Garbage disposal units are long maligned additions to our kitchens, assumed to be damaging to the environment and an accessory for the lazy, but thanks to recent advances in science and the way we manage our wastewater, they have become a useful tool in the fight against food waste.
In this article, we’re going to share some of the best garbage disposals on the market right now, and run through how you can fit them yourself to save some money on plumbing bills too.
More importantly, I think it’s time we busted some of those environmental myths and looked at the truth of how garbage disposals might actually be helping the environment.
Best Garbage Disposal Ratings Chart
1. InSinkErator 1 HP Badger Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
2. AmazonCommercial ½ HP Garbage Disposal with Power Cord
3. Moen EXL100C 1 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal with Sound Reduction
4. GE ⅓ HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
5. Waste King L-8000 1 HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
6. Waste Maid ½ HP Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
7. Chooba ¾ HP Garbage Disposal
8. InSinkErator ¾ HP Compact Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
Garbage Disposal Buyers' Guide
What is a Garbage Disposal Unit?
A garbage disposal is a small, under-sink, unit, designed to macerate kitchen waste into small enough particles that it won’t block up the civic sewer systems and water treatment plants.
Essentially, a garbage disposal just mashes up your food waste, and flushes the problem away, keeping your bins tidy, saving you money on bin liners, and keeping your kitchen effortlessly clean.
Is Garbage Disposal Good for the Environment?
It was previously thought that garbage disposal units and macerators were bad for the environment, leading the state of New York to ban them in the 1970s, it is now understood that that was more to do with civic management of waste than the actual environmental impact of it.
When your food waste goes into the trash, it ends up in the landfill. As food breaks down anaerobically in landfill, it produces methane, which is far worse for the environment than carbon.
By sending your food waste down the garbage disposal chute, you’re sending it to water management facilities that can properly cope with the waste.
However, wastewater sites in different states have different ways of dealing with food waste. Some states separate food waste, and sewage and simply put them back into landfill. In those states, your garbage disposal is doing more bad than good.
In other states, that state burns the food waste, releases carbon, and adds the ash to landfill. This is actually better than it sounds, as the carbon is less damaging than the methane, and the ash helps landfill break down more evenly.
In 8% of US states, bio-waste is actually fed into anaerobic digesters, where microscopic bacteria break it down into carbon and methane, which is captured and used as a biofuel.
As waste management gets more and more efficient, hopefully, all our states will share the same technology, and that will become the norm, but for now, check with your local authority so you know what happens to the waste you’re flushing away!
How to Use a Garbage Disposal Unit
Once you’ve got a garbage disposal installed, using it couldn’t be easier. Just flush your food waste down the plughole, flip a switch, and it does the rest. The macerated food waste is churned up with the wastewater from your sink and flushed down the drain.
They need to be plugged into the mains as all garbage disposals require a power source, but they are designed for continuous use, making them incredibly easy to use, install, and maintain.
What to Look For in a Garbage Disposal Feed
If you’re looking for a new garbage disposal, or upgrading to the best garbage disposal, make sure you’re buying the right one for your house.
Different garbage disposals are set up to cope with varying amounts of food waste, with some able to cope with commercial kitchen levels of waste, while some are designed for studio apartments where there is usually only one of two people’s worth of waste.
It’s time to get a new garbage disposal if your current unit gets frequently clogged, needs resetting regularly or odors are left behind. Those basic symptoms are usually a sign of a deeper problem so check for leaks and make sure the blades are chopping properly.
Continuous Feed vs Batch Feed Garbage Disposal
Continuous feed garbage disposal units are designed for constant use. They are much easier to use than batch feed garbage disposal units but need integrating into existing plumbing (this can be a positive and a negative).
Batch feed garbage disposals are better at coping with large amounts of kitchen waste and are operated by opening up the drum, filling it with your waste, and turning it on, which then flushes any waste out into the water.
These are best for big commercial kitchens, or large families who make mountains of food waste. For the average American homeowner though, a continuous feed is usually the fastest to install, the least costly, and the simplest to operate.
Best Garbage Disposal Motor Size
Garbage disposals are measured in horsepower (HP). ½ HP models are designed for smaller families, or one-person households where you will typically be flushing smaller amounts of waste, and usually softer waste like veg peelings, rather than left-over dinners.
