How to Choose the Best Garbage Disposal

Choosing the best garbage disposal for your home can seem like a daunting task. There are so many models on the market with various features and specifications to consider. However, selecting the right unit doesn’t have to be complicated. With some basic knowledge about garbage disposals and your needs, you can find the perfect option to install under your sink. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the key factors to consider when shopping for the best garbage disposal. Follow our tips to make an informed decision and end up with a unit that handles your food waste quietly, efficiently, and reliably for years to come.

Types of Garbage Disposals

Before diving into specific models, it’s helpful to understand the two main types of garbage disposals available. This will narrow your focus as you start searching for options. The two primary categories are:

Continuous Feed Garbage Disposals

This is the most common type of garbage disposal. Continuous feed models have a wall switch that controls power to the unit. When you flip the switch, it engages the motor and grinding plates allowing you to gradually feed food waste into the disposal while it runs.

Advantages of continuous feed disposals include:

  • Their simplicity and ease of use. Just flip a switch and you can start feeding scraps in.
  • Energy efficiency since the motor only runs when needed.
  • Lower cost than batch feed models.

Potential drawbacks include:

  • The risk of injury from putting your fingers too close to the spinning grinding plates. Newer models have more safety features to prevent this.
  • Loud operation when grinding large amounts of food waste at once.

This style works best for most households. Look for at least 1/2 horsepower motor and basic safety features.

Batch Feed Garbage Disposals

Batch feed disposals have a stopper in the drain that you remove to load food waste. This activates the motor to run and grind everything at once. After grinding a batch of scraps, you replace the stopper which turns the motor off.

Benefits of batch feed models consist of:

  • Improved safety as you can’t accidentally put fingers in the disposal while it runs.
  • Quieter performance when grinding batches of waste.
  • Faster grinding of large amounts of scraps.

Downsides include:

  • More expensive price tag.
  • Less convenient since you have to load batches of food waste.
  • Potential for food to leak from the drain stopper. Newer designs prevent this.

Batch feed works well if you frequently grind lots of scraps or need the safety of batch operation. Models with sound insulation and leak protection offer the best performance.

Now that you know the two main types, keep these categories in mind as you shop. Consider which fits your kitchen and needs better.

Important Features to Look For

While comparing different garbage disposal models, there are several key features to evaluate. Certain specifications and capabilities will affect the power, durability, ease of use, noise level, and other factors. Be sure to consider the following features:

Motor Size

The motor powers the grinding components to pulverize food waste. More powerful motors can handle harder materials like bones and fibrous veggies with fewer jams. Look for models with at least 1/2 horsepower motors. 3/4 and 1 horsepower motors offer optimal grinding capability. More power means faster grinding and longer motor life.

Grind Technologies

Manufacturers use different technologies to grind and shred waste as efficiently as possible. Certain grind stages and swivel impellers provide improved grinding action. Look for features like multi-stage grinding, stainless steel swivel impellers, and diamond glass grind rings. These maximize grinding power.

Feed Type

As mentioned earlier, continuous and batch feed disposals operate differently. Decide which method you prefer for safety, noise, and convenience. Both types should have basic safety features like a cover over the disposal opening.

Jam Sensor

Even the best disposals can occasionally jam if overloaded. Units with a jam sensor will detect excessive motor effort, shut off automatically, and usually reverse briefly to clear jams. This prevents motor burnout.

Noise Reduction

Look for models advertising quieter operation. Sound insulation, anti-vibration mounts, and advanced grind stages help dampen noise. Batch feed disposals are generally quieter.


Longer warranties provide peace of mind that the unit is built to last. Look for at least a 5-year warranty. Better units offer 7 years or beyond. Extended warranties may also be available.

Key Brands to Consider

Certain garbage disposal brands consistently receive high ratings and reviews for performance, features, durability, and value. Focus your search on models from the following top brands:


As the inventor of the modern garbage disposal over 75 years ago, InSinkErator models are still regarded as some of the best. They are known for powerful motors, advanced grind stages, quiet operation, and sturdy construction. While pricier, they deliver excellent performance.

Waste King

Waste King offers a range of models at lower price points but still featuring robust components. Their high-speed motors and swivel impellers provide effective grinding power. They represent a great value option.


GE disposals feature strong motors, diamond grind rings, and sound insulation for quiet performance. Their Evolution models are high-end units with premium features. GE disposals come from a trusted brand and deliver reliable service.


