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It may not be the most exciting of kitchen appliances, but a good garbage disposal is somewhat of an unsung (and unseen) hero in the home. Garbage disposals powerfully pulverize food scraps and waste into tiny particles that are then washed away with water from the sink. Having one helps cut down on the amount of stinky waste that ends up in the trash can, helping keep your kitchen cleaner and odor-free.
If you're picking out a garbage disposal for the first time, you might not know what to look for. These motorized machines hiding under sinks are not all the same. There are continuous-feed and batch-feed models (more on that later), power levels to consider, and some come with special features such as additional insulation to cut down on noise, anti-jamming systems, and stainless steel grinding chambers.
We researched and narrowed down the best garbage disposals on the market, so all you have to do is click—well, and handle the installation.
Here are the best garbage disposals.
Best Overall: InSinkErator Evolution Compact 3/4 HP Compact Garbage Disposer
Can cut through tough veggie scraps
Quieter than others
Rubber baffle may lead to slow draining
Thousands of happy owners have made the InSinkErator Evolution Compact garbage disposal a best-seller. This 3/4-horsepower unit has a 34.6-ounce grind chamber with stainless steel grind components, and reviewers say it’s the perfect size to handle food waste from a large, hungry family. This model is a continuous-feed disposal, so it can handle a constant stream of food, too.
Experts give this InSinkErator very good marks for speed, fineness of grind, and ability to cut through tough vegetable scraps. It gets slightly lower marks for noise, but most owners say it’s not too loud thanks to SoundSeal technology with sound insulation, an anti-vibration sink mount, and an anti-vibration tailpipe.
Several owners say it was easy enough to install without a professional and has plenty of power for all kinds of food waste. A few note that the rubber baffle means their sink drains too slowly, and some say they’ve had issues with leaks. Fortunately, this model is backed by a four-year in-home warranty, so if something goes wrong, service agents will come to you.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: InSinkErator Compact Badger 900 3/4 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
Easy to install–especially if replacing another InSinkErator
Galvanized steel construction
Not the most quiet
InSinkErator's line of Badger garbage disposals are best-selling customer favorites and available in in several speeds. We like the Badger 5XP model, which is part of the brand's Power Series of disposals. It's got a compact, space-saving design and 3/4 HP which can handle most food scraps and should be plenty of power for most kitchens. It's also easy to install, especially if you're replacing an existing InSinkErator thanks to a quick lock mount system that is compatible with all of the brand's disposals.
It's made from galvanized steel parts that should hold up and resist rust over time. In case you run into any issues, this model is backed by a 4 year warranty. As for noise, the Badger 5XP is standard so it's not going to be as quiet as our top pick, but if you want to save a few dollars this model should meet most households needs.
Best for Easy Installation: Waste King L-3200 Garbage Disposal with Power Cord
EZ Mount system
10-year mechanical warranty
Runs relatively quietly
Mixed reviews on noise level
Another very popular garbage disposal, the Waste King Legend is beloved for its sturdy build and easy installation. Like the InSinkErator, it’s a 3/4-horsepower unit with stainless-steel grinders that can stand the test of time, and because it’s a continuous-feed model, users can keep it running as they’re adding food waste—convenient for most families.
Features on the Waste King include a front-mounted reset button, a removable splash guard, and sound insulation meant to reduce noise during operation. Most reviewers say the noise is typical for a garbage disposal, though some people complain of a loud click when it’s first turned on. However, almost all are happy with the motor’s power, saying it can handle lots of food waste without jamming.
They also say it’s fairly easy to install thanks to an EZ Mount system that includes necessary hardware. It’s backed by an impressive 10-year in-home mechanical warranty that means repairs are done in-home, and there is a lifetime warranty protecting against corrosion.
Best Budget: Waste King L-111 Garbage Disposal with Power Cord
Easy to install
Slightly stiff splash guard
Smaller households or buyers with small budgets will appreciate the Waste King Legend L-111, recommended by hundreds of owners who say it’s ideal for anyone who doesn’t need quite as much power in a garbage disposal. This continuous-feed model is a 1/3-horsepower unit with stainless steel grinders and a 1,900 rpm motor, and many owners say it’s a great fit for smaller kitchens or apartments where big dinners aren’t a nightly affair.
Like larger Waste King models, this one features sound-reducing insulation, a front-mounted reset button, a removable splash guard and a corrosion-proof grinding chamber. This model is backed by a two-year in-home repair warranty.
Reviewers say it’s easy to install even without a pro, and some say the upside to getting less-powerful disposal is a quieter motor, too. Most are pleased with the power, but some say the splash guard is a little stiff, meaning they have to more actively push food waste down into the disposal.
Best Warranty: Moen Host Series 3/4 Horsepower Garbage Disposal
Easy to install
Motor finely grinds, preventing jams
Pre-installed power cord
Moen might be known for its faucets, but the trusted brand also makes garbage disposals, including this 3/4 horsepower model that consumers swear by and is backed by a generous 10 year limited warranty. The continuous-feed model is part of Moen's Host Series, intended for those who require a boost when cleaning up after entertaining friends and family.
The VORTEX permanent magnet motor's major claim is that it finely grinds food and therefore gets jammed less frequently than other options, and reviewers confirm that's true. They also rave that the rubber splash guard does a great job of catching unwanted items before they fall in. But if a spoon does slip through, the whole guard lifts out, allowing you to see where you are reaching your hand.
Despite its SoundSHIELD feature, some customers complained about the noise, but remember a perfectly quiet disposal doesn't exist.
