Water filter pitchers can serve two purposes in a home. They can improve the taste of water by filtering out substances that, while safe to drink, may still create an undesirable taste or smell for some consumers. They can also reduce potentially harmful substances, like lead, from drinking water.
There are many at-home filtration systems, including whole-home filters, filters that attach to faucets or under sinks, and those that sit on top of your counter. While many of these systems can reduce similar impurities, water filter pitchers are often preferred since they can keep water chilled in the fridge. We rounded up the best ones for you here.
Each item included in this roundup has either been certified by the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation), a health and safety standards testing company, or tested and certified by an independent third party to meet NSF standards.
Pur Classic 11-Cup Water Filter Pitcher
Most extensive NSF certifications for a basic filter
Reduces chlorine for taste and odor
Reduces heavy metals and pharmaceuticals
Not certified by NSF for lead reduction
Like most pitcher water filters, the Pur Classic filters water via gravity: You fill up at the top, and then the water flows through the filter to reduce contaminants. The Pur pitcher holds up to 11 cups and includes an easy-fill lid that allows you to refill the pitcher at the sink without taking the whole thing off. The spout does include a cover to prevent splashes. Most important, however, is the included filter. It fits tightly into the pitcher, ensuring all water flows through and no leaks occur.
The Pur filter is certified to reduce 12 contaminants as well as pesticides, heavy metals, chlorine for taste and odor, pharmaceuticals, and more, by 95 percent or more. Pur’s filters are designed to be replaced every 40 gallons or about every two to three months. The Pur pitcher also comes with a monitor that indicates when it's time to replace the filter. Green signals the filter is performing well, yellow indicates the filter is nearing the end of its ability to filter effectively, and red indicates it's time to replace. The yellow indicator light is especially handy for reminders to place refill orders if needed.
Because Pur’s basic filter (which the pitcher is sold with) doesn’t filter for lead, it will generally filter faster than a lead-reducing filter. If you later decide you want a filter that reduces lead, Pur’s lead-reducing filter is compatible with this pitcher.
Price at time of publish: $42
Capacity: 11 cups | Certified By: NSF | Contaminants Removed: Pesticides, heavy metals, chlorine for taste and odor, pharmaceuticals, and more
"I lived next to a quarry, and the tap water has a strong mineral taste that made it practically undrinkable. This Pur filter not only got rid of the heavy minerals, but it actually encouraged me to drink more water thanks to the crisp taste. It's also pretty easy to use and maintain." - Allison Wignall, Staff Writer
Amazon Basics 10-Cup Water Pitcher with Filter
Lid is tricky to remove
While many budget-friendly filters promise the reduction of certain contaminants, many fail to have certification from the NSF or WQA (Water Quality Association) or claim in small print only to be tested “to NSF standards” by an independent lab. Amazon’s own generic option, from its Amazon Basics line, proves a rare exception to the rule: It's tested and certified by the WQA for both aesthetic effects (NSF/ANSI 42) and health effects (NSF/ANSI 53). NSF/ANSI 53-certified filters can reduce heavy metals, like mercury and copper, whereas NSF/ANSI 42-certified filters reduce chemicals that may be safe to drink, but can affect taste, including chlorine and iron.
Best yet, this pitcher's replacement filters are compatible with both the Amazon Basics filter and Brita pitchers. The only drawback is the ease of use, not the effectiveness of the product. Some reviewers complain that the Amazon Basics lid and filter require a bit more “elbow grease” to set up and replace.
Price at time of publish: $28
Capacity: 10 cups | Certified By: WQA | Contaminants Filtered: Chlorine for taste and odor, copper, mercury, benzene
Best for Lead Removal
ZeroWater 10-Cup Ready Pour Pitcher
One of a few NSF-certified filters for lead removal
More expensive refills
While all pitchers filtered on this list are certified under the NSF/ANSI 53 certification process for health effects, not all NSF/ANSI 53 certified products reduce the same health-related contaminants. Currently, ZeroWater is one of very few pitchers that is certified by NSF, not just to NSF standards, to reduce lead in drinking water. ZeroWater is certified by NSF to reduce chlorine, mercury, and other heavy metals, as well. ZeroWater also claims to reduce elements like asbestos and fluoride, which it doesn't currently have NSF or WQA certifications for.
To reduce so many contaminants, ZeroWater has larger filters that work slower than many standard pitcher filters. Additionally, the filters are more expensive. However, if you know you have lead in your drinking water, either because of a known issue with your city’s water or simply having older pipes, the peace of mind is worth it.
Price at time of publish: $36
Capacity: 10 cups | Certified By: NSF | Contaminants Filtered: Lead, chromium, chlorine, mercury, and more
Best Long-Lasting Filter
Waterdrop 10-Cup Water Filter Pitcher
Filter lasts five times longer than standard
Water filters through quickly
Filters harder to come by in store
Doesn't physically hold more water than standard pitchers
If you drink a lot of water but aren't interested in buying replacement filters often, simply get yourself a pitcher with a long-lasting filter. This one from Waterdrop filters up to 200 gallons of water; it lasts up to five times longer than most competitors, which need replacing around every 40 gallons. It filters fast, too. Once the water reservoir is filled, it will take about a minute to filter through, compared to three to seven minutes for similar competitor pitchers.
