To use a continuous-feed garbage disposal you simply turn on
your water faucet, switch the unit on, and begin pushing food waste down the
drain into the grinding chamber. Using this kind of disposer is quick, easy and
intuitive, but isn't necessarily safe. Non-waste items can drop into the unit,
requiring you to fish them out with a hand or tool, and you have to be extra
careful not to turn on the disposal while you're doing it. This can make
continuous-feed disposals risky in homes with small children—or easily
This type of disposal eliminates the dangers of
continuous-feed models. To use a batch-feed garbage disposal, you push the waste
into the drain, then cover the hole is with a magnetic lid that activates the
disposal's power switch. Lifting the lid to add more food scraps turns the
disposal off. This is slower than using a continuous feed model, but that's not
always a bad thing, since it minimizes the strain on older pipes. Slowing down
the process also reduces the risk of dropping silverware in to be mangled by
the disposer's blades.
Garbage disposals can pose a problem for homeowners who use
septic systems. Unless it is properly sized and designed to handle the extra
waste and water, food waste can clog a septic system -- especially if the waste
isn't ground finely enough. This means homeowners may need to pump out the tank
more often, and it could shorten its overall life. However, some garbage
disposals are specially designed for use with septic tanks. Typically, they use
enzymes or bacteria to help break down the waste so it won't overburden the
benefits of a home garbage disposal
When you finish a meal at home, you're often left with a
variety of food scraps -- bones, vegetable peels, pizza crusts -- that need to
be disposed of somehow. You can compost them (if you have curbside compost
pickup or a compost bin or pile), throw them in the trash (where they can smell
bad and attract pests) ... or, if you have a garbage disposal, just push them
into the sink drain to be ground up and washed away.
If you're hooked up to a local sewer system, the food waste
gets flushed into the pipes to be treated at a wastewater plant. When the
strained-out food residue breaks down, it produces methane, a potent greenhouse
gas -- but a few cities, such as Philadelphia, capture this gas at the sewage
treatment plant to produce energy (in fact, Philadelphia now requires garbage disposals in new residential construction).
However, garbage disposals might not be right for everyone.
We detailed the issues for homeowners on septic systems above, but even if you
are hooked up to a sewer system, you need to confirm that it is equipped to
handle the extra waste load garbage disposals can produce. Some towns
discourage garbage-disposal use because they're afraid homeowners will misuse
them by dumping fats and other greasy residues, which can clog sewers, or
because water is scarce. In areas like this, home or curbside composting is a
better option for dealing with food waste.
the right garbage disposal
If you decide that a garbage disposal is right for you, the
next step is to choose the best model for your household. In general, the more
often you use your disposal, and the more waste you put down it at a time, the
larger the unit you need. So, for instance, if your household has more than
four members and you cook at home more than a few times per week, you'll need a
disposal with a large chamber capacity and a powerful motor - at least 0.75
horsepower. By contrast, if you're a one- or two-person household and need to
dispose of food waste only a couple of times a week, you can probably manage
with a smaller 0.5-horsepower model. However, if you routinely host large
dinner parties, you may want to invest in a more powerful disposal to make sure
it can keep up with your biggest jobs.
Also consider the space you have available for your garbage
disposal. Disposals are installed under the kitchen sink and hook up directly
to the drain. If you have a dishwasher, its water outlet is hooked up to the
disposal's. Larger, more powerful and more expensive disposals will typically
take up more space than some less robust models, and might be a challenge -- or
near impossible -- to install if space under the sink is tight.
The Best Garbage Disposal
Credible expert reviews of garbage disposals are hard to
come by. Consumer Reports is no longer actively testing garbage disposals --
but its last test was done recently, and the models tested are largely still
current. Otherwise, we turned to user reviews from sites like Amazon and Home Depot
to learn how garbage disposals performed in real-world situations, sometimes
after months or years of use. The result of that research is our picks for the
best continuous-feed, batch-feed, and septic-tank-friendly garbage disposals.
