Most effective water filters

The 7 Best Water Filters For The Sink, Fridge & More


Emma Loewe

Updated on February 1, 2023

mbg Sustainability + Health Director

By Emma Loewe

mbg Sustainability + Health Director

Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us."

How water filters workFilters vs. purifiersHow we pickedWhat we skippedThe 7 best filters

Do you really need a water filter?

Image by mbg creative

Last updated on February 1, 2023

Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.

It's easy to trust that the water coming out of your tap is totally pure and safe to drink. But unfortunately, decades of lax water quality standards mean that most—if not all—water sources in the U. S. have at least some impurities. This makes water filters an essential item in any healthy home.

Nix the need to buy expensive and unsustainable bottled water with these filter systems that are certified to get rid of the toxins flagged by drinking water experts.

The best water filters:

Best for sink

PLUS Faucet Mount Filtration System

Go to review

Best water filter pitcher

ZeroWater 12-Cup Ready-Pour Pitcher

Go to review

Best under-sink water filter

APEC Water Systems RO-90

Go to review

Best whole house filter

Rhino® 600,000 Gallons

Go to review

Best water bottle with filter

astrea ONE

Go to review

Best for camping

GRAYL GeoPress 24 oz Water Purifier Bottle

Go to review

Best dispenser

Brita 18-Cup UltraMax Pitcher

Go to review

How do water filters work?

There are two main kinds of water filters you'll spot for sale: carbon filters and reverse osmosis filters. Most pitchers, bottles, and dispensers are powered by a carbon filter.

These have a layer of activated carbon that can trap larger impurities like lead. Sydney Evans, an Environmental Working Group (EWG) science analyst focused on tap water contaminants, notes that these are the more accessible, understandable, and affordable types of filters. The caveat is they can only tackle so many contaminants. They also need to be regularly replaced, as contaminants can build up inside carbon filters and actually make water quality worse over time.

Reverse osmosis filters contain a carbon filter and another membrane(s) to catch smaller contaminants that carbon can't. "It will filter out virtually everything from your water, to the point where you actually might want to add back some things like salts or minerals to give it some taste," explains Erik D. Olson, a senior strategic director with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

While these filters are more effective at trapping small particles, they also tend to be more expensive and difficult to install. Evans also notes that they can waste a fair amount of water as they run, which is something to keep in mind if you live in an area with water shortages.

As for which type of filter to choose, it depends on the contaminants in your water source. Every major (serving more than 50,000 people) water utility in the U.S. is legally required to test their water every year and share a public report on the findings. This is called an Annual Water Quality Report, a Right to Know Report, or a Consumer Confidence Report, and it should be easy to access on your utility's website. You can also head to the EWG's tap water database to get a quick read on the most recent findings in your area. (These reports don't account for impurities that might come from your pipe system; to get a complete picture of those, you'll need to get your home's water professionally tested1, which is very pricey.)

And be prepared: There's probably a lot to see on your water quality report. Over 300 contaminants have been detected in drinking water systems in the U. S., and Evans explains that "of those, only about 90 are actually regulated." Even if a certain contaminant is regulated (meaning there is a legal limit on how much of it can be present in tap water), that doesn't necessarily mean that it's safe.

Olson notes that many of the safe drinking water standards in this country haven't been updated since the 1970s and 1980s, and are not up to date on the latest scientific findings. They also don't always account for the fact that while a certain substance may be safe to drink in low doses, it might cause adverse effects when consumed every single day, multiple times a day. "You have an array of things that have an immediate effect, but also things that have effects that take years to show up but are very serious, like cancer," he notes.

Here are a few of the most common tap water contaminants that Evans and Olson see in their work:

Water filters vs. purifiers

Those who use well water or are on a small municipal system that they suspect is not well maintained may also want to look into water purifiers. Beyond filtering out chemical contaminants, these also sterilize waterborne pathogens that can cause illnesses like legionella. Most water treatment systems will remove these, though, so they won't be an issue for most people.


Over 300 contaminants have been found in tap water across the U.S.—some of which have been linked to serious health threats in adults and children. Reverse osmosis filters will remove the vast majority of them. More affordable carbon filters can remove some of them. It's smart to look into your area's water report to see which contaminants are in your water before deciding which filter to choose.

What to look for in a water filter.

