Garbage disposals are a convenient way to get rid of food waste in the kitchen. But whether you’re seeking your first-ever disposal unit or looking to replace an old one, you’re going to want the best of the best. That’s where we can help.
We’ve combed everything from customer forums to plumbers’ blogs to track down the garbage disposals real people own and love. And after many hours of research, we’ve selected the best garbage disposals for you and your family.
Read on for our top picks.
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Why Should You Buy a Garbage Disposal?
Garbage disposals are just plain handy when it comes to handling, well, garbage. This includes food scraps, smelly leftovers you forgot in the back of the fridge, or even flowers kept a little past their prime. Sure, a good kitchen trash can serves a similar function just effective, but people are crazy about their disposals for other reasons.
For starters, there’s the convenience factor. Prepping and cooking often produces a lot of food discards. And each time you have to reach for the trash can, it interferes with the flow of the cooking process. If you think about it, dropping your waste down the sink is actually much more intuitive—not to mention, cleaner.
Furthermore, each food scrap you stick down the disposal is one less item you’re throwing in the trash. And with a smaller amount of waste to stink up or overflow the bin, you’ll find yourself taking out the trash a lot less frequently. In-sink garbage disposals may not eliminate the dreaded chore altogether, but it’s a step in the right direction. Plus, you may find that your bins are less appealing to pets and neighborhood critters in search of a snack. It’s another perk of putting your most edible garbage down the disposal.
Finally, using a food waste disposer to grind up food waste can actually lead to enormous potentials in renewable energy, which we’ll go into more detail below.
Are Garbage Disposals Good for the Environment?
The environmental impact of garbage disposals has long been the subject of debate. Over the years, researchers have struggled to provide a definitive answer as to whether a grinder or a landfill is the more eco-friendly option. However, recent research has brought forth evidence in favor of garbage disposals.
According to a study about food waste published on Oregon.gov, food treatment with in-sink grinding (ISG) ranks above landfill, depositing in all accounts when considering climate impact, energy concerns, and effects on soil productivity. In fact, ISG is considered to have great potential for renewable energy production.
Another study has suggested that home food waste deposited in municipal sewage systems via garbage disposals could be a very potent resource for biogas harvest. By applying biogas recovery technology to these treatment systems, organic waste by-products from anaerobic digestion could be controlled and exploited.
How to Choose the Best Garbage Disposal
What makes an in-sink garbage disposal system good or bad? There are a few basic aspects that consumers should consider prior to purchase.
How Noisy Are Garbage Disposals?
If you’re sensitive to noise, you should know that all garbage disposals produce it but some are louder offenders than others. When choosing a garbage disposal, you’ll want to carefully consider the noise levels that work best for you.
To make your choice a little easier, we’ve prepared a chart that compares some of the top models on the market at peak volume. If loud noises bother you, you might be a great candidate for the whisper-quiet InSinkErator Evolution Excel, while those with less sensitive ears might be happy with InSinkErator’s slightly louder Evolution XTR or even Badger 5 models.
However, a lower volume often requires a bigger budget. The machines with better sound insulation are often more advanced—and more expensive. The Evolution Excel is the optimal choice, but only if you have a little extra cash to spare. If you’re trying to spend as little as possible, the cheaper but noisier Waste King L-8000 or Badger 5 should suit your needs.
It’s worth noting that apart from the disposal unit itself, other factors may also affect the noise level. If you value your peace and quiet, you may want to ensure your sink is sound-insulated so as to avoid amplifying the noise of the attached disposal. These days, all the best sinks have foam-coating and deadening pads. If your sink lacks these features, perhaps it’s time for an upgrade.
How Much Food Waste Do You Produce?
A large volume of rubbish requires a powerful motor to get the disposal job done. So, before you buy a disposer, think about how much horsepower (HP) would be sufficient to deal with your daily load of garbage.