If the bottom line is a top concern, we name a top budget-friendly choice, too.
The best continuous-feed
garbage disposals are powerful and quiet
When you have a high-performing garbage disposal, you can
entertain large groups without fearing the cleanup that comes after. The best
models work fast, run so quietly that you can still carry on a conversation and
grind food waste finely so there's minimal chance of blocking your drain or
jamming the machine. They're also made of high-quality materials, including stainless
steel grinding chambers, so they won't corrode or rust quickly. Paying for the
best performance usually gets you the longest, most comprehensive warranty as
No other garbage disposal on the market earns so many
recommendations from both professionals and homeowners as the (Est. $345), a continuous-feed garbage disposal. In professional tests
by Consumer Reports, its 1-horsepower motor reduces food scraps to tiny
particles. Owners on retail sites consistently agree that the Excel can chop up
anything they throw at it, including steak bones, corncobs, watermelon rinds, a
pineapple top, and an avocado complete with the skin and pit.
What impresses owners still more, however, is
its quietness. Many users report that this disposal makes so little noise that
they have to check the switch to make sure it's running. It's also one of the
quietest garbage disposals in Consumer Reports' testing, earning a rating of
Most homeowners say they had no trouble
installing the InSinkErator Evolution Excel, but some caution that it's very
heavy and takes up a lot of space under the sink. On the plus side, that extra
weight reflects its sturdy construction. We saw almost no durability complaints
about this disposal, which has a rust-resistant stainless steel grinding
chamber and is backed by a seven-year warranty. A few users complain that the
Excel's baffle -- the rubber gasket that covers the drain -- creates too much
of an obstruction. Drainage is slow, and some users say they have to shove food
down into the disposal opening by hand. But most users are perfectly happy: 85
percent award it a perfect 5 stars at Amazon, rising to 90 percent at Home
Depot and Lowes.
Another continuous-feed disposer that gets good
marks across the board is the 0.75-horsepower (Est. $280). It matches the InSinkErator's quietness and fine grind size
in Consumer Reports' tests, and costs less. This garbage disposal doesn't
receive nearly as much user feedback as the InSinkErator, but what we found is highly
positive. Owners describe it as durable, easy to install, and easy to keep
clean. However, its five-year warranty isn't as impressive as the
InSinkErator's seven years.
Sometimes, there just isn't enough room for a
full-size garbage disposal. Deep sinks (including some popular apron or farm
sinks) gobble up territory; so do under-sink water filtration systems,
instant-hot water systems and trash pullouts.
For cramped cabinets, the (Est. $200) is your best bet, reviews say.
This space-saving garbage disposal is only 3/4 inch shorter and 1/4 inch
narrower than the Best Reviewed InSinkErator Evolution Excel -- not much of a
difference at first glance, but enough in reality that users are pleased with
the extra room under the sink.
Compared with the 1-horsepower Evolution Excel,
the 0.75-horsepower Evolution Compact sounds louder and doesn't grind food
quite as finely in tests. The Compact lacks the Excel's jam sensor (which
automatically increases torque to power through jams) and auto-reverse (which
helps clear jams), and its warranty is shorter (four years versus seven).
However, the Compact also costs half as much as the Excel -- and owners at Amazon,
Home Depot and Lowes are plenty happy with the Compact, awarding it hundreds of
perfect 5-star ratings.
Garbage disposals for small budgets
Although the best-rated garbage disposals cost $200
and more, there are some decent continuous-feed models on the market for considerably
less. When you buy a cheaper garbage disposal, you generally sacrifice two
things: horsepower and build quality. While the disposers covered elsewhere in
this report have 0.75- to 1-horsepower motors, budget garbage disposals
generally have no more than 0.5 horsepower. However, this is sufficient for a
medium-sized household that grinds scraps daily or a few times per week. Cheap
garbage disposals also tend to have parts made of galvanized steel or plastic
rather than stainless steel. This often—but not invariably—means
they don't hold up as well over time.
