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Water filters not only help improve the flavor of your water, but also protect you from impurities such as rust particles, and harmful contaminants such as bacteria and lead. Sure, bottled water is easily available as a quick and (initially) cheap solution, but water filters are more sustainable—and will save you money in the long run. There are, however, countless types of water filters available on the market, each differing in what they remove from your water. These include under-sink filters, faucet attachments, whole-house filtration systems, pitcher filters, and more. While there isn't a one-size-fits-all filter solution, we help narrow down the list of the best water filters based on your needs.
Uses five stages of filtering
Easy to install
Many say water tastes very clean
Takes up a lot of space under the sink
A highly efficient system, and also an attractive option, the filtering system is designed to be placed under the sink but can also be placed in a basement or attached garage with the water routed to the sink for easy dispensing with the included faucet. Along with the typical lead and other heavy metals, bacteria, and chlorine, this removes as many as 1,000 different unwanted contaminants from the water.
The CDC notes that no filter can eliminate all contaminants, and many are specialized. To know what contaminants need to be removed, certified labs can test water from private wells or cisterns, but it’s easier for consumers who get water from their city because a Consumer Confidence Report is sent annually with your water bill.
This filtering system uses five separate stages of filtering to remove 99 percent of contaminants. It has a sediment filter, two stages of carbon filters, a reverse osmosis filter, and a coconut fiber filter. Filters need to be changed at different intervals; the first three last 6-12 months while the two stages can last 2-4 years.
Installation is designed to be a DIY project, but specialized tools may be required to install the faucet if there isn’t already a hole drilled in the sink or counter that can accommodate the new faucet. Still, most reviewers like that the installation instructions were very clear and that the system was relatively quick and easy to install.
Easy to install
Made in the USA
Replacing filter can be difficult
This filter takes less space on the counter than typical pitchers and dispensers, and it takes no space at all under the sink while it offers filtered water on demand. A small hose connects the filter to the faucet, which diverts water from the faucet to the filter. The filter has its own small faucet for dispensing the freshly cleaned water for drinking or making coffee or tea. Several reviewers gave the filter high marks for how easy it is to install and that it's made in the USA.
This filtering system removes contaminants like chlorine, sediment, mercury, and more while leaving behind beneficial minerals. Touted as a source of alkaline water, which some believe has healing properties, this can filter up to 750 gallons before the filter needs to be changed. If alkaline water isn’t desired, the filter can be replaced with a standard one that won’t change the pH of the water.
Easy to install
LED light indicates when filter needs replacing
Doesn't work with pull-out or handheld faucets
When an under-sink filter is too much trouble but pitchers aren’t sufficient, a faucet attachment can be the perfect fit. Most customers who rated this filter highly did so because of how simple it is to install: it mounts easily to the existing faucet without any tools. Plus, it removes a host of common contaminants like lead and other heavy metals, chlorine, pesticides, and more. The internal filter is easy to change, which is necessary every 2-3 months based on average water use. A sensor checks the filter and indicates when it’s time for a change, so there’s no need to track time or usage.
Since there are plenty of times when filtered water isn’t required, this makes it simple to switch filtering on and off, so drinking water is clean and cold-brew coffee tastes right, but dishes can be rinsed in unfiltered water. This includes three different adapters to fit common faucets, but it won’t work with pull-out or handheld faucets.
Can filter 50,000 gallons of water
Very responsive customer support
Easy to install
The high-capacity CuZn UC-200 Under Counter Water Filter is great if you live in a household that goes through a lot of water each day. This water filter is invisible, since it lives under the sink and attaches to the sink’s cold water line. There’s no need for pitchers, bottles, or a separate faucet, and installation only requires an adjustable wrench.
Designed to make municipal water taste better for drinking, and for your iced tea and other beverages, this has a three-stage filter system that removes chlorine, heavy metals like lead and mercury, pesticides, and other contaminants while it leaves behind beneficial minerals. Many reviewers vouched for how well the filter removed the chemical smell and taste typically associated with city water. Note that it is not designed for well water systems and won’t combat hard water. This comes with fittings for standard installation, but if this will be used for nonstandard plumbing, customer service will supply a nonstandard kit at no additional cost. It can filter up to 50,000 gallons of water, which is about five years' worth of water at an average rate.
For more aggressive filtering of dissolved solids, the company also makes a reverse osmosis system.
Doesn't require electricity to set up
Can last through 1,000,000 gallons
Can be challenging to install
Most water filtration systems are designed for kitchen use, but if the local water supply is so off-putting that brushing your teeth makes your mouth feel dirtier than before, a whole-house filtration system may be the best option. Not only will the water from all the faucets be clean and drinkable, but the shower and tub will thank you, too.
