Best Garbage Disposals of 2018
A garbage disposal makes kitchen cleanup easier and more sanitary. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best garbage disposal, so you can tidy up your kitchen in a snap.
Reduce Your Kitchen Waste with the Best Garbage Disposals
Why fill your trash can with decaying food waste when you can quickly and easily wash it down the kitchen sink? A good garbage disposal grinds up food scraps so there's no buildup of unpleasant odors. It also makes kitchen cleanup easier and reduces the waste you produce, which is good for the planet.
However, with so many garbage disposals to choose from at every price point, it can be difficult deciding on the right model. You'll need to consider the feed type, the power of the motor, and its compatibility with your sink, among other features. How do you find the best garbage disposal for your kitchen?
At BestReviews, our mission is to help you make the best shopping decisions when it comes to buying products for your home. Our top recommendations and shopping guides are the result of comprehensive research, including product testing, expert advice, and customer feedback. We never accept free products from manufacturers, so our reviews are 100 percent free from marketing hype.
If you're in the market for a garbage disposal, you'll find BestReviews' favorites in the matrix above. For the technical information you need to know before buying a garbage disposal, read on.
Choose a Feed: Types of Garbage Disposals
Garbage disposals are either batch-feed or continuous-feed units.
Batch-Feed Garbage Disposals
With a batch-feed garbage disposal, the waste sits in the disposal's chamber until you activate the machine. You can let the garbage disposal fill up completely or operate it partly full if you're concerned about food sitting there too long.
You run a batch-feed garbage disposal less frequently, so it's more economical. Most batch-feed varieties will only operate with the cover in place, so they're very safe, too.
Continuous-Feed Garbage Disposals
Continuous-feed garbage disposals, as the name suggests, work whenever you drop something into the unit. Scraps disappear immediately. For large families, continuous-feed garbage disposals are ideal because adequate amounts of waste make using the disposal continuously worthwhile. Continuous-feed garbage disposals are the more common of the two types, and there is a wider choice of continuous-feed models.
However, constant running can make continuous-feed garbage disposals less economical. To avoid accidents, you need to be aware they're always on as well.
How Powerful Should a Garbage Disposal Be? Features to Consider
Much is made of a garbage disposal's motor speed. If a garbage disposal runs at 2,500 rpm or more, that sounds impressive. But what's more important is torque, or twisting force, because that's what does the hard work of grinding up food matter.
The power of a garbage disposal's motor ranges from 1/3 horsepower to 1 horsepower. The former is usually adequate for fruit, vegetables, and other soft foods. The latter will handle just about everything, including corn husks and small bones like those from chicken legs.
Garbage disposals' electric motors are either brush or brushless. Brush electric motors are cheaper and very durable. However, brushless electric motors are quieter, more energy-efficient, and virtually maintenance-free.
Garbage disposals don't actually cut food waste with whirring blades like many people imagine. Instead, garbage disposals have one or more grinding disks. These disks tear, shred, and chop more effectively than blades. As these disks are regularly covered in water, they need to be rust-proof. Stainless steel is the best material. The more grinding disks a garbage disposal has, the more thoroughly waste is broken up.
The exterior of an inexpensive garbage disposal is often made of plastic or nylon composites. These materials are durable and won't rust. However, higher-end garbage disposals have exteriors made of stainless steel. Stainless steel also doesn't rust, is extremely durable, and looks sleek as well.
Some garbage disposals plug into electrical outlets, some are operated via a switch, and other units are directly hardwired. Often even the best garbage disposals do not come with the necessary power cord, which must be purchased separately. If you're in any doubt about connecting your garbage disposal, consult an electrician.
Many garbage disposals can run in tandem with a dishwasher. The dishwasher waste water runs through the garbage disposal. However, separate pipes and connectors may be required.
Check your sink for compatibility before ordering a garbage disposal. Most sinks will be compatible with garbage disposals, but some cast-iron and ceramic sinks can present challenges. There's usually a solution, but you might need a little ingenuity and perhaps a skilled plumber.
Overfilling a garbage disposal or trying to grind items that are too big or tough can cause jams. The best garbage disposals sense when a jam is likely and reverse the direction of the grind to free obstructions. Some garbage disposals temporarily increase torque to break up stubborn items.
A good garbage disposal should have an overload protection circuit that will turn the motor off, rather than risk it burning out. A reset switch is usually located near the base of the garbage disposal where it's easy to reach.
Warranty length is a good indicator of a manufacturer's confidence in their product. For garbage disposals, a one-year warranty should be the absolute minimum. Five-year warranties for garbage disposals are not unusual. The best garbage disposals often offer warranty protection for up to seven years.
What Do Quality Garbage Disposals Cost?
BestReviews cautions against very inexpensive garbage disposals from unknown brands. These garbage disposals are seldom very durable. However, you can get a perfectly good, entry-level 1/3 horsepower garbage disposal from a respected manufacturer for around $60.
The two features that account for higher prices are the power of the garbage disposal's motor and the overall build quality. Thus, a 1/2 horsepower or 3/4 horsepower garbage disposal with a plastic body costs around $120 to $200. A stainless-steel garbage disposal with the same motor power costs around $250.
At the top end, powerful 1 horsepower stainless-steel garbage disposals can cost $350 or more. These high-end models are built to cope with large amounts of waste and keep on doing so for many years.
Q. Are garbage disposals noisy?
A. Not anymore. One observer compared early garbage disposals to a jet engine full of gravel, but manufacturers have since put considerable effort into sound insulation. Good garbage disposals are no louder than a dishwasher, and the best continuous-feed units work fast—so even the limited noise they make is soon gone.
Q. Will my garbage disposal smell?
A. You should always run cold water while using your garbage disposal to help rinse waste through. However, small items might occasionally get stuck, and after a while, they can start to smell.
Some people suggest ice cubes for clearing a garbage disposal, but they usually melt before they can have any positive effect. Try cutting up a lemon into small pieces and feeding the pieces through the garbage disposal. Lemon is mildly acidic and will leave a nice smell behind. One top manufacturer recommends throwing a peach pit inside the garbage disposal. As the pit is ground down, it scours the garbage disposal. However, BestReviews does not recommend this method for low-horsepower garbage disposals.
Never poke a knife or any other item into a garbage disposal to try to dislodge trapped waste. Don't use household chemicals in garbage disposals either. Drain cleaners, especially, can attack the garbage disposal's internal mechanisms.
If in doubt, consult your owner's manual. It's unlikely you'll have to dismantle the garbage disposal, but if that is the case, always turn the power off first.
Q. Can I use a garbage disposal if I have a septic tank?
A. It shouldn't be a problem. You're not adding chemicals—which might upset the process in your septic tank—you're just chopping up organic waste. Most garbage disposals are safe to use with properly installed septic tanks. If you have any concerns, however, it's always best to check with the manufacturer.