Types of Garbage Disposals

There are three main types of garbage disposals: batch-feed, continuous-feed and septic tank specific.


The most popular type of unit is the continuous-feed garbage disposal, particularly in recently built homes. .
Garbage disposal units are commonplace in today's kitchen.

The biggest difference between batch-feed and continuous-feed garbage disposals is the way in which they are turned on. Batch-feed garbage disposals are activated by turning a stopper, while continuous-feed disposals are activated using a switch on a wall. Septic tank specific garbage disposal work the same as a continuous feed, but they also contain a special cartridge.

How a continuous-feed disposal works

After you place food into the drain and turn on the disposal, mashers force the food onto the inner wall of the disposal, which contains teeth, until the food is ground into pieces small enough to fall through the holes between the wall of the disposal unit and the bottom plate. The food is then flushed through the drain with running water.

How a batch-feed disposal works

Once the food is in the drain, seal the drain with the special stopper that came with the disposal. Turning the stopper activates the disposal, which then works in the same way as a continuous feed system.

How a septic tank specific disposal works

For homes on a septic system, a special type of garbage disposal is required. Septic tank specific disposals work the same way that a continuous-feed disposal works (using a wall switch). However, this disposal also contains a special cartridge that breaks down soap and grease, which can build up in your system, and a microorganism to help break down food waste. The cartridges are essential for maintaining a health septic system. Do not put seafood shells or tobacco products into your septic system, because they drain into the groundwater. In addition, they require regular maintenance, which includes replacing the cartridge every three to six months.


Regardless of the type, garbage disposals make working in the kitchen and discarding food much easier. They are readily available, affordable and easy to install. Disposals are usually selected based on their features, such as anti-jamming technology, quietness, whether they are made of plastic or metal, and whether you can connect them to a dishwasher.

About the Author

Melissa Kelly is a freelance writer from Indianapolis who focuses on scientific and medical topics. Kelly attended Marian College where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. Recently, she completed her Master's in business communications & project management.