Both Olson and Evans are hesitant to suggest one filter over another, as the best choice for you will depend on your water source. Your lifestyle will also play a role, as some people are fine filling up a small water pitcher every day, while others find it annoying and need a larger filtration system. Maintenance and budget are other factors to consider; while reverse osmosis systems are more expensive up front, they don't require as much maintenance and replacement filters.

With this in mind, we went ahead and did the legwork of finding seven filters that approach water cleaning a little differently—but all do it really well. We pored over customer reviews to find the products that have the fewest pain points and make daily use a breeze.

The following options span budgets, sizes, and systems, but all earn high marks for how easy they are to install, use, and replace as needed. Each company is transparent about the contaminants that their filters reduce—and has had them independently certified by a third-party tester to do what they say they do.

What we skipped:

"It's really important that people aren't just buying filters because [the company] says it's a good filter. You need to get one that's certified," says Olson. So, all the products on this list have been certified by either NSF International or the Water Quality Association (WSA)—two premier independent testers in the tap water space. You won't find any that make vague claims that aren't supported by third-party testing.

How we picked


These filters have all been independently tested to prove that they reduce the contaminants they claim to. We call out some of the major contaminants in the product description.


All of these filters are designed to last longer than their competitors, and they are easy and intuitive to swap out when the time comes.


From a small fridge pitcher to a whole-house system, you'll find a filter on this list to fit your preferences.


We were sure to include both carbon and reverse osmosis filters on the list, to fit a variety of needs and budgets.

Our top picks for the best water filters of 2022:

Best for sink: PLUS Faucet Mount Filtration System

view on Amazon | $30view on Walmart | $35view on Home Depot | $35

Type of filter: Carbon

Regular replacement required: Yes

What it filters: LeadMercuryPesticidesChlorineDisinfection byproducts

Certification: NSF

Filter replacement cost: $22 for 2

PUR's carbon filter comes with three screw attachments that make it easily fit on most faucets (just don't try it on a pullout or handheld one). Reviewers note that it's easy to install in a matter of minutes, and it leads to noticeably cleaner-tasting water. A standout of this product is the attached light, which alerts you when the filter needs to be replaced, reducing the chance of a dirty filter contaminating your water. Each filter typically cleans about 100 gallons of water and lasts for three months. This filter is NSF certified to reduce 70 contaminants (check out the full list here), and it's a great choice for those who are looking to protect their kitchen tap water from lead, pesticides, and disinfection byproducts and don't need a more comprehensive reverse osmosis system.

Best water filter pitcher: ZeroWater 12-Cup Ready-Pour Pitcher

view on Amazon | $30view on Walmart | $30

Type of filter: Carbon

Regular replacement required: Yes

What it filters: LeadMercuryFluorideNitratesChlorineChromiumPFOS/PFOA

Certification: NSF

Filter replacement cost: $50 for 3

If you are someone who always likes to have cold filtered water in the fridge (and doesn't mind constantly refilling pitchers), this option is the way to go. It's lightweight and features a unique design with both a top pour and side spigot that allows you to quickly fill water bottles and access clean water while the top compartment is still filtering. Reviewers appreciate its sleek design and accompanying water testing meter that helps them gauge when to replace the filter. (You can expect to get 20 gallons' worth of clean water from each filter, and they usually last around one to two months depending on how much you're using it.) Be sure to stay on top of replacing the filter, as well as washing and drying the inside of the pitcher so mold doesn't form. This filter is NSF certified to reduce PFOS/ PFOA, lead, and the contaminants on this list.


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Best under-sink water filter: APEC Water Systems RO-90

view on Amazon | $230view on The Home Depot | $230

Type of filter: Reverse Osmosis

Regular replacement required: Yes

What it filters: LeadMercuryPesticidesFluorideNitratesSodiumChlorineDisinfection byproductsChromiumPFOS/PFOA

Certification: WQA

Filter replacement cost: $135

The APEC system is great for a set-it-and-forget-it sink filter. Its reverse osmosis design features five stages of filtration to reduce 1,000-plus contaminants from drinking water. A downside is that each filter does need to be replaced separately—but you shouldn't need to do this more than once a year. While there is an installation manual for installing yourself, you may need to call in a professional if you're not all that handy. Once installed, reviewers appreciate the fact that this system is reinforced against leaks and leads to super-clean water, beyond what you'd get with just a standard carbon filter.

