Whether you’re prepping your week’s worth of meals or fixing a midnight snack, chances are you’re constantly dealing with food scraps in the kitchen. This is why when waste disposal units hit the market in the 1930s, Americans never looked back. Garbage disposals work by grinding up food waste, so it can float easily down the drain and through sewage pipes to your wastewater facilities, instead of being sent to decompose in a landfill. Garbage disposals vary in power capabilities and price, and choosing one for your needs depends on how much food you and your family prepare regularly. For example our top pick, the InSinkErator Garbage Disposal, can handle large amounts of food thanks to its two-part grinding system.
Here are some of the best garbage disposals to help you narrow down your choices.
InSinkErator Evolution Compact 3/4 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
What We Love: 0.75-horsepower Dura-Drive induction motor, quick-lock sink mount, multi-grind stainless steel blades
What We Don't Love: Power cord not pre-installed
This continuous feed garbage disposal features a 0.75-horsepower motor and stainless-steel internal grind components. The InSinkerator Evolution Compact garbage disposal is powerful enough to grind potato and carrot peels without all the noise commonly associated with garbage disposals. That noise reduction is thanks to the machine’s SoundSeal Plus technology that features multiple layers of insulation and a sink baffle, the rubber piece installed between your sink and the garbage disposal.
The InSinkErator Evolution Compact also features 2-stage grinding technology, which processes food twice to produce an ultra-fine grind that won’t clog your plumbing system. With a height of 12.1 inches, its compact design is perfect for homes with restricted space under the sink. Best of all, it’s easy to install, but you will need to purchase the power cord separately.
Price at time of publish: $357
Dimensions (LxWxH): 8 x 8 x 12.1 inches | Capacity: 34.6 ounces | Horsepower: 0.75 | Grinding Speed: 1,725 RPM
Waste King L-111 Garbage Disposal
What We Love: Pre-wired, safe to use with properly-sized septic tanks, quiet, compact
What We Don't Love: Low power
The Waste King L-111 is a lightweight, continuous-feed garbage disposal without a hefty price tag. The unit comes pre-installed with a 32-inch power cord means no electrical work or separate purchase is required.
With only 0.33 horsepower, the Waste King L-111 isn’t a super powerful grinder. It’s designed to quickly chew through many types of kitchen wastes and take care of smaller food scraps. However, tougher food waste such as chicken bones or fibrous vegetables will grind down in the L-111 with some effort and patience.
It has a front-mounted reset button for jams and comes with a two-year warranty. It's a solid garbage disposal with plenty of desirable features that make it worth buying for small households.
Price at time of publish: $61
Dimensions (LxWxH): 5.2 x 5.2 x 12.7 inches | Capacity: 27.3 ounces | Horsepower: 0.33 | Grinding Speed: 1,900 RPM
InSinkErator Evolution Excel 1HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
What We Love: SoundSeal Plus, quick-lock sink mount, multi-grind stainless steel blades
What We Don't Love: Expensive, no power cord included
The InSinkErator Evolution Excel is essentially the larger, 1-horsepower version of the InSinkerator Evolution Compact. Larger garbage disposals have more insulation around the motors, which in turn makes them quieter. In addition to the extra insulation, the Evolution Excel features SoundSeal Plus technology that includes vibration-reducing connections and a special sink baffle to block noise from coming up through the sink opening.
The appliance is also a 3-stage grinder. Its stainless-steel blades can grind up fibrous vegetables and chicken bones with ease and little worry of jams or clogs in the plumbing. The grinding chamber can hold up to 40 ounces of waste, and the disposal is backed by a 10-year warranty. The InSinkErator Evolution Excel is efficient, durable, and quiet, and one of the most powerful garbage disposals on the market.
Price at time of publish: $470
Dimensions (LxWxH): 9 x 9 x 13 inches | Capacity: 40 ounces | Horsepower: 1 | Grinding Speed: 1,725 RPM
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Best for Families
Waste Maid 1.25 HP Premium Garbage Disposal
What We Love: Powerful motor, power cord included, affordable, safe to use with septic systems
What We Don't Love: Hard to install
Large families or active kitchens that produce plenty of cooking debris need a powerful garbage disposal. The Waste Maid 658 disposal is a continuous-feed unit that features a 1.25-horsepower magnetic motor and stainless-steel blades that will grind the toughest kitchen scraps effortlessly.
The appliance comes with a Silver Guard accessory magnet that helps catch jewelry, utensils, and other metal objects before they enter the disposal. It also features a permanently molded Bio Shield agent that eliminates the bacteria and microorganisms that cause odor. The Waste Maid 658 is an affordable and powerful garbage disposal but may require a plumber to install.
Price at time of publish: $140
Dimensions (LxWxH): 11 x 11 x 19 inches | Capacity: 36 ounces | Horsepower: 1.25 | Grinding Speed: 2,700 RPM
Best for Small Kitchens
InSinkErator Badger 5 0.5 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal with Power Cord
What We Love: Easy to install, pre-installed power cord, reasonably priced
What We Don't Love: Noisy
For couples or small families that don’t cook too often, the InSinkErator Badger 5 is a suitable choice. Like all the InSinkErator disposals, the Badger features a rugged galvanized steel construction for durability.
The disposal is powered with a 0.5-horsepower motor and can break down soft food waste with ease, but may have trouble with tougher kitchen scraps. Measuring 11.5 inches in height, it’s designed for light use in non-busy kitchens. The unit, which comes with a 3-year warranty, is pre-wired and easy to install for most homeowners.
