paper shredders are not designed to handle multiple pages at once.

If you are looking to shred hardcovers and binders, it is best to reach out to paper shredding and disposal services to securely dispose of them. These professional services typically use industrial-grade shredders that can shred multiple pages at once and can handle the thickness of binders and hardcovers. 

Metal credit cards

Although it may seem obvious, credit cards made of any kind of metal should not be destroyed using a home or office paper shredder. Metal credit cards are more durable than paper and plastic, which means they’re difficult to break down into smaller pieces. The blades of the paper shredder are also not intended to be used to cut through the metal. It could cause the shredder to jam or even permanently damage the machine. For these reasons, it is best to use paper shredding and disposal services. Most use heavy-duty shredders that can shred metal cards and securely destroy the sensitive information contained within credit cards.


Cardboard is another type of paper material that cannot be put in paper shredding machines unless they have a built-in cardboard-shredding function. A standard paper shredder’s cutting mechanism isn’t designed to handle cardboard materials. They are much thicker than paper and can lead to jamming issues or permanent damage to the shredder. 

As a result, it is a much better idea to use cardboard for other purposes, such as item storage, shipping, composting, and so on. Also, cardboard waste is frequently recycled through household collection programmes run by your local council and at local recycling centres.

Batteries and electrical waste

Batteries and other types of electrical waste should not be disposed of in your paper shredder. They can cause serious damage to your equipment and even pose a fire hazard. You should recycle electrical materials and equipment in a recycle bin that is designed for this purpose. Most recycling companies and local councils also offer recycling services for disposing of batteries and electrical waste. 

Unused clothes

While paper shredders can shred old or unused clothes, it is not recommended for the same reason as above. They are only intended for paper items. Clothes are made of various fabrics, such as cotton or wool, which are often much thicker than paper. They can become stuck between or inside the cutting mechanism of a paper shredder. Besides, clothes often include buttons, zippers, or other items that can damage the blades of the shredder, rendering them useless. A much better way to dispose of old or unused clothing is to recycle it or donate it. 

Art Materials

Art materials that should never be fed through a paper shredder include any items that could damage the shredder or pose a safety hazard. This includes wet or moist materials such as paints, inks, or markers, as well as bulky objects like canvas, cardboard, or foam board. Lino printing items like linoleum block, vinyl or rubber should also be avoided. Artists using these items should check out caligo safe wash relief ink. Additionally, objects with sharp edges or metal components, such as scissors, knives, or metal rulers, should be kept away from the shredder to prevent damage to the machine or injury to the user.

Summing it up

Paper shredding machines are crucial mechanical tools for homes and offices to prevent identity theft, clear up clutter and reduce paper waste. When it is working properly, it can help you keep your files and documents secure. However, just like any other machine, there are some things you should and shouldn’t do to keep it running smoothly. 

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Paper shredders are essential for protecting your identity, clearing clutter and reducing paper waste. Here is what you shouldn't put in one.
Alfie Donnan
If you are looking to shred hardcovers and binders, it is best to reach out to paper shredding and disposal services to securely dispose of them.