It may not have the glamor of, say, a stand mixer or pizza oven, but a garbage disposal is an unsung (and unseen) hero in the kitchen. With one in your sink, you'll never have to worry about scooping slimy scraps out of the drain ever again. A quality disposal can pulverize food scraps and waste into tiny particles that are washed away with water from the sink.
Not all models are created equal, though. There are continuous-feed and batch-feed versions, with varying levels of power, size, and capacity. Some have special features like additional insulation to reduce noise, anti-jamming systems, and stainless steel grinding parts. Some are easy to hook up yourself, while others need the tools and expertise of a professional. And, of course, there are a wide range of prices out there. We researched and narrowed down the best garbage disposals on the market to help you find the perfect fit for your kitchen sink.
InSinkErator Evolution Compact 3/4 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
Thousands of happy owners have made the InSinkErator Evolution Compact garbage disposal a bestseller. This 3/4-horsepower unit has a large chamber with stainless steel components, plus a two-stage grind procedure that the brand says can handle even melon rinds and chicken bones. Experts give this model very good marks for speed, fineness of grind, and ability to cut through tough vegetable scraps. It's also simple to install—especially if you're replacing another InSinkErator model, which lets it simply twist into place.
Thanks to SoundSeal technology with sound insulation, an anti-vibration sink mount, and an anti-vibration tailpipe, the Evolution Compact is very quiet. However, one of its sound-reduction features is a rubber baffle that fits into the drain, which some buyers say makes water drain too slowly. A few other reviewers say they've had issues with leaks, but this model is backed by an 8-year in-home limited warranty, so if something goes wrong, service agents will come to you.
Price at time of publish: $270
Dimensions: 8 x 8 x 12.1 inches | Power: 3/4 horsepower | Capacity: 34.6 ounces | Maximum Speed: 1,725 RPM
Runner-Up, Best Overall
InSinkErator Compact Badger 5XP 3/4 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
Easy to install
InSinkErator's Badger line is a bit less expensive than its Evolution models but still offers solid performance and power. The 5XP is not the most powerful Badger, but it's close, making it an excellent choice if you want an extremely effective disposal at a lower price. Its 3/4-horsepower motor can handle most food scraps, and it quickly twists into place to install if you're replacing a different InSinkErator. It's made from galvanized steel parts that should hold up and resist rust over time.
The main downside with Badger models, including this one, is noise. They don't have all the vibration-reducing features of pricier disposals and are pretty loud when in operation. But the 5XP's capacity and power should meet most households' needs.
Price at time of publish: $153
Dimensions: 6.3 x 6.3 x 12.6 inches | Power: 3/4 horsepower | Capacity: 26 ounces | Maximum Speed: 1,725 RPM
Waste King L-111 Garbage Disposal
Easy to install
You can save a lot of money with this lower-powered disposal that still works quite effectively. The Waste King L-111 might not be able to take down bones or watermelon rind, but its a great fit for smaller kitchens or homes where big dinners aren't a nightly affair. Reviewers say it’s easy to install, even without a pro, and its 1/3-horsepower motor is also quieter than beefier models. Like larger Waste King models, this one features a front-mounted reset button, removable splash guard, and corrosion-proof grinding chamber.
However, some users complain that the splash guard in the drain is stiff and requires you to push scraps down into the disposal more actively than other units. It also has somewhat cheaper materials: Users complain about the metal drain being easy to dent, an indication that the rest of the parts might not hold up as long, either. And its mere two-year warranty isn't as generous as more expensive disposals.
Price at time of publish: $75
Dimensions: 5.3 x 5.3 x 12.8 inches | Power: 1/3 horsepower | Capacity: 22 ounces | Maximum Speed: 1,900 RPM
Best for Easy Installation
Waste King L-3200 Garbage Disposal with Power Cord
Easy to install
8-year limited warranty
Waste King's Legend line is a bit pricier than the model above but adds a lot more power. It’s a 3/4-horsepower unit with stainless steel grinders that can stand the test of time, reflected in the brand's eight-year warranty compared with the two years on the L-111. Some 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.
