Is It Common for a Home to Have a Dishwasher Without a Garbage Disposal?

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Updated September 29, 2021
Female is loading dirty plates into a dishwasher machine in a bright sunny kitchen.
gorodenkoff / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Today, most homes have a garbage disposal and a dishwasher installed

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With the advancement in dishwasher tech over the last two decades, you might be wondering if it’s even necessary to have a garbage disposal anymore. The reality of the situation is that you’re going to want both, as they can tackle the same job in two separate ways. Think of these two food-eating machines as a team, rather than competitors.

Pros of a Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal is the first place you’ll want to dump leftovers. With the flip of a switch, it uses blades to break down the food so it can easily move through the drainage pipes.

Garbage disposals also hold a small amount of water at all times, which helps keep odors out of the air—and therefore your kitchen. Trust us, you don’t want to smell three-week-old leftovers while you make dinner.

Cons of a Garbage Disposal

The biggest downside to a garbage disposal is the fact that everyone in the house will know when you’re running it. They’re quite loud because the motor needs to suddenly turn on and start cutting up everything from fruit to coffee grounds. 

There are also certain things you shouldn’t put down your garbage disposal, such as pasta or grease, as it can quickly break. The cost of garbage disposal replacement will range anywhere from $150 to $950, so it’s better to not risk it—for the sake of your garbage disposal as well as your wallet.

Pros of a Dishwasher

Closeup of man loading dishes into dishwasher
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The main purpose of a dishwasher is to a.) wash dishes and b.) dispose of the food particles. And instead of spending every night after dinner scrubbing your plates and pots, all you need to do is toss them into the unit and press a button.

Because its secondary purpose is to eliminate food particles, dishwasher drains typically hook up to the garbage disposal.

Dishwashers also tend to use much less water compared to handwashing dishes in the sink. Every minute the faucet is on in the kitchen sink, you’re using anywhere from 3 to 5 gallons on average. Dishwashers typically use anywhere from 5 to 7 gallons for the entire load.

Cons of a Dishwasher

Dishwashers are not capable of handling larger food items like a garbage disposal can—the orange peels that are chopped up quickly in the garbage disposal will simply end up at the bottom of your dishwasher. So while they can tackle frustrating marinara stains on your bowl, it can’t handle the noodles you ate with it.

You’ll need to deep clean your dishwasher every six months or so to ensure it continues to work properly. If not, you’ll end up wasting time when you open your dishwasher and the dishes somehow end up looking worse than before.

Should You Have a Dishwasher or a Garbage Disposal?

Today, most homes have both a garbage disposal and a dishwasher to clean up after meals. But there are still homes out there that forgo the dishwasher and only have the garbage disposal. You can always stick to washing dishes by hand, and you’ll need the garbage disposal to handle large food items.

You’ll rarely find a home with only a dishwasher and no garbage disposal. If you do, you’ll want to ensure there’s some type of air gap between your kitchen sink and the dishwasher. The air gap is there to ensure there is no backflow into your dishwasher or into your sink of contaminated water.

Does a Dishwasher Work Without a Garbage Disposal?

Yes, your dishwasher will still work even if your garbage disposal is out for the count. The dishwasher drain is connected to the garbage disposal, but it doesn’t require the garbage disposal to work.

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