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The best water filters for your home

– Why use a water filter – are they really necessary?
– How do water filters work?
– A comparison of drinking water filters
– The best water filter pitchers and countertop dispensers
– The best faucet-mounted water filters
– The best under-sink water filters
– The best reverse osmosis filters
– Sources for further information and research
We have compared and analyzed a dozen websites – from Amazon to Wirecutter – for their recommendations and ratings for home water filters and compiled the results into this guide for you.
Consumers have a choice of many different types of filters. Determining which type is most appropriate for you—or whether you need a filter at all—depends on what functions you want a filter to provide. You might want to test the quality of your water first with one of the many available water quality testing kits. It is important to understand that no filter eliminates all contaminants, so understanding what filters do and don’t do is important.
Based on use, the recommendations are grouped into four categories: The best water filter pitchers and countertop dispensers, the best faucet-mounted water filters, the best under-sink water filters, and the best reverse osmosis filters.
comparison table of water filters for the home
(click on image to enlarge)
But let’s start with the water filter basics first: why and how.

Why use a water filter – are they really necessary?

Contaminants that can be found in tap water can include microorganisms, chemicals, toxic substances, wastes, or wastewater in a concentration that makes the water unfit to drink.
Different water filters have different functions. Some can make your water taste better, while others can filter out harmful chemicals or germs. No single filter can keep every type of contaminant out of your drinking water, and not everyone needs a water filter if they have access to high-quality tap water.
Another important consideration is that tap water contains small quantities of beneficial substances as well, such as fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay; or the appropriate amount of a disinfectant, like chlorine, that helps keep your water safe from germs. On the other hand, some substances that might be in water can be harmful, such as lead and the parasites (germs) Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Filters can remove both good and bad substances from your water. Depending on your circumstances, filtering your water might not be a good idea.
NSF International is an independent organization that develops public health standards for products. One way to figure out what a water filter does is to look for an NSF certification on the label. You can look up specific products in the NSF online database to see what they are certified to protect against. Some of the NSF standards applicable to water treatments are standard 41 (taste and odor), 53 (cyst reduction), 58 (reverse osmosis), and 62 (distillation).

How do water filters work?

Relevant for us with regard to household water filters are three types of water filtration: mechanical, adsorption, and reverse osmosis.
Mechanical microporous filtration physically removes sediment, dirt or any particles in the water using a barrier. The degree of effectiveness depends on the pore size of the filtration membrane – the smaller the pores the more particles get filtered out. Pores with a 5-micron size remove most particles visible to the naked eye. One tenth of the size, 0.5 micron, removes parasites like Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
Adsorption filtration uses a physical process in which small particles in water are attracted and become attached to the surface of something larger (the adsorbent). Throughout history, people have used carbon (charcoal) as an effective adsorbent for water treatment.
In most household water filters an improved form of carbon, called activated carbon, is the adsorbent most commonly used to attract and hold dissolved contaminants. These filters perform pretty well in removing chlorine, particles such as sediment, volatile organic compounds, taste and odor. However, they do not remove arsenic and heavy metals, fluoride, bacteria or pharmaceutical compounds.
Reverse osmosis, unlike physical and chemical filtration, uses pressure to push water through a semipermeable membrane layer. This membrane has pores small enough to trap contaminants but big enough to allow water to pass through.
A multi-stage reverse osmosis water filtration system will remove all of the above-listed contaminants and many more. While countertop filters can only remove impurities down to one micron in size, reverse osmosis systems will filter out contaminants down to .0001 microns to effectively remove up to 99% of all contaminants in the water including arsenic, fluoride, heavy metals and pharmaceutical drugs. Reverse osmosis systems remove the widest spectrum of contaminants compared to other types of filters available.
Reverse osmosis is a highly effective way of purifying water and is usually combined with a number of other filters such as a mechanical (sediment) filter and an absorption (activated carbon) filter in order to return water with few contaminants remaining.

The best water filter pitchers

BWT Magnesium Gourmet Cartridges Water Filter (Pack of 3), 120 liters capacityPopular in Europe, the addition of magnesium in this filter balances the mineral content of the tap water, while calcium, extraneous particles and chlorine are filtered out. The result is an almost neutral pH, which is perceived by water gourmets as particularly soft and pleasant-tasting. ∼$36-37
BWT 2.7 Litre Water Filter Jug Dark BlueAvailable in different colors; includes 1 cartridge∼$20-23
PUR Water Pitcher Replacement Filter (Pack of 2)This filter is certified to reduce 15 contaminants including certain pesticides, pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, chlorine (taste & odor) and more.∼$26-27
PUR Plus Water Pitcher Filtration System, 2.6 LitresAvailable in different colors; includes 1 cartridge∼$28
Brita Standard Water Filter, Standard Replacement Filters for Pitchers and Dispensers, (Pack of 4)The Standard Filters use coconut-based activated carbon plus ion exchange resin in a housing, made without BPA, to filter out contaminants which may be found in tap water, while preserving certain healthy minerals and electrolytes. Contaminants reduced include chlorine (taste and odor), copper, cadmium and mercury.∼$20-22
Brita Standard Everyday Water Filter Pitcher, White 2.3 LitresAvailable in different colors; includes 1 cartridge∼$28
ZeroWater ZP-010Premium 5 Stage Filtration: Removes 99 percent of total dissolved solids (TDS) for the purest tasting water; TDS are organic and inorganic materials such as pesticides, metals including lead and mercury, minerals, salts, and ions. Includes 1 ZeroWater Ion Exchange Filter and a Free TDS Meter. Capacity: 2.4 liters.∼$28

