Reader question: How to hide a shredder?

Reader Mary sent us the following question:

Any suggestions about ways to disguise a paper shredder? I want it to be handy, in a place near my family “launch pad” on the kitchen counter or the antique washstand near our front door. I’ve wondered about baskets and anything that would camouflage it in the room.

I will wholeheartedly agree, Mary, that paper shredders are not the most attractive products on the market. And, since you’re keeping your shredder where you use it — brilliant! — I can understand why you want to hide it instead of proclaiming to the world LOOK! I HAVE A SHREDDER! RIGHT HERE!!

A nice laundry basket (I’m thinking something like this) might be large enough to hide a shredder. I’d keep the basket’s lid open during use, though, to minimize heat buildup. And, I’d also cut a hole in the back of the basket for the power cord to feed through.

If you’re rolling in dough, you could call the person who designed your kitchen cabinets to come out and build you a custom cabinet. I, however, am not rolling in piles of cash, so this wouldn’t be the option for me.

In my home, we have a bench just inside the front door and we have a small trash can and a small shredder stored underneath it. We know it’s there, but no one else does. Benches often work in homes with antiques (you mentioned the wash basin), so a bench might be something you could add that still works with your decor. Does your wash basin have space inside of it for the shredder? If it’s not a valuable piece, you could cut a hole in the back of it and run the power cable through it. If it’s a valuable piece, please ignore this last suggestion.

I know that Mary would love to get as many suggestions as possible, so please feel welcome to fill the comments with ideas. Keep on shredding!

61 Comments for “Reader question: How to hide a shredder?”

  1. posted by Mary on

    I tucked ours into our laundry room which is conveniently next to the door the family enters (which means all the credit card offers go straight to the shredder along with the all the blank checks they seem to mail …)

  2. posted by j on

    We keep ours next to the garbage can in the kitchen. As far as a shredder being unattractive, is it really any different than a garbage can? Really, it’s nothing more than a higher-tech wastebasket, and nobody has any hangups about those being in plain sight.

  3. posted by anon on

    If you don’t already have a shredder, a small one (like this one) or even a wand style (like this) would be easier to camouflage.

    (The links are just the first examples of each I found… don’t know anything about the specific ones.)

  4. posted by constance on

    isn’t this a unitasker?

  5. posted by Mikey on

    I hid mine in a recycled nightstand, and I put my annoyingly large printer on top.

  6. posted by Jeff on

    what you can do is dedicate a locked drawer to shredding, and purchase one of shredders that has no bin built in. Place the shredder into the drawer and lock it.

    To shred something, pull out the drawer, affix the shredder to the top of the drawer’s opening, and shred away. Then throw the shredder back on top of the shreddings and close the drawer again. Bam.

    Obviously the power cord could be annoying, but you could just feed it through the back of the drawer based on the set up of your desk.

  7. posted by lys on

    We have a useless desk in our kitchen, we hide it under there. Once we get cabinets as a replacement for the desk, I’ll have to find a new spot.

  8. posted by Chris on

    Why can’t you go to ikea or one of the import stores and put it inside a basket or take like bamboo and wrap it. Mine is a normal trashcan that it sits on top of i suppose i could get a really nice trash can to put it on but then what do you do with the top of the shredder. I suppose I could cover it with something but would I really use the shredder after that.

  9. posted by balconygal on

    I was just considering this same issue…I’m about to ‘do’ my file cabinet in wood grain contact paper and I’m thinking the shredder will get the same treatment. The top being plastic will still be ok with me.

  10. posted by Shay on

    @Constance:

    Not at all! I can shred unwanted flyers, I can shred credit card applications, I can shred credit cards, I can shred my shoelaces! I can even use it to make confetti and packing material. It’s one of them most useful multitaskers in my house. πŸ˜€

  11. posted by Erin Doland on

    @constance — At Unclutterer, we’re not against all unitaskers. We find great utility in devices like toilets, beds, and shredders. If you’re not using a shredder or incinerator, you’re taking a risk with identity theft. And, ultimately, identity theft is a much larger act of clutter than having a shredder. Items we feature as Unitasker Wednesday products are just straight up clutter.

  12. posted by Erin Doland on

    @constance — I’m also with @shay, and see shredders as multi-taskers for the reasons listed in that comment.

  13. posted by Zachary Ozer on

    We hide ours under a side table. As long as the top isn’t transparent, you can hide it in between the narrow side’s legs (here-> |=====| <-or here) and just have the slot sticking out. The rest is obscured by the table.