Best whole-house filter: Rhino® 600,000 Gallons

view on Aquasana | $1,498view on Amazon | $751

Type of filter: Reverse Osmosis

Regular replacement required: No

What it filters: LeadMercuryPesticidesMicrobesFluorideNitratesSodiumChlorineDisinfection byproductsChromiumPFOS/PFOA

Certification: NSF

Filter replacement cost: n/a

This whole-house system will ensure your water is filtered for up to six years, and it cycles through 600,000 gallons without replacements. Its multi-tank design both filters out chemical contaminants as well as softens water and purifies water to remove tiny microbes, viruses, and bacteria. It's designed in a way that allows for quick water access without clogging and is treated to prevent bacteria and algal growth. Reviewers note that once installed (you'll likely want to get a professional to come in), this system basically runs itself and requires very little upkeep.


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Best water bottle with filter: astrea ONE

view on Amazon | $10

Type of filter: Carbon

Regular replacement required: Yes

What it filters: LeadMercuryPesticidesChlorineChromium

Certification: NSF

Filter replacement cost: $11 for 3

This durable stainless steel bottle filters through 23 contaminants you'll find in the tap, including lead, chlorine, and pesticides, and the bottle itself is BPA-free. Its filter can churn through up to 30 gallons of water and typically lasts about three months. It's a good idea to stock up on a few replacement filters up front; each one costs $12.99. Reviewers appreciate the bottle's sleek and durable design but do note that sucking up the filtered water through the straw does take some effort. This is a good option to take with you on the road if you're traveling to a new area and are not sure what the water situation will be.

Best for camping: GRAYL GeoPress 24 oz Water Purifier Bottle

view on Amazon | $100view on GRAYL | $100

Type of filter: Carbon

Regular replacement required: Yes

What it filters: LeadPesticidesMicrobesChlorineChromiumPFOS/PFOA

Certification: NSF

Filter replacement cost: $30 for 1

Campers who need to quickly clean and purify their freshwater source will want to look into GRAYL. This heavy-duty purifier can remove pathogens and bacteria, as well as chlorine, pesticides, and some heavy metals. You simply fill the bottle with water from a river or spigot, press down on the cap for eight seconds, and release to get three cups of clean water at your fingertips. Each carbon filter lasts for about 65 gallons of water before needing to be replaced. Reviewers note that it works great on multi-day camping trips but caution that you'll always want to bring a backup water source when you head into the backcountry, just in case.


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Best dispenser: Brita 18-Cup UltraMax Pitcher

view on Bed Bath & Beyond | $33

Type of filter: Carbon

Regular replacement required: Yes

What it filters: LeadMercuryChlorineChromium

Certification: NSF

Filter replacement cost: $19 for 3

This BPA-free dispenser can be placed on your countertop or fridge for quick clean-water access. It fits 18 cups of water, and reviewers note that it's nice and easy to fill up at the sink. We'd recommend using it with Brita's longlast+ filter, which is NSF-certified to remove chlorine, lead, and mercury and last for up to six months (120 gallons). Bonus: Unlike most carbon filters that should be thrown in the trash, these can be recycled through TerraCycle's program.

Do you really need a water filter?

In short, yes. "Even though there are some regulations in place, what's coming out of your tap does have some level of health risk depending on which contaminants and at what levels they are detected in your drinking water," Evans reiterates. "I don't think, in all of my research, I've come across a water system that has zero contaminants. There's probably going to be something there that's worth filtering."

And with significant gaps between what's legal and what's safe to be drinking, it's worth erring on the side of caution and filtering the water you drink daily.


What is the most effective type of water filter?

According to experts, reverse osmosis filters are more effective than carbon filters, when it comes to trapping small particles. Keep in mind, however, they are also more expensive and typically more difficult to install.

Which water filter removes the most contaminants?

Reverse osmosis filters contain a carbon filter and another membrane(s) to catch smaller contaminants that carbon can't. According to Erik D. Olson, a senior strategic director with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “[reverse osmosis filters] will filter out virtually everything from your water, to the point where you actually might want to add back some things like salts or minerals to give it some taste.”

The takeaway.

