How To Choose A Garbage Disposal

The garbage disposal is sometimes an overlooked part of the kitchen sink--but not anymore. Here's how to choose one for a replacement:

How to Choose a Garbage Disposal - InSinkErator Badger Garbage Disposal How to Choose a Garbage Disposal - InSinkErator Badger Garbage Disposal
The Hausera Editorial Team

Installing a garbage disposal in your kitchen will change forever the way you prepare meals and clean up after them. Never again will you have to keep scraps separate or worry about too much going down the drain and clogging up the works. Since your garbage disposal is located under your sink and out of sight, its overall design comes in a distant second to its function, so choosing the right garbage disposal really comes down to one primary factor; horsepower. The higher the horsepower, the harder the disposal works to grind up kitchen waste.

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Horsepower in disposals starts at about 1/2 a horsepower and goes all the way up to 1 horsepower or better. The higher the horsepower, the more powerful the grind.

Disposals on the low end can generally handle the kitchen waste generated by one or two people while higher horsepower models can, of course, take on heavier duty jobs.

Like any home improvement project, measuring is key. For garbage disposals, the width of the drain opening in the sink where the disposal will attach is the key number shoppers will need while looking through the various models available. Most disposals are designed to fit a 3-1/2" opening.

Environmentally Friendly

Your garbage disposal minimizes not only makes cleaning up after a meal easier but are an environmentally friendly solution to help decrease the amount of kitchen waste that ends up in landfills. Reducing what we put into landfills also means lowering the risk of methane gas escaping into the air and the production of leachate, a liquid acid that has been known to contaminate groundwater.

Even better, most municipal water treatment facilities have the capability to turn food waste into fertilizer and the methane gas produced during processing into the efficient energy the plant can use for operation.


Another key consideration - no matter the horsepower - is to be sure there is plenty of room under the sink for the disposal to fit. Like any other appliance, garbage disposals come in a variety of sizes so making sure there's plenty of clearance under the sink is imperative; the larger the capacity, the bigger the unit.

You'll need to be sure there's at least eight to 10 inches of space between the floor of your sink cabinet and the bottom of your garbage disposal as well as several inches between the unit itself and anything else you store under your kitchen sink. You want to avoid any potential interference.

Related: How To Measure For A Kitchen Sink

Tips for Keeping Your Garbage Disposal in Good Shape

You'll need to care for your garbage disposal just like you do your other appliances to keep it running in tip-top condition:

  • Keep certain materials like banana and potato peels, bones, glass and trash out of the disposal.
  • If directions call for using water, be sure it's cold and not hot; using hot water melts fat that can later congeal and clog pipes.
  • Clean the disposal regularly either with a commercial cleaner or with a combination of lemon juice and vinegar.
  • Throwing ice cubes into the disposal while it's running can help keep blades sharp.
  • Always make sure the disposal is off before reaching inside.

Related: 10 Garbage Disposal Tips to Keep Your Unit Running Smoothly

Garbage disposals are available with a number of options, including air switches instead of a wall switch; special technology to reduce the amount of noise the disposal makes; and sensors that detect jams before they happen.