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Bottled water is certainly convenient, but having a countertop filtration system at home is a much more sustainable option that helps protect you from lead, PFAS, and other pathogens. Not all filters remove all contaminants, though, says Rick Andrew of NSF International's Global Water program. That's why it's important to first know exactly what's in your water. You can find out from your local water utility's annual water quality report, a resource available to all residents. If you suspect a problem with the plumbing in your home or are using well water, you can have it tested in a private lab.
Once you find out which impurities you need to remove, you may begin your search for the right filter. Make sure to look for the NSF certification mark for assurance that it actually does what it says it will do, and beware of counterfeits. These won't remove contaminants, and if made with substandard materials that leach, they could make your water even worse. Plus, counterfeit replacement cartridges may not fit tightly into the filtration device, leading to water leaks and possible costly repairs. You can also check NSF's online listings to verify that a specific product is truly certified.
To help you on your search for authentic products that people love, we researched the best countertop filters to keep you healthy and hydrated.
Best Overall: iSpring CKC1 Countertop Drinking Water Filtration System with Carbon Filter
This compact filtration system from iSpring has a modern design that looks subtle, yet sleek on any kitchen counter, whether that's in your home, apartment, camper, or RV. In addition to white, it comes in a transparent purple option, too.
The coconut-shell carbon block filter lasts six months and removes 95 percent of chlorine, odors, sand, silt, sediment, and rust. It's also highly effective on volatile organic compounds (VOCs), like pesticides, herbicides, and industrial chemicals. While this product is not certified by NSF, it has been tested by the Water Quality Association (WQA) to meet NSF/ANSI standards.
Beyond the removal of contaminants, this product is easy to install. All you have to do is remove the aerator from your faucet (if it has one), connect the diverter valve (two adapters and sealing washers are included to match either internal or external threads on the faucet), and turn on the water until it runs clear to flush out the loose carbon. Turning the diverter handle in line with the connecter gives you regular tap water, while moving it perpendicular to the connector gives you filtered water to drink straight, bake bread, use for coffee, and more.
Look for products certified by independent third-party certification bodies like NSF International (NSF) or other organizations accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Certifications are proof that product claims can be trusted. Products are certified to reduce specific contaminants or to improve aesthetics such as taste or odor, so it’s important for consumers to know what their needs are when shopping. When considering a countertop filter or any type of filtration device, consumers should read packaging carefully. There is a difference between “certified to NSF/ANSI standards” and “tested to or meets NSF/ANSI standards.” The latter may be true of uncertified products, but they cannot use the NSF mark or imply that the product is certified by NSF if they have not been tested and approved by NSF.
Best for Fluoride Removal: RKIN AlcaPure Zero Installation Purifier Reverse Osmosis Countertop Water Filter
Some studies suggest that high levels of fluoride in drinking water can be a danger to one’s health, as it can damage teeth and weaken bones. Fortunately, there are certain water filters that can remove most of the fluoride present in tap water. This model, in particular, does an excellent job of that, claiming to remove up to 95 percent of fluoride and up to 99 percent of other contaminants from tap water.
No installation or assembly is required: The filter sits on your kitchen counter, and all you have to do is load tap water into the front. It filters the clean water into the top of the unit through a four-stage process, including one of the most efficient reverse osmosis filters. The process takes approximately 15 minutes for a half-gallon of water. Of note: The company says this device has an NSF/ANSI 58 Certified Reverse Osmosis Membrane, but it is not a fully NSF-certified product, according to the NSF database.
Customers love the modern, stylish look of this countertop water filter. It is also compact, measuring 9.5 x 14.5 x 16.25 inches. Unfortunately, this filter doesn't come cheap; it's on the higher end of available products. The three filters must be replaced about every 12 months, and the reverse osmosis membrane must be replaced about every two years.