Waterdrop is certified NSF/ANSI 42 for aesthetic impurities, like chlorine for taste and odor, and NSF/ANSI 372 for lead removal.
Price at time of publish: $25
Capacity: 10 cups | Certified By: NSF | Contaminants Filtered: Arsenic, lead, fluoride, and more
When buying a water filter, watch out for fraudulent products. Counterfeit filters and replacement cartridges usually cost significantly less than authentic certified products, says Rick Andrew, the director of NSF's International Global Water program. If you're suspicious, you can always reference the NSF's database to make sure a company's claims are true.
Brita Water Filter Pitcher
Great for small spaces
Uses standard Brita filters
Limited reduction of contaminants
Will have to fill up more often than bigger pitchers
For many pitchers, it’s the filter, not the size, that matters. Since most widely available water filter companies sell standard filters that fit a number of devices, smaller pitchers work in the same way as larger ones but with a smaller footprint. Brita’s 6-Cup Metro pitcher is great for people who live alone or want to keep filtered water somewhere convenient, like a bedside or desktop.
Like all pitchers that use a standard Brita filter, this is NSF/ANSI 42-certified to reduce aesthetic contaminants and odor, like chlorine, as well as NSF/ANSI 53-certified to reduce three substances that can have adverse health effects: cadmium, copper, and mercury. If you want reduction of other substances, the Brita Elite filter can also be used, a more expensive model that lasts around 120 gallons and is NSF- and WQA-certified to reduce chlorine for taste and odor, lead, mercury, cadmium, and particulates (class VI).
Price at time of publish: $24
Capacity: 5 cups | Certified By: NSF | Contaminants Filtered: Chlorine, cadmium, copper, mercury, and more
"This is a nice pitcher for single households, although it does take a bit of patience for the water to filter through. If you pour too soon, prepare to get doused." — Taylor Rock, Editor
Invigorated Water pH Restore Glass Alkaline Water Filter Pitcher
Filters as you pour
Heavy when full
Most water filter pitchers are made of plastic, though there are other options available, including glass. This one by Invigorated Water is a fantastic choice to consider: The tall jug is made of sturdy borosilicate glass and can hold up to 3.5 liters of water (about 14 cups). It has an anti-slip base and an attractive bamboo lid.
The zeolite-based filters reduce heavy metals, chemicals, and contaminants in tap water, including lead, copper, arsenic, chlorine, chloramine, some fluoride, and more. What sets this model apart from other filtered pitchers is that it adds 20 minerals back into the water, including calcium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. The filters raise the pH levels of the water, thereby reducing acidity and making it alkaline.
Since the pitcher is made of glass, it can grow quite heavy when full, so we recommend using both hands to pour. The brand claims that just one filter replaces the equivalent of 720 single-use water bottles, so you can feel good and green while using it.
Price at time of publish: $80
Capacity: 3.5 liters (about 15 cups) | Certified By: SGS | Containmenants Removed: Lead, copper, arsenic, chlorine, chloramine, some fluoride, others
Soma 10-Cup Water Filter Pitcher
Sleek bamboo handle
Filters are made of plant-based materials
Easy to fill
Spout can leak
If aesthetics are a high priority for you, check out this gorgeous 10-cup water filter pitcher from Soma. It’s sleek and modern, complete with a bamboo handle and a white, conical filter inside the clear jug. There is also a model available in black if you want to make a bolder statement.
This pitcher is easy to fill, with a lid at the top of the jug that opens automatically to let water inside. According to Soma, the water filters are made of 60 percent sustainable and organic materials, including coconut shells and charcoal. Beautiful and eye-catching, the pitcher will be right at home on your countertop or in your fridge ready to deliver crisp water.
The WQA has tested and certified Soma’s water filter pitcher against NSF/ANSI Standard 53 and Standard 42, which remove more than 50 items for both health and aesthetic (improving both taste and smell).
Price at time of publish: $45
Capacity: 10 cups | Certified By: WQA | Contaminants Removed: Mercury, copper, cadmium, chlorine taste
For great-tasting water from an 11-cup pitcher with the most extensive NSF certifications for a basic filter, Pur has you covered with its Pur Classic Water Filter Pitcher Filtration System. For a budget-friendly pick that's not much smaller, we recommend the Amazon Basics 10-Cup Water Filter With Pitcher.
What to Look for in a Water Filter Pitcher
Water filtration is common in American households for a number of reasons. Often, water is treated for taste or to reduce certain substances that may have adverse effects on humans or even the home itself. For water with high mineral content that is otherwise safe to drink, whole-home filtration systems are typically used to demineralize it and keep buildup from damaging pipes and appliances. If the concern is safety or taste of water for human consumption, less expensive filtration systems, like pitchers, can be used, says Rick Andrew, Director of NSF International’s Global Water program. Many work by filtering out trace amounts of chlorine that keep our drinking water free from bacteria and can even reduce more harmful substances, like lead.
