It might be hard to believe this, but the world’s very first paper shredder was invented in 1909 by a prolific inventor named Abbot Augustus Low and simply named a “waste paper receptacle”. Although Low never marketed his device, the idea became very popular, with some of the earlier hand-cranked models made from re-purposed pasta makers. It wasn’t until 1959 that an electric paper shredder was first invented, used by government agencies and banks to efficiently dispose of unwanted documents.
Paper shredders remained the province of banks and other institutions for the next 20 years until a Supreme Court decision ruled that the police did not need a warrant in order to search a person’s garbage. As a result of that decision, paper shredders became a popular must-have device in people’s homes, used as a way of maintaining privacy and confidentiality.
Today’s paper shredders come in all sizes, shapes, and designs. Many of them have powerful motors and cutting surfaces that can easily shred through hard materials like credit cards and compact discs. And while shredders have always been very efficient at reducing papers to illegible bits, the combination of motors and cutting action made these machines onerously noisy to use and operate.
Thanks to a number of breakthroughs in insulation, motor, and cutting technology, it is now possible to own paper shredders that produce very little noise at all, ideal for office and home situations where shredding operations might disturb other people nearby.
A Mini Buyers Guide for Choosing the Right Quiet Paper Shredder
The first thing to consider when choosing a quiet paper shredder is exactly how often you plan to use it and how much material you will shred on a regular basis. A smaller, more lightweight model is better suited for occasional low-volume shredding jobs, compact enough to be easily transported between rooms in the home or offices. Larger quiet paper shredders with bigger capacities are better suited for situations when large volumes of documents and other items need to be shredded on a regular basis.
Beyond volume, weight, and size, quiet paper shredders are classified by the way in which they shred. These include:
Strip cut –
The simplest way to shred paper, this style involves cutting documents into long, thin strips using rotating cutting blades.
Cross cut – Also known as “confetti cut”, this method involves using two offset series of cutting blades to reduce paper into tiny rectangular, diamond, or parallelogram shaped particles.
Particle cut –
Similar to “confetti” cut above, this involves punching out tiny square or circular particles.
Disintegrators/Granulators – This method involves constantly cutting paper until the particles are small enough to pass through a screen.
Beyond the method by which the paper is shredded, paper shredders are distinguished by the security level of the particles produced.
P1 – Smaller than 12 millimeters.
P2 – Smaller than 6 millimeters.
P3 – Smaller than 2 millimeters.
P4 – Smaller than 6 millimeters and compacted to less than 160 square millimeters.
P5 – Smaller than 2 millimeters and compacted to less than 30 square millimeters.
P6 – Smaller than 1 millimeter and compacted to less than 10 square millimeters.
P7 – Smaller than 1 millimeter and compacted to less than 5 square millimeters.
The United States government requires that all classified documents be shredded to the P7 standard, although this is generally considered to be much more than necessary for standard household or office shredding needs.
Beyond the style of shredding and the P-level of security achieved, here are a few additional features to look for when choosing a quiet paper shredder:
Jam-proof – Sensors keep the cutting blades from being overloaded.
Safety – Some shredders have sensors that automatically shut off the motor when they detect that a person’s hands are too close to the blades.
Energy – Features like sleep modes and more efficient motors help use less energy.
Reduce mess – Auto-cleaning functions help remove the build-up of tiny paper particles on cutting blades and other parts of the shredder.
Quiet – Special innovations can drastically reduce the amount of noise the shredder makes when in operation.
10 Best Quiet Paper Shredders
After reviewing and analyzing the commercially-available paper shredders on the market, we have carefully assembled what we believe are the top 10 quiet paper shredders that you can buy today.
With a P4 security rating and an elegant black and matte metal design, the SimplyShred PSC310D is a powerful machine able to cut up to 10 sheets at a time. The SimplyShred PSC310D produces only 58 decibels of sound while blazing through up to 8.5 feet of paper per minute. The SimplyShred PSC310D features an automatic start/stop and a generous 7.4-gallon holding tank to make quick work of large shredding jobs. The SimplyShred PSC310D can shred paper, CDs, DVDs, credit cards, and even handle staples with ease. The SimplyShred PSC310D has an automatic jam and overheating detector to stop operation when the machine is overloaded.
Able to shred up to 12 sheets at a time, the AmazonBasics is an excellent basic shredder. Designed to run continuously for up to five minutes, the AmazonBasics has a generous 8.7-inch wide paper feed and 4.8-gallon holding bin. The AmazonBasics has a P2 security rating and can easily blaze through credit cards, CDs, or DVDs. The AmazonBasics comes with an automatic start/stop function and will shut off if it becomes jammed or senses a foreign object.