In the $100 price range, the best-rated garbage
disposal is the (Est. $100), which receives overwhelmingly
positive reviews from hundreds of owners at retail websites. At Amazon, for
example, owners grant this budget KitchenAid garbage disposal a 4.7-star rating
based on about 250 reviews.
This 0.5-horsepower garbage disposal isn't as
powerful as higher-priced models, but most owners say it has more than enough
power for their needs. Owners also praise the ease of installation and
The most common complaint we saw about the
KCDB250G is that it's a bit noisy. However, those reviewers tend to like the
disposal anyway -- and other users say it's a relatively quiet garbage
disposal, especially compared with their old disposals. The other weak point is
the warranty, which is the shortest we've seen at only one year. However,
durability doesn't seem to be a major problem for this disposal as we found
only a handful of complaints about leaks or other failures.
Although the KitchenAid gets good reviews from
owners, it hasn't been covered in any professional sources. However, the (Est. $100) has. This popular model receives good scores from Consumer Reports
for its speed and grind size. On noise, however, it doesn't fare so well; in
fact, it's louder than nearly every other machine in the test.
The Badger 5 has received thousands of reviews
from owners at retail sites like Amazon, Lowes and Home Depot. Owners find it
very easy to install, and most of them say its noise level is not really a
problem. The real weak point for this disposer, however, is durability. We saw
dozens of reviews complaining that the Badger 5 developed leaks within a few
years after purchase, usually as a result of rust or cracks in the case.
Fortunately, the disposal is backed by a two-year warranty that covers in-home
servicing and parts, so you can expect it to hold up at least that long.
We found similar comments for the (Est. $90), which is essentially a smaller version of
the Badger 5. It's less powerful than the Badger 5 -- only 0.33 horsepower --
but it's also more compact, at less than 12 inches high and just over 6 inches
wide, allowing it to fit into small under-sink spaces. Like the Badger 5, it
gets high marks from owners for ease of installation and ease of use, but there
are many complaints about noise and durability. It carries only a one-year
Finally, if your budget is just a little bit
bigger, the best value disposal near this price range is the (Est. $115). It's the top rated disposal
at Consumer Reports. It proves faster than any other continuous-feed garbage
disposal in testing, including the Best Reviewed InSinkErator Excel, which
costs around three times as much, and also earns top scores for pulverizing
tough garbage like beef bones and celery stalks. It sports a 1 horsepower
motor, making it more powerful than other disposals in this price class, and
more powerful than some that are considerably more expensive. The lifetime
in-home service warranty is another plus. User feedback is solid, though not
quite as solid as with some other disposals.
The big caveat with this model is that, in April
2017, the Waste King Legend 8000 was recalled after users reported metal parts
flying out of the disposal during use. There were 22 complaints, and the recall
covers about 146,000 disposals sold in the U.S. and 2,700 sold in Canada
between December 2015 and March 2017. The disposals were made by Anaheim
Manufacturing and sold under the Waste King, Moen, Kenmore, Frigidaire, Franke
and other brands. Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website
for a full list of brands, model numbers and serial number ranges. User
feedback indicates that the manufacturer has done a good job replacing recalled
units, and the model remains current -- though reports of users recently
getting units that were under recall can be spotted, so be sure to check the serial
number if you opt to buy one of these.
disposals put safety first
Batch-feed garbage disposals have the same basic inner
workings as continuous-feed units; the only difference is how they switch on.
Most continuous-feed disposers begin grinding when you flip a switch on the
wall or countertop and keep running regardless of what you stuff inside.
Batch-feed disposals, on the other hand, activate only once the drain has been
To start a batch feed disposal, you must line up magnets on
the unit's cover and the mouth of the disposal. Since you can't run the
disposal and push scraps down the drain at the same time, food waste must be
ground up in batches. Because of that, these disposers take more time to do the
job than continuous feed models, but parents of young children have the peace
of mind of knowing the disposal won't operate while fingers are in the drain.