Here’s what we infer after digging around:
- ⅓ or ½ HP: for a small house or apartment with 1-3 people
- ¾ HP: for families with 4-6 people
- 1 HP: able to support a family of 7-9 people
- 2 HP: powerful enough for more than 9 people, usually used for commercial ends.
We don’t think that ⅓ HP models are capable of meeting the average person’s garbage disposal needs and have therefore chosen to exclude them from our picks. On the flip side, 2 HP models provide more power than you’d need in an ordinary home. However, we think that ½ to 1 HP models are totally suitable for most families—just opt for the HP that matches the size of your household.
We’ve made the choice a little simpler by putting together a table that pairs each of our picks with its suggested household size, assuming a fairly ordinary family routine with three meals a day and no guests.
If your family is small but loves to throw dinner parties, feel free to go for a more powerful machine, like the InSinkErator Evolution Excel. But if you don’t cook at home that often, a lower-HP model such as the Badger 5 should do just fine. Just think about what’s right for your lifestyle.
How Strong Do You Want Your Motor?
Motor strength doesn’t simply dictate the amount of waste your disposal can tackle—it also determines how well it can actually grind everything up. Stronger motors can tackle tougher garbage, grinding it up more finely than weaker motors. This matters because the finer the grind, the less likely it will clog the drain.
That said, weaker models are quite popular among certain groups. ⅓ HP models are the weakest ones on the market, yet they sell relatively well. This might be because these models are more affordable, or simply because 45 percent of the US adult population is single and may live in small apartments or studios that do not have the space for bigger models.
½ HP models are a bit stronger and are a more ideal choice for small homes. Both the ½ and ⅓ HP motors are recommended for regular light use only and should be treated gently.
If you want your disposal to tackle garbage that the ½ and ⅓ HP motors can’t handle, you’ll want a ¾ or 1-2 HP model. ¾ HP motors have the strength and technology to deal with bones and hard, fibrous vegetables that would stump weaker models. 1-2 HP motors can withstand heavy use and even tougher food waste.
If you’re curious how our picks compare to one another when it comes to grinding capabilities, we’ve prepared a chart to demonstrate.
Weaker models like the InSinkErator Badger 5 and Waste King L1001 can’t grind anything tougher than fibrous veggies, while the stronger Evolution Excel is able to handle all sorts of food scraps in the kitchen, including meat bones..
Reviews of the Best Garbage Disposals in 2021
Our list includes a wide range of models spanning from high-end options that offer top-of-the-line features to budget alternatives that can satisfy basic needs.
Here’s our picks for the Best Garbage Disposals.
- InSinkErator Essential XTR 3/4HP Garbage Disposer – Best To Buy in 2021
- Waste King L8000 Legend 1HP Garbage Disposal – Best Value Garbage Disposal
- InSinkErator Evolution Excel 1HP Garbage Disposal – Best High-End Disposer
- InSinkErator Badger 5 1/2HP Food Waste Disposer – Best for Small Home
- Moen GXS75C GX 3/4HP Garbage Disposal – Best Moen Disposer
- Waste King L1001 Garbage Disposal – Best Budget Food Disposal
- InSinkErator Septic Assist 3/4HP Garbage Disposal – Best Septic System Safe Disposal
Top Garbage Disposals Comparison Chart
1. InSinkErator Essential XTR 3/4 HP Garbage Disposer – Best To Buy in 2021
The InSinkErator Essential XTR is capable and robust, making it the perfect garbage disposal for a regular home. The machine is able to tackle tougher foods like beef bones and can easily manage the trash load of a 4-6 person household.
- Strong motor
- 2-stage multigrind
- 6-year warranty
- Handles most food types
- Stainless steel grind components
The InSinkErator Evolution Essential XTR is the updated version of the formerly successful InSinkErator Evolution Compact, with some minor changes made to the housing. The Evolution Compact was an effective machine, and the Evolution Essential XTR keeps what works while enhancing what can be bettered. If you ask us, that’s what makes it the best ¾ HP garbage disposal on the market.
