The main reason why people like you are looking for quiet paper shredders is simply that you don’t like the noise, which is downright irritating
It’s not good for your business when you operate a noisy paper shredder, since you may just end up annoying your customers.
Your own workers won’t be pleased when you operate that office shredder, either, so their work productivity may go down.
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Even quiet paper shredders have their uses at home, especially around the time you’re doing your taxes.
You can then make sure you don’t throw away papers with your sensitive information retrieved by dumpster divers, who may engage in identity theft.
At least with quiet paper shredders, you can still shred while watching TV.
Uses for Your Paper Shredder
Obviously, you can gain a lot of peace and quiet by not using a paper shredder at all.
But office managers all over the world include this in their office equipment buying lists, alongside items like standing desks, rulers, and journaling supplies.
Heck, some managers even include lava lamps and a Magic 8-ball on these lists, and a paper shredder is actually much more crucial.
Here are some reasons why paper shredders are so important:
“Dura Lex, Sed Lex”
This is a law school phrase, roughly translating as “The law may be harsh, but it’s still the law”.
In our context, it means you need paper shredders for your business because it’s a legal requirement.
It’s not even a harsh law at all, since these things don’t take an inordinate amount of space, and they’re very simple to use.
They don’t really cost a lot, either.
In fact, the fines you’ll pay for disobeying the law can be a lot worse.
Customer and Employee Protection
When you have clients and customers, you often need to obtain sensitive information from them to do your work properly.
This is especially true if you’re a lawyer, or a doctor dealing with patients.
You need to protect your clients’ privacy by making sure you destroy any records that your clients don’t want to be made public.
You also protect them by making sure their person data don’t become available to would-be identity thieves.
Sometimes you may have ideas that you’d put on a paper document, concerning strategies or products that your company might use for profit.
You certainly don’t want your competitors getting their hands on those papers, so it’s best if you shred them so they’re virtually impossible to read.
With a paper shredder by your desk, you’re able to shred papers at any time.
It’s easier than having to get a 3rd party company to provide the service for you.
Also, the shredded paper takes up less space than crumpled paper.
This means you won’t have to empty your trash bin as often.
Avoiding Fire Hazards
Having lots of papers in your office and home can be a fire hazard.
But having these papers around can lead to procrastination, when you ought to get rid of these papers right away.
By shredding the paper, you won’t have any good reasons to keep these bits of paper around.
You can also do your bit for the environment by reusing the paper for other purposes when you’re done writing on them.
You can use the shreds of paper as mulch for your garden, or even bedding for a pet rodent.
You can also be assured that many of these machines have energy saving features.
Chores for Kids
If you’re using a paper shredder at home, you may want to assign the chore for your young kids.
Lots of kids think it’s fun to shred paper, and it can sate their destructive tendencies.
That gets them out of your hair while you do your own chores.
Destroying Other Stuff
You can also shred DVDs and CDs with paper shredders, along with credit cards and even some old floppy discs.
Destroying these discs give you the push you need to get rid of them.
After all, you can just download these movies and songs from the Internet and you’’ get rid of clutter around the house.
Factors to Consider
Obviously, the noise level of the shredder will be a relevant factor here.
After all, you’re looking specifically for quiet paper shredders.
Still, there are other considerations that you need to keep in mind before you make your final choice.
First, you have to define what “quiet” means for you and just how quiet do you need your paper shredder to be?
Your standards have to be realistic, as you can’t expect these things to work completely silently because they have motors which can’t be totally silent.
A reasonable expectation would be to define quiet paper shredders as machines that aren’t noisier than 75 decibels.
That’s about as noisy as a modern vacuum cleaner or the volume of the average radio.
Consider that regular office noise is rated at 70 decibels, and a 75-decibel paper shredder represents a 23% increase in loudness.
Some really quiet paper shredders generate noise within a range of 60 to 70 decibels, which basically means they’re quieter than the average office noise.
This refers to sheet capacity, or the number of sheets you can feed into the shredder at a single pass.
Obviously, the more sheets you can put in, the faster you get your shredding task done.
Basic shredders can maybe deal with 3 sheets of paper at once, at a maximum.
But the more powerful industrial-grade shredders may be able handle 10 sheets at once.
