What is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of any kitchen? It’s not something you can openly see, which is why many homeowners don’t think about it immediately, but it is something that can make a huge difference in the quality of life for any cook.
We are talking, of course, about a decent in-sink garbage disposal. They are a great way to get rid of clogs and other debris that accumulates in your drain while washing dishes, peeling vegetables, scaling fish, and any other typical kitchen task. Not only that, but they eliminate the extra steps of having to do it on a cutting board, then washing, then throwing away the offcuts before washing the board — tedious, to say the least.
Instead, you can do all of these tasks directly in the sink, saving you time and streamlining your preparation of delicious recipes. Afterwards — with the click of a button — it is all ground up and flushed down, saving you time and eliminating the need to use cleaning products to unclog the hardest working drain in your household. Not to mention, throwing away unwanted parts of food during cooking (bones, stems, skins, scales, and so forth) into your trash can will eventually start creating a foul odor in your bin.
By using a sink food processor, you get to keep both your kitchen and your trash bin cleaner, maybe even saving your outdoor bin from being raided by scavenging raccoons and possums lured by the scent of a thrown out “feast”. So, what do you look for in a decent garbage disposal? Where do you start? What are the best waste disposer brands? Let’s find out.
How Does a Garbage Disposal Benefit the Ecosystem?
In our modern world, the overflow of trash is a cause for concern. While this may be a very low priority for some people, we feel the need to touch on this before we continue aiding your search for the best garbage disposal for your needs.
This is a complicated topic that has many factors. Firstly, most of the waste that will be grinded in your kitchen garbage disposal will be biodegradable or compostable, which means that it will give off useful gasses that can be beneficial once utilized. As such gasses are mainly harvested from sewage — is where your grinded up food offcuts will end up instead of a landfill — it seems to be the better option of the two. A renewable, sustainable energy source such as this can be very beneficial in the long run.
Secondly, a sink trash disposal system up landfills by depositing decomposition friendly waste into a separate waste management infrastructure. If you use it to grind up everything from stems to dinner leftovers that have gone bad, the positive impact on these issues becomes much more significant.
How to Pick a Garbage Disposal
Ok, now for the big topic. Which aspects of a good garbage disposal system should you consider before making a purchase? What will make one better than the other? There are many factors to consider in this choice before we compare garbage disposals. Some of the topics we will dive into further down are:
Noise level – Measured in dB, this can be a huge factor if the household has small children that like to sleep during the day, a resident that works nights, or somebody that works remotely and needs the least amount of background noise possible. Typical ranges can be 45dB to 105dB, which is the difference between a refrigerator working to someone playing the trumpet.
Amount/type of food waste produced – The amount of waste produced per person varies, such as the difference between a casual user and a fully-stocked personal kitchen at a restaurant. The type of food waste produced is a big factor when choosing the right in-sink garbage disposal because not all models can handle all loads and can jam or break if not chosen correctly. Grinding up vegetables is one thing, but grinding up beef bones is another.
Amount of people in the household – How much waste is produced is proportional to the amount of people producing it. If you have mostly casual users that cook simple dishes, but there are 8 of them under one roof, then you might want to opt for a more powerful food disposer than you would get for 2-3 people living in an apartment.
Size of the installation – You want to make sure that the volume and size of the installation can both fit your sink drain as well as fit in the space under your sink. Large models may not fit into compact kitchen installations. In addition, larger models have more room for noise insulation, so they tend to work quieter than compact models while also having more power.
Horsepower – This point directly ties into the amount of food waste produced and the amount of people that will be using it. Most kitchen sink grinder models range from ⅓ to 2 HP. However, the sweet spot seems to be ¾-1HP for most families because it is able to handle most types of waste as well as the volume of waste produced in one go.
Reliability – You want to be sure that your new garbage disposal won’t go belly-up within a few months of use, which is why you should look to reputable name brands that offer warranties for their products.
Which Brands of Garbage Disposals Should I Look For?
A typical question when buying any new product is “which brands are the most reputable?” and “which brands have the best quality?”. As with anything, there are many brands and many garbage disposal ratings to sift through. Though there are 3 brands that take the lead above all others. These are…
One of the newer brands in the line of garbage disposals. However, they deliver on all of their promises, despite having big shoes to fill. Most of their choices range up to 1 HP, and have special features that should put them ahead in the years to come.
Considered the father of garbage disposals, this brand has been ahead of its competition for many years. While they have some of the best customer service, they also boast a reputable line of garbage disposals up to 1 HP and are constantly venturing into new ways of making their models more efficient and attractive for the end buyer. Their pricing ranges, but is generally on the higher side compared to the next brand.