One of the solid upgrades is the soundproofing of the device: the SoundSeal insulation. The company promises a much quieter performance compared to the Compact. Positive feedback on multiple forums and customer reviews suggests that the XTR is indeed more silent.
Additionally, the Evolution Essential XTR now comes with attachments by default, including a SinkTop Switch and a power cord. Otherwise, the rest of the features are the same as the good old Evolution Compact. It’s still a ¾ HP garbage disposer with a Dura Drive induction motor that spins the grind chamber at 1725 rpm. There are no changes to the 2X MultiGrind® Technology where food is processed through 2 stages and ground to finer and smaller particles.
What’s the downside? 1725 rpm isn’t necessarily the best rotational velocity on the market, but it’s worth noting that InSinkErator doesn’t make disposals with other velocities either. It seems that, with almost 80 years in the industry under its belt, the company has found the optimal number. They cut down the power used on pace and spend it on torque instead. And it works splendidly!
All in all, the Evolution Essential XTR is our pick for the best food waste disposal for most kitchens. It’s strong and quiet, reasonably priced, and comes with a 6-year limited warranty. We don’t think you’ll find anything better.
2. Waste King L-8000 Garbage Disposal – Best Value Kitchen Garbage Disposal
With a 1 HP motor, the highly affordable Waste King Legend L8000 is our best value pick.
- Relatively quiet
- Strong motor (1 HP)
- Surprisingly affordable
- Handles most food types
- Lifetime warranty
- Stainless steel grind components
- Parts are mostly plastic
- No unjam option exteriorly
Using a 1 HP permanent magnet motor and a turnplate spinning at 2800 rpm, the machine does a wonderful job grinding up 98-99% of all food waste types, from fruit to chicken bones.
Permanent magnet motors make less noise when operating compared to the common induction motors, which makes the L-8000 fairly quiet. Besides, their ability to achieve maximum speed in a short period of time reduces the risk of jamming.
The L-8000 is also downright durable. All of its grind components are made of stainless steel to shred even the toughest food waste and stand the test of time. Moreover, the housing is framed with polymer (or plastic), which is well-known for its lightweight nature and corrosion resistance.
However, the main reason the L-8000 has earned a place as our best value pick boils down to the right mix of affordability and quality. Permanent magnet motors can often be fairly pricey, as can top materials like stainless steel. Yet even with such traits, the machine doesn’t cost nearly as much as the other 1 HP models on the market.
But here comes the catch: the polymer casing, despite its advantages, can be quite thin and flimsy. In other words, physical damage can be very unforgiving to the casing and what it protects. That said, garbage disposals stay sheltered by the cabinet for pretty much its entire lifetime except for its installation. So you only need to be extra careful that one time.
If you’re not quite the handyperson or just want to make sure that everything is off to a good start, you should hire professional service. It’s the safest bet and it helps save a lot of time.
Waste King offers a lifetime limited in-home warranty. The Waste King L8000 should be perfect for a household of 8 or smaller.
3. InSinkErator Evolution Excel 1 HP Garbage Disposal– Best High-End Disposer
Equipped with not only a strong motor but also with top-notch technologies, the InSinkErator Evolution Excel is a great high-end choice for a luxury kitchen.
- Strong motor
- Super quiet
- Handles most food waste
- 3-stage multigrind
- Auto unjam
- 7-year warranty
- Stainless steel grind components
Chief among the Evolution Excel’s best qualities is its superior sound insulation. The machine’s patented Sound Seal technology combines advanced insulation and anti-vibration properties to keep the Excel nice and quiet. Not to oversell it but so far, it’s the quietest disposal unit for residential use.
The unit has a 1 HP (1725 rpm) Dura Drive induction motor at its base, allowing the motor to operate with high efficiency and a decreased demand for maintenance. The stainless steel grind chamber and the strong-torque motor can easily handle bones, seeds, and fibrous waste.