Best High-End: KitchenAid 3/4-HP Continuous Feed Noise Insulation Garbage Disposal
Very fine, quick grind
Sizable grind chamber
Whether you’re finishing a high-end kitchen remodel or simply want a top-of-the-line garbage disposal that will offer the best performance, reviewers say the ultra-quiet KitchenAid Superba is worth a look. It has a 3/4-horsepower, 1,725 rpm motor and a 40-ounce grind chamber that can handle a lot of food waste, even from large family dinners. It’s continuous-feed, which allows for constant use without worries about burnt-out motors.
Experts give the KitchenAid Superba top marks for the fineness of grind and very good ones for speed, noise, and ability to handle vegetable scraps. Features include two-stage grinding, overload protection, and manual reset.
It also has SoundSeal technology that KitchenAid says makes it 40 percent quieter than standard garbage disposals, and reviewers confirm that it is definitely a step up from most other models when it comes to noise. One owner even says this disposal can run in an open kitchen without disturbing nearby conversations—an important consideration for users who have wide-open floor plans. Another reviewer says it’s so quiet that it almost sounds like it isn’t working. It’s backed by a five-year warranty.
Our top pick is the InSinkErator Evolution Compact Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal (view at Amazon) because of its speed and fineness of grind combined with its relative quietness. If you have a large household that generates a lot of food waste, you might want to upgrade to a more powerful disposal like the InSinkErator PRO1100XL Pro Series Garbage Disposal (view at Amazon). It's more powerful with 1.1 HP, finely grinds waste, and is quiet in use.
What to Look for When Buying a Garbage Disposal
Continuous-feed models, which keep running as you drop in new food waste, are convenient but may pose a safety risk to curious children who might stick their fingers down the drain. They also tend to require a hard-wired connection to a wall switch. On the other hand, batch-feed models are loaded with scraps and activated by a magnetic stopper. They can only process one batch of food a time, determined by the capacity of the disposal's grinding chamber, so it can be more time consuming to use if you have a lot of scraps to dispose of. They’re safer and may not require a hard-wired connection, but they tend to be more expensive and less convenient to use.
The power of a garbage disposal is rated by horsepower and the higher the numerical value, the more power. For example, a disposal with 1.0 HP will offer more power than a model with 1/2 HP.
More powerful units will grind food faster—and possibly smaller as well—so they’re better for folks who'll be sending more food down the drain more often. Less powerful units will be less expensive and they’ll consume less electricity. While they may not be able to handle a refrigerator clean-out, they’ll be fine for food scraps rinsed off of dishes.
Garbage disposals are not one size fits all, so you'll need to take a few measurements of your under sink space to make sure it the disposal you're considering will fit. Some have larger grinding chambers and generally the larger the motor, the bigger the disposal.
No garbage disposal will be totally quiet, and the noise depends slightly on what type of food you're grinding, much like a blender, but some models are designed with insulation for more quiet operation. Since it’s unlikely you’ll be using the disposal when everyone’s sleeping, the noise factor may not be critical for everyone, but it’s something to keep in mind if you or your family members are sensitive to loud noises.
How does a garbage disposal work?
Many people think garbage disposals are equipped with blades that spin and break food down into tiny pieces, but this is actually a myth.
Disposals don't have blades. They have a spinning plate with impellers and a grinding plate. The impellers push food against the grinding plate with centrifugal force. The food is grinded down into small particles that are then flushed with water through your plumbing and onto your septic system or a local water treatment facility
What can and can't you put in a garbage disposal?
Most fruit and vegetable scraps, pieces of meat, and leftovers can safely be put in a garbage disposal. A small amount of fruit and vegetable peels can be handled by most disposals, but if you're peeling several pounds of potatoes, it's better to skip putting the peels down the disposal. The starch in potato peels can gunk up the disposal. Same goes for stringy and fibrous vegetables, such as celery, corn husks, banana peels, artichokes, and asparagus, which tend to resist pulverization and can clog your drain.
Coffee grounds and leftover oil or grease should also be disposed of in another manner, since they can clog your drain. Egg shells, bones, shellfish, and fruit pits can also be tough for a disposal to handle and lead to premature wear. These items should be disposed of in the trash or composted.
How do you unclog a garbage disposal?
Clogs can happen if you place too much food into a disposal or don't let enough water run to clear the system. Luckily, they're pretty easy to clear yourself.
The first step is turn off the garbage disposal and water and then unplug the disposal. Use a flashlight to look down the drain opening to see what is clogging the disposal and use tongs, tweezers, or pliers to remove the clog. Then plug the unit back in and test it.
If that doesn't work, some disposals have a reset button that may help.
How do you clean a garbage disposal?
Some food debris can accumulate in the disposal and cause the sink to have an unpleasant odor, especially if you use it frequently. Letting cold water run through the sink before, during, and after using the disposal can help prevent food buildup.
To give your disposal a cleaning, place ice cubes, baking soda, and thin lemon slices down your sink drain without the water running and power the disposal on. The ice cubes help dislodge stuck-on bits of food and the baking soda and lemon help cleanse and deodorize.
The rubber flaps on top of the drain can also be cleaned by either hand scrubbing or removing and putting it in the dishwasher.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Saundra Latham is a writer who covers home products for The Spruce and The Spruce Eats. She has written more than 25 roundups for the brands, including the best home appliance gifts, induction cooktops, and home tool kits.
This roundup was updated by Sharon Lehman, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who knows the value of a garbage disposal–she uses hers daily since there isn't space for a trash can near the prep area in her kitchen. She specializes in small kitchen appliance testing and reviews for The Spruce Eats.