Filtering your water with one of these seven certified systems is one way to ensure that you're not accidentally drinking anything that could make you sick. Once you make the individual choice to buy a filter, you can also consider taking action to clean up your water system as a whole.

"The best solution is for everybody to be getting tap water that is safe and fully tested, so it's not every man, woman, and child for themselves having to buy and maintain at-home filters," says Olson.

Strengthening drinking water regulations in the U.S. will undoubtedly be a long and complicated process, but you can show your support by reaching out to your local Congress member or an EPA representative to demand safer drinking water standards in your community. Here's hoping for a day when we won't need to filter our drinking water at all.

The 8 Best Water Filters of 2023

The Spruce Eats Top Picks

The five-stage filtering system, ease of installation, and the fresh, clean taste of the water put the APEC ROES-50 Reverse Osmosis System at the top of our list. If you want a filter that attaches to the faucet, then the Pur PFM400H Faucet Water Filtration System is a perfect and attractive fit.

Water filters help improve the flavor of your water and protect you from impurities, such as rust particles, bacteria, and lead. Sure, bottled water is easily available as a quick and (initially) cheap solution, but water filters are much more sustainable, help you conserve water, and can save you money in the long run.

There are 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, so you have clean water—and even better tasting coffee. Each item included in this roundup has either been certified by the NSF, a health and safety standards testing company, or tested and certified by an independent third party to meet NSF standards.

After extensive research and expert input, we rounded up the best water filters on the market.


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What We Like

What We Don't Like

A highly efficient system and also an attractive option, this reverse osmosis filtration system is designed to be placed under the sink; it can, however, also be placed in a basement or attached garage with the water routed to the sink 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 water.

This system uses five separate stages of filtration 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 six to 12 months, while the two stages can last two to four 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 into the sink or counter. Still, most reviewers like that the instructions are very clear and that the system is relatively quick and easy to install.

Price at time of publish: $180

Type: Under the sink | Certified By: WQA | Contaminants Filtered: Chlorine, VOCs, fluoride, lead nitrates, heavy metals +more

What Our Experts Say

"Counterfeits are a problem for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they likely won’t remove the contaminants you expect them to and could therefore pose a health risk. Also, if they are made with substandard materials that leach, they could actually make your water worse. The number one indicator of a counterfeit is price. Counterfeit filters and replacement cartridges usually cost significantly less than authentic certified products." — Rick Andrew, Director of NSF International's Global Business Development


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What We Like

What We Don't Like

When an under-sink filter is too much trouble but pitchers aren’t sufficient, a faucet attachment can be the perfect fit. Many 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 two to three 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 the dishes can be rinsed in unfiltered water. This attachment includes three different adapters to fit common faucets, but it won’t work with pull-down or handheld faucets.

Price at time of publish: $28

Type: Faucet attachment | Certified By: NSF, WQA | Contaminants Filtered: Lead, mercury, certain pesticides +more


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What We Like

What We Don't Like

Most water filtration systems are designed for kitchen use only, 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 water for your shower or tub will also be filtered.

This system filters and conditions the water, so it removes heavy metals, chlorine, pesticides, and contaminants. Several customers who typically deal with hard city water treated with heavy chlorine claim that the 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.

Note that while all of Aquasana's filtering systems are NSF-certified to remove PFOA and PFOS, the whole-house system in its entirety is not certified because the company cannot guarantee that contaminants are not in the house's pipes and being picked up after going through the system.

Price at time of publish: $1,774

Type: Whole-house | Certified By: NSF | Contaminants Filtered: Chlorine, lead, pesticides, VOCs +more

Good to Know

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 the growth of germs in all the pipes in your house."


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What We Like

What We Don't Like

This pitcher holds 7 cups, so it won’t take up a lot of space in the refrigerator or on the counter next to your other small kitchen appliances. It’s great for filtering drinking water for singles or small families and is small enough to bring to the office or on trips. While it might take several batches to fill a large pot for making stock, this will work well 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 as, if not better than, bottled water. The filter also includes a water quality meter, so users can test their water before and after filtering. How often you replace the filter depends on the contaminant level of your water, but most places within the United States fall within the 25-to-40-gallon range.

Price at time of publish: $13

Type: Pitcher | Certified By: NSF | Contaminants Filtered: Dissolved solids (chromium, lead)

The 5 Best Countertop Water Filters in 2023


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What We Like

What We Don't Like

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, you 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.

