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9 best paper shredders for quick document disposal at home

These powerful machines made light work of everything from paper to credit cards

Tamara Hinson
Monday 28 March 2022 13:41
<p>Even paper clips and staples are no match for the more powerful contenders in our line-up  </p>

Even paper clips and staples are no match for the more powerful contenders in our line-up

First things first: shredding is no longer something done by shady business magnates and heads of multinational conglomerates. At a time when identity theft and bank fraud is at an all-time high, it’s never been more important to dispose of confidential documents in the right way, and that’s where shredders come in.

Most paper shredders for home use are of the cross-cut variety, which means they use two sets of serrated blades, fitted in opposite directions to each other, to shred documents. The shredded pieces will be much smaller than the pieces produced by strip-cut shredders, which are (thankfully) few and far between these days.

To put it into perspective, the most basic cross-cut shredder will slice a piece of A4 paper into around 200 pieces, while strip-cut shredders will generally slice and dice your piece of paper into just 40 pieces, which means you wouldn’t need to be a jigsaw pro to piece that particular piece of paper back together.

For this review, we’re focusing on shredders for home offices. Depending on the sensitivity of the documents you’re destroying, consider looking out for the P number, which denotes the shredder’s security rating. Most shredders designed for home use have a P3 or P4 rating. The P number simply relates to the number of pieces a document is shredded into, and generally P3 or P4 will be sufficient, although if it’s not advertised, make a note of the number of pieces each piece of paper is cut into. However, remember that a higher P number will mean more pieces, which is better for security, but means you’ll need more capacity.

If you’re planning on shredding large numbers of documents at one time, an auto-feed function could prove useful. We’re also fans of shredders with silent modes for those late-night shredding sessions, and machines with anti-jam functionality can be a godsend too – the blades will automatically stop and reverse (thereby ejecting the blockage) when too many sheets of paper are inserted.

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How we tested

We didn’t have to look far to find a wealth of documents that should have been sliced into scraps months ago. In fact, it was slightly scary to discover just how many sensitive documents we had strewn around our home – everything from bank statements (one of which was found down the back of the couch) to vaccination certificates, both of which would have been good starting points for anybody attempting identity fraud, had they found these documents in our bins.

We also shredded a wide range of other items (within reason – our driving license had a lucky escape during one particularly frenzied shredder test session). Credit cards (expired ones, to be clear) and documents held together with large paper clips were all pushed into the blades of our shredders, and we spent more time than we care to remember analysing the size, shape and quantity of the resulting shreds. We should also warn you: shredding, it turns out, is rather addictive.

The best paper shredders for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Rexel optimum auto feed 45 sheet automatic cross cut paper shredder: £140.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best value – Ryman VS608M 6 sheet cross cut shredder: £39.99, Ryman.co.uk
  • Best for low noise levels – Rexel X6 cross cut paper shredder: £49.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for a wide range of materials – Fellowes 79Ci cross-cut shredder: £236.02, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for capacity – Rexel momentum X308 cross cut paper shredder black: £49.99, Whsmith.co.uk
  • Best for ease of use – Fellowes powershred 12C 12 sheet cross cut shredder: £139.99, Ryman.co.uk
  • Best for style conscious shredders – Leitz IQ home office cross cut paper shredder: £86.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for tough shredding – Fellowes powershred LX50 cross cut shredder: £54.99, Johnlewis.com
  • Best for small home offices – Fellowes powershred LX25 cross cut shredder: £44.99, Johnlewis.com

Rexel optimum auto feed 45 sheet automatic cross cut paper shredder

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

This compact piece of kit, which has a P4 rating, is a great option for serious shredders with limited space. We loved the auto-feed function, which meant we could stack up to 45 sheets of paper on a loading tray for automated shredding, and the ultra-thin 4x28mm shredded strips ensure sensitive information doesn’t get into the wrong hands. The 20l bin allows for plenty of shredding between bin changes, while its compact design – it’s just 43cm high and 35cm wide – means it will tuck easily into the smallest of spaces.

Ryman VS608M 6 sheet cross cut shredder

Best: Value

Rating: 10/10

This shredder is unusual in that it’s almost entirely transparent, and we loved the ease with which we could keep an eye on capacity levels. It will shred up to six sheets at once, although we couldn’t resist pushing its limits by inserting 10 sheets at once, followed by several thick pieces of card and a couple of plastic hotel key cards (at this point, we didn’t have any more credit cards to shred). In fact, we got so carried away we even shredded a self-addressed envelope we’d been sent by mistake, but you know what? It was totally worth it, and the shredder destroyed everything with ease.