1 HP models are designed to cope with heavier waste and can chop down most food, so for families with kids who never quite finish their plate they’ll be happy chopping up whatever is left over, and will usually last longer.
Other Features to Look for with Garbage Disposal
Garbage disposal units are basically just blenders, so there’s no such thing as a quiet garbage disposal, but the best garbage disposals have insulated chambers to dampen the sound.
While those features add to the cost, they are well worth having, especially if you’ve got guests over. For the best garbage disposal units, make sure to buy one with an anti-splash baffle, corrosion protection, or stainless steel blades.
They make it far easier to keep your sink clean, as well as clean the internal parts every month or so just increasing the lifespan of your machine.
For homes with septic tanks, you can also buy garbage disposals with enzyme reservoirs, which do need to be maintained but help break down food scraps further before they hit your septic tank, which helps prevent vermin and odors around the house.
Garbage Disposal Safety Guide
Obviously, a macerator stuck permanently under your plughole has some clear health and safety tips that come as standard, but just in case you need warning – don’t stick your hand down the hole full of spinning knives, it will hurt, and it will cause lasting damage.
Besides the obvious though, there are some steps to take to make sure your garbage disposal is installed and used safely:
- If you’re not a confident plumber, get a professional to install the unit
- Familiarize yourself with what can, and can’t be put down your particular garbage disposal
- Clean your disposal regularly with vinegar and baking soda to keep it clean, and odor free
- Sharpen the blades with ice cubes once a week
- Only ever use cold water. Hot water can damage your unit.
- Run water once the disposal has finished operating. Running water for 10-15 seconds after each use helps to elongate the life of your unit, and flush out the last bits of food waste.
- Fibrous vegetables like celery shouldn’t be put down the drain – they can cause clogs in any system
- Bone, grease, oil (including oil-based paints), latex and plastic should never be disposed of through a garbage disposal. They are damaging to the unit and the environment.
Best Garbage Disposal Reviews
Sumo Gardener Garbage Disposal 2023 Top Picks
Our Top Pick Garbage Disposal
While the InSinkErators models should really be installed professionally, it’s definitely possible to save some money with self-installation thanks to their easy fit mounting caps, which snap easily into your existing pipework.
Professional installation of these higher-end garbage disposals is really a precaution because if something goes wrong it’s easier to fix when everything is done by the book.
Once you’ve got this garbage disposal installed though, it will work for years, and its noise reduction features mean it’s barely noticeable, even when it’s grinding down those leftovers after a big party.
Best Value Garbage Disposal
Amazon’s own-brand products are usually a step away from the quality we expect from our tools, but garbage disposal is a fairly straightforward game; grind food, flush food, done.
When you’re looking to save money on a new kitchen, garbage disposals are typically pretty expensive investments, so for smaller families, why not look at the budget options and see where you save some cash.
The amazon garbage disposal might not be perfect, but it’ll last just as long as most brands, and it’s got all the features you’d expect from a garbage disposal unit at this sort of price range.
Premium Choice Garbage Disposal
Moen is always the best garbage disposal manufacturer, without a doubt. They produce the best kits on the market that are trusted to last.
They might be a little bit more expensive, and when you’re spending this kind of money it’s definitely best to let a professional set them up for you, but they’ll save you money in the long run.
This neat under-sink unit even works with dishwashers, so provided you take off those impossible to grind scraps like bones and packaging, you’ll easily reduce your kitchen waste by half with this powerful garbage disposal.
Common Garbage Disposal Repair Situations
No matter how new or old your garbage disposal is, there will come a time when you need to do some garbage disposal repair. However, there are many situations where you can easily repair the disposal yourself.
Here is a look at some of the common garbage disposal repair situations.
1. Stuck Objects
It is common for someone to toss something down the disposal that is not supposed to go there. Whether it is small toy, a piece of silverware or just something that the disposal can’t handle.
When this happens it always seems you don’t notice until it is too late. This ends up jamming the disposal. Remember to unplug the disposal before getting started.
To remove the item use tongs or some other tools that can reach down and grab it out to remove the foreign item. Then plug it back in and try running it again.
