Most shredders, especially higher-end cross-cut (confetti) and micro-cut shredders intended for medium- to heavy-duty business use, require an occasional dose of shredder oil to stay in tip-top shape. Well-oiled shredders run more smoothly and ultimately should last longer than machines that are not cared for and maintained in this manner. Some people have even revived old, lower-end shredders Tin Man style with a generous application of oil.
The industrial-grade oil not only lubricates the cutters, but conditions them so they will last longer. It can also help the motor and other moving parts and reduce noise as the shredder operates.
To determine how best to apply the oil to your machine, consult your shredder's manual. Shredder oil usually comes in a plastic squeeze bottle with a long, thin nozzle that aids in application and coverage. It's commonly applied directly to the cutting heads, and it may be advisable to run the shredder in reverse mode for a few seconds to let it spread. Running a couple of sheets of paper through the shredder should remove excess oil. (Some people oil their shredder by applying the oil to paper and running the sheet of paper through the machine. Again, consult your manual.)
It's a good idea to get in the habit of oiling your shredder every time you change the wastebasket or bag, or a couple of times per month. Cross-cut shredders need oiling more often than do strip cut shredders.
Shredder oil can be purchased online, or at office supply stores. If your business has a maintenance worker or salesperson who comes by to check on the photocopier and other office machines, he or she may sell shredder oil. The oil is not very expensive. Even a 12-ounce bottle with a suggested retail price of $19.95 can be readily found online for less than $10.
A few shredder manufacturers, such as Fellowes under its Powershred label, sell oil that is intended to be used with its models, for optimal performance. There are also generic oils carried by office supply stores. Liquid oil is the most common, but there are also aerosol spray varieties.
Some people try to cut costs by oiling their shredders with different types of oil. Shredder manufacturers recommend using vegetable-based oils, such as corn or canola, but strongly advise against anything else. WD-40 and aerosol lubricants, along with anything petroleum-based, are never to be used on the cutting blades of a shredder.