How to dispose of paper

How to dispose of paper

It doesn’t matter who we work for – be it a Government Agency or a Private Legal firm, every month we receive a lot of confidential documents. Some of these documents are important for the long haul. Others are to be disposed of after they have served their purpose. Throwing the latter into the trash isn’t enough to destroy the important information that they may contain. Rather, to make sure they don’t leak our important data to the prying outsiders, complete disposal is a necessity.

Here are five ways on how to safely destroy and dispose of confidential documents: –

1 – Use a Paper Shredder

You knew this tip already, don’t you? That said, there’s one thing about this tip which is unique. Since the data to be disposed of would be sufficiently large, your shredder’s container would become inadequate for the task.

What you need to do, therefore, is to use your trash bucket in its place. In this way, you won’t have to empty the trash can every five minutes or so. And once you are done with the shredding, drop it into the incinerator. There will be zero proof that the files which you destroyed even existed in the first place.

Lastly, there are three types of shredders available in the market: Cross-cut, Strip-cut, and Micro-cut. If your documents are extremely confidential, never settle for anything but a Cross-cut shredder.

Check out our article on the best shredders under £50/$65 here.

2 – Soak them in water

Don’t want to shred your paper? Don’t worry, you can soak it instead. Once you are in the kitchen doing your dishes, just put your papers in the sink – and flood them with hot, soapy water. For better effect, you can pour a bit of bleach over them as well.

Allow the papers to be completely soaked while you are busy with other chores. Once you come back to them, the papers would have taken the form of a tight ball. The ink inside would have melted, and the paper – when dry, would become impossible to break apart, making it impossible for anyone to get any information.

3 – Cut them into pieces

You may think this is a time-consuming method – which it is – but there are documents out there which can be safely destroyed only by using this method. Think of credit cards, for instance; whether you soak them in water or put them into a paper shredder, they would always need a good old pair of scissors.

How to dispose of paper

Therefore, when dealing with credit cards, the best bet is to take out your scissors. Cut the credit card into as many tiny pieces as is humanly possible. Make sure you cut it in such a way that it becomes impossible for anyone to reunite the numbers.

If your card has a chip built-in, you must cut through the chip as fraudsters may try to use this to obtain information or reconstruct a card based on this information. Some cards have contactless built-in using RFID technology, fraudsters may try to use part of the card specifically for these low-value transactions.

4 – Hire a Professional Shredding Service

You may not believe it, but there are businesses out there which make a living out of destroying the confidential documents of others. That said, these businesses charge a hefty price for their services, so only hire them if your business is having a grand clear out.

Once you hire such services, they would sign a contract with you – vowing to secure the confidentiality of the documents. What’s more, and this is important, the onus will lie on the shredding service if any information gets leaked.

After you’ve hired their service, these companies will collect the confidential documents from your premises, before taking them to a secure facility and disposing of them.

5 – Burn them

Before you use this technique, be advised that there are several states in the US in which outdoor fires are illegal. If you live in any of such states, DO NOT attempt this technique and take help from the other ones mentioned in this article.

Also, NEVER burn indoors for burning requires proper ventilation and no matter how well-ventilated your house is, it is always better to start the fire in an open atmosphere.

If you live in a state where outdoor fires are legal, start the fire using kindling and paper. Better yet, use the confidential documents to ignite the fire. Once you are sure that the kindling would remain lit, take large pieces of wood and pile them at the top to get a stable burn.

As soon as the fire becomes stable, place your confidential documents in it. Do not dump all the files at once; this might cause some of them to wander away from the fire. Progressively add the documents so that all of them could get their due share of fire.

Once all the necessary documents are burned off, check the ashes. The easiest way to spot an un-burnt paper is to look for a white sheen. Some papers, however, might turn grey but could still have legible text. Burn both these papers again.


Confidential or not, old data is risky data! Since you might not have used it in the near past, you may become careless about the sensitivity of such documents. The consequences of such thoughtlessness, as you might guess, might not be good. Identity fraud is on the rise so it is essential to protect yourself however you can. Always look out for confidential information such as social security numbers, ATM cards and records of your customers in your data. Once you ascertain they are of no use, dispose of them safely using any of the aforementioned methods.