- Waste King
A fitting name for a company that is “king” of the more budget models, making up some of its lineup are a range of top-selling, affordable garbage disposals. The brand itself has been around for over 50 years, and all of that time has been dedicated to creating powerful, budget-oriented garbage disposals. As with the other 2 brands, this one offers models up to 1 HP.
Best Garbage Disposals for Your Kitchen
Here are our top recommendations and garbage disposal reviews for varying price points and functionality features based on the top models of 2021. We hope our garbage disposal comparison will help you choose the right unit for your home.
InSinkErator Compact Badger 900 3/4 HP Continuous-Feed Garbage Disposal
This model is a ¾ HP version of InSinkErator’s Badger models, which means it can handle some of the tougher offcuts of food. It comes with a quick mounting system to avoid long installation times and ensure a tight seal. The high quality assembly features fully stainless steel components to increase the longevity of its grinding capability, all fit into a compact body that fits snugly under your sink without taking up too much extra room.
Family size: 3-6
Dimensions: 6.75 x 12.63 x 6.31 inches
Warranty: 6 years
InSinkErator Essential XTR 3/4 HP Garbage Disposer
One of our top picks for the 2021 year, this is the perfect garbage disposal unit for the average household. Due to its stainless steel components and high horsepower, it can handle almost any kind of food scraped thrown at it up to and including beef bones. Able to handle loads from 3 to 6 people in a household, as well as doing it very quietly with a two stage grinding process that ensures easy flushing to prevent clogs, and great sound isolation in the chassis.
This model is an improved version of its predecessor, the Evolution Compact. Apart from the improved hull, this model comes with a superior sound insulating technology branded as SoundSeal, making it one of the quietest ¾ HP motors on the market today. In addition, the XTR comes with a sink top switch for easy access and activation, as well as a power cord for battery-less operation. For those unfamiliar with the previous Evolution Compact model, it was one of the most popular models by InSinkErator for highly efficient, space saving garbage disposals.
This model, like the previous Compact, comes with a Dura Drive motor that reaches speeds of over 1700 RPM. While this may sound like a lot, there are other models by other companies that reach higher speeds. For some reason, InSinkErator seems to create garbage disposals at strictly this RPM number, which leads us to believe that they have it down to a science given their huge success. This is evident in the higher torque rating of many of their models including this one, allowing much more reliable grinding of food scraps.
We highly recommend this model for most households due to its great balance of price to performance, quiet operation, and worthy warranty period.
Family size: 3-6
Dimensions: 8.75 x 8.75 x 12.6 inches
Warranty: 9 years
MOEN GX Pro Series 1/2 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
This model is suitable for smaller families with less food waste than some of the more powerful models. It includes a power cord in the package, saving you from the additional cost of having to buy one separately, and has a high (2600) RPM motor which is great at circumventing jams. In addition, this garbage disposal is very durable for the price and is resistant to corrosive materials. This ½ HP model from MOEN is exceedingly simple to install, even being compatible with pre-existing mounting installations in the case of a garbage disposal replacement.
This model is small, affordable, very efficient, and backed by a 3 year warranty with the option to have it serviced in your home by a professional.
Family size: 1-3
Dimensions: 6.34 x 6.34 x 14.76 inches
Warranty: 3 years
InSinkErator ⅓ HP Badger Garbage Disposal
This garbage disposal by InSinkErator is one catered towards smaller families or ones that rarely wash food scraps down the sink. This model is very compact, ideal for small apartments or sinks with little space underneath for larger installations. This model is great for people who do not often prepare food, or have 1-2 people using the sink in the household. It comes with a 26 ounce cavity and an induction motor. While we can’t speak to the quiet operation of this model, we can tell you that the parts are galvanized steel as opposed to stainless. This makes them less reliable than stainless steel, but definitely nothing to scoff at, given that many customers have used theirs for around 7-8 years before they reported any issues with their garbage disposal installation. It comes with a quick mounting mechanism for quick installations and is backed by a one year limited warranty.
Family size: 1-2
Dimensions: 7 x 7 x 12 inches
Warranty: 1 year
Insinkerator Badger 5 1/2 HP Food Waste Disposer
For families that want a bit more of a kick than the previous Badger ⅓ HP model above, this one comes with a bit more power at ½ HP. This model is also more sturdy than the previous model and has a longer warranty period, set at 2 years instead of one. It has a Dura Drive induction motor installed that spins at 1725 RPM — just like most of the InSinkErator lineup. This model is a bit on the noisy side, given its size, and can be unsuitable for those wishing to have quiet operation.
