Do Kitchen Sinks Need Garbage Disposals? 6 Pros and Cons

A kitchen sink can be used both with or without a garbage disposal. However, before you install a garbage disposal, you should take some time to look into its pros and cons.

A garbage disposal, although not required, is a cost-effective and low maintenance solution that makes dishwashing easier. It grinds down food leftovers and takes them down the drain. However, it can also cause water wastage and give off bad smells if not cared for properly.

If you’re confused about getting a garbage disposal for your sink, it’s important to do some research beforehand so that you don’t end up making the wrong choice. There is also some controversy regarding whether or not garbage disposals are good for your kitchen’s plumbing. Let’s learn a bit more to understand this clearly.

All You Need to Know About Garbage Disposals – Pros & Cons

Cost Effective in the Long Run

If you’re under the impression that this accessory for your kitchen sink will cost you a good amount of money, let me get your facts clarified. Even if you’re on a budget, garbage disposals are a very affordable kitchen sink accessory.

They’re not just cost-effective because of the reasonable price (around $90 for a top of the line one), but also because they work to generally decrease the money required to maintain a hygienic kitchen environment.

In the long term, your kitchen plumbing is much less likely to get clogged up because the garbage disposal shreds any uneaten food waste into tiny pieces – in turn making it easy for them to flow through the pipes.

Long Life with Easy Maintenance

The average garbage disposal will last you between 8-15 years depending on the amount of wear and tear put on it.

The blades wearing down, or the motor burning out are the two major causes for you to have to replace your garbage disposal.

The motor burning can usually be avoided by being mindful, but wear and tear on the blades is normal. As long as there is nothing other than foods that is thrown down to the garbage disposal, your blades will last you a long time.

Convenient When Doing the Dishes

A garbage disposal will make doing the dishes a very easier task for you. Instead of scraping off leftovers separately, you can just let it go down the drain without worrying about pipe maintenance. Garbage disposal will save you the trouble of clogged pipes while giving you an easy time to wash your dishes.

Lesser Trash Means Lesser Pests

Since we’re not throwing food waste in the trash, another side benefit of that is that pests will stay away from trying to make a home out of your kitchen.

Most leftover food items that attract pests to your kitchen are allowed to drain through to the garbage disposal. Rodents and insects love to find their way in if you have organic waste and other similar debris that cause odors by sitting around for too long.

A Bad Odor Can Develop Over Time

Although kitchen sink garbage disposals save you from the smell of garbage cans – which is a result of the trash sitting in for too long, you don’t entirely get rid of similar odors even after the installation of garbage disposals. Over time, there could be a bit of food build-up within the pipes around the garbage disposal itself. This could give off a bad odor.

A lot of times, the shredded organic waste sits around and sticks to the pipes, with gradual decay left as the only option for them to disappear through. If this sludgy waste is left in for too long in the pipes, it causes the emission of pretty bad odors.

To avoid such a situation, you can put baking soda or citrus juice in your garbage disposal once every couple of weeks. My favorite is to cut a lemon in half and throw that the drain to the garbage disposal – it not only cleans it out, but also gives off a fresh, clean scent!

Fresh Water Wastage

As you might have already figured out, all the shredded organic waste is made to go down the drain where it is basically disposed off in large water bodies.

In order to make sure that there are no food sludges in the garbage disposals, a lot of water is used to clean the pipes. There is no other purpose of this large amount of water that is made to flow through the pipes over and over again than to make sure your system is clean and doesn’t have any food items decaying on the walls of the pipes.

Even when this effluent water is sent off to septic systems, it is harder for the water purifiers to get rid of the shreds. This just implies the need for more chemicals and energy for the water purifiers to clean water, thus asking for more expensive water treatments.

– Convenient Dish Washing– May give off bad odors if not cared for
– Long life with proper care (8-15 years)– Wastes water
– Cost effective in the long run
– Reduces likelihood of pests in your kitchen

Garbage Disposals: Good or Bad for Plumbing?

There are a lot of myths associated with the maintenance of garbage disposals with regards to their pipes. The truth is, on a long-term basis, a little effort in cleaning the pipes will give your garbage disposal a longer lifespan.

Mostly, you don’t need to get your garbage disposal system serviced. The only mishap that requires calling a plumber is when your pipes get clogged. Without a garbage disposal, an accidental drainage of leftover food could result in this blockage. But if you have a garbage disposal installed, there are very little chances of food not shredding before being passed.

As long as it is properly installed and maintained, having a garbage disposal is very good for your plumbing.

Dos and Don’ts of Using a Garbage Disposal

To extend your garbage disposal’s lifespan, be mindful of what you pass down to it through your kitchen sink.

What You Can Put in Your Garbage Disposal

Any small food leftovers that are scraped off the dishes are safe to be drained in a garbage disposal.

These include items like bread crumbs, coffee and tea grounds, seasonings, even vegetables. Some other items that are also safe to be passed include very small fish and chicken bones, or broken egg shells etc.

As long as the waste is small, it will pass without hindering the pipe’s normal working.

What You Cannot Put in Your Garbage Disposal

Anything hard is not good to put down your garbage disposal. Of course, this includes things like whole bones, coffee beans, fruit pits, etc

But there are certain other items that are also bad for your garbage disposal that you might not really see as a danger. Items like pasta or rice that expand with water pose the risk of swelling (even if they are already cooked) and clogging up the disposal trap.

Also, make sure to never put grease down your pipes. Even if you have a garbage disposal, the grease might not even make it to it and end up clogging your pipes instead.

Final Thoughts

Every home appliance has its list of limitations that come along with the great uses it offers you. It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons to determine whether your purchase will be worth the money or not. Garbage disposals are definitely not a necessity, but most people who have one installed do enjoy the convenience they offer.

George Sab is a retired home improvement professional. For over 30 years, he has educated his clients and helped them make the best choice for their homes. George started A Great Sink in 2017 to share his knowledge with the world and assist his readers on their journey to their perfect home!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here