  14. posted by Kris on

    I think a nice large basket is a wonderful idea, however, you will have to look at what happens when the shredder needs emptying. Will you have to pick the FULL shredder out of the basket to get to the disposal bin? Or does your shredder sit on top of the basket that you can place a trash bag and just remove the top of the shredder, collect the bag and toss into the garbage? Good luck with your search.

  15. posted by Jen on

    I knitted a shredder cozy for mine out of extra pieces of leftover yarn from my other ravelry projects. Now it looks like R2D2 wearing a turtleneck.

  16. posted by Barb on

    I use the “Mailmate” shredder from which is only available from Staples. They have two sizes and both of them are meant to sit on a counter. I have the larger one in my kitchen/office area and don’t even notice it. It gets used on a daily basis and is very easy to empty.

  17. posted by [email protected] on

    Lol! at Jen’s comment. That’s hilarious πŸ™‚

    I really should get a shredder. The problem is my husband thinks that since we live in a safe neighborhood in a pretty low-crime part of the country, that we have nothing to worry about. He didn’t even lock his front door until after we were married and living together!

  18. posted by Shannon on

    Since this is a discussion about shredders, I feel compelled to make a public service announcement. If you have a dog, do not keep your shredder on the “auto start” setting. I know some folks who lost their wonderful golden retriever when he licked the shredder. πŸ™

  19. posted by Craig on

    Ours was nicely and inconveniently out of site and out of the way upstairs in our computer room. I wanted to use to it shred 10 years’ worth of old bank statements (gasp — yes, I know) and moved it downstairs into the living room, next to the couch, where we watch TV. Job got done in a few days. I then moved the shredder underneath the kitchen table, where it is near enough to the trash can to be easily emptied. Stuff that should be shredded gets shredded immediately. ‘Nuff said.

  20. posted by Celeste on

    We have ours next to the desk, sitting beside the trash for what does not need to be shredded. I never thought of it as an eyesore because the desk is a spare room. Maybe a relocation of the task is all you need to do in some cases.

  21. posted by lana on

    @Jeff – The shredder in a drawer is a fantastic idea!

    Someone on this site once suggested putting the papers in a tub of water and letting them soak. The ink eventually washes away and the docs can then be dumped. I’m going to try that for my huge bag of old bank statements and Jeff’s idea for the day-to-day shredding.

  22. posted by Kristin on

    We have ours in our office. It’s big, black and has a stainless looking top. It goes with everything else in our office .. it’s ‘office-like’.

    I do, however, really want to put it out in the garage now that we’re paperless. That way when I get the mail, it would ‘live’ next to the recycling bins. I’d get the mail (which means exiting through the garage) and then sort on the way in. Everything could be shredded or recycled right there and never even get into the house.

    Hmmmm … I may go do this right now.

  23. posted by Kayla on

    Can anyone suggest a good quality shredder that is decently priced? I don’t need a heavy duty one, just one for my own personal use.

    And while we’re talking about declutterfying, I have an unrelated question. I am an 18 year old senior in high school, and I stumbled upon this site through gaia.com. I’ve recently taken to uncluttering my bedroom (and consequently my life), which will make moving away to college in the summer that much easier.
    With that said, last weekend I took on the task purging my bookshelf. I have many graphic novels and some fiction that I am no longer interested in, and would like to donate/sell. Does anyone have any creative ideas/good causes to give my books to?

  24. posted by Scott Houchin on

    In our kitchen, we have one of those garbage pull-out cabinets. The pull-out is structured such that the big garbage can is in the front, and then there’s a small tray in the back where you could put empty garbage bags.

    However, the hole in the platform for the small tray was just the right size for one of the desktop-sized shredders. When the cabinets were being installed, I had the installer put an outlet in the back of the cabinet, and then I build a platform to support the shredder within that opening.

    It works really well. Just pull the garbage can out all the way to get to the shredder, which is all plugged in and hidden, just waiting for something to shred. When the shredder basket is full, the garbage can is right there.

  25. posted by Alex Fayle on

    These are all great comments and suggestions! I especially like the basket and bench ideas, as well as in the garage beside the recycling bins/mail sorting area.

  26. posted by allen on

    I simply found a shredder that looks nice, and is small. It’s supper thin, so that I can stick it between the desk and the wall, for example!

    http://blackanddeckershredders.....211;1-2-s-

  27. posted by Louise on

    I am sooooo disappointed that Jen’s comment about knitting a cozy for her shredder is just an April Fool’s day joke πŸ™

    I just made a cozy for our box wine last night, so I’m feeling all crafty and cozy myself. The visual image of a hand-made cover for my shredder made me warm and fuzzy. “All new Shredder Sweaters, now on sale at Etsy!”