There are only a few batch feed garbage disposals available.
The best, with positive ratings from both professionals and homeowners, is the (Est. $290). In Consumer Reports' tests, this 0.75-horsepower disposal
actually grinds bones faster than -- although not as finely as -- the
1-horsepower InSinkErator Evolution Excel. It's just as quiet, and it blasts
through stringy celery and fibrous potato skins equally well.
Owners describe the Cover Control Plus as
powerful, sturdy and easy to install. Users consider the batch-feed mechanism a
major plus, since they no longer have to worry about either fingers or utensils
finding their way into a running disposal. On the downside, it's bulky; some
owners needed a plumber to rework their under-sink pipes so the Cover Control
Plus would fit. It's backed by a seven-year warranty.
Waste King's batch-feed disposal, the 1-horsepower (Est. $200), is also part of the April 2017 recall prompted by
metal parts flying out of the disposal during use. It grinds up bones even
faster than the InSinkErator Cover Control Plus according to Consumer Reports. Most
users at Amazon agree that it's powerful and runs smoothly without clogs. However,
it proves to be noisier in testing (and noisy enough in real life for several
owners to knock off a star in their ratings). Some users note that the
batch-feed system is somewhat tricky to use: the disposal won't start unless
the cover is positioned exactly right. It's also 2 inches taller than the
already bulky InSinkErator -- too tall to fit under some owners' sinks. Unlike
the continuous feed version of this disposal, which has a lifetime guarantee,
this batch-fed Waste King carries a still impressive 10-year warranty.
A septic-tank friendly garbage disposal
Homeowners with septic systems instead of sewers must always
be careful about what they put down the drain. Food waste from a garbage
disposal can clog up the system, especially if it isn't ground finely enough.
Even finely ground waste can fill up the tank more quickly, requiring it to be
pumped more often -- an expensive and time-consuming process. Because of this,
homeowners with septic systems are often told they shouldn't use a garbage
disposal at all.
A possible work-around is the (Est. $270). This continuous-feed disposer contains a "Bio-Charge"
cartridge that automatically injects enzyme-producing microorganisms into the
unit, helping to break down waste as it flows into the septic system. User
reviews at Amazon, Lowes and Home Depot say this system works as advertised,
and they've had no problems with plumbing clogs or backups since installing it.
They also appreciate the fact that the Bio-Charge dispenser works
automatically, so they don't have to add any chemicals by hand. According to
the manufacturer, one (Est. $13) should last three to four months with average use.
Aside from its unique Bio-Charge feature, the Evolution
Septic Assist is a solid disposal boasting a 0.75-horsepower motor and
stainless steel construction. Although it's large and takes up a lot of real
estate under the sink, users generally say it's easy to install, and it's a
very quiet garbage disposal. Their main complaint is that installing it slows
down the drainage in the sink. Some users find that they have to push food
waste down into the disposal by hand, as the motor won't suck it down on its
own. The InSinkErator Evolution Septic Assist is backed by a four-year warranty
that covers both parts and in-home service.
The Evolution Septic Assist is the only garbage disposal
we've found that's designed specifically to work with a septic system. Some
reviewers say they've successfully used other garbage disposals while on septic
tanks, such as the Best-Reviewed InSinkErator Evolution Excel, but the Bio-Charge
catalyst makes the Septic Assist the safest bet for any owner who wants to be
sure the garbage disposal and the septic tank play nicely together.
Expert & User Review Sources
The only credible professional test of garbage
disposals we found was at Consumer Reports (it's no longer actively
testing garbage disposals, but the latest models tested are still current). Editors
there put beef bones and vegetable scraps through 13 disposals and compared their
speed, fineness of grinding and noise level. We also picked through thousands
of user-written reviews on retail sites such as Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart and elsewhere. These sites offer information on
long-term durability and ease of installation, as well as coverage of disposals
that weren't included in the Consumer Reports test.