Users also note it’s fairly easy to install. It has a mountable system and includes all of the necessary hardware. It’s backed by an impressive eight-year limited warranty that covers both material and mechanical defects free of charge. The motor and base are a little larger than similar models, so be sure to measure under your sink to be sure there's room for it to fit.
Price at time of publish: $120
Dimensions: 7.8 x 7.8 x 13.8 inches | Power: 3/4 horsepower | Capacity: 27.3 ounces | Maximum Speed: 2,700 RPM
Moen Host Series 3/4 Horsepower Garbage Disposal
Inexpensive for its power
Moen might be known for its faucets, but the trusted brand also makes garbage disposals, including this powerful model that's backed by a generous 10-year limited warranty. The continuous-feed model is part of Moen's Host Series, intended for users who do a lot of entertaining (and cleaning up after said entertaining).
The permanent magnet motor in this unit spins quite a bit faster than similar models, which grinds scraps finely and therefore gets jammed less frequently than other options. Users also rave that the removable splash guard does a great job catching unwanted items before they fall in. But if a piece of silverware does slip through, the whole guard lifts out, allowing you to see what you're reaching in for.
Despite its SoundShield feature, some customers complained about the noise. It's important to remember that a perfectly quiet disposal doesn't exist, but this one might be louder than other options. The Moen is also a few inches wider and taller than comparable models and might not fit easily under all sink setups.
Price at time of publish: $110
Dimensions: 7.8 x 7.8 x 13.8 inches | Power: 3/4 horsepower | Maximum Speed: 2,700 RPM
KitchenAid Superba Continuous Feed Noise Insulation Garbage Disposal
Grinds quickly and finely
Whether you’re finishing a complete high-end kitchen remodel or simply want a top-of-the-line garbage disposal, the KitchenAid Superba might be for you. It has a 3/4-horsepower motor that grinds food in two stages for a more efficient performance, and users also rave about how quickly it takes down scraps. Its 40-ounce grinding chamber is the biggest on this list by a good margin, so it can handle large volumes easily. But reviews also emphasize how quiet this machine is: KitchenAid claims its SoundSeal technology is 40 percent quieter than comparable disposals.
That huge grinding chamber takes up a lot of space, however, and you might need to hire a professional to shift around your plumbing and electrical to accommodate it. And then there's the eye-watering price, too.
Price at time of publish: $359
Dimensions: 9 x 9 x 12.8 inches | Power: 0.75 horsepower | Capacity: 40 ounces | Maximum Speed: 1,725 RPM
Waste King L-5000TC Batch Feed Garbage Disposal with Power Cord
No wall switch needed
Can't add food as it's running
Unlike the continuous disposals above, batch-feed garbage disposals can only handle one load of scraps at a time, but they have a couple important advantages. They won't run without a drain cover in place, making them very safe, especially for homes with curious children—or adults prone to dropping forks down the disposal. The drain cover also activates the motor, so there's no need for an external wall switch, potentially heading off the cost to hire an electrician to install one.
This Waste King model features a powerful 3/4-horsepower motor with a sizable grinding chamber, and it runs at 2,700 RPM for a fine grind that's less likely to clog pipes. Users did note that this model is taller than many other disposals, which can cause clearance issues under the sink, so measure carefully. The activator cover can take some getting used to if you're switching from a continuous disposal, but it's not difficult to master.
Price at time of publish: $180
Dimensions: 9.7 x 9.7 x 17.7 inches | Power: 3/4 horsepower | Capacity: 33.5 ounces | Maximum Speed: 2,700 RPM
Our top pick is the InSinkErator Evolution Compact because of its speed, power, and ease of installation. For a budget choice, we like the the Waste King L-111, which offers quality performance and excellent price, albeit with a less powerful motor.