    We bought just the top of a shredder (no bin or can attached) and keep it tucked in a niche in an end table. Because it gets linty from the paper, it is inside a plastic bag. All this would look awful, but the niche is hidden from view. I do like the basket idea and may switch to that.

  28. posted by Susan on

    How about a wicker clothes hamper?
    Example:
    http://www.stacksandstacks.com.....attern.htm

    You can lift up the lid to feed the shredder, and the whole top comes off easily to lift out and empty the shredder when it’s full. Get a matching wicker waste basket and you’re set!

  29. posted by QL girl on

    Those are some sexy black & decker shredders! That’s most likely what I’ll be getting when I move into a new place.

    Its funny that this came up, because I was thinking just this weekend that they should make “decorative” shredders since most people use them in their kitchens or landing strips, where they are highly visible. So thanks for the ideas.

    Jen’s comment was a joke?! Thats mean! I was actually going to ask to see a picture. πŸ˜‰ lol.

  30. posted by Erin Doland on

    @allen — Dude, that is one sexy shredder.

  31. posted by Dustin Boston on

    I’ve got a friend who puts the papers into a blender and makes recycled paper out of them. Not only is that a good way to reduce clutter, it’s also a better for the environment. I suppose if you don’t mind the extra work you could end up with a great paper product that you can use for cards or stationary.

  32. posted by Mel on

    @Kayla- Find a used book store in your area. You can drop them off for credit, or sometimes even cash. Let someone else enjoy them after you are finished!

  33. posted by Hippykidz on

    If you are even a little “crafty” (sorry i sort of dislike the term but…)Try some cotton batting and some left over fabric if it goes with the decor` then who cares if you have a shredder in the front hall? Just spray mount the trimmed batting, hot glue some fabric and a little trim and poof one pretty shredder.

  34. posted by Chris on

    i have idea how about a lid that is on a hinge and in the lid you have a shredder mounted. if you want to throw something away then you lift the lid. If you have to shred something you feed it into the lid. How is that for uni-tasking. Has anyone seen such a thing. I hate the thought that I have to have two cans one trash and one shredder.

  35. posted by tay on

    I smell business idea….For anyone interested enough in the product.
    I also saw a nice one on HGTV. The shredder was meant to be visually pleasing and safe for kids and animals (auto shut off feature)
    And I’m kind of happy that Jens shredder cover was a joke πŸ˜‰

  36. posted by Jarick on

    I wouldn’t hide it too well, since it can be dangerous. That said, a cabinet drawer would probably be the best spot. Personally I just use a pair of scissors.

  37. posted by allen on

    @Erin:

    Thank ye kindly! It was pure hapinstance: My shredder had died the night before, & I was at Target getting some food, and happened across it!

  38. posted by Kristin on

    @Kayla

    Try this: http://www.bookcrossing.com/

    It’s FUN!

  39. posted by Kristin on

    I did it. I moved the shredder out to the garage. Later in the day I went out and got the mail, walked the few steps from the mailbox into the garage, and sorted all the mail right there. I ended up walking into the house with ONE piece of paper. Now that’s decluttering πŸ™‚

  40. posted by Allie Orange on

    Expensive at $199, but GrandinRoad has a shredder inside a wooden cabinet in white, wood or stained expresso:
    http://www.grandinroad.com/jum.....;k=XX31649

  41. posted by Mikey on

    @tay, auto-shutoff works for adults, but should be relied upon for little kids and animals. Fingers and tongues won’t make it shut off. ouchie.

  42. posted by Mikey on

    I meant should NOT [sigh]

  43. posted by Jenn on

    I LOVE the idea of putting it in the garage (which I come through on the way back from the mailbox). Right now, it sits in a cabinet in the kitchen. I just plug it in when I need to use it, and unplug it when I’m done and tuck it back into the cabinet. That works well, but takes up valued kitchen real estate. I love the garage idea…my wheels are turning on how I will keep it clean and dust-free…maybe that shredder cozy would work? πŸ˜‰

  44. posted by Sheri on

    @Kayla – take a look at http://www.paperbackswap.com. You can swap books w/ other users and get credits for them, which you can use for future books (this does entail time and postage costs though). Also, you can donate to your local public library.

  45. posted by Jen on

    Thanks to everyone who shared in the humor of my April Fools yarn! (Sorry to disappoint anyone who really dreams of a shredder cozy.)

    In fact, I keep my binless shredder tucked away in a drawer. I have two very beloved pet cats, and I don’t feel comfortable leaving the shredder plugged in with them roaming about. The urban legend debunking website Snopes.com actually has an entire page dedicated to the fact that shredder accidents are no joke — pets, children, and adults have all been documented to have sustained serious injuries from shredders. To quote the old TV series, “Let’s be careful out there.”