The Evolution Excel also features 3-stage MultiGrind technology. What it does is grind the same batch of food waste three times to ensure it’s thoroughly pulverized. This lessens the likelihood of clogging or jamming even further.
However, when clogging does occur, the Evolution Excel is able to detect these incidents by itself. To free up the chamber, it auto-boosts the torque and auto-reverses the spin, fixing the problem before you’ve even noticed anything amiss.The InSinkErator Evolution Excel is covered with a 7-year in-home limited warranty.
4. Insinkerator Badger 5 1/2 HP Food Waste Disposer– Best For SmallHome
For families that have but a few members and/or don’t cook too often, a ½ HP unit like the Badger 5 should be a suitable choice.
- Can be unjammed from underside
- Sturdy build
- Durable motor
- Quite noisy
- 2-year warranty
What sets the Badger 5 aside from its ½ HP counterparts is its longevity. With a sturdy structure and a durable motor, the Badger 5 can be seen as the standard food waste disposer unit of the entire industry.
The model is powered with a ½ HP Dura Drive induction motor— it’s durable, precise, and efficient. With proper use and care, it can be functional for a long time. Like InSinkErator’s other models, the Badger spins at the speed of 1725 rpm. The in-sink grinder can break down soft food waste with ease, but is likely to struggle with tougher waste like bones or eggshells.
While the machine might still manage to grind up eggshells and vegetables, it’s a task that must be approached slowly and carefully to avoid jamming. Bones, on the other hand, are probably out of the question.
Overall, the InSinkErator is not bad at all for such a small unit and is a great pick for a more compact home. The model is durable and reasonably priced; additionally, should you opt to install the unit yourself, the task should prove fairly straightforward, just like everything else about the Badger 5.
The Badger 5 is covered by a 2-year in-home limited warranty and is suitable for small apartments or households with 1-3 people.We also discuss this model in another article. Have a look if you fancy an in-depth review of this classic model.
5. Moen GXS75C GX Series 3/4 HP Garbage Disposal – Best Moen Food Waste Disposer
Moen has long been a respected name in kitchen fixtures, including faucets and garbage disposals. After years of positive user reviews, their faucets have become the standard after which other brands are measured. Though Moen is relatively new to the kitchen waste disposal scene, we expect their line of garbage disposals to perform as impressively as their faucets.
- Strong motor
- Jamming preventive
- 5-year warranty
- Can be loud
The Moen GXS75C GX Series uses a permanent magnet motor to power its operation. The ¾ HP motor spins at 2700 rpm, fast enough to make jamming unlikely to occur. While the galvanized steel grinding chamber is not exactly ideal, it should be able to work most types of food at such a high velocity, save for bones and maybe fibrous materials
If you prefer stainless steel, there’s the Moen GX75C.
Units at this price point are often devoid of sound insulation, but the model does feature it (Moen calls it SoundSHIELD). However, the jury is still out on the noisiness of the GXS75C. User feedback shows that some deem the device surprisingly loud, while others consider it “not that bad”.
In the future, it will be interesting to see what Moen produces when it’s more established in the category of garbage disposal. Until then, the GXS75C is a strong start—and it’s covered by a 5-year limited warranty.
6. Waste King L-1001 Garbage Disposal – Best Budget Food Disposal
Waste King is among the most affordable garbage disposal brands on the market. So it should be no surprise that our budget pick is one from the company: the Waste King Legend L1001.
- Sufficient motor
- Most parts are plastic
- No unjam option exteriorly
- Can’t handle solid waste well
- 2-year warranty
In contrast with InSinkErator’s induction motors, Waste King opts for the quieter, faster permanent magnet motors. The Legend L1001 is no exception.
With an rpm of 2600, plus a galvanized steel grind ring, stainless steel impellers, and a ½ HP motor, the machine can easily take on most types of food waste. That said, you may want to refrain from attempting to grind bones, which is a bit trying for the unit.