You may need high sheet capacity when you’re dealing with high-volume paper shredding.
Just keep in mind that more powerful shredders tend to generate louder noise.
For Things Other Than Paper
Some of these powerful shredders may even be able to deal with paper clips and staples which you may have inadvertently forgotten to remove.
Other shredders can also destroy CDs, DVDs, floppy discs, and credit cards.
Just don’t expect the shredder to work silently when destroying these types of things.
How quickly can your shredder shred your papers?
This rate is generally measured by either “feet per minute”, or by “sheets per minute”.
These are roughly similar measures, since the sheets often used for “sheets per minute” are often close to 12 inches long.
The quicker it shreds the paper, the faster you get your work done.
Still, the faster shredders generally make a bit more noise, unsurprisingly.
There are 3 types of cuts your paper shredder can create for your sheets of paper.
This is the basic cut, when you end up with ribbons after shredding.
Many of the quiet paper shredders do strip cuts as they’re simpler, so you can work without too much noise.
Also, you can shred more quickly.
It’s just that strip cuts aren’t very secure.
You’ve probably seen some movies where some characters are able to piece together the strip cuts of documents to read what was previously written there.
This makes more cuts, which leaves you with much smaller pieces instead of long strips of paper.
This is a more secure method, but making more cuts means using up more time.
Also, you make more noise.
Micro-shredders are the most secure, because you have very tiny particles of paper after shredding.
It’s virtually impossible to recreate the original documents by piecing together these small particles.
However, this method takes the most time and may create a lot of noise.
Shredders can run for a limited time before the motor heats up and you need to let it cool down.
Some shredders can only operate a few minutes, before you need half an hour to let it cool down.
However, commercial-grade shredders may be able to operate for 20 minutes continuously before you need to rest the machine.
Size and Appearance
These things don’t really have to be too large, but you should check the dimensions if you have limited space for a shredder.
These shredders also aren’t designed to look nice on the whole, but you should check out the pictures to see if you can tolerate its functional appearance.
Generally, though, these things don’t look all that bad.
You just need to check the bin capacity and the paper feed size.
It may be better to go with a larger bin capacity so that it takes you a longer time to fill it up.
Then check what paper size you can feed in so you know what paper sizes you can shred.
You may want to pick a shredder based on how small the particles you end up with afterwards.
There’s a standard security classification for this, with a system ranging from P2 to P7.
Just keep in mind that the higher security levels will need more time and are more likely will make more noise.
The run time for the highest security levels also tend to be short, with a longer cooling down time.
This is the most basic particle size, and the least secure.
It doesn’t consider the length of the strip of paper, as long as the width doesn’t exceed 6 millimeters.
That’s about ¼ of an inch.
This is the most commonly used security level, and you’ll find it in many offices.
In general, the particles cannot exceed an area of 320 sq. mm.
That means the crosscut paper particles should be, at the most, 80mm long and 4mm wide.
This is generally the highest security level for shredders for commercial purposes.
It’s meant for highly confidential corporate and client information.
The area cannot exceed 160 sq. mm., with a length of 40 mm and a width of 4 mm at the most.
This is the standard shredder security level for many European government agencies.
The particle area cannot go over 30 sq. mm., with a length of 15 mm and a width of 2 mm.
This is the “Top Secret” level of shredder security, and meets the standards of the US military and other similar government organizations.
The maximum area is 10 sq. mm., measuring 12 mm by 0.8 mm.
This is the highest level of shredder security, used for the most sensitive documents.
Supposedly, the CIA and US embassies around the world use shredders with this security level.
The total shred area cannot exceed 5 sq. mm., meaning you cut the P6 particles in half.
Many of the best shredders come with safety features, along with features that help you deal with jams.
Some shredders can reverse the direction of the blades so you’re able to pull out the documents if a jam occurs.
Other shredders may even have features that prevent jams in the first place.
Other safety features may prevent children (or pets) from getting hurt, when they insert their restless hands into slots where the blades may be operating.
Some shredders can work as hand crank paper shredder, so you’re able to shred even when power is out.
This may be a faster option when you have a single sheet to shred.
Our Top 5 Quiet Paper Shredders
To help you get started on your search, here are 5 quiet paper shredders that you should consider based on relevant factors (plus the cost).
