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It’s easy for criminals to use your personal information if they have access to something as innocuous as a bank statement or cell phone bill, but a good paper shredder can help. Even run-of-the-mill documents can be a security risk if they fall into the wrong hands. So much of our sensitive info, from bank account numbers to Social Security numbers, is printed on our mail, contracts, and bills. Each time one ends up in the trash, we leave ourselves vulnerable to identity theft. Fortunately, it’s easy to avert this possibility by shredding documents and credit cards. It takes no time at all, either, if you invest in one of the best paper shredders currently available, which we’ve collected here.

How we chose the best paper shredders

When searching for the best paper shredders, we considered over 50 models from 10 brands in all price ranges, looking for a balance between performance and price. Our picks were based on their ease of use, safety, versatility, and capacity. Specific features were paramount to making our picks, including reverse buttons to remove jams, simple emptying mechanisms, and a way to easily empty baskets, all contributing to their overall ease of use. 

The paper shredders we recommend have thermal overload sensors and other safety mechanisms that turn off the cutters when the lid is removed from the basket. Finally, we factored in how many papers the shredder could handle at once. Capacity also includes the basket volume, which determines how often it needs to be emptied. When active, those cutters that can handle a wide range of materials, including paper clips and staples, take some of the work out of shredding. Some versatile models also have wide mouths for easier paper entry. 

The best paper shredders: Reviews & Recommendations

A paper shredder can help keep your personal and confidential information out of the hands of identity thieves and away from prying eyes. While it’s easy to assume that all paper shredders offer similar performance, a number of factors affect their functionality. Whether you’re looking for a heavy-duty model for the office or a portable model to take on the go, we’ve rounded up the best options on the market now.

Best overall: Fellowes Powershred 14-Sheet Micro-Cut Heavy-Duty Paper Shredder



Why it made the cut: This shredder from Fellowes can take on big jobs with its nine-gallon bin, but it’s quiet and safe to use, making it great for home or office.


  • Dimensions: 25.2 x 11.4  x 17.3 inches
  • Paper capacity: 14 sheets
  • Security level: P-5


  • High capacity
  • Childsafe
  • Quiet


  • Expensive

Shred 14 sheets of paper at once in the teeth of this heavy-duty shredder from Fellowes. The micro-cut size means enhanced level P-5 security, and saved space, partly thanks to the 9-gallon integrated bin, and a tiny shred that comes out to roughly 2,000 particles per sheet of paper. It’s super quiet, making it perfect for shared workspaces, and the auto-stop feature can detect when your hands are close to the opening, so it’s extra safe to use and child-proof.

Best for home: Wolverine SD9113 Heavy-Duty Shredder



Why it made the cut: The Wolverines P-4 cross-cut comes with an 18-sheet capacity and long runtime that catapult it to the front of the heavy-duty shredders. 


  • Dimensions: 13.4 x 10.4 x 22 inches
  • Paper capacity: 18 sheets
  • Security level: P-4


  • Shreds through paper, credit cards, CDs, clips, and staples
  • Cross shreds for added security
  • Completely pull out the waste bin for dumping


  • Loud
  • Basket fills quickly

The Wolverine SD9113 Heavy-Duty Shredder puts P-4 security on everything that passes through its cutters. Those cutters handle a wide range of materials, including staples, paper clips, credit cards, CDs, and (of course) paper. A high 18-page capacity and 60-minute runtime goes through paper quickly, without the need to cool for up to 60 minutes. 

While the wastebasket fills quickly, it is easy to empty and pulls completely out of the shredder. The only other downside to this model is the noise. It makes a racket but gets the job done.

Best for office: Aurora AU1580MA Professional Grade Micro-Cut Paper/ CD and Credit Card Shredder



Why it made the cut: The AU1580 makes quick work of paper, credit cards, CDs, and paper clips, turning them into a micro-shredded mass that’s nearly impossible to identify. 


  • Dimensions: 16.93 x 12.99 x 23.62 inches
  • Paper capacity: 15 sheets
  • Security level: P-4


  • 60-minute continuous runtime
  • Quiet operation
  • Reverse mechanism effectively fixes jams


  • Big and heavy

The Aurora AU1580MA shredder isn’t your average Home Depot shredder. This behemoth can hold 8.5 gallons of shredded paper. That kind of capacity doesn’t come without significant weight. The AU1580 weighs in at 43.28 pounds but features casters to provide some mobility. 

It makes quick work of 15 pages at a time and can handle CD/DVDs, paper clips, and credit cards. The blades turn them into a micro-shredded P-4 mass that’s caught in the basket. An impressive 60-minute runtime lets offices with a high paper volume stay ahead of shredding. Even when shredding at full power, this model stays relatively quiet. Five indicator lights provide insight into the current status, such as door open, overload, bin full, overheat (includes automatic shutdown), and power. 