Additionally, the lower horsepower rating means that you won’t be able to throw everything you want into the sink and hope for a clean outcome. It can handle vegetable scraps and hard grease with relative ease, but throwing bones into it will probably make it jam. Speaking of jams, this model can be unclogged from underneath in the event that you accidentally give it more than it can handle!
The pricing policy on this model makes it a great choice for those that want a starter model for a smaller home, and for those that seldom cook or compost many of their offcuts.
All in all, this is a sturdy model for the price, beating many of its predecessors and competitors at the same price point in terms of endurance and reliable usage over the years.
Family size: 1-3
Dimensions: 6.31 x 6.31 x 11.5 inches
Warranty: 2 years
Waste King L-8000 Garbage Disposal
This model is one of the highest value 1 HP models on the market for those that want or need a more powerful model in their kitchen. What sets this family garbage disposal apart from the rest is the low price, which — at the time of writing — is $114 on Amazon. For being a budget model, this top garbage disposal unit is pretty quiet compared to others at the price point. It comes with a 1 HP permanent magnet 2800 RPM motor installed and is great at handling many food types including slightly harder food waste like fish and hollow chicken bones, capable of handling up to 8 people in the household. This makes it one of the best price to performance ratios that we have ever seen, which is what Waste King specializes in.
Not only does it grind up the majority of food waste types, it is also extremely durable, with the inside grinding components made from stainless steel to have the highest corrosion resistance possible. This is a very expensive material to be priced so low by this company, which puts immense value in the hands of the consumer for being considered a budget model. So there has to be some type of catch, right? Well, this company has you covered on that concern as well, as Waste King’s faith in their product is evident in their lifetime warranty of the L-8000 model.
The casing is made up of plastic, which can be off-putting to some users since it is considered inferior to harder materials such as metal or acrylic. However, the tradeoff here is that the large unit weighs significantly less than its counterparts (at 13.4 pounds), and will not rust or corrode from acidic compounds and the like. Despite these upsides, it leaves a bit to be desired in the way of durability in the face of physical damage. Plastic is very prone to cracking from physical hits or damage to the housing by way of dropping or hitting it when servicing the unit. For most of its usage, however, it will stay safe under your sink.
Family size: 6-8
Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.5 x 16 inches
Waste King L-1001 Garbage Disposal
Once again the king of budget garbage disposals strikes. This time, with a smaller model with a weaker motor, perfect for small households that don’t want to splurge on an expensive garbage disposal installation.
The L-1001 is one of Amazon’s best selling garbage disposal units, and for good reason. It features a high quality, permanent magnet motor as opposed to an induction one, which makes it both faster and quieter, capable of reaching 2600 RPM very quickly. The motor is rated at ½ HP, capable of handling up to 3 people in the household and most soft food waste without issue. The unit is built with both galvanized steel and stainless steel which, for those unfamiliar with materials, are the most reliable materials to resist corrosion. The L-1001 is covered by a 2 year warranty.
As with the L-8000 model above, the casing is made of the same plastic polymer compound, trading off the sturdiness of the casing in favor of a lighter weight and more corrosion resistance. It is worth noting that this unit is very similar in capability to the Badger 5 on this list by InSinkErator, despite the significantly lower price point.
Family size: 1-3
Dimensions: 5.25 x 5.25 x 12.75 inches
Warranty: 2 years
InSinkErator Evolution 3/4 HP Septic Assist Garbage Disposal
This garbage disposer is a bit different from others on this list because it is catered to households that need to create runoff that is safe for a septic tank system. This means that any oily substances such as pan grease or animal fat need to be broken down before they can be safely disposed of into the runoff in order to keep your pipes and septic tank installation clean and in working order.
InSinkErator remedies that problem in the form of a bio-charge add-on to the unit. Compliance ratings for septic tanks for the InSinkErator Evolution Septic Assist are achieved due to the fact that it harnesses a type of microorganism that naturally breaks down these problematic compounds that would otherwise be unsafe to discard into a septic tank, including starches and oils. This, of course, means that you will have to refill the add-on about 3 or 4 times a year in the form of a liquid included in a 16 ounce bottle. The first one, of course, is included with the unit so you can use it straight away.
Outfitted with the same Dura Drive ¾ horsepower motor as many of InSinkErator’s lineup, it crushes food down in 2 phases to be easier on the runoff pipes from your kitchen sink grinder to your septic tank. It is strong enough to handle up to 5 people per household and has enough power to grind up smaller bones to a pulp, making it much harder for the food waste to clog up your system.
