The term “garbage disposal” is really a bit of a misnomer. If you’ve ever had one, you probably already know that you can’t run random garbage through it. It’s really designed to grind up and dispose of food waste—waste that would be otherwise compostable (with the exception of bones).
What makes a good disposal, what features you should look for, and how much should you spend? To answer those questions, we researched, installed, and tested popular models to learn more about how they work and what to look for.
Check out quick info on our top picks below, then scroll down for more in-depth reviews of these and other top-performing models, plus buying advice.
Best Garbage Disposals
How Do I Choose a Good Garbage Disposal?
First, make sure you can use a garbage disposal in your house. Some municipalities or cities have ordinances regarding the installation and use of garbage disposals. In some cases, towns without public wastewater treatment plants, where residents have their own septic systems, may not allow them.
There are models out there specifically designed for use with septic systems. Conversely, some cities require disposal units in kitchen sinks to be sure all waste entering its treatment system is small enough to be handled efficiently.
Here’s what else to consider while you shop.
Continuous feed garbage disposals continuously grind food waste passing through the drain and into the grinding chamber, as the name suggests. You control this with a remote switch.
Batch feed garbage disposals operate only with the drain cover in place. You can’t put additional waste in unless the drain cover is removed and the garbage disposal is off.
While these may be less convenient and slower than continuous disposals, they’re clearly safer because you can’t reach in while the garbage disposal is running.
How We Selected
How We Tested Garbage Disposals
During testing, we installed each garbage disposal under the same sink in the same basic, laminate-covered, particle board cabinet. The sink itself is an inexpensive, stainless-steel, double-bowl unit, with sound-deadening spray on the bottom.
We used a clear P-trap—that’s the pipe under the sink with an S-shaped bend in it—attached to the discharge tube and diverted waste into a screen over a five-gallon bucket for inspection. We put carrots, celery, baked beans, chicken bones, and raw corn on the cob through each model—a selection used to simulate the breadth of food waste consumers typically use disposals for. Finally, we took stock of how much noise each produces.
How We Measured Sound Levels
How loud (or not) garbage disposals are can impact their appeal. We recorded the sound levels while running half ears of raw corn through the disposals we tested.
We held a meter, which logged one sound level reading per second, about six inches from the rim of our test sink and aimed it at the drain. We started recording sound levels with the water turned on to get a stable level, then flipped the garbage disposal on until the sound returned to a steady level again, indicating it had finished grinding up the corncob.
How We Vetted Garbage Disposals
We also researched and vetted a few options that we haven’t gotten our hands on yet keeping an eye out for innovative features, sound deadening, efficiency, and ease of installation. (You can find those models in our “Other Garbage Disposals Worth Considering” section.)
Whether it’s a continuous or batch feed model, the right unit is sure to help you dispose of food waste that would otherwise dribble across your kitchen floor on the way to the garbage.
The Evolution Pro 750 is a compact model, and the shortest of all we tested, meaning there’s plenty of room under it for spray bottles and cleaners. Despite its smaller size, it boasts many quality features, like stainless-steel grinding components and sound-dampening insulation. All told, this garbage disposal took about 15 minutes for us to install. The stainless-steel sink drain mounted fairly easily, as its Quick-Lock name implied.
The Evolution Pro took everything in our food waste medley in stride and ground the baked beans, raw carrots, and celery to an average particle size. Chicken bones seemed to grind a little coarser than with some of the other models. Still, the Evolution Pro does a good job balancing speed, noise, capability, and build quality.
The Evolution Excel produced the least noise by far, lending credence to InSinkErator’s claim that it’s the quietest on the market. This is due in part to the rubber-sheathed discharge pipe and top mount that prevent vibrations from rippling through to the sink or plumbing. Additionally, the stainless-steel cover houses sound insulation between it and the grind chamber.
Baked beans, raw carrots, celery, and chicken bones came out very fine and passed through the garbage disposal and P-trap easily. At one point, we had a corncob get caught on the impeller and then just spin with it—we had to pulse the garbage disposal on and off a couple of times to dislodge it.
The Evolution Excel is expensive, to be sure, but the quality materials and relatively quiet operation mean you’re getting what you pay for.
The 291PC is the least expensive unit we tested. It also has the smallest motor. But that’s not bad, as the trade-offs are what make it a great value.
This Whirlaway shares the same EZ-mount as the Waste King, making it straightforward to install without tools, and it also comes with a corded plug. Installation took us only about 10 minutes. Carrots, baked beans, and celery went right through it, and the food particles were reasonably fine and uniform.
The corncobs were surprising, as this unit ground them up in about 30 seconds, on par with the more powerful garbage disposals. It diced the bones up finely—grinding was a bit louder, though. While it’s inexpensive, the 291PC can handle many of the same foods as the more powerful garbage disposals at a mere third of the price.
