Getting rid of food waste and scraps can be a tedious task. And, with all that daily prepping and cooking, a household tends to produce a lot of food discards which have to be taken out to trash at night to keep your kitchen odorless and clean.
That’s why a garbage disposal is a useful appliance. It grinds down food scraps and waste into tiny pieces so that they're easily washed away with running water. Each scrap that goes down the disposal is one less piece of waste that goes into the trash.
And because there’s less waste in the kitchen bin, one doesn’t have to take out the trash frequently. This translates to cleaner trash bins outside and less chances of the local urban wildlife scrounging around garbage cans in search of a snack.
A garbage disposal unit is also an environment-friendly way of reducing greenhouse gases. That’s because washing food waste down the drain and into a waste water treatment plant or a septic tank prevents it from being deposited instead in a landfill where it can emit carbon dioxide or methane while it degrades.
In fact, because of this, there are studies that say that home food wastes that are deposited in sewage systems via garbage disposal are a viable source for biogas harvesting.
There are two types of garbage disposal units (GDU) in the market today: the continuous feed and the batch-feed models. Continuous feed types are the most common and are designed to allow food waste to pass through the drain and into the grinding chamber while it’s running. Batch-feed models pulverize food waste in batches and require a drain cover to operate.
In general, GDUs come in ⅓-, ½-, ¾-, and 1-horsepower motors. Those in the lower range are best for small sized families (1-3) who don’t require frequent food preparation. The same families might benefit from other small appliances, like countertop dishwashers and small skillets.
Garbage disposal units in the higher range are best for large families (6 or more) who love to prepare food on a daily basis. The higher the horsepower the more heavy duty the appliance is, which means it’s built with stronger components and features more grinding power.
When getting a garbage disposal for the first time, check your local ordinances first. Some cities or municipalities may have restrictions on GDU use. For example, communities without public wastewater treatment plants will not allow households to have GDUs. And in places with treatment plants, some will require that the particles from GDUs should be ground to a specific standard so that they won’t clog the sewage system.
For this post, most of the GDUs featured are of 1/2 horsepower which is ideal for a standard sized family of 3-6. All brands, however, carry multiple variations of their product. You can easily get a 1 horsepowered version of the model highlighted in the list below.
Here are my top five picks for the best garbage disposal appliance.
The Best Garbage Disposal
- Waste King Garbage Disposal with Power Cord
- InSinkErator Garbage Disposal with Cord
- Waste Maid Garbage Disposal
- Moen Host Series Control Activation 3/4 HP Garbage Disposal
- GE Horsepower Continuous Feed Disposal Food Waste Disposer
1. Waste King Garbage Disposal with Power Cord
This is a continuous feed garbage disposal unit that can be hooked up to a dishwasher (7/8″ rubber hose) and can be used with a septic system. It is compact and lightweight. It uses the EZ mount twist-and-lock design so that anyone can install it quickly and easily. There is no electrical work required for its installation.
It is equipped with a high speed 2600 RPM (115V) permanent magnet motor and stainless steel swivel impellers to reduce jamming. It is activated by a wall switch or a sink-mounted air switch and will run until it is turned off.
It can hold about 27.3 oz of food waste and uses a rust and corrosion-proof glass-filled grind chamber and drain housing. There’s a pre-installed 32-inch power cord included in the set, along with a removable splash guard for easy cleaning or retrieval of dropped items.
It also features a front-mounted manual reset button which functions as a safety feature to prevent heat overload or jamming. Once pressed, it will easily revert to running status.
This model is also available in 3/4 and 1 horsepower versions and comes with a 2-year warranty.
- Easy to install; one user managed to install it in 20 minutes using only a screwdriver
- Compatible with septic systems
- Relatively loud, especially if there is no running water on, according to one user
- Takes up more space under the counter
2. InSinkErator Garbage Disposal with Cord
If you’re looking for a no-frills replacement for an old InSinkErator continuous feed garbage disposal unit, this model is the ideal pick. That’s because it uses a patented Quick Lock mount that’s compatible for all kinds of InSinkErator models. Installing this is as easy as twisting off the old one and twisting on the new one.
It uses a Dura-Drive Induction Motor which is powerful enough to grind most food scraps. Its grind chamber is made of galvanized steel and is corrosion free and rust resistant.
The set includes a Stopper, a Discharge tube, a Flange, a gasket, and a Hardware and Jam-Buster wrench. This model is available in 1/2 and 3/4 horsepower. It comes with a 3-Year In-Home Limited Warranty.
- Easy to install even for persons with disabilities
- Can be used for sewer and septic systems
- Pre-installed cord is short
- Relatively noisy
3. Waste Maid Garbage Disposal
This is another continuous feed garbage disposal unit that uses a standard 3-bolt mounting system. This makes it a compatible and easy replacement for most garbage disposal brands that use the same type of mounting system.
It has a 2600 RPM permanent magnet motor and operates on 120V 60Hz power. It uses a Torque Master grinding system that features a stainless steel garbage disposer, a corrosion proof turntable, and anti-jam stainless steel balanced impellers that reduce vibration and minimize noise.
A special feature is its Bio Shield which is permanently molded into the “wet” components of the disposer to inhibit the growth of foul-smelling microorganisms.
This model is also available in 3/4 and 1 1/4 horsepower. Other accessories include a 3-foot attached power cord and removable splash guards for easy cleaning. This garbage disposal unit comes with a 2-year warranty.
- Dishwasher compatible
- Corrosion free housing
- Some users complained about the rubber insert in the drain which makes drainage slow.