The sound insulation on this unit is also worth mentioning due to the effort that the company has invested to make certain that it operates very quietly. The mount on it has a vibration dampening ring in addition to being soundproofed all around inside the housing itself.
Family size: 3-5
Dimensions: 14 x 11 x 16 inches
Warranty: 4 years
InSinkErator Evolution 1 HP Continuous Feed Noise Insulation Garbage Disposal
The big guns come out with this model. This 1 HP food waste disposer is created for people who have a lot of food waste, whether it be because they love cooking or due to a large amount of people in the household. Before buying, make sure that it will fit under your sink, as it has one of the largest garbage disposal sizes on this list. Given its power, it can handle everything from grease to fruit pits and small beef bones. It does so, we might add, at a sound level so low that you can listen to the TV in the distance. Also the proprietary MultiGrind technology means that it no longer has 2 grinding phases but instead now has 3, which pulverizes food scraps even more effectively than before. Not much more needs to be said about this model.
Family size: 6-9
Dimensions: 13 x 12 x 12 inches
Warranty: 7 years
Waste King Legend Series 3/4 HP Continuous Feed Sound-Insulated Garbage Disposal
Now for the quietest model on the list, the Waste King Legend ¾ HP. Needing no additional introduction, this model is near silent when working thanks to its superior sound-insulating design. Capable of quietly handling a family of 3-6, this model installs very easily and comes with an included power cord. It has stainless steel components and the same plastic casing as the other models from Waste King on this list, whose pros and cons we have mentioned above (see the L-8000 product description).
Once again Waste King inspires confidence in its product with a 10 year warranty and an excellent, affordable product.
Family size: 3-6
Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.5 x 14.5 inches
Warranty: 10 years
InSinkErator Evolution Compact 3/4 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal with Power Cord
As the name suggests, this model does not necessitate the purchase of a separate power cord unlike many models of garbage disposal available on the market. This model, however, is one of the easiest to install in our top picks thanks to its Quick Lock mounting mechanism, which is why we recommend it for users that do not wish to buy tools or call a professional to fasten the unit under their sink.
The ¾ HP motor can handle everything up to bones, which it has some issues grinding, and is quite compact thanks to its design. It can also be used with plumbing systems leading to a septic tank as well as one of the other models on this list (also from the InSinkErator lineup) and comes with an 8 year warranty.
Family size: 3-5
Dimensions: 8 x 8 x 12.13 inches
Warranty: 8 years
InSinkErator Evolution Excel 1.0 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
Now, if budget is no issue and you just want the best that money can buy in all of the major aspects, then the Evolution Excel is one of the most top rated garbage disposals you can look into.
It has everything you might want when it comes to quiet operation. Supreme sound insulation to reduce the noise of the unit plus an additional anti vibration mount which dampens the reverb from your sink to your countertop, which creates more noise than the unit itself.
The 1 HP motor needs no introduction, it has the capability to handle nearly anything thrown at it, from a large family or maybe even a small workplace in a diner. In addition to the stainless steel composition of the inner workings of the unit, it has additional features which some of the lower end models lack. We are talking, of course, about the ability to sense jams and increase the motor torque 5x automatically in order to grind through any problematic food scraps or tough material that falls into its jaws.
Being a sizable unit, make sure you have the correct clearance under your sink to fit this monster.
Family size: 6-8
Dimensions: 13 x 12 x 12 inches
Warranty: 10 years
How Much Noise Does a Garbage Disposal Make?
This depends on the model. 45-105 dB is the normal operating range for most models of garbage disposals. This is a very important thing to consider for many households, especially if it is crucial to be quiet during the day or evening. Things like noise sensitivity, remote work, children, easily scareable pets, and misaligned sleeping schedules for residents (someone who works night shifts and sleeps during the day) can all create the need for a quieter model. For comparison, an well-insulated 45 dB model works at about the same noise level as a refrigerator’s ambient noise, whereas a 105 dB model can be the same noise level as someone playing a trombone in the house.
The main difference in models that work quietly and louder ones is, of course, their price. Most of the advanced models come with good insulation and a much better build quality than their cheaper counterparts, at a higher cost.
There are, of course, other ways to reduce noise besides splurging on an expensive model solely for the quieter operation. Many of the best sinks already come with noise dampening features in the installation, which can be an option if you are remodeling your kitchen anyway, or if you just want a new sink. You can insulate the drawer under the sink in many ways by consulting with your local kitchen specialist. Also, adding an anti vibration strip between the sink fixture (to which the garbage disposal will be attached) and the countertop can do wonders for quieter operation by dampening the natural vibration of the unit during operation.
Of course, even considering these options to modify your current sink, there is no substitute for a quiet unit.