Whirlaway builds their disposals to commercial-grade specifications for durability and grinding ability. They offer continuous and batch feed models with noise control features and jam-resistant dual swivel impellers.


Known for kitchen appliances, KitchenAid also makes capable disposals. Their units have powerful motors, 3 grind stages, and sound-reducing insulation for quiet operation. They carry a 7-year warranty.

Stick with products from these top brands and you can feel confident you’re purchasing a high-quality garbage disposal. Check out the specific models they offer and compare features and specs.

Key Specs and Features to Compare

When deciding between garbage disposal models, there are some key specifications and capabilities to compare in order to determine the best option:

  • Horsepower – Look for at least 1/2 HP for adequate grinding power. Larger 3/4 to 1 HP motors offer optimal performance.
  • Feed type – Select continuous or batch feed based on your needs and preferences. Batch feed is safer but pricier.
  • Grind stages – Models with 2 or 3 grind stages pulverize waste more thoroughly.
  • Grind technologies – Swivel impellers, diamond grind rings, stainless steel components, and other innovations improve grinding efficiency.
  • Jam sensor – Units that automatically reverse when jammed prevent motor burnout.
  • Noise level – Batch feed and models with insulation and vibration damping provide quieter operation.
  • Warranty – Lengthy 7+ year warranties provide peace of mind on durability.
  • Price – Consider how features align with the disposal’s price to find the best value model.

Carefully examining these specifications will help you determine the model that best fits your needs and provides the best performance for the money.

Installation Tips

Once you’ve selected the right garbage disposal, proper installation is critical for functionality and safety. Here are some key tips to ensure your unit is installed correctly:

  • Carefully read the installation manual and follow all preparation steps.
  • Make sure to turn off power at the circuit breaker before starting.
  • Disconnect and remove existing disposal if replacing an old unit.
  • Inspect drain lines for any leaks that need sealing.
  • Securely attach mounting assembly and slide new disposal into place.
  • Follow directions to wire electric supply line properly. A dedicated switch is ideal.
  • Attach drain line and discharge tube according to instructions.
  • Run water and check for leaks before turning on power.
  • Review safety precautions before testing operation. Feed a small amount at first.
  • Be sure to run adequate cold water when using disposal to flush particles down the drain.

Following the manufacturer’s directions for proper installation will ensure your garbage disposal functions as intended. Consider hiring a professional if you are uncomfortable with any part of the process.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

Even quality garbage disposals can experience occasional issues. Try these troubleshooting tips if your unit exhibits any of the following common problems:

Unit Doesn’t Turn On:

  • Check that power is on at the circuit breaker and wall switch.
  • Test reset button on the bottom of the unit.
  • Replace blown wall switch fuse if needed.
  • Ensure disposal is wired correctly.

Noisy Operation:

  • Unjam unit if waste is jammed.
  • Tighten mounting bolts if disposal vibrates against sink.
  • Check for foreign object jamming rotating parts.
  • Replace worn-out motor bearings.

Leaking from Bottom:

  • Tighten flange ring and mounting assembly.
  • Inspect seals and replace if worn.
  • Check drain line and tailpipe connections.

Backups When Draining:

  • Unclog unit and drain lines. Avoid hard food like bones.
  • Install a straight tailpipe if using elbow-shaped one.
  • Consider upgrading to a 1 HP motor if underpowered.

With some basic troubleshooting, most common garbage disposal problems can be fixed quickly. However, always exercise caution when inspecting jams or mechanical issues. Consulting a disposal repair specialist is wise if you are unable to determine the issue.

Maintenance Tips

Regular maintenance will keep your garbage disposal working properly and extend its lifespan. Follow these tips:

  • Run plenty of cold water before, during, and after using the disposal to flush particles down the drain.
  • Grind lemon or orange peels regularly to help freshen the drain and sharpen the blades.
  • Don’t put highly fibrous material like artichokes or corn husks down the disposal to avoid jams.
  • Limit use of starchy foods like rice and pasta which can swell up when wet and clog drains.
  • Periodically unplug and inspect the unit for foreign objects blocking blades. Remove carefully using tongs.
  • Lubricate grinding components annually using disposal-safe lubricant.
  • Hire a plumber periodically to inspect and snake the drain lines if slow drainage becomes an issue.

