Hard Food Disposer or Filter: The Dishwasher Dilemma [Guide]


Are you having a hard time deciding between a hard food disposer and a filter?

You’re in good company! Dishwashers have made our lives much simpler since they were invented, as they remove the need to do clean our dishes ourselves.

Both hard food disposers and filters do a great job at catching any crumbs and other food residues that might cause problems within the appliance, but which one is actually better at it?

Well, this can’t be answered in a single paragraph, so I wanted to go the extra mile. Below, you’ll find a detailed article explaining the main differences between them based on key aspects, such as how they work, how they clean, and how loud they are.

Hopefully, by the end of it, you’ll have a much clearer perspective on this matter.

Keep reading to get the most out of your dishwasher!

Comparing Hard Food Disposers vs Filters

As stated above, both hard food disposers and filters do a similar job inside your dishwasher, but if you’re here, you want detailed answers and precise differences. Provided you don’t have a lot of time to read right now, please check out the table below to get some useful data.

OperationDisintegrates foodTraps food
CleaningDoesn’t need cleaningMust be manually cleaned every month
Noise levelDisposers create extra dishwasher noise. Quieter models on the market tend to be more expensive.Quiet

Bear in mind that this doesn’t paint the full picture, so I’d advise you to keep reading to fully understand where each accessory shines, and where it could improve.

Buying a new dishwasher is expensive. So, you’re no doubt keen to get the best you possibly can for your money. Something hard-wearing, efficient, and quiet.

Shopping for a dishwasher is not something we do often. That said, make sure you check out the rest of the dishwasher guide below. It will explain the differences between disposer and filter dishwashers. This will help you make the best decision.

clean dishes inside dishwasher
Both types will give clean dishes, but there are some differences!

Hard Food Disposer or Filter: The Dishwasher Dilemma [Guide]

Choosing a new dishwasher is a bit of a headache. There are so many things to consider such as:

  • Their cycles and programs
  • Their maintenance
  • Their noise levels
  • Their energy-efficiency

And the list goes on! And you’ve not long realized that there’s yet another thing you have to consider. That is, whether you want a dishwasher with a hard food disposer or a filter. The decisions never end!

But I’m here to help! This article breaks up hard food disposers and filter dishwashers into three categories. These are:

  1. Their operation mode. How they get rid of food.
  2. Their cleaning method. The disposer or filter’s cleaning process.
  3. Their noise level. How loud or how quiet the dishwasher is thanks to its disposer or filter.

Analyzing each of these categories will make it easier for you to know your expectations. It will help you choose the right dishwasher model.

Let’s take a look at these categories in more detail:


So, you keep harping on at your family about their plates. You ask them to scrape them before they put them in the dishwasher. And they do, but only when you’re watching them of course. When you’re not there, they sling their spaghetti bolognese dishes full of pasta in the machine, shut the door quickly behind them, and hope for the best.

So, that may have you wondering, where does the soggy food that didn’t get scraped off the plates go? Well, that actually differs depending on your dishwasher type. Here’s one of the main differences between a hard food disposer and a filter dishwasher:

-Disposers grind up food automatically
-Disposers disintegrate food particles using a chopper
-Filters catch the food in a mesh plug underneath the bottom rack
-Filters do not grind up the food pieces

What can we conclude? Hard food disposers and filter dishwashers have very different operating methods. But both are efficient.

Is your choice of a dishwasher based on the operating method alone? Then you could choose either type to get the job done well.


Dishwashers have a fundamental purpose. That is washing up the dishes so that you don’t have to. A dishwasher should make your life easier. And let’s be honest, loading and unloading the dishwasher is hard enough work as it is. Is your dishwasher pushing you to do any extra maintenance? Then it may be giving you more hassle than it’s worth.

There are differences between cleaning a hard food disposer and a filter dishwasher. Here are some of them:

– Disposers disintegrate food into ultra-fine particles. These are small enough to wash away with the force of the water.
– You do not need to empty the disposer.
– The disposer disintegrates food particles, this stops them from recirculating onto your dishes.

– You must empty the filter manually once a month.
– If the filter is not cleaned regularly it will begin to smell due to the food collection. It could also reduce the water flow and prevent your dishes from cleaning properly.
Removing filter from dishwasher
You should clean the filter regularly to avoid any issues, but that means more effort!

The maintenance of a hard food disposer and a filter dishwasher is very different. Of course, cleaning a dishwasher filter is not a big deal. But it is another thing you’ll have to add to your list of things to do. (As if that list isn’t already long enough?)