What Volume of Waste Can a Garbage Disposal Handle?
This is an important point to consider for effective work of your unit. Besides being able to handle large amounts of food waste effectively, overloading a garbage disposal constantly can negatively affect the longevity of the unit. Before you buy, it is important to consider how much power you need in your in-sink installation to handle the volume of food waste your family, roommates, or co-workers throw in it.
This, of course, is measured in horsepower, and it has less to do with the type of food waste in this case, and more to do with the amount produced. Typically, ½ horsepower is an entry-level unit built to handle small volumes that mainly accompany 1 to 3 people living under one roof. This is a good level for small families or a small number of roommates sharing an apartment.
A bump up from that are the ¾ horsepower models. These are designed to handle slightly larger loads, more suitable for larger families and the sizable dinners that come with them. Food waste produced by any amount from 3 to 6 people is easily handled by units at this power rating, with the added benefit of being able to handle slightly tougher food waste as well.
One horsepower models are created for even larger families, such as multiple generations living under one roof. These styles of life produce the largest amounts of offcuts, bones, and other food waste that is not otherwise handled by weaker models. 6 to 10 people can easily use one in-sink garbage disposal and not have to worry about it being worn out.
Time for the big guns, the 2 horsepower models. These models are the most powerful and can handle the largest amounts of food waste from 10 people or more. Typically, these are seen in places of business, such as restaurants and diners. They are specifically designed to handle large amounts of food waste and take them in stride, and are built to last. For most residential use cases, these big boys will be overkill.
How Much Horsepower Does My Garbage Disposal Actually Need?
Bearing in mind the volume of food waste that it can handle with little effort, there is also an added benefit to getting a stronger model than is necessary for your home or diner. A ¾ HP unit being able to handle, say, chicken bones — instead of a ½ HP model handling only vegetable offcuts — can be very beneficial in several ways. Not only can it handle tougher food waste, but it can also grind up less stubborn offcuts into a much finer consistency. This means two things. One, the motor will put in less effort to handle the same loads as a weaker model, improving the longevity of the unit. Two, it will grind your food waste into something much easier to flush down the drain, avoiding clogs along the way and becoming easier to clean out with a simple rinse.
Of course, ⅓ and ½ HP garbage disposal units are very widespread among buyers and are bought much more often than the high-end models. This is both because they are cheaper and because people who live in cities, where the population is higher, tend to live in smaller apartments and don’t live in as large of groups as big families in the suburbs. 6 different people living on their own means that there are 6 different, budget units installed into 6 different sinks — as opposed to one 1 HP model installed for a family of 6 living in one house.
As mentioned previously, the higher the HP rating of the unit, the bigger the volume and the tougher the food waste that it can handle. If you are fine with grinding mainly vegetable offcuts and maybe small chicken bones, then there is no need to get a more powerful unit. However, if you think that you will be throwing tougher tasks at your kitchen’s in-sink garbage disposal, such as very tough beef bones, our recommendation is getting at least a 1 HP unit. It is recommended that you can get a unit rated for your needs or higher, but it is not a good idea to make a weaker unit work overtime.
How Large Should My Garbage Disposal Unit be?
This depends on a number of things, mainly the amount of space you have below your sink for the installation to fit in. There is a direct correlation between unit size, and the power that it is rated for, however.
Bigger motors with more HP tend to take up more space, meaning that stronger powered units will most often be bigger than compact, weaker ones. Unfortunately, this also means that they operate at a louder noise level, which may not be suitable for some users despite the added power. Sound insulation becomes a key factor at this point, with bigger units being able to fit more sound isolating compounds and materials, so it will operate at a lower noise level.
Do Garbage Disposals Leak?
Before reaching a decision on which garbage disposal to buy, let’s address the most important question regarding them that potential buyers may have. In short, yes, sink shredders can leak. Although this is uncommon in new units, an improper installation can increase the chances of this happening. Here is what to look for:
- Cracks in the unit
While this is not usually the case in new units, it is important to exclude the fact that the unit is defective as soon as possible. This problem is more common in older units that have seen a lot of usage, as well as cheaper units that do not have the same build quality as higher end ones.
- Improper assembly
In the majority of cases, this means the rubber seal in the mount is improperly fixed. This can mean that, for certain models, it is installed backwards or it has slipped. A good way to check this is to read the installation guide that came with the unit. If the seal is broken or faulty, there is the option to use an adhesive plumbing solution instead of the seal.
- Garbage disposal entrance and exit
Once again, check the rubber seals for any “condensation” that comes from small leaks, and the outlet should be tightened firmly but not so much that it cuts into the runoff hose.