Rexel X6 cross cut paper shredder

Best: For low noise levels

Rating: 8/10

This P4-rated shredder might not have the largest capacity – it had a 10l bin and will shred six sheets of paper at one time – but this is unlikely to be an issue. Yes, we’ve seen plenty of thrillers showing villains frantically feeding thick wads of top-secret documents into shredders before the FBI arrives on the scene, but the same urgency is less likely to be required when the documents are credit card statements or phone bills. And that’s exactly why we love this shredder – with its compact design (170mm x 302mm x 321mm, 4kg) it’s a great everyday shredder which will take up minimal space while providing peace of mind that personal data won’t get into the wrong hands, shredding documents into pieces measuring 4mm x 40mm. There’s no need to remove paper clips or staples either – this shredder will chomp through the lot.

Fellowes 79Ci cross-cut shredder

Best: For a wide range of materials

Rating: 10/10

The super car of shredders, this lean, mean shredding machine turns confidential documents into confetti (each shred measures a tiny 4mm x 38mm) in a nano-second, but it will also make light work of CDs, paperclips and staples, too. It will slash through up to 15 sheets at once (great news for anyone prone to jamming in more paper than advised, and yes, we’re repeat offenders when it comes to this particular crime), and its 23l capacity means bin changes are few and far between. We were especially impressed with the silent shred mode, which drastically reduces noise levels.

Rexel momentum X308 cross cut paper shredder black

Best: For capacity

Rating: 8/10

A 15l bin and the ability to shred up to eight sheets of paper (each of which is shredded into 200 individual pieces) at one time makes this P3-rated shredder ideal for medium-sized home offices. The lid lifts off with ease, and a large window on the front makes it easy to keep an eye on capacity. The touch controls are a joy to use, and the powerful motor helps to minimise the risk of jams by immediately stopping the shredder and pushing the paper back out with surprising force. Unlike more expensive shredders, it won’t shred CDs, but it will happily gobble paperclips, stables and credit cards.

Fellowes powershred 12C 12 sheet cross cut shredder

Best: For ease of use

Rating: 9/10

This is a brilliantly designed machine which is a joy to use (and yes, we did just say that about a shredder). The large, 19l bin slides out incredibly easily, and it’s on wheels too. The controls are easy to operate with clear markings, such as the one indicating where credit cards can be inserted. As we’ve mentioned, we quickly ran out of credit cards to feed our shredders with, so we tested it using a couple of plastic hotel room keys, which were no match for the powerful cutters. Up to 12 sheets of paper can be shredded at one time, and the cutters have a five-year warranty, which provides extra peace of mind – two years appears to be standard with the majority of shredders.

Leitz IQ home office cross cut paper shredder

Best: For style conscious shredders

Rating: 9/10

Don’t get us wrong. When it comes to shredders, the ease with which the machine chomps through your paperwork should be the priority, but given that shredders will never be the most attractive of items, we’re all for ones which blend into the background. And that’s exactly what this P4-rated model does – not just with its minimalist design, but with a surprisingly quiet shredding motion. Its appetite is also impressive – it will shred 10 sheets of paper at one time, turning them into miniscule scraps of paper (400 per sheet, to be precise) measuring just 4mm by 40mm.

Fellowes powershred LX50 cross cut shredder

Best: For tough shredding

Rating: 10/10

This jet-black mean machine slashes sensitive documents into 4mm x 37mm strips, has a 17l bin and will gobble up staples, paper clips and credit cards too. It’s got a P4 rating, and with a weight of just 4.5kg it’s not too bulky, and a brilliant choice for serial shredders who need to destroy sensitive documents on a regular basis.

Fellowes powershred LX25 cross cut shredder

Best: For small home offices

Rating: 9/10

A great choice for smaller home offices, this P4 shredder will shred six sheets of A4 paper at once, producing shreds measuring 4mm x 37mm, and will shred credit cards and paper clips too. Its low, squat shape means it will tuck neatly under desks, and features such as the safety lock and quiet operation mode make it ideal for family homes.

The verdict: Paper shredders

Rexel’s optimum auto feed 45 sheet automatic cross cut paper shredder is a fantastic machine with a mid-range price tag which is worth every penny, due to its quick, powerful shredding action and compact design. Ryman’s VS608M 6 sheet cross cut shredder is a brilliantly wallet-friendly option with a design that puts other (more expensive) shredders to shame, while the Rexel X6 cross cut paper shredder gets the highly commended award, due to its compact design, great price and ease of use.

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