What to Look for in a Garbage Disposal
Continuous-feed models, which keep running as you drop in new food waste, are convenient, but they 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 at 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. 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 most garbage disposals is measured in horsepower: The higher the numerical value, the more power. For example, a disposal with 1 HP will offer more power than a model with 1/2 HP.
More powerful units will grind food faster—and potentially into smaller bits, 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 cleanout, they’ll be fine for food scraps rinsed off of dishes.
Garbage disposals are not one-size-fits-all. A more powerful motor generally means a bigger disposals, and the size of the grinding chamber also varies from model to model. There are disposals that are taller but more narrow and ones that are wide but short. It's important to measure your under-sink space carefully to make sure the disposal you're considering will fit.
No garbage disposal will be completely silent—and the noise level depends to some extent on what type of food you're grinding—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. However, it’s something to keep in mind if you or your family members are sensitive to loud noises, you have an open-floor-plan kitchen, or anyone plans to carry out a conversation while the disposal is running. Models with extensive sound insulation are generally more expensive than more basic ones.
How does a garbage disposal work?
Many people think garbage disposals are equipped with blades to chop food into tiny pieces like a food processor or blender, but this is actually a myth. Disposals don't have blades—they have dull spinning metal pieces called impellers that push food against a grinding plate full of small holes. Once the food is ground into small enough bits to fit through the holes, it flows through your plumbing to a water treatment facility or your septic system, just like any other wastewater.
What can and can't you put in a garbage disposal?
Most fruit and vegetable scraps, bits of meat, and leftovers can safely be put in a garbage disposal—in small amounts. But if you're peeling several pounds of potatoes, it's better to put the peels into the trash or compost as the potato starch can gunk up the disposal. The same goes for stringy and fibrous vegetables, such as celery, corn husks, banana peels, artichokes, and asparagus; these tend to resist pulverization and can clog the drain.
Coffee grounds and leftover oil or grease should not go down the disposal, since they can clog your drain. Eggshells, bones, shellfish, and fruit pits can also be difficult for a disposal to handle and lead to premature wear. These items should be disposed of in the trash or put in a compost bin. And, of course, nothing inorganic—like plastic, metal, or glass—should ever go into the disposal.
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 to 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, look for a reset button on the front of the disposal unit itself. Some models have a fuse that flips when they sense a clog, and you need to hit the reset button after clearing the clog to turn them back on. Don't forget to read the manual that comes with your product, either, as each one has its own procedures and practices.
How do you clean a garbage disposal?
Food debris can accumulate in the disposal and give your sink 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 thorough cleaning, place ice cubes, baking soda, and thin lemon slices down the drain, and then turn on the disposal without the water running. The ice cubes help dislodge stuck-on bits of food, and the baking soda and lemon help cleanse and deodorize. After cleaning, let the disposal run with the water turned on for a while to make sure it's completely clear.
The rubber flap on top of the drain is generally removable and can be cleaned by scrubbing or putting it in the dishwasher.
Can I use a garbage disposal if I have a septic tank?
You can, but you should exercise caution. Septic tanks work by separating solids, which sink to the bottom, and floating matter, such as oil and grease, from the wastewater that exits your home. As more matter enters, the capacity of the tank decreases, which is why it must be pumped out regularly.
Using a garbage disposal can drastically increase the amount of waste in your septic tank, meaning it will need to be pumped more often. It's also extremely important to make sure only food goes into the disposal if you have a septic tank, as any non-food items sent down the disposal by accident can cause a backup.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Sharon Lehman, RDN, is 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.
This roundup was updated by Katya Weiss-Andersson, a writer and editor who has nearly a decade of experience as a professional chef; Katrina Munichiello, a writer and editor who specializes in the tea and food industries; and Jason Horn, a commerce writer for The Spruce Eats who's spent almost 20 years writing about food and drinks.
Roto-Rooter. Can you use a garbage disposal with a septic tank?