Price at time of publish: $100
Dimensions (LxWxH): 6.3 x 6.3 x 11.5 inches | Capacity: 26 ounces | Horsepower: 0.5 | Grinding Speed: 1,725 RPM
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Best for Septic Tanks
Moen GX100C Chef Series 1 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
What We Love: Pre-installed power cord, removable splash guard, stainless drain stopper, quiet, safe to use with septic systems
What We Don't Love: Expensive
Septic tanks require special handling because they are not connected to the city or county wastewater systems. They break down waste by maintaining a balance of organic waste and enzymes. The finer the solid matter is as it enters the tank, the easier it is for the septic system to break it down.
The Moen GX100C Chef Series is a powerful 1-horsepower, continuous-feed disposal system that will break down the toughest foods and is septic safe. The disposal unit features a VORTEX permanent magnet motor that finely grinds food waste and helps reduce jamming. It has a compact design that is lightweight for easier installation and won’t take up a lot of valuable space under the sink. Also, it’s backed by a 10-year warranty.
Price at time of publish: $213
Dimensions (LxWxH): 7.5 x 7.5 x 16 inches | Capacity: 32 ounces | Horsepower: 1 | Grinding Speed: 2,800 RPM
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Best for Ease of Installation
GE GFC1020N Continuous Garbage Disposal
What We Love: Easy to install, quiet, anti-jamming blades
What We Don't Love: Expensive
Installing a garbage disposer may seem like a daunting task for many homeowners, but the GE GFC1020N continuous garbage disposal unit makes it a cinch. The appliance comes with a 3-bolt mount adapter kit included in the box.
The continuous feed disposal features a powerful 1-horsepower motor behind its stainless-steel swivel impellers. Between those and an angled fin that forcibly pumps water to clear the drain, this unit is nearly jam-proof. It also has a splash guard that helps keep you safe from debris and sound reduction technology reduces operational noise for a quieter kitchen.
Price at time of publish: $249
Dimensions (LxWxH): 8.4 x 8.4 x 14.5 inches | Capacity: 32.25 ounces | Horsepower: 1 | Grinding Speed: 3,500 RPM
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Powerful enough to grind through all your kitchen waste, but without all the noise, the InSinkErator Evolution Compact 3/4 HP Continuous-Feed Garbage Disposal (view at Amazon) is a great disposal to have in any home. For those in homes with septic tanks, the Moen GX100C Chef Series 1 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal (view at Amazon) will fit right into your kitchen without any plumbing issues.
What to Look for in a Garbage Disposal
Types of Disposals
Garbage disposals are either continuous or batch feed. Continuous-feed garbage disposals allow you to steadily pass food into the grinder chamber. A remote switch, typically located on the wall within reach of the sink, controls the disposal. Batch-feed disposals only operate when the drain cover is in place, and the grinder is powered on. You can not add waste to the grinding chamber unless the cover is removed and the grinder is powered off. Batch grinders are a little less convenient, but present more safety advantages versus continuous batch disposal.
Horsepower and Size
Most residential garbage disposals are 0.33, 0.5, 0.75, or 1 horsepower with the greater the horsepower, the stronger its grinding capabilities. Higher horsepower grinders are more robust and last longer. However, not all homes need powerful garbage disposals. For small families that do not prepare a lot of food, 0.33-horsepower disposal is sufficient for their needs. Large families that cook frequently need more powerful disposal. The size of the grinder depends on the size of the motor. In general, larger motors will have larger grinding chambers.
Disposers will offer up to three different grinding stages. With 1-stage, food is ground once before passing through drain pipes with water. A 2-stage disposal unit grinds food in twice to achieve a finer grind, decreasing the chances for clogs or jams. Lastly, a 3-stage unit provides the finest grind possible with no worry of clogs or jams.
All garbage disposals will make noise, but some are louder than others. Disposals that feature insulation around the motor will be quieter and are often more expensive. Some models offer removable sound baffles that help to reduce noise. Alternatively, you can purchase them separately to fit some garbage disposal models.
Do you ever need to clean inside a garbage disposal?
Definitely! "You'd be surprised how much food gunk gets stuck on the rubber gasket of the sink disposal," says Cortney Black, owner of Holliston Handy in Holliston, Massachusetts. "My two favorite ways to clean the disposal (and sharpen the blades) are a handful of ice cubes and two small slices of lemon. While the water is running, turn on the disposal for 10-20 seconds. It freshens the disposal and cleans the gasket. My recent favorite is garbage disposal tablets that foam and clean the inside of the disposal. They are recommended to be used once a month."
What foods should you not put down your garbage disposal?
In general, only a small bit of food should ever be put in one at a time. "Any foods that expand are the worst to put down a disposal, such as rice and pasta, especially if they have not been cooked," Black says. "Anything sinewy, such as meats, also can get stuck. It's best to toss out or compost larger pieces of food and use the disposal sparingly for longevity."
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Debbie Wolfe is a freelance writer and an online shopping pro who spends hours researching and comparing household goods, so you don’t have to. She’s the proud owner of countless kitchen appliances and can help you pick the right one no matter what your needs.
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Iacovidou E, Ohandja D-G, Gronow J, Voulvoulis N. The household use of food waste disposal units as a waste management option: a review. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology. 2012;42(14):1485-1508.