Garbage Disposal vs Trash Compactor | Appliance Comparison Guide

Garbage Disposal vs Trash Compactor

Garbage disposals and trash compactors are two appliances used for getting rid of waste from homes.

Both units are good for the environment as they reduce the amount of waste going into landfills. Despite performing similar tasks, they’re different; hence the garbage disposal vs trash compactor debate.

To help you make the right purchasing decision, we’ll explore the trash compactor vs garbage disposal debate in-depth. To know more about garbage disposal buying guide, click on the article.

Let’s find out the differences between a garbage disposal and a trash compactor.

What Are the Main Differences between A Garbage Disposal vs Trash Compactor?

The main difference between a garbage disposal and a trash compactor is in the way they handle waste.

A garbage disposal is a device that gets rid of waste by processing them with liquid before immediately eliminating them, by itself, from your kitchen. While a trash compactor is a device that breaks down waste into smaller manageable pieces that can be gotten rid of using a trash bag.

The second main difference between a garbage disposal and a trash compactor is in the kinds of waste they eliminate from the house. A garbage disposal expels only food waste while a trash compactor eliminates all kinds of waste, including food waste.

To better understand how these devices get rid of wastes, we’ll look at both individually.

What is a garbage disposal? A garbage disposal, also called a waste disposer, is an appliance that’s installed under the kitchen sink’s drain to collect and eliminate food scraps.

It’s convenient to use the garbage disposal as you can wipe food remnants from your sink into the device. The device then grinds the food particles into 2 mm sizes down the drain. You’ll never have to empty the trash with your hands as the disposal will push the waste down the plumbing lines into the sewers.

The garbage disposal only eliminates food waste and is not even powerful enough to grind tough food wastes such as bones as they can damage the appliance.

The garbage disposal also uses a large amount of water to wash food particles down the drain and even more water to filter the food scraps. This leads to water wastage and makes it not the best waste disposal solution for the environment.

What is a trash compactor? A trash compactor is a large device like an advanced metal dustbin that’s installed under the kitchen counter or cabinets for getting rid of wastes in the home.

The trash compactor condenses or compresses waste into smaller particles to reduce the surface area of the wastes: a decreased surface area means an increase in the volume of waste that the trash compactor’s bag can carry in your home.

The trash compactor is different from the regular trash bag in that it’s made up of three parts;

  • The trash bag where waste goes into.
  • The metal ram that grinds waste.
  • And the switch that controls the crushing process.

The trash compactor doesn’t only process food waste, it can eliminate large amounts of every waste in the home. This is because it can fit in more trash bags, and as a result, reduce the number of times you empty the trash in the dumpster.

Trash compactors reduce the amount of rubbish going into the dumpster and the amount of trash bags going into landfills. Once you dispose of waste outside, dumpster companies will pick the trash and dump it or take it to a recycling center.

What are the advantages of a garbage disposal when compared to a trash compactor?

The advantages of a garbage disposal when compared to a trash compactor are that it offers better convenience, it’s cheaper and more eco-friendly.

Convenient to use

When compared to a trash compactor, a garbage disposal makes clean up easier and is more convenient to use as it immediately gets rid of food waste. Garbage disposals expel scraps of food on the kitchen sink down the drain to the sewers without needing your help. While with a trash compactor, you’ll have to dispose of the trash bags when they’re filled up. Here's how to use a garbage disposal.

Keeps the kitchen smelling nicely

As the garbage disposal eliminates food waste quicker, bad smell won’t build up in your kitchen. Compactors, on the other hand, first have to fill their bags with waste before you can empty them. This can lead to the build up of bacteria and bad odors in the kitchen despite most compactors coming with odor-eliminating systems.


When comparing the price of a food waste disposer with that of a trash compactor, the food waste disposer is cheaper. Depending on the size, the price of a garbage disposal ranges between $50 and $400. And it can cost around $120 and $600 to install it.

A trash compactor is more expensive as it can process and eliminate more volume and kinds of waste. Trash compactors cost between $400 and $1,000. And it can cost up to $1,500 to install it.