The best faucet-mounted water filters

The best faucet-mounted water filters can eliminate more contaminants than pitcher filters do and give you filtered water from the sink on demand. Because they usually are larger than pitcher filters, they last longer between replacements.
Brita Basic Faucet Water Filter SystemReduce 99% of lead, chlorine (taste and odor), asbestos, particulates, Benzene, and more; a helpful status indicator lets you know when to replace the filter with an easy 1-click filter replacement after about 100 gallons / 380 liters. Certified by the American National Standards Institute and NSF International.∼$26-30
PUR PLUS Faucet Mount Water Filtration SystemThe Pur Advanced faucet-mounted filter is ANSI/NSF certified for 71 contaminants, including lead, mercury, many pesticides and industrial chemicals, and 12 emerging compounds that are increasingly found in US drinking-water supplies.∼$26-30

The best under-sink water filters

Anyone who goes through more than a couple of gallons of drinking water a day will probably be happiest with an under-sink filtration system.
Aquasana 2-Stage Under Sink Water Filter System Removes up to 99% of 77 contaminants including lead, mercury, asbestos, herbicides, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and more. Nothing added and zero waste - no water is wasted and no harmful contaminants are added to your water during filtration. Claryum filtration keeps the healthy minerals for the healthiest drinking water – calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Capacity: 500 gallons / 1900 liters ∼$120-130
Aquasana 3-Stage Under Sink Water Filter SystemRemoves up to 99% of 77 contaminants while leaving healthy minerals so you can drink with confidence This system will not reduce Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). Capacity: 600 gallons / 2200 liters.∼$170-190
AO Smith 2-Stage Under Sink Clean Water Faucet FilterPurifies water & reduces 99% of 77 harmful contaminants. Advanced filtration while leaving in all essential minerals. Reduces lead, mercury, asbestos, pesticies, pharmaceuticals, chlorine, chloramine & more. System will not reduce TDS. Capacity: 500 gallons / 1900 liters.∼$140

The best reverse osmosis filters

APEC Water Systems ROES-50 Essence SeriesPremium long-lasting filters remove up to 99% of contaminants such as chlorine, taste, odor, VOCs, as well as toxic fluoride, arsenic, lead, nitrates, heavy metals and 1000+ contaminants. Max Total Dissolved Solids - 2000 ppm. Feed Water Pressure 40-85 psi. Water flow at 50 gallons (190 liters) per day. Replacement schedule: Stage 1, 2, 3 Pre-Filters every 6-12 months; Stage 4 RO Membrane every 2-4 Years; Stage 5 Carbon Post-Filter every 2-4 Years. ∼$200
Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection9-stages of filtration, purification, UV sterilization and enhancement remove up to 99% of Chlorine & chloramines, chemicals, lead,heavy metals, fluoride, microplastics, TDS and thousands more. BPA and Lead free. Built-in non-electric permeate pump reduces TDS creep and water waste up to 80%, increases water production up to 50%, for about a 1:1 waste ratio. No electricity required. Water flow at 50 gallons (190 liters) per day.∼$450
iSpring RCC7AK6-Stage Alkaline Remineralization Layered Filtration - Exclusively designed to restore the natural alkalinity and mineral balance of water; this reliable and ultra-safe Reverse Osmosis (RO) water filtration system converts your water into clean, pure and healthy drinking water by removing up to 99% of over 1,000 harmful contaminants like chlorine, fluoride, lead (removes up to 98%), arsenic, asbestos, calcium, sodium and more. Removes contaminants down to 0. 0001 microns. Water flow at 75 gallons (280 liters) per day. Replacement schedule: Stage 1-3 every 6 months; RO every 2-3 years; Post carbon every 12 months. ∼$210-220
Waterdrop G3With 7-stage filtration, this RO system can effectively reduce lead, chlorine, taste and odor, chloramine, PFAS, fluoride, salt, nitrates, sodium, scale, turbidity, and many heavy metals like hexavalent chromium. Removes contaminants down to 0. 0001 microns. Fast water flow at 400 gallons (1500 liters) per day.∼$500

Sources for further information and research

  • CDC. A Guide to Drinking Water Treatment Technologies for Household Use
  • EPA. Ground Water and Drinking Water
  • EPA. Home Drinking Water Filtration Fact Sheet
  • NSF. Consumer Tips for Choosing a Drinking Water Filter to Reduce Contaminants
  • NSF Certified Drinking Water Treatment Units, Water Filters
  • Safe Drinking Water Foundation