With an elegant black design, the Sentinel FM101P is a P4-level shredder able to easily dispense of 10 sheets of paper at a time. The Sentinel FM101P can shred up to 60 pages a minute and comes with an automatic start/stop function as well as a reverse function in case of jams or the introduction of foreign objects. The Sentinel FM101P has a generous four gallon basket complete with a transparent window so that you’ll always know when it’s time to empty it. The Sentinel FM101P has built-in caster wheels for easy transportation between rooms or offices. The Sentinel FM101P can also handle credit cards.
Bonsaii EverShred C149-C 18-Sheet Cross-cut Shredder with 6 Gallon Wastebasket Capacity and 4 Casters
The Bonsaii EverShred C149-C is perfect for anyone who needs to regularly shred large volumes of material. Able to handle 18 sheets at a time to P2 standards, the Bonsaii EverShred C149-C has a built-in 6-gallon holding bin with a convenient transparent window. The Bonsaii EverShred C149-C produces just 62 decibels when being operated and can run continuously for up to 60 minutes at a time, efficiently shredding 5.3 feet of paper per minute. The Bonsaii EverShred C149-C has special jam-proof technology to keep the machine from being overloaded and features an advanced cooling system to accommodate large-volume shredding jobs. The Bonsaii EverShred C149-C can also shred CDs, DVDs, and credit cards as well as safely handling staples.
With a clean white design, the GoECOlife GMW101B is a P2-level shredder able to handle up to 10 sheets of paper at a time. The 3.6-gallon bin comes with a convenient viewing window. The GoECOlife GMW101B is an extremely quiet shredder and is a carbon-free product that meets the carbon fund’s protocols. The GoECOlife GMW101B comes with 12 lubricant sheets to ensure the longevity and reliability of the shredder.
The Fellowes Powershred is a P4-level shredder that can easily dispense of up to 16 sheets of paper at a time, converting over 200 sheets of paper a minute into tiny particles. The Fellowes Powershred can easily handle CDs, DVDs, paper clips, staples, and credit cards with ease. Special Jam Buster technology ensures that the machine will never clog or overheat. Proprietary SilentShred technology allows for whisper-quiet operation, and the Fellowes Powershred comes with a generous 6.5-gallon pull-out bin with convenient viewing window. The Fellowes Powershred is designed to be used continuously for 20 minutes followed by a mandatory 40-minute cool down period.
With a discreet black and silver design, the HSM S10 is a P2-level device can shred up to 67 sheets of paper per minute. The HSM S10 comes with a generous 4.7-gallon bin and is designed to easily handle credit cards, CDs, DVDs, paper clips, and staples. The HSM S10 has special Energy Management functions to reduce power consumption, and generates nearly no noise when operating. The HSM S10 has a convenient auto stop/start function and a manual reverse button to eliminate clogging and jamming.
From one of the leading manufacturers of office equipment, the Swingline 1758581 is a P4 level shredder with a clean, white design that can easily handle up to seven sheets of paper in a single pass. The Swingline 1758581 comes with a 3.3-gallon waste bin and can easily shred paper clips, staples, and credit cards. The Swingline 1758581 is designed to be used up to six minutes continuously before needing to cool down for 30 minutes. The Swingline 1758581 weighs just 13 pounds and measures 10.2 by 14.5 by 14.8 inches for placing underneath desks or being moved between rooms and offices.
Ideal for quick, easy shredding jobs, the Portable Mini is small enough to be placed on a desktop or counter. The Portable Mini can either be powered by two AA batteries (not included) or a standard USB port (USB charging cable is included). The Portable Mini is a P1-level shredder and comes with an on, off, and reverse switch.
HSM SECURIO AF150 L4 Micro-cut Shredder with automatic paper feed; shreds up to 150 automatically/13 manually; 9 gallon capacity
With an classical black and white design, the HSM SECURIO AF150 is a powerful P4-level shredder able to shred up to 150 sheets of papers with ease, storing the resulting paper particles in a very generous 9-gallon storage bin with a convenient level indicator. The HSM SECURIO AF150 has an automatic start function as well as an EcoSmart monitor that helps dramatically reduce power consumption. The HSM SECURIO AF150 has a very wide 9.5-inch feed opening and can blast through 12.8 linear feet of paper per minute. The HSM SECURIO AF150 comes with special anti-jam technology and noise-reducing functions that make it possible to comfortably carry on a conversation while the shredder is being operated.