Also, you don’t use garbage bags with a garbage disposal: this further reduces the cost of buying new bags.

Great for the environment

Both garbage disposals and trash compactors are good for the environment, but garbage disposals are more eco-friendly.

Aside from eliminating waste, the waste disposer also eliminates the use of plastic trash bags. This is because food gets sent to the grinding mechanism where it’s shredded and pushed down the drain.

While compactors collect their wastes in trash bags that are disposed of outside the house. Although the compactor's shredding mechanism reduces the number of visits to the dumpster and also the number of trash bags that you’ll send to landfills.

Saves space

When you don’t have so much space in your kitchen, a garbage disposal will be the best waste disposer for you. This is because it’s installed out of sight (under the sink). While trash compactors take up more space as they’re installed within sight (under the counter or cabinet).

Longer lasting

On average, garbage disposals last longer than trash compactors. A garbage disposal will last around 10 – 12 years before it starts clogging often. While the average life expectancy of trash compactors is 7 – 11 years.

Garbage Disposal vs Trash Compactor comaprison

What are the advantages of a trash compactor when compared to a garbage disposal?

The advantages of a trash compactor, when compared to a garbage disposal, are that it comes with a larger capacity for disposing of waste and it’s easy to install.


When compared to a garbage disposal, a trash compactor can fit more rubbish in its bags. A regular trash compactor can hold 25 to 55 gallons of waste: after shredding waste, it can fit 13-gallon bags of trash in one bag. It can also reduce the volume of trash by up to 80%.

Aside from being able to carry food items, the trash compactor accepts all forms of garbage you can throw in the dust bin including metals, aluminum, and bottles, etc. While a garbage compactor only accepts food particles.

The machine doesn’t clog

You’ll have to sort the garbage before letting them flush down the garbage disposal, else the rubbish will clog the device if they’re large, hard, or too thick. Conversely, you can toss any item in a trash compactor whether it’s metallic, glass, or very thick without fear of clogging.

Easy to install

When comparing a trash compactor to a garbage disposal, a trash compactor is easier to install. Installing a garbage disposal entails doing some plumbing and electrical works whereas you don’t have to bother about fixing plumbing fixtures when installing a trash compactor.

Which One Is more Usable in the Kitchen Between A Garbage Disposal and A Trash Compactor?

A trash compactor is more usable in the kitchen than a garbage disposal because it can reduce all sorts of waste in the home, whereas a garbage disposal reduces only food waste.

And if you’re asking, “Is a garbage disposal the same as a trash compactor?” No, garbage disposals and trash compactors are different tools for eliminating waste in the home.

A garbage disposal gets rid of only food waste, immediately. While a trash compactor eliminates all kinds of items including food scraps, broken bottles, and other objects.

Secondly, a garbage disposal has a mechanism that helps you eliminate waste on its own. While a trash compactor allows you temporarily save waste till it’s full for you to dispose of the rubbish with your hands.

What waste can you dispose of in a garbage disposal?

You can put biodegradable food waste in your garbage disposal. They include;

  • Vegetables – tomatoes, cucumbers
  • Fruits – apples
  • Weak and small bones – chicken bones
  • Small meat scraps – if you’ve got large cooked meat scraps, cut them into smaller bits before putting them down the disposal.
  • Citrus rinds – orange, lemon, and lime rinds
  • Small pieces of ice cubes

Take caution not to throw non-biodegradable foods and large items down the garbage disposal. Wastes you shouldn’t throw down the garbage disposal include;

  • Metals
  • Large bones
  • Wood
  • Hard seeds
  • Foods that can get trapped in the disposal – potato peels, asparagus, onion peels, and corn husk
  • Cigarette butts
  • Nuts and shells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Foods that expand in water – bread, rice, and pasta.
  • Grease, oil, and fats
  • Eggshells

It’s also a wise idea if you can empty your garbage disposal once a week. This will help eliminate bad odors and loosen foods stuck on its sides.