Like other Waste King Legend models, the hopper and grind chamber housing are constructed with fiberglass for a light-yet-durable frame. The polymer is also extremely effective against corrosion.
The L1001 has nearly identical specs when compared with the InSinkErator Badger 5, but it’s considerably cheaper, making it an ideal budget pick for a household of 1-3 people. It’s covered by a 2-year limited in-home warranty.
7. InSinkErator Evolution 3/4 HP Household Garbage Disposal– Best Septic System Safe Disposal
Households with septic tanks need to keep a careful eye on the garbage that goes through the drain pipes, especially if fat, grease, or oil are involved. Even if you avoid pouring these types of waste down the drain, food remains might carry them into your pipes and your septic system.
- Strong motor
- Helps break down fat or grease
- 4-year warranty
- Stainless steel grind components
- Flimsy Bio-charge add-on
The safest way to keep your system running smoothly is to eliminate this issue altogether with the use of garbage disposal specifically designed to be used with septic tanks. The InSinkErator Evolution Septic Assist with Bio-charge technology, approved by the Department of Health of Washington State, is designed to handle potential troublemakers like grease or oil. It takes advantage of a natural microorganism that provides enzymes to break down fat, grease, oil, protein, and starch.
The bottle (included) is 16 oz or 473 ml, which will last for three to four months on average use.
The Evolution Septic Assist features a ¾ HP Dura Drive induction motor, which is strong enough to manage the food waste produced by a family of 4 people. It can tackle bones and fibrous foods, and its 2-stage MultiGrind mechanism helps better pulverize garbage while preventing clogging.
The unit is a quiet one thanks to the Evolution Series’ Sound Seal technology. Top-tier insulation, anti-vibration connection, and a Quiet Collar Sink Baffle work to keep sound at a minimum.A 4-year in-home limited warranty ensures that your device will last for a long while.
Side Notes before Buying Food Disposals
Besides all of the above, there is still something of concerns that many owners have experienced and we recommend attention towards.
Leaking Garbage Disposals
Plumbing is prone to leaking—that’s just how it is. And it’s even more likely to occur with an appliance that is used daily, like a garbage disposal.
While you shouldn’t expect it, leaking can occasionally occur in new disposal units. Keep an eye out for leaks in the following locations:
The Sink Flange/Mounting Assembly
This is where leaks occur in most cases, and typically it means there’s a problem with the seal. To seal the connection properly, there are a few tips that most experienced users and plumbers recommend:
- Use the putty and not the rubber gasket to seal the flange. Don’t be afraid to use as much putty as it takes, either— the excess amount can always be retrieved and reused.
- Refer to the manual to make sure you’re aware of the number and order of the gaskets that go underside of the sink when setting up the mounting assembly.
The Wastewater Outlet
The outlet is another common spot for leaks to appear. It is the exit route where ground waste and water frequently travels. When connecting the wastewater outlet, remember to use the rubber gasket and tighten the screws until snug (but not too tight).
The Dishwasher Inlet
The inlet is designed to be compatible with various types of hoses and tubes, which sometimes makes for a less-than-perfect connection. To secure the inlet fitting, always use a hose clamp and tighten it with a screwdriver.
Cracks/Loose Interior Seals
Garbage disposals can also leak from cracks on the housing case or loose interior seals. Normally, this kind of leakage happens after you’ve been using the machine for at least five years, but it’s a serious issue that can occur after a shorter usage period in a lower-quality device. The best way to prevent this kind of leakage is to buy a reputable model from a reputable brand.
What Size Should Your In-Sink Garbage Disposal Be?
Garbage disposals come in a number of different sizes. However, it seems that in many cases, the bigger the size of the disposal, the stronger and more advanced the machine. Why? Well, only a big case has enough room for a big motor with strong torque.
Small garbage disposals with a compact design, like the Badger 5, are clearly not spatially suitable to handle a 3/4 or 1 HP motor. Plus, big motors make a lot of noise, which means that soundproofing layers are necessary. This can contribute to the size of the overall frame.