    @ Jenn: If you have a leftover sweatshirt (or pick one up for a few bucks at a thrift store), you could probably convert it with a few snips-n-stitches into a fabric cover to keep stuff off a garage-based shredder. Much faster than knitting!

  46. posted by Robert on

    I have a MailMate from Staples and it fits under the sink (there’s a power outlet there for dishwasher/garbage disposer). Only the smallest model would fit, but then again you can just return it if it doesn’t fit.

  47. posted by Monty on

    If you are in the DIY mood, and you’ve got the ability to drill into the underside of your kitchen counter, maybe try the “Hand Crank Paper Shredder”:
    http://www.instructables.com/i.....-Shredder/
    [Step #17 has a YouTube video of the finished thing in action…]

    No electricity and no cord clutter!

  48. posted by Randi on

    I had an electrical outlet put in my front hall closet. The mail comes right in and anything i don’t need gets shredded right away.

  49. posted by Arjun Muralidharan on

    Doesn’t anyone here recycle? I mean, how many documents are you really getting that are sensitive in nature?

    My bank recently introduced electronic documents, which allows me to access my bank statements online instead of mailing them to me.

    If a statement is in the hands of the mailman, it’s equally unsafe to keeping it in a recycling pile to take for recycling.

    In Switzerland, you may dispose garbage only in designated garbage bags, which cost a hell of a lot, so people don’t dare to throw paper away – they recycle.

  50. posted by Mary on

    @Arjun:

    I diligently recycle, but I shred anything that has identifying information BEFORE tossing it in the recycling bin.

    Thanks for the ideas! I’ve been trying to come up with something safe and easy to use, as I end up with a cluttered kitchen counter because I am waiting for a good time to bring out the shredder and plug it in. The problem is that the “good time” comes about once every few weeks. My dream has been to have the shredding happen right as I step in the door with the mail.

    I love the idea of a shredder in the garage…if not for the fact we don’t enter the house through the garage. I haven’t found a laundry hamper that appeals to me yet, but I am holding out hope. Perhaps I’ll use the drawer idea…

    Thanks again to everyone for responding to my question!

  51. posted by Charles on

    I think it should be put in one of those tissue box cozies that are in japanese craft magazines. It’s like an inverse tissue box.

  52. posted by Jeanne on

    Perhaps you or a crafty friend could sew a “shredder cozy” (see these sewing machine cozies here for inspiration!

  53. posted by DMC on

    @Kayla and anyone else looking for a good shredder deal. Check out this Staples 15-sheet cross-cut model…

    http://www.staples.com/webapp/.....8:CL141980

    It may be larger than you’re considering, @Kayla, but I’ve had this one for a year, and it’s a really good deal at $80 thru April 5.

  54. posted by Margi on

    Kayla…and everybody else…log on to freecycle.com in you local area and give away anything you don’t want. I even gave away a bag of shredded paper to a local artist who listed on freecycle. I keep my shredder at the front door right under the mail slot. The junk doesn’t even get further into the house. Be careful though, when you go on a shredding binge. I did shred a check just because I was “on a roll.” Happy shredding

  55. posted by drew on

    How about taking some big sheets of plastic that are perforated in grids, weaving colorful yarn through them and then fastening together to make a cover?

    Works great for kleenex boxes!

  56. posted by unclutterme (U-C-ME!) on

    This is a nice shredder cabinet – somewhat affordable.
    http://www.brylanehome.com/hom.....ally.shtml

  57. posted by Matt on

    I don’t have a shredder. I work in an office where we produce large engineering drawings and other commercially sensitive documents. In the past I’ve taken a bag full of stuff to shred to work, then used the big, powerful industrial shredder to reduce it to dust.

  58. posted by Maya on

    Mine’s in my dining room, where I use it. Oh well! It doesn’t bother me. It’s not bad looking and much more attractive than clutter!

  59. posted by Caitlin on

    Doesn’t anyone here recycle? I mean, how many documents are you really getting that are sensitive in nature?

    ANYTHING that has your name and address on it can be used in identity theft.

  60. posted by Bill in Detroit on

    Caitlin … I eat my waste paper.

    I recycle almost everything through my compost pile … sensitive or not. I don’t have to worry about small pieces of plastic in it … I’m going to screen it anyway and by composting it first, I’m certain that ONLY the non-compost-able bits escape. During the winter, I save the shredded bits to mix with fresh grass clippings, etc., through the summer.

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