"Reverse osmosis filters remove a large number of contaminants but are generally more expensive. Most models come with an activated carbon filter to remove additional contaminants and protect the sensitive membrane of the reverse osmosis filter. One drawback of these types of filters is that they can waste three to five times the amount of water they treat." — Sydney Evans, Science Analyst at the Environmental Working Group
Best for Easy Installation: Brondell H2O+ Cypress Countertop Water Filtration System
Countertop water filters use incredible technology to filter your tap water without the need to install anything under the sink. This one uses a three-stage patented Nanotrap technology, which is typically only found in under-counter systems. It will not only reduce bad tastes and odors, but also many bacteria, viruses, industrial and harmful chemicals, pesticides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and microorganisms. It has been tested and certified by the Water Quality Association to comply with NSF/ANSI Standards 42, 53, and 372.
Measuring 3.75 x 10.5 x 13.5 inches, this model takes up little room on the counter, and customers agree that it looks sharp with its slim and sleek design. There are three filters included, each corresponding with a different filter stage. Stage one (composite plus filter) and stage three (carbon block filter) require replacements every six months, and stage two (the Nanotrap filter) requires a replacement about every 12 months.
Reviewers rave about the quick and easy installation. Requiring about 10 minutes or less, the Cypress simply attaches to your faucet, and voilà, you’ve got clean water.
When buying a water filter, watch out for red flags. The number one indicator of a fraud? Price. Counterfeit filters and replacement cartridges usually cost significantly less than authentic certified products, Andrew says. Some other red flags include light weight (because they don't contain the proper materials to do the job), small certification marks as to not draw attention, and glossy packaging to appear high-quality.
Best Compact: Aquasana Countertop Water Filter
Transform ordinary tap water into a clean, crisp beverage with this countertop filter from Aquasana. Certified to NSF/ANSI standards 42, 53, 401, and P473, this system is proven to reduce 77 contaminants including heavy metals like mercury and lead, chlorine-resistant cysts like giardia and cryptosporidium, organic chemicals like herbicides and pesticides, and pharmaceuticals such as estrone and ibuprofen.
Claryum technology (activated carbon, catalytic carbon, ion-exchange, and absolute sub-micron mechanical filtration) preserves naturally occurring minerals that your body needs, including calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Reviewers love how easy this is to install. Simply screw the faucet attachment to your sink and enjoy clean water straight from the tap. Another plus? Fewer filter replacements. One Aquasana Claryum filter lasts six months or through approximately 450 gallons of water (whichever comes first). If for some reason, you're unhappy with its performance, there is a 90-day guarantee and, separately, a one-year warranty.
Best with Removable Pitcher: Aquasana Clean Water Machine
The Aquasana Clean Water Machine features a small profile, so you can maximize counter space. The 16-cup dispenser provides filtered water at the touch of a button and, should you want it ice-cold, the slender BPA-free 8-cup pitcher fits in most refrigerator doors.
Unlike a standard pitcher that uses gravity to slow-drip water over filter granules, Aquasana's Claryum technology uses power to filter water fast with no installation required. Just plug it into an outlet, and you're good to go. The long-lasting filter provides you with three months of great-tasting water before needing to be changed, or 320 gallons (whichever comes first). A one-year warranty is included.
This system is certified to NSF/ANSI standards 42, 53, 401, and P473. It removes 99 percent of lead and asbestos and 96 percent of chlorine, chloramines, and 73 other harmful contaminants while maintaining naturally occurring minerals including calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
The iSpring Countertop Drinking Water Filtration System gets our top recommendation for its WQA-tested filter, which effectively removes 95 percent of chlorine, odors, sand, silt, sediment, and rust—and it's easy to install, too. For specifically fluoride removal, the RKIN AlcaPure is one of the most efficient reverse osmosis filters.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
As a longtime user of home water filters, Taylor Rock, an associate editor for commerce on The Spruce Eats, is always looking for ways to reduce her carbon footprint. For this roundup, she interviewed Rick Andrew of NSF International’s Global Water program and used his expertise as guidance in researching top-rated and properly tested products.
An earlier version of this roundup was written by Erica Puisis, who interviewed Sydney Evans, a science analyst for the Environmental Working Group, for background information on the different types of water filters, what they do differently, and how to pick the right one.