You can find more of the best uses of garbage disposals here.

What waste can you dispose of in a Trash Compactor?

You can put all items that can go in the garbage into your trash compactor. These include foods (both biodegradable and non-biodegradable foods) and other scraps that are great for composting. Examples include fibrous or stringy vegetables and fruits – celery and bananas, etc.

You can also toss recyclable items like metals and bottles for compacting.

However, do not put flammable vapors or objects (such as gasoline, batteries, aerosol sprays) and liquids near or into a trash compactor. And don’t push items into the drawer with your arms and feet as the compactor may contain sharp objects.

Can a garbage disposal and a trash compactor be paired together?

Yes, you can pair a garbage disposal and a trash compactor in your home as they serve slightly different purposes.

You can use your garbage disposal to get rid of food waste in the kitchen while you can use your trash compactor in the kitchen or garage to crush other wastes like pieces of glasses, cans, and other dirt.

What are the instances where you can use a garbage disposal and a trash compactor together?

You can use a garbage disposal and a trash compactor in the home if you cook a lot for a large family and if your household produce a lot of waste.

While a garbage disposal will get rid of your liquidy foods and keep your kitchen smelling nice, the trash compactor will get rid of all the other scraps and even reduce your waste by 80%.

What are the instances where a garbage disposal and a trash compactor should never be used together?

You should not use a trash compactor and a garbage disposal if you have a small family living in a house with a small kitchen. Also, if you eat out a lot, you won’t need to use both appliances.

trash compactor vs garbage disposal

What to Consider when Buying A Garbage Disposal or A Trash Compactor

Not sure whether to buy a garbage disposal or a trash compactor? Here are the factors you should consider to know which of these appliances will be great for your home.

What are the types of garbage disposals?

There are two types of garbage disposals: batch feed and continuous feed disposals. Batch feed disposals have stoppers that prevent unwanted items from entering the disposal during operation. While a continuous feed disposal remains open for as long as it’s switched on.

Do you have access to a composting pile or site?

If you have access to a composting pile, you may want to consider getting a trash compactor as you can dispose of your waste there. Secondly, you can dispose of all sorts of waste in trash compactors: whether they’re food scraps or waste from other sources.

What’s the size of your family and how often do you cook?

If you cook a lot (especially for a large family), you may want to consider getting a garbage disposal so you won’t often have to trash waste outside.

On the other hand, if you cook for only yourself or a family of three or less, a trash compactor will be a better option. Also, as a garbage disposal only disposes of food waste, a trash compactor will be a better option if you seldom cook.

How cost-effective are these appliances?

If you’re low on budget, you can go for a trash compactor as you can get smaller and cheaper models even though a garbage disposal is cheaper on average.

Also, keep in mind that garbage disposals use electricity so there’s an operational cost when using one. In places with high electricity tariffs, the operational cost may impact your finances.

What Are the Best Brands for Garbage Disposals?

The four best brands making the best garbage disposals are InSinkErator, Moen, Waste King, and General Electric.


InSinkErator is one of the best brands making the best garbage disposals. Their disposals come with powerful motors. They’re fairly quiet during operation and have a double grind technology that helps them avoid clogging.


Moen is one of the best brands making reliable kitchen appliances. And they manufacture affordable garbage disposals with impressive and noise reduction. Customers are not satisfied when garbage disposal not working humming sound is released.

Waste King

Waste King manufactures premium garbage disposals that are powerful and safe to operate. They’re also affordable.

General Electric

General Electric also makes affordable garbage disposals. Their models are some of the best on the market. And they’ve got exceptional performance.

What Are the Best Brands for Trash Compactors?

The 3 best brands making trash compactors are Whirlpool, KitchenAid, and Gladiator.

Download Free Chart Now!

Your email will be used only to confirm your request and to provide free kitchen information. By submitting your info on this form, you are agreeing to be contacted regarding your service request by means of email. This is no obligation form and doesn’t require you to purchase any service.