Therefore, a bigger machine is stronger and/or quieter. Regardless, if you want a disposal unit in your kitchen, you’ll need to check the under-sink cabinet to ensure it has enough room to accommodate one.
If you are a big family with a small sink cabinet, you might want to consider remodeling your kitchen counter.
What is the Best Garbage Disposal Brand?
Many companies have their own lines of garbage disposals. The following brands, however, seem to be at the top of the market.
Founded by John W. Hammes, the inventor of garbage disposal, InSinkErator has been among the top brands ever since it was first established. InSinkErator’s residential garbage disposal collection ranges from ⅓ HP models to 1 HP, with technologies that enhance the performance of the machine and the experience of the user. They are also known for excellent customer service.
After approximately 50 years in the industry, Waste King has developed a multitude of best sellers that satisfy numerous households. The company builds its machines with usability, affordability, and power in mind, producing products that embody all three.
For home solution, food waste disposers from Waste King have both the 3-bolt and EZ mount version while casing motors from ⅓ HP to 1 HP of strength. In general, these products from the company are made to serve in the lower price range, compared to InSinkErator models.
Even though Moen is new to food waste disposal solutions, the company is still a big name with a reputation to keep. While a foray into garbage disposals might be a risky move, their offerings thus far have been more than adequate.
Moen’s food waste disposal collection isn’t particularly broad as of yet, but it’s a solid start for the established brand. The line features motors ranging from ⅓ HP to 1 HP, and with exclusive technologies that are full of promise.
What Problems Should You Expect?
Machines are prone to malfunction, and garbage disposals are no exception. Here are some of the ways in which your disposal could give you trouble:
Your noisy disposal might seem okay at first, but once you’ve seen what quieter food waste disposers can do, the sound might start to bother you
⅓ and ½ HP units are the most likely to worry your ears. They are manufactured to be affordable, which often means they lack the sound insulation found in higher-end models
Over time, it’s likely that these machines could get jammed. Even top-tier models designed to be jam-free can still sometimes act up. So you can imagine what might happen with the low- or medium-priced units.
Luckily, fixing jam is not overly difficult. And if you follow the user’s manual thoroughly and refrain from reckless usage of your disposal, there should not be too much trouble.
Garbage disposals are part of the kitchen sink drain pipes. And from time to time, the sink clogs.
Clogs are often in the drain pipes, rather than in the disposal itself, making the issue harder to fix than your average jam. But before you call for help, there are a few extra steps to try on your own.
Instructions And Suggestions From Manufacturers
Garbage disposals are built to work with running cold water. Don’t ever forget that. Water helps lubricate the plate and impellers, ensuring the ground food flows straight through the chamber and the pipes.
Typically, running the cold water is the first step in using your disposal. Afterwards, you run your disposal, insert the food waste slowly into the machine, and turn off the disposal when grinding is complete. Be sure to run the water for a few additional seconds to flush the drain line.
To keep your disposal functional, refrain from pouring fat or grease down the disposal. You should also be careful to run only cold water when the device is in use. Do your best to avoid grinding eggshells, bones, and fibrous materials unless you’re sure your machine can handle it.
After a few months, food particles may build up in the chamber of your garbage disposal and cause a nasty odor. If you detect an unpleasant smell from the drain, it’s time to clean the disposal’s interior.
It’s a good rule of thumb to use the cleaning products recommended by the manufacturer. However, water and baking soda is often an effective cleansing agent. To use this method, fill the sink halfway with warm water and mix in ¼ cup of baking soda. Then, turn the disposer on and remove the stopper at the same time.
Once in a while, you can try scouring the disposal’s grinding chamber by grinding hard materials such as small bones or ice. Doing so will dislodge any potential remains from the grind ring and impellers. Plus, ice helps solidify certain substances, which makes it easier to flush them out with water.