Clogs can happen for many reasons. It could be normal sludge, something too thick went down the drain or oil has hardened within the pipes. You can use a clog cleaner made for use in disposals.
If that doesn’t work then loosen the P trap and see if you can clean it out from there. You may even need to use a snake to work the clog out.
3. Disposal Unit Overload
When your disposal is overloaded it has a feature that automatically shuts it off. This will happen to prevent the machine from getting too hot. When this happens try hitting the reset button.
If this doesn’t work then you will need to contact a professional because the electrical part of the machine may need serviced. With any of these situations, if you can’t fix the problem then it is time to call a professional.
There are many companies that offer garbage disposal repairs service. These companies may be able to help repair your disposal instead of having to get it replaced which can save you a lot of money.
When working on your disposal make sure that you never put your hand inside the machine when working on it. Even with the power off you do not want to put your hands into the working part of the machine.
If you are ever in doubt just call a professional. This will ensure you don’t get hurt or damage the machine.
How to Repair Garbage Disposal
When a garbage disposal won’t run there are few reasons why. It could not be getting any power, which could mean a damaged cord or even a bad outlet.
A break could need reset or it could just be worn out and need replaced. More often than not, it just needs reset.
1. Check the Garbage Disposal Unit
You should begin by checking out the unit. Make sure you never put your hand in the disposal. Start with the power cord. Is it plugged in? If not then you have found your problem. If it is plugged in then unplug it and test the outlet.
Just plug something else in and see if it works. If it doesn’t then the problem is not the disposal. You might want to check the breaker. If you have not found the problem then move on to resetting the unit.
2. Use Reset Button
Garbage disposals are made to be rather user friendly and repair friendly. It doesn’t take any complicated tools or knowledge to reset your garbage disposal.
All you have to do is look for the reset button, which is usually located on the bottom of the unit and bright colored. If it needs reset then the button will be sticking out. Simply push the button and you should have a working disposal.
3. Hire a Professionals
There are many professionals who offer garbage disposal repair services. Typically, plumbers will be the most common professionals who offer this service.
Most companies have years of experience in repairing disposals and their plumbers are trained to determine the problem and get the machine fixed quickly.
Most of the time resetting the unit will do the trick. If it doesn’t and the power to the outlet is fine then maybe it is just time for a new disposal. Before buying read garbage disposals reviews written by professionals These things may be tough and last a while, but they do wear out eventually.
Typically there is no other repair that can be done for a unit that is not getting power. However, you can always check with a repair man to see what he thinks if you are ready to buy a new one.
Garbage Disposal FAQs
How long do garbage disposals last?
Most garbage disposals have a lifespan of around 10 years. If you’ve had your current garbage disposal for over a decade without servicing, you should definitely consider a new system or at least a service from a qualified professional.
What should you not put down a garbage disposal?
Never put the following items down your garbage disposal:
- Grease & fats
- Coffee Grounds
- Onion / Garlic skins
- Potato peel
- Hard foods (biscuits/bones/cheese
- Expanding foods (rice, pasta, barley, grain)
Why were garbage disposals banned in New York?
Garbage disposals were banned in New York over concerns about the old sewer system. The sewers in most major cities are outdated and struggle to cope with the increased demand of rising populations, especially when food waste is added to wastewater, but modern drainage improvements and finer macerators have made garbage disposals more efficient and more accessible to everyone.
How much does garbage disposal installation cost?
Once you’ve bought your garbage disposal unit (which can cost anywhere from $90 to $700 for domestic systems) the installation cost is usually around $150.
Some sellers offer reduced installation fees when you buy their products which can keep the cost down.
Looking for other ways to prolong your garbage disposal unit's life? Check out our guide on how to make your own compost and it's many benefits.
For more guides for your home you might be interested in, see our list below:
You are Now All Set to Choose Best Garbage Disposal for Your Home
Buying the best garbage disposal doesn’t have to mean spending the most money. Yes, more expensive garbage disposals are better at their job, keeping smells down, and breaking down larger quantities of food, but for small families, or single people looking at the smaller units can save you a lot of cash, and help reduce noise, and energy consumption too.
Our guide is designed to help you choose the best garbage disposal system for you, and I hope after reading it you’re feeling more confident to go out and buy your new system.