- Relatively noisy
4. Moen Host Series Control Activation 3/4 HP Garbage Disposal
This is a heavy duty batch feed garbage disposal system that’s designed for those who cook frequently for a large group and need a powerful disposer. It can easily grind relatively hard food waste like small fruit pits, lemon rinds, small bones, and cooked meats. It’s also safe to use with properly-sized septic tanks.
It is equipped with a Universal Xpress mount for easy installation and will fit most standard three-bolt mounting assemblies. Just twist and lock the unit into place under the sink.
Its Vortex permanent magnet motor has a speed of 2700 RPM with an option for controlled grinding. Since it’s a batch feeder type, operation is centered around a hard plastic stopper that should be placed in the drain all the time. The stopper can be rotated in three ways to provide different functions: one position allows water drainage but catches all the other solid stuff, another function as a stopper to let you fill up the sink while the last position requires pressing down the stopper to activate the garbage disposal.
This product also incorporates a SoundShield insulation to reduce noise without losing performance quality. It also includes a pre-installed power cord that’s also removable for optional hardwiring.
This garbage disposal system has 1/3, 1/2, and 1 horsepower model. It comes with an 8-year limited warranty with in-home service.
- Controlled grinding feature
- 8 year warranty with in-home service
- Relatively expensive
5. GE 1/2 Horsepower Continuous Feed Disposal Food Waste Disposer
This is a large capacity continuous feed garbage disposal unit that’s compatible with standard sized septic systems. It uses the EZ mount installation design so it’s compatible with other brands with similar 3-bolt mountings.
It uses a heavy duty permanent magnet motor with a grinding action of over 2800 RPM. It quickly hits maximum speed and high torque so there’s less jamming. It can finely grind beans, seeds, potato peels, and cooked meat.
It has a 27-ounce grind chamber which is ideal for households with 2-4 persons. It is equipped with dual-swivel, anti-jam galvanized steel grinding blades and a 2-level precutter.
It also uses Drain Boost Technology. An angled fin helps pump down water with enough force to clear drains and reduce clogs. It’s also well insulated to help reduce noise during operation.
Other accessories in this set include a removable splash guard and stopper , an on/off wall-switch with a sink stopper, a manual-reset overload protector, old-rolled carbon-steel armature shaft material, a stainless-steel sink flange, and a galvanized-steel turntable.
This product is also available in 1/3, 3/4 and 1 horsepower models. This one comes with a 1-year warranty and an additional 1 year extended warranty.
- Includes a 2-level precutter
- Relatively quiet
- Rubber gasket that keeps out spoons and materials also holds the water back from draining quickly
- Some comments about its intense vibration
Buyers Guide to Picking the Best Garbage Disposal For Your Home
A high-end model doesn’t necessarily perform better than a lower-end one but it does have better features and will be made with more high-quality materials. Ultimately, the best model for you will not necessarily be the most pricey but will depend on your needs and on these factors:
Continuous Feed or Batch Feed
Continuous feed models are the most convenient because they will keep running even as you constantly feed it with food waste. But they pose a safety hazard especially for children who might be curious enough to stick their fingers down then. They also need to be hardwired to a wall switch so you might need professional help in installing one under your sink.
A batch-feed model, however, is activated by a magnetic cover that functions as a stopper over the drain. Food waste is inserted in batches (3 to 4 cups at a time) before running the faucet, and then twisting or pushing down the cover in order to turn on the grinder. The approach is time-consuming, but it’s safer for inquisitive fingers.
The more horsepower a garbage disposal has, the better it is to handle a heavy load of food waste. It will also require some significant electric usage so don’t forget to check if your circuit breaker can handle the GDU that you’re planning to buy.
Experts say that an entry-level ⅓-horsepower garbage disposal will do well for vacation homes because it won’t be used frequently. But it should also only be used for thin scraps. Those needing a GDU to grind hard food waste like bones will need a 1-hp model or higher.
In general , here are the recommended power ratings for family sizes:
- ⅓ or ½ HP: for a small house or apartment with 1-3 people, for infrequent use
- ¾ HP: for families with 4-6 people, for frequent use
- 1 HP: able to support a family of 7-9 people, for frequent use
- 2 HP: powerful enough for more than 9 people, usually used for commercial ends, for frequent use.
Look for features that make a GDU more convenient to install or use. Some brands will have a quick-mount or EZ-mount design that will make it easy to install under a sink because it uses a turn-and-lock system.
You can look at models that have multiple grind stages. Higher end models will have as many as three stages which will allow it to pulverize hard wastes like bones and corn cobs. Others will have an anti-jamming feature or a sensor that detects jams and automatically reverses the grind table to loosen the lodged food.
GDUs can also be noisy machines, so if you’re particular about the noise level, you can look for models that have sound baffles or insulation to reduce vibration and noise.
Galvanized Steel vs Stainless Steel
The most common materials used for a garbage disposal’s grind chamber are galvanized steel and stainless steel.
Galvanized is more ductile and easier to work with than stainless steel. It also has a lower manufacturing cost which why most GDU brands use it.
Stainless steel however is more durable and more corrosion-resistant than galvanized steel. But it can make your garbage disposal unit more expensive.
When used well, garbage disposals can last 10 years and some brands will reflect that same time frame in their product warranties. The standard warranty, though, is 1 year.
You might want to consider getting a home warranty though. Not all home warranty providers will offer coverage on GDUs but when you can find one, it can help you save from spending so much on the upfront cost of repair or replacement if there is a problem.
Also, it helps if a brand has a reliable after-sales service. This is useful especially if you don’t have a home warranty. Having a great technical support and prompt customer assistance will lessen the burden or frustration of dealing with a defective product.