Price at time of publish: $33

Type: Pitcher | Certified By: WQA | Contaminants Filtered: Chlorine, particulates (class VI), trichlorobenzene

The 5 Best Water Filter Pitchers in 2023


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What We Like

What We Don't Like

This countertop dispenser holds 18 cups of water, which eliminates the need to filter batch after batch for larger families or cooking projects. It’s certified to remove 99 percent of lead, along with 22 other contaminants, and can filter up to 40 gallons of water before the filter needs to be changed. 

The proprietary filter cap ensures that only filtered water moves from the top reservoir to the bottom, so unfiltered water won’t mix in. This is designed to fit in the sink for convenient filling and is well balanced, so it’s easy to move to the counter where it will be used. Several customers say the dispenser was very easy to set up and operate, though some note that it takes some time to filter water.

Price at time of publish: $36

Type: Countertop | Certified By: WQA | Contaminants Filtered: Lead, chlorine +more

What our Experts Say

"Be sure to do your due diligence as a consumer and compare filters and replacement cartridges. If something seems too good to be true, then there is a good chance it may be a counterfeit. " Rick Andrew, Director of NSF International's Global Business Development


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What We Like

What We Don't Like

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 26-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 fits in most car cup holders. The manufacturer recommends changing the filter every two months, and reviewers say it's the perfect reusable water bottle to take on vacation to areas where you might not have clean tap water.

Price at time of publish: $17

Type: Water bottle | Certified By: WQA | Contaminants Filtered: Chlorine taste and odor

Good to Know

Some self-filtering water bottles are only effective for treated municipal water, whereas others can handle water with a greater contaminant load. For your safety, before you buy a filtered water bottle for traveling to places without easily accessible drinking water, check the specifications to make sure it can handle more than treated city water.

The 10 Best Reusable Water Bottles of 2023


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What We Like

What We Don't Like

This water filter removes chlorine and heavy metals but leaves behind the minerals that help water taste good, so it’s perfect for a refreshing drink or for making tea, lemonade, or cocktails. Unlike under-sink filters that filter all the water used—including water for washing dishes—this comes with a dedicated faucet so you can have filtered water when you want it, while not wasting filtered water for washing and rinsing.

This can produce up to 0.75 gallons of filtered water per minute, so there’s no waiting when filling a pitcher. Even users with no experience with plumbing praised the ease of installation, and they also praised the easy filter replacement. According to the manufacturer, changing the filter takes just three seconds.

The filter is good for 8,000 gallons of water before it needs to be replaced, but for people who use a lot of water, a 16,000-gallon model is also available. For renters or people who don’t want to drill a hole for the dedicated faucet, there are models that connect to the faucet to filter all of the water.

Price at time of publish: $61

Type: Under the sink | Certified By: WQA | Contaminants Filtered: Chlorine, sediment, rust, and other heavy metals

Good to Know

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. For city water consumers, a Consumer Confidence Report is sent annually with the water bill.

Final Verdict

The APEC Top Tier 5-Stage Ultra Safe Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System earns our top spot because of its five-stage filtering system and simple installation. Reviewers praise how clean and smooth the resulting water tastes. If neither under-sink filters nor pitchers are options, try the Pur PFM400H Faucet Water Filtration System; it's attractive, effective, and you don't need tools to install it.

What to Look for in a Water Filter


Water filters can remove contaminants like heavy metals and man-made chemicals from your water. If you are on well water, have old pipes, or live in an area with unsafe drinking water, you may need a water filter to remove contaminants like lead or actual particles like sand.

If you are on city water, you can look at the annual water reports to see what kinds of contaminants are in that water. Even if your municipal water is safe, you may have old pipes that could be leaching contaminants into your water. Adding a water filter can help remove those impurities, and is much more convenient than water delivery services. Filters certified to remove chlorine, for example, can also encourage hydration by making water more enjoyable to drink.

Independent Certifications 

Because effective filtration is so important (and because it’s so hard to actually be able to tell if it’s working), certification is one of the only ways you can actually be sure your water filter is removing the contaminants its packaging claims. The NSF is one certifying body—other certifications to look for are the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Water Quality Association (WQA). There is no one-size-fits-all certification, so it’s important to know what you want removed from your water. For example, the NSF offers certification for removing a certain amount of chlorine, and a separate one for removing lead. The more certifications a filter has, the more contaminants it can remove. 