If you're shopping around for a filter, it's understandable that you want the best one possible, but because of the varied reasons you may shop for a filter, Andrew notes that there is rarely a one-size-fits-all approach. If there is no lead in your drinking water, for example, there is no reason to pay more for a pitcher that is certified for lead reduction. If you're worried about harmful substances in your drinking water, either because your house has old pipes or there are issues with your city’s water generally, it's helpful to start with a water quality report, so you can identify which substances you want to reduce from your drinking water and move from there. For many substances, including lead, chlorine, copper, and mercury, a countertop pitcher with a filter will reduce much of it. For other contaminants, like bacteria, alternative filtration and water treatment systems may be needed.
To ensure that your water filter pitcher is removing the substances it claims to, we recommend checking against an independent certifier, like NSF International or the Water Quality Association (WQA). These organizations test claims about reduction for what the NSF defines as aesthetic impurities, like chlorine, that affect taste as well as health. Aesthetic impurities are certified as NSF/ANSI 42 standards for filters and NSF/ANSI 53 standards for health effects.
To complicate matters slightly, these standards do not secure a guaranteed list of substances that are reduced. A filter that has been tested and certified under NSF/ANSI 53 standards, for example, may or may not reduce lead. If you're concerned about a specific substance, it's best to check directly with the NSF or WQA websites. Many companies may provide a long list of contaminants it claims to reduce by up to 99 percent, but will only be certified for a small amount.
Additionally, many water filter companies will say they're tested to NSF standards, but by independent labs. Because of the lack of transparency in these independent testings, we only recommend filters that use the NSF or WQA certifications (or those that are certified by a similar third-party to NSF standards).
Most companies that sell water filter pitchers use a standard filter, often with an upgraded filter that targets contaminants like lead, that works in a variety of systems. Because it's the filter, not the pitcher, that is certified, that means you can find pitchers and water dispensers that work the same at various sizes. The standard size is 10 cups, with smaller pitchers usually around 5 or 6 cups. Dispensers, which hold up to 30 cups and sit on a shelf on your fridge or counter, can hold as much as 30 cups.
Water filters are designed and certified to only work for a limited amount of time. Eventually, the filter stops reducing contaminants as effectively and the filtration time extends as water takes longer to pass through the filters, says Andrew. The standard for many filters is around 40 gallons, or requiring replacement every two months. Some pitchers come with indicator lights that alert you when it's time to replace the filter.
Many brands offer replacement filters that may be able to filter for more impurities or last longer. Like with the initial purchase, it's important to make sure any replacement filters are also NSF certified. Many compatible third-party replacement filters, which offer a lower price than the name brand, are not certified to the same standards.
Almost any water filtration system requires replacements, and water filter pitchers are no exception. The good news, however, is that many replacement options, even from name brands, are relatively inexpensive. The price goes down if you buy in bulk, as well, though replacement filters targeted for lead reduction tend to be more expensive. We recommend only buying the more expensive filters and replacement filters if you know you do need specific substances reduced from your drinking water.
Which water filter pitchers remove the most contaminants?
Many water filter pitchers tout a long list of contaminants they can reduce. However, if those substances aren’t present in your water, it’s not doing anything. Rather than looking for a pitcher that reduces the most contaminants, your best bet is to identify what it is in your water that you want reduced, and then find a pitcher that does that. Impurities will vary greatly depending on your municipality, pipes, or whether you are on well water.
How do you obtain a water quality report?
You can search your local area’s annual water quality report via the Environmental Protection Agency. If you have a private water source, like a well, or believe that your water may be contaminated by old pipes, you can also have your water tested by a county health department or state-certified lab. For more information on the best sources for testing your water, you can look to resources provided by the EPA.
How does a water filter pitcher work?
Water filter pitchers use gravity to pass water through a filter, reducing impurities that may affect taste as well as water safety. Because they're designed for home use, they can’t reduce small contaminants, like bacteria, and reduce fewer overall contaminants than other systems, like reverse osmosis. Price-wise, many people favor water filter pitchers, especially for improving taste in water.
How often should you replace the filter?
Most water filter pitchers need to be replaced every 40 gallons or around two months. When NSF tests its standards, it will test water at the beginning and end of the manufacturer’s stated lifecycle and a little beyond to ensure the filter still works if you don’t immediately replace it. However, to ensure the filter is effectively reducing the contaminants you want, it's important to be consistent about replacing the filter as directed.
How do you clean a water filter pitcher?
Most water filter pitchers are dishwasher-safe, and the pitcher itself can be washed as needed. The filter cannot be washed, though frequently replacing it as needed will help keep your pitcher clean.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Marshall Bright is a freelance writer covering food and cooking. A self-taught home chef, Marshall is passionate about making home cooking approachable and fun for more people. She has written numerous buying guides for The Spruce Eats, from water filters to bento boxes.
When she lived next to a quarry, Allison Wignall rarely drank tap water given the metallic and earthy taste. Discovering a water filter pitcher changed her hydration game entirely, and now she enjoys fresh, crisp water daily. Her work has been featured in publications including Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, and Southern Living.
Rick Andrew is the director of NSF's International Global Water program.
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