This model’s size takes up a good amount of space, so it’s not the best for small offices or homes.

Best heavy-duty: Ideal 2604 P-4 Office Shredder with Automatic Oiler



Why it made the cut: This German-designed shredder can handle the shredding needs of up to 10 people, is fast and secure, and comes with a sustainably made wooden cabinet. 


  • Dimensions: 19.5 x 18.5 x 36.5 inches
  • Paper capacity: 23-25 sheets
  • Security level: P-4


  • High capacity
  • Fast
  • Comes in a wooden cabinet 


  • Heavy 
  • Expensive

This industrial-grade shredder from Ideal is a high-security, German-engineered solution perfect for legal and medical office use and any high-volume home business where privacy must be protected at all costs. Thanks to its automatic oiling feature, it runs continuously and can easily munch through staples, paper clips, and stacks of paper 25 sheets thick, adding up to a shred rate of about 500 sheets per minute. This, thanks to its sturdy, steel-toothed construction and its 26-gallon wastebasket, makes it ideal for use by a staff of 8 to 10 people.

Best portable: Aurora AU800SD Professional Strip Cut Paper Shredder



Why it made the cut: This Aurora model made the list as the best home paper shredder for its power, small size, versatile fit, and range of shreddable materials. 


  • Dimensions: 6.5 x 12.99 x 2.95 inches
  • Paper capacity: 8 sheets
  • Security level: P-1


  • Compact and easy to store
  • Expands to fit different wastebaskets
  • Shreds credit cards and CD/DVDs


  • Cannot handle a high volume

This portable paper shredder from Aurora can be used with or without a wastebasket, which allows you to use it in multiple locations from office to home. It cuts in strips and can destroy up to eight sheets of paper at a time, plus CDs, DVDs, and credit cards. It sits securely atop any open wastebasket and even has an extendable arm, allowing it to accommodate bins up to 15 inches wide.

The AU800 can handle eight pages at once and shreds them to ¼-inch pieces. That’s only P-1 security, so this isn’t intended for ultra-sensitive information. A jam remover button helps dislodge paper or other materials from the blades. However, be aware that this model isn’t designed for high paper volumes. It shuts down and requires a cool-down period fairly quickly.

Best for credit cards: Amazon Basics 6-Sheet Capacity, Paper Shredder

Amazon Basics


Why it made the cut: Amazon’s paper shredder features safety features and quick credit card shredding, rising to the top of the competition. 


  • Dimensions: 12.8 x 7.3 x 15.9 inches
  • Paper capacity: 6 sheet 
  • Security level: P-3


  • Safety mechanism shuts it off if it does not fit to the basket correctly
  • Shreds quickly during its 30-minute runtime
  • Auto-senses paper for better energy efficiency


  • Produces more paper dust than other models

This shredder from Amazon Basics comes with a 3.8-gallon integrated wastebasket and shreds up to six sheets of paper at a time in a cross-cut pattern, meeting P-3 security requirements. Easily shred a banker’s box worth of bills within the three-minute continuous run cycle, and you won’t have to worry about overheating thanks to the automatic shutoff feature.

Credit cards get a special center spot on the cutter, and it blows right through them. It also features the standard reverse mechanism and an auto-on feature that senses paper and turns on the cutters. If you’re worried about security, this is the best shredder for credit cards. You can also use it to destroy a single credit card at a time.

Best budget: Bonsaii 6-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper Shredder



Why it made the cut: For less than $35, this model provides security, a transparent window, great capacity, and versatile shredding options.


  • Dimensions: 7.09 x 11.81 x 14.25 inches
  • Paper capacity: 6 sheets
  • Security level: P-4


  • Shreds credit cards, paper, paper clips, and staples
  • Sharp, steel cutters hold their edge
  • Transparent window lets you see when it’s full


  • Noisy
  • Short runtime

The Bonsaii 6-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper Shredder offers an impressive array of features for a relatively inexpensive model. Its 6-page capacity gets only better when you consider that it can also shred credit cards, paper clips, and staples. That reduces the work it takes to prep papers for shredding. It’s the heavy-duty steel blades that eat through materials and cut them into P-4-sized pieces. 

While we like the automatic overheat protection and cooling system, this model can only run for about two minutes before it needs to shut down. That might limit the shredding capacity in a large office. And operating at 70 decibels, it’s also a noisy addition to the office environment.

What to consider before buying a paper shredder

With so many paper shredders on the market, choosing the right one for your home requires careful consideration. Keep the following factors in mind while making your purchase.