Andrew cautions that you just need to make sure your filter is actually certified. Marketing jargon to look out for includes “filters to NSF standards,” which does not mean it has been independently tested. An earlier version of our list included several water filters that were removed based on similar language that made it unclear whether they were independently tested.


You will want to consider your household’s water consumption when purchasing a filter. A smaller pitcher may be fine for a dorm or apartment, but for larger households or using filtered water for cooking, faucet or under-sink filters may make more sense. Refilling a pitcher doesn’t take a huge amount of time, but if you need to do it several times a day, it can be a pain.

Replacement Filters

Filter cost is another thing to consider. A water filtration system is only as good as its filters, so be sure to factor in their price and availability, as well as how often they need to be replaced.


Water filtration systems can cost up to thousands of dollars, while smaller pitchers can go for around $20. You can get an affordable water filter for personal use without spending much, but make sure to look for certifications. Also, consider the cost of the water filter and how often it will have to be replaced when deciding what you want to spend.  

Types of Water Filters

When we think of water filters, a pitcher is the first thing that comes to mind, but filters can be used at almost every point of water's journey through your home. 

Whole-Home Systems 

Whole-home systems filter all the water coming into your home. The most common kind, says Rick Andrew of NSF International, "is a water softener that will help remove minerals and 'soften' your water." Since hard water is bad for pipes and water fixtures, a whole-house filtration system makes the most sense. Because this type of system filters water for the whole house, it's often expensive and time-intensive to set up. 

There are two reasons to get a water filtration system, explains Andrew. For drinking water in the United States, it's more likely that you’ll want a filter to improve taste or remove hard minerals and protect your pipes. Hard water (i.e., water with high mineral content) can damage pipes and water fixtures with buildup.


If you are filtering for contaminants or taste in your drinking water, a point-of-use filter is also an option. These can be filters that attach to the sink or under the sink where you get drinking water. Andrew emphasizes that whole-house filtration, unless you are on a well, is generally only for softening water, and that these point-of-use systems are sufficient if you’re filtering out contaminants. Under-sink filters are often easier to install than whole-home systems, but are more expensive than faucet attachments or pitchers. 

Faucet Attachments 

Like under-sink filters, faucet attachments offer instant access to filtered water at a place where you would be getting drinking water, such as the kitchen sink. These filters can typically be attached to most standard sinks, though they won't work with more unique sink setups, like a pull-down faucet with a spray nozzle. A faucet attachment will typically allow you to filter only the water you want to drink and let unfiltered water come through for things like washing dishes. If you are only filtering to improve taste, this should be sufficient. This type of system also puts less pressure on the filter by only filtering the water you need. 


Pitchers don’t offer the convenience of a sink filter because they need to be refilled, but Andrew says, "Some people prefer pitchers because they allow you to chill filtered water, which can make it more enjoyable to drink." It’s also the easiest to set up. Furthermore, if you are only filtering water for taste, you may find a faucet filter to be bulky and unnecessary while you do things like wash hands or dishes at the sink. Again, this comes down to preference, and both faucet attachments and pitchers are capable of filtering out contaminants. 


Countertop water filtration systems work similarly to faucet filters by diverting water from the sink into a filtration system with its own tap. Other countertop filtration systems need to be filled, acting like water coolers, and these can be bulkier than pitchers but require less frequent refilling. They do offer the advantage of allowing you to place filtered water anywhere in your home, away from a water source. 


Special water bottles can filter water as you fill the bottle or as you drink, and they can be certified by the NSF and ANSI. Water bottles can be a great option if you want to drink filtered water on the go, and they're a great alternative to buying bottled water. However, certain filter bottles are only designed to remove contaminants from treated municipal water, so if you want a water filter for hiking or traveling in places without clean drinking water, you’ll need to be extra sure that the filtration system you're buying can remove bacteria and other organisms. 

While filters of all types can do a great job of removing contaminants, Andrew says, "No filter can actually remove all contaminants." Any filter that claims it can remove all or 100 percent of contaminants is misrepresenting itself, and no certifying body would verify those claims. "The technology just doesn’t exist," Andrew says. 