Proper maintenance habits will limit wear and keep your disposal operating smoothly for years of service.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Unit

While most quality disposals can operate reliably for over 10 years if maintained properly, at some point replacement becomes necessary. Watch for these signs indicating it’s time to swap in a new garbage disposal:

  • Frequent jamming, even after inspecting and unblocking the unit
  • Leaking water from multiple spots on the disposal
  • Loud grinding or rattling noises when operating
  • Electrical issues or smoke coming from motor
  • Drain backups that regular snaking can’t clear
  • Corroded housing and components

If your disposal exhibits one or more of these symptoms, it’s likely nearing the end of its useful lifespan. Replacing it with a new unit will restore full grinding and draining performance.

Top-Rated Garbage Disposal Models

Now that you know how to assess garbage disposals, consider one of these highly rated models for reliable performance from a top brand:

InSinkErator Evolution Excel – 1 HP motor, 3 grind stages, quiet operation, 8-year warranty

Waste King Legend 8000 – 1 HP motor, swivel impellers, noise insulation, 10-year warranty

KitchenAid 3/4 HP Continuous Feed – 3/4 HP motor, 3 grind stages, 7-year warranty

GE 1/2 HP Continuous Feed – 1/2 HP motor, EZ mount, overload protection

Whirlaway 291 – 1/2 HP motor, swivel impellers, batch feed, 7-year warranty

Be sure to compare specifications fully to determine which model best suits your needs and kitchen setup. Taking time to make an informed decision will ensure you select the ideal disposal for your home.

Frequently Asked Questions About Choosing a Garbage Disposal

Choosing the best garbage disposal for your needs can seem complicated given all the specifications and features to consider. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions to help simplify the process:

How powerful of a garbage disposal do I need?

Look for a unit with a 1/2 horsepower motor or higher. 3/4 to 1 horsepower motors offer the best performance for grinding hard waste efficiently. More power also extends the life of the motor.

Which feed type should I choose – batch or continuous?

Continuous feed is more popular for its simplicity and convenience. Batch feed models operate quietly and safely but are more expensive. Choose based on your needs and preferences.

What size garbage disposal do I need?

Standard compact disposals are around 8 inches tall and 12-14 inches wide. Larger capacity units are 10 inches or bigger. Make sure it fits the sink opening and under counter space.

Should I look for a specific grind stage technology?

Multiple grind stages are good. Also, look for features like swivel impellers, diamond grind rings, and stainless steel components which enhance grinding power and duration.

How important is the warranty when choosing?

Very. Longer 7+ year warranties indicate a higher quality, durable unit. It also protects you in case of early failures or defects.

What maintenance does a garbage disposal require?

Occasionally inspecting for foreign objects, lubricating components, and grinding citrus peels help. Proper use and avoiding fibrous foods can prevent many problems.

When should I replace rather than repair an older disposal?

If it requires frequent unclogging, leaks profusely, makes loud noises, backs up drains, or has electrical issues, replacement is likely the better option.

What installation tips should I know?

Carefully follow directions, check for leaks, secure mounting assembly, wire properly, run adequate water, and feed waste slowly at first. Consider professional help if needed.

How can I make the disposal installation process easier?

Review the manual beforehand, watch online videos, assemble tools/supplies needed, turn off power, and inspect drain lines ahead of time. Taking it slow helps too.

Following this advice will help demystify garbage disposal selection. Carefully considering features, brands, value, and your needs will lead to the ideal model providing reliable service.

Final Considerations for Choosing the Best Garbage Disposal

Selecting the right garbage disposal involves weighing several factors from horsepower to price. Keep these final tips in mind as you evaluate models:

  • Match the disposal design and drain line to your existing sink and plumbing setup.
  • Continuous feed models provide simplicity and value while batch feed units are quieter and safer.
  • More powerful motors will pulverize waste faster and have a longer service life.
  • Basic safety features plus a lengthy warranty deliver peace of mind.
  • Noise-reduction technology maintains a quiet kitchen environment.
  • Regular maintenance helps maximize performance and lifespan.
  • Comparison shop for the best price on the ideal model for your needs.
  • Proper installation is critical, so carefully follow directions or hire a pro.

Armed with this advice, you can now shop confidently, compare garbage disposal options, and select the perfect unit for flawless food waste grinding for years to come. Doing your homework upfront will result in informed decision making and long-term satisfaction.