This system filters and conditions the water, so it removes heavy metals, chlorine, pesticides, and contaminants while leaving beneficial—and tasty—minerals behind. Several customers who typically deal with hard city war treated with heavy chlorine claim that the chemical odor was completely removed and their water is softened adequately. A less expensive option that filters but doesn’t condition is also available, as are several other filtering options, so there’s something for every need. The system itself is rated to last for 10 years or 1 million gallons, but filters need to be changed about every three months.
The CDC has a wealth of information to help you decide which type of water filter is best for your home. One word of caution about whole-house systems: According to the CDC, "filtering that removes chlorine might increase growth of germs in all the pipes in your house."
Includes water quality meter
Some say filters don't last long
Great for small spaces, this pitcher holds 6 cups, so it won’t take a lot of space in the refrigerator or on the counter. It’s great for filtering drinking water for singles or small families and small enough to bring to the office or when traveling. While it might take several batches to fill a large pot for making stock, this will work for small cooking tasks.
This filter removes chromium, lead, and other heavy metals along with all solids. Several reviewers commented that the filtered water tastes just as good, if not better, than bottled water. The filter also includes a water quality meter, so users can test their water before and after filtering.
Comfortable silicone mouthpiece
Filter needs cleaning after each use
Built for camping, but great for on-the-go drinking, particularly when you’re not sure of the water supply when you’ll be refilling, this travel bottle has an integrated two-stage filter. It removes bacteria and protozoa from lake or stream water, while it also removes odor, contaminants, and chlorine from funky tap water. Many customers who used the bottle when camping or traveling to places such as India and several countries in Central America claim that the water tasted great regardless of the source.
This holds 23 ounces, so it won’t need to be refilled constantly, but it’s also convenient for carrying. The silicone straw/mouthpiece is comfortable to drink from, and the bottle is designed to be leak-proof so that you can throw it in the backpack without worry. This comes in a variety of colors and designs so everyone in the family can pick their favorite.
Has an electronic filter-change reminder
Some say it's slow to pour
Let’s face it, most water filter pitchers are built for function, but they don’t look great for serving. The last thing a host wants is for guests to be wondering how bad the water really is, so this pitcher hides the filter from view with an attractive design element. Since it filters as it pours, there’s no waiting for clear, tasty water. Just fill it and bring it to the table to fill water glasses. Most customers are happy with the flavor of the filtered water; however, some note that it pours more slowly the less water there is in the pitcher.
This holds 12 cups and is designed to fit the fridge so it’s ready to dispense chilled water when you want it. It has an electronic filter change reminder, so you don’t have to chart time or usage. It’s made from BPA-free plastic, and the filters are recyclable through TerraCycle.
There may be some instances when you only need to filter one serving of water—like at work or on vacation. In this case, your best option may be a water filter water bottle, such as the Brita Hard Sided Water Bottle.
This handy 24-ounce water bottle is made from BPA-free hard plastic, and it has a built-in carbon filter that will remove impurities from up to 40 gallons of tap water. The water bottle is dishwasher safe, and it fits in most car cup holders. The manufacturer recommends changing the filter every two months, and reviewers say it's the perfect water bottle to take on vacation to areas where you might not have clean tap water.
The APEC Top Tier 5-Stage Ultra Safe Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System earns our top spot with its five-stage filtering system and how simple it is to install. Plus, most reviewers praise how clean and smooth the resulting water tastes. If neither under-sink filters or pitchers is an option, try the PUR PFM400H Chrome Horizontal Faucet Mount with 1 MineralClear Filter: it's attractive and you don't need tools to install it.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie has lived and worked in areas of the country where the water was rated in the top ten in the country … and she’s lived in areas where the water was decidedly unpleasant. Over the years, she’s tested a variety of models and done her research on the rest.
What to Look for in a Water Filter
Permanent vs. pitcher: Permanent water filters attach to your sink, so there’s no need to remember to refill a container for making coffee or tea. However, since they filter all the water from your tap, you’ll be using filtered water for everything. Pitchers and small containers that just filter the water you’ll use.
Impurities filtered: Different filters can remove different contaminants. The simplest ones can help your water taste better by filtering out basic impurities. If your water supply is questionable, you can find filters that remove bacteria and dangerous contaminants as well.
Filter lifespan: The downside of using a water filtration system is that you need to replace the actual filters on a regular basis. Before you buy, it’s good to know how often the filter needs to be replaced, and it’s wise to buy filters and have them on hand for when you need them.