Nowadays, the term “Brita pitcher” has basically come to mean a filtered water pitcher. Brita’s filters all come with NSF certifications, and its pitchers are popular for their ease of use—drop a filter into the pitcher, and you’re good to go. Brita also offers a wide array of pitchers and filtration systems, including faucet filters and water bottles. Brita does not offer under-sink or whole-home filtration systems, however, and not all Brita filters are created equal. Depending on what you want filtered out of the water, make sure to check for those certifications. 


Pur and Brita offer very similar products: basic filters that remove impurities for taste, as well as mercury and other contaminants, and more expensive filters that can also remove lead and an even higher percentage of contaminants. Pur does offer the most certifications in its basic and more expensive filter.  


APEC offers a whole-house filtration system in addition to countertop filtration systems. The company’s whole-home systems are designed to remove things like odor and chlorine, as well as minerals that can cause scaling on appliances. 


Water filter systems, no matter the size or type, are not a one-and-done purchase. Filters don’t last forever; they'll eventually stop effectively filtering water. "This can have two effects," Andrew says. For starters, the water can start to flow more slowly through the filter itself. More seriously, the filter can also stop effectively filtering water, letting the contaminants stay in the water. Filters all come with a lifespan, from a few months to a few years. NSF certifications test to ensure that the filter can continue to remove contaminants for as long as its listed lifespan and even allow for a little bit of time on the end. 

“But, at some point, it's just not going to work anymore,” Andrew says. Replacing your water filter per manufacturer instructions is just as important as purchasing the right filtration system in the first place. 


As brands try to set themselves apart in the filtration space, different accessories and add-ons have popped up such as Bluetooth capabilities and sensors to monitor filter effectiveness. While these can be appealing bells and whistles, they are not necessary; if you follow manufacturer guidelines on replacing filters, for example, the sensor isn't needed. Ultimately, what matters is if the filter itself is capable of removing the impurities you want removed. 


Which water filters remove the most contaminants?

While there are a variety of water filtration systems, no one type is inherently better (or worse) at filtering out contaminants. The same types of filters can remove different contaminants depending on how it was manufactured and certified. This is why experts recommend knowing what kinds of contaminants you want to be removed, rather than simply looking for a filter that removes a lot of contaminants. If you are unsure of what is in your local water, you can get a water report. 

Do water filters remove bacteria? 

"NSF certifies filters that remove bacteria under a standard called P231," says Andrew, but those tend to be designed for activities like camping, when you may need to drink water from a stream. If you have specific concerns about bacteria in your drinking water, be sure to buy a filtration system certified specifically to remove bacteria. When in doubt, you can boil your filtered or unfiltered water as an added safety precaution against bacteria.

Can you filter any type of water? 

In short, absolutely. Water filters can be used for city and well water and on both soft and hard (high mineral level) water. Just be aware of what you are hoping to remove; a whole-house system specifically designed to remove minerals from hard water, for example, won’t work the same as a pitcher that removes chlorine for flavor. 

Do water filters remove fluoride? 

Yes, certain types do. If you have a preference, be sure to check your filter’s certification. 

Do water filters remove PFAS?

There are water filters that remove polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) very effectively, and filters that only have partial efficacy in removing them. If this is an area of concern for you, make sure you pick a filter that specifies removing PFAS.

How long do water filters last? 

Water filtration systems are only as good as the filters within them. Nearly all are designed to be replaced, and all certifications are done with the life of the filter in mind. So if your filter needs to be replaced every six months, NSF will test each filter to ensure a six-month lifespan. If filters are replaced regularly, the filtration system itself can last for years. 

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Donna Currie has lived and worked in areas of the country where the water was rated in the top 10 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. Associate commerce editors Taylor Rock and Fran Sales researched and contributed to this piece, incorporating information from Rick Andrew of NSF International’s Global Water program.

This roundup was updated by Katya Weiss-Andersson, a writer and editor who has nearly a decade of experience as a professional chef.

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The best water filters for washing in 2023 🏆 Rating of the best water filters for an apartment

Filters for washing provide purification of drinking water. Eliminating unwanted impurities is important for health, and getting rid of foreign odors allows you to maximize the taste and aroma of cooked food and drinks. Therefore, in the article we will consider various models and make a rating of the best filters for washing .

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Advantages and disadvantages of wash water filters