Security level

Paper shredders are given a security rating according to the size of the paper pieces they create. The DIN 66399 standard for paper destruction evaluates paper shredders for security with a rating of between P1 and P7. P1 shredders offer the lowest level of security, simply shredding documents into relatively wide strips, whereas P7 shredders tear each piece of paper into more than 12,000 pieces, making them the most secure.

Larger pieces are easier to reassemble, warranting a lower security level. The P-1 level machines create basic strips and offer the least security, while level P-7 is reserved for organizations like the NSA that have to shred top-secret documents. Depending on the sensitivity of the document’s information, you may need a P-3 or P-4 level shredder that cuts documents into smaller pieces than a P-2 model. At the P-5 and P-6 levels, the machines micro-cut the paper into tiny particles, making it nearly impossible to reassemble.

Strip cut v. Cross-cut v. Micro-cut

There are three types of paper shredders on the market: strip-cut, cross-cut, and micro-cut, each offering a different level of security.

Strip-cut shredders (P1 and P2) shred each piece of paper into approximately 39 pieces. They’re the most affordable option available and operate quickly. Cross-cut shredders (P3, P4, and P5) cut each piece of paper horizontally and vertically into between 200 and 400 pieces, making them adequate for household use. Micro-cut shredders (P5, P6, and P7), on the other hand, may also be referred to as “high-security” shredders, because they tear each piece of paper into more than 2,000 tiny pieces using diagonal blades. A major downside, however, is that they operate slowly.

Micro-cut is the best choice for those with more serious security needs but may be overkill for standard household use. While micro-cut shredders used to be prohibitively expensive for many people, today they don’t have a significantly higher cost than cross-cut shredders, making them more accessible.

Paper capacity and runtimes

The simplest machines can only handle shredding a couple of pages at once, while larger professional-grade shredders can shred up to 100 pages at a time. Look for a model that can shred at least six pieces of paper at a time. Machines that can shred a higher volume at once cost more. However, if you’re shredding hundreds of papers every week, these machines will save you time. 

Models that can shred more at once also have more powerful motors with longer running times. Less powerful motors may only run for five minutes or less before they need to cool down. Heavy-duty models can often run 30-60 continuous minutes.

What you’re shredding

Paper isn’t the only thing that needs shredding. Some of the best paper shredders can also eliminate credit cards and CD/DVDs. For those who have secure information in multiple mediums, this kind of shredder can offer a secure way to dispose of more than paper. 


A home office may be limited in space, with monitors and equipment taking up desk space, making the size of the paper shredder a serious matter to consider. Some models are as big as a garbage can, while others are small enough to sit on a desktop. A no-basket paper shredder can sit atop almost any garbage can and can be stored in a drawer.


Q: Do I need a paper shredder?

The short answer is: yes, every household should have a paper shredder. Key documents like bank and credit card statements should never be thrown in the trash or recycling without first being destroyed, and the easiest way to do so is with a paper shredder. 

Q: How much does a paper shredder cost?

This depends on its size, paper capacity, and other features. You can pay as little as $30 to as much as $1,780 for our recommendations.

Q: Is cross-cut or micro-cut shredder better?

When deciding which is better, cross-cut or micro-cut, you have to consider what kind of information you’re shredding. Cross-cut shredders offer some security, but there’s a possibility of the information being visible if someone really wanted access to it. This type of shredding works well for everyday emails, documents, and non-sensitive personal information.

However, if there’s confidential information, a micro-cut shredder creates smaller pieces that are incredibly difficult to reconstruct. Micro-cut shredders are the highest-security option because they shred each piece of paper into at least 2,000 tiny pieces that are practically impossible to reassemble.

Q: Should I shred old utility bills?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, you can shred utility bills immediately after they’ve been paid. Other documents like pay stubs and medical bills need to be hung onto for a little longer, but utility bills aren’t something you need to keep for years.

Q: How long should a shredder last?

With proper maintenance and oiling, a paper shredder should last about 10 years. However, that estimate is based on usage. Never exceeding the paper capacity and runtime limits will ensure that you get the best life out of the shredder.

Final thoughts on the best paper shredders

The Fellowes Powershred 14-Sheet Micro-Cut Heavy-Duty Paper Shredder gets top marks because of its security rating, high paper capacity, and safety features. However, if you’ve got a business that regularly handles sensitive information, you’ll probably need the power of the Aurora AU1580MA Professional Grade Micro-Cut Shredder. This model’s high-capacity cutters whip through paper, credit cards, and other materials. Bring your own wastebasket with this portable Aurora shredder and use it in multiple locations from office to home. It cuts in strips and can destroy up to eight sheets of paper at a time, as well as CDs, DVDs, and credit cards. It sits securely atop any open wastebasket and even has an extendable arm that allows it to accommodate bins up to 15 inches wide.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.