“Your Basic Home Office Shredder”
Our Rating 4.5
This is a very basic shredder designed for home use or for a personal office.
At least it’s quiet, with an operating noise level of only 70 decibels.
That’s about as noisy as the rest of the office, so you won’t really disturb your workplace.
It can deal with 6 sheets at once, and powerful enough to destroy credit cards one at a time.
It makes cross cuts resulting in bits of paper measuring 46 by 6 mm.
That’s your basic P3 level.
This can work only 2 minutes, before you need to rest it for 30 minutes.
That means it’s really meant for light duty use.
Simple to Use
It’s easy enough to use, as it starts automatically when you put sheets in.
Its security features include manual reverse for jams, and automatic shutoff if the motor gets too hot.
The paper feed is 8.7 inches wide, so you can shred A4, legal, and letter-sized papers.
You also have a bin with a 3.8-gallon capacity.
It really isn’t all that big, measuring 12.1 by 7.7 inches with a height of 15 inches.
“Reliable Shredder for Home Office”
Our Rating: 4.5
If the 6-sheet cross cutting shredder is too basic for you, then you may want to take it up a notch to this model.
Similarities to 6-Sheet Model
This is still meant for light duty, and it’s still quiet at 70 decibels.
You still need a cool time of 30 minutes.
The security level is still P3, though the resulting particles are a bit smaller.
You also have auto start and manual reverse, with auto shutoff if you go past the recommended run time.
The feed entry is even angled for safety.
This time, you’re able to put in 8 sheets at a time.
You don’t even have to remove the staples, plus this can deal with credit cards as well.
You can also use this for 3 minutes at a time.
The bin capacity is a bit bigger at 4.1 gallons, and you even have a window so you can see if the bin is full.
“Powerful, Quiet, and Jam Proof”
Our Rating: 4.5
You’d expect quiet paper shredders to have minimal performance standards, but this Fellowes Powershred can surprise you.
This industrial strength paper shredder is powerful enough to deal with 16 sheets of paper at once.
It gives you tiny bits of paper that meet P4 security standards.
Deals with More than Paper
You don’t need to remove staples and paper clips from your papers.
This confetti-cut paper shredder can also handle your junk mails, DVD, CD and credit card.
It’s even jam-proof, with 3 levels of paper jamming prevention.
You get the “SilentShred” technology, minimizing the noise.
The SafeSense tech comes with a sensor around the paper entry, and it stops the machine when it senses hands touching the entry.
Run-Time and Bin Capacity
This can work for an amazing 20 minutes straight, before you need to rest it for half an hour.
Your bin size is 6 gallons, and this is a paper shredder with pull out bin to make it easy for you to empty the bin.
It’s a bit big, but then you have casters to easily move it around.
“Powerful Yet Quiet”
Our Rating: 4.5
Do you hate the fact that you have to wait half an hour to rest your shredder?
If that’s true for you, then you’ll like this one.
While it only runs 2 minutes at a time, the rest time is only 15 minutes.
It also shuts off automatically if the motor overheats.
This also can deal with 8 sheets, along with credit cards, DVDs, and CDs.
You also get the usual auto start and manual reverse features.
“Combines Power with Quiet Operation”
Our Rating: 3.5
Most quiet paper shredders can’t handle too many sheets at once, but this powerful one can handle 12 sheets of A4 paper at a time.
This cross cut shredder can shred 12 sheets per minute, or 1.8 meters per minute, resulting in cross cut bits meeting P3 security level standards.
It can deal with paper clips and staples, along with credit cards, CDs, and DVDs.
Despite the power, the noise is limited to just 72 decibels.
You can run this for 3 to 5 minutes, before you need to rest it for 40 minutes.
The bin measures 5.5 gallons, have a window to check if it’s full, and features a convenient handle.
Quiet Paper Shredders: Conclusion
There are plenty of great shredders out there, with lots of terrific features.
You may want to go with the Embassy Microcut paper shredder while the Novitech paper shredder has lots of fans.
Others favor the HSM Shredstar.
It’s just that these terrific office paper shredder models tend to be a bit noisy. Now if you want quiet paper shredders, check out our list instead!