Is your choice of a dishwasher based on easy cleaning and minimal maintenance? Then your best option will be a dishwasher with a hard food disposer.


Now, if your home is anything like mine, it is noisy. You do not need any rowdy kitchen appliances to raise the volume of your already loud household. So, a dishwasher that works away in the background making as little noise as possible is essential.

There is a difference between the noise levels of a hard food disposer and a filter dishwasher. Here they are in a nutshell:

– Disposers add to the operating noise of the dishwasher. This is because the chopper works to grind up SOFT food into tiny particles. It doesn’t work on things like cherry pits, bones, etc.
– Many users find that the hard food disposer is noisy.

– Filters do not add to the operating noise of the dishwasher.

As you can see, hard food disposers, although effective, may be an annoyance. This is because of their loud operating noise. But manufacturers have cottoned on to this and are doing something about it. Here are some of the improvements they’ve made on the more expensive dishwasher models:

  • Some hard food disposers now have a super-fine mesh and no noisy grinder. The water pressure forces the bits of food through the super-fine mesh. This breaks the food down into tiny particles that leave the dishwasher and you don’t have to clean it out.
  • Other dishwashers with a hard food disposer are manufactured with better insulation. The increased insulation reduces the level of noise that you can hear from the disposer.

These are good solutions for a disposer. But the disposer still may not work as quietly as a dishwasher filter.

Is your choice of a dishwasher based on noise alone? Then your best choice will be a dishwasher with a filter.

If you are considering a hard food disposer, make sure to check the customer reviews for the model you’re interested in. In our experience, some major and well known brands are guilty of using super cheap materials on the planet to construct the blades and mesh.

This can cause a lot of issues if food bypasses the dispenser and causes a jam at the pump. In many cases, these aren’t like the real disposal you’d get in a kitchen sink.

Is a Hard Food Disposer Necessary in the Dishwasher?

Pricier dishwasher models come with an interesting feature: a hard food disposer. But some of the more economical dishwashers skip this feature altogether. This could make you wonder whether it is really necessary or not.

Here’s why you should consider purchasing a dishwasher with a hard food disposer:

  1. If you didn’t scrape your plates, don’t worry. A hard food disposer works to pulverize food into tiny particles. These are easily flushed out of the dishwasher. This saves you the aggravation of scraping your plates before you put them in the dishwasher. However, this does depend on the dishwasher’s build quality – see the highlight above!
  2. No more dried-on food. There’s nothing worse than finding tableware still dirty after a cycle in the dishwasher. This is usually what happens with cereal bowls, dinner plates, and the like. Your standard dishwasher will simply clean your dishes with detergent.

But a dishwasher with a hard food disposer is designed to remove food scraps too. This saves you the frustration of finding plates with dried-on food after washing.


Now that you know almost all there is to know about both dishwasher complements, let’s summarize the overwhelming amount of information you were just given to make things clearer. I find that the simplest way to do it is with a Pros and Cons table.

Hard Food Disposers

No need for cleaningNoisy
Shred food residueExpensive
Eliminate the need to scrape plates
If you don’t mind the noise, and like the idea of not having to worry about food residue, this disposer is for you


Cheaper than Hard Food Disposers They can become obstructed
Easy to replaceNeed monthly cleaning
Add no extra noisePlates must be scraped before placing them in the dishwasher
If you don’t mind pre-scraping your plates and want a quiet, cheap solution for catching food residue, a filter will work great


That about sums it up!

Deciding between a dishwasher filter and a hard food residue can be tricky, especially considering that, at first, they might seem to fulfill the same purpose.

I hope this piece has helped you better understand the main differences between them, and where each one shines.

If this article was useful and interesting, why not check out some of our other resources and free guides? Who knows? Maybe you could even join our email list!

Have a great day.


Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should I Clean the Filter on My Dishwasher?

As stated above, it’s recommended to clean your filter at least once per month. However, if you wash a lot of dishes and want to make sure there’s no excess food residue rotting on the filter for a month, cleaning it once a week is not a terrible idea.

Can the Filter Be Cleaned Inside the Dishwasher?

It depends on the make and model of your appliance. Some dishwashers do have the option to self-clean their filters to take this task off your hands.

Make sure to read your User Manual to see whether your unit offers this feature.

How Expensive Is It to Replace a Hard Food Disposer?

In the event that the hard food disposer in your dishwasher stops working, you can expect to pay anywhere between $50-200 or more if you own a high-end appliance.

Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more