Waste King’s L-111 comes pre-wired and ready to install. A rubber gasket seals the sink-flange connection. The garbage disposal body is made from a reinforced polymer (a type of plastic) and attaches to the flange with a twist-lock connector. The discharge pipe connects to your existing P-trap with a compression fitting (not included). There’s a fitting for a dishwasher discharge hose if required. Installation was straightforward with the instructions provided.
The garbage disposal chewed though carrots, celery, and baked beans, although the carrots lingered a little before being completely ground. The baked beans liquified easily, but we had to push them through the stiff, rubber splash guard. Chicken bones ground up completely, with patience—they were still clinking around in the garbage disposal for several seconds after they seemed to be done.
Raw corncob was the most tenacious material we tried and required a few start-stop cycles to grind completely. It appeared to hang up in such a way that the impellers stopped pushing it into the grind ring. The garbage disposal never jammed and eventually handled everything we threw down it.
General Electric’s half-horsepower garbage disposal comes with a convenient rubber gasket to seal the sink flange. However, it does not have a corded plug, so you’ll need to get one and wire it or hardwire the unit. The garbage disposal body is made from a reinforced plastic and uses a twist-lock connector on the sink flange.
Your existing P-trap should connect easily to the discharge pipe with a compression fitting, also not included. GE provides a connection for a dishwasher discharge hose. The brand also lists this unit as “septic-safe” in its documentation, and installation was straightforward following the instructions.
Like other units on the lower end of the horsepower range, harder items like carrots took a little longer to grind up. Celery hung up in the grind chamber briefly but cleared quickly on its own. And baked beans presented no problem once they made it through the stiff splash guard.
The chicken bones actually ground quite well, and relatively quickly. The most challenging things were the corncobs, which, like with some of the other units, required several start-stop cycles to grind completely. The garbage disposal did, however, grind everything in our test without jamming or requiring intervention.
Moen’s GXB75C grbage disposal exhibits the fine fit and finish one would expect from the brand. The body and motor are housed in a svelte black cover that also contains sound insulation. This batch-feed garbage disposal comes with a drain cover that, when inserted completely, activates the garbage disposal—water may still pass with the cover inserted.
The stainless-steel sink flange has a universal Xpress Mount to connect to the garbage disposal. The discharge pipe turns 90 degrees out of the garbage disposal body and should connect with your existing P-trap with a compression fitting, not included. The unit comes, ready to install, pre-wired with a corded plug. Installation was fairly easy with the included instructions.
This unit, being a batch-feed garbage disposal, doesn’t have a splash guard, so waste is very easily inserted through the drain unobstructed. Carrots, celery, and baked beans all ground easily and without issue. The particle size of disposed carrots and celery appeared to be very slightly finer than other units tested.
The GXB75C efficiently shredded chicken bones, while the corncob required a couple off/on cycles to completely grind up. While disposing of the corncob, this unit seemed to vibrate more, which contributed to the higher recorded noise level. Still, it completely ground and ejected everything we put in it—no jams or clogs.
Other Garbage Disposals Worth Considering
We haven’t gotten our hands on any of the models below, but we can vouch for their merits based on our expertise and other testing. If the models above aren’t available or don’t work for you, these are a few great alternatives well worth considering.
This model is more compact that most, ideal for tight spaces underneath the sink. Thanks to a Quick Lock Mount, it’s easy to install and replace, featuring a continuous feed, stainless steel grind components for rust-resistance and longevity, plus it comes with a cord. There’s also a four-year warranty attached. While it may not be the quietest garbage disposal on the market, it’s a solid choice if you need a smaller unit that’s relatively affordable.
If you’re looking for a quiet garbage disposal under $100, consider this model from Moen. It’s septic-safe and equipped with sound-deadening insulation and a powerful motor, plus it features all-stainless steel components and a Universal Xpress Mount, so you won’t have to deal with difficult installation. The garbage disposal also has a pre-installed power cord and it’s controlled using a wall switch.
Senior Commerce Editor
Rachel Klein is a Senior Commerce Editor for Popular Mechanics, where she writes about everything from garden hose reels and patio furniture to mesh wifi systems and robot vacuums. She started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and was a travel editor for more than a decade before she started testing and reviewing luggage, noise-cancelling headphones, and other travel-related products. Fast-forward another five years and her area of expertise includes home decor, appliances, tech, and outdoor adventure gear. In her spare time, you’ll find her planning her next trip, reading historical fiction, and seeing as much art as she can squeeze into a weekend.
Brad Ford has spent most of his life using tools to fix, build, or make things. Growing up he worked on a farm, where he learned to weld, repair, and paint equipment. From the farm he went to work at a classic car dealer, repairing and servicing Rolls Royces, Bentleys, and Jaguars. Today, when he’s not testing tools or writing for Popular Mechanics, he’s busy keeping up with the projects at his old farmhouse in eastern Pennsylvania.