Best Water Filter of 2021 (Review and Buying Guide)

A flood of new filters–everything from simple carafes to permanently mounted systems–can make removing impurities from your drinking water almost as easy as turning on the tap. Some models that connect to the plumbing are now easier to install. And more filters now feature electronic indicators that signal when it’s time for a replacement.

More than just “water that tastes good” might be at stake. Dangerous contaminants like lead, chloroform, arsenic, nitrate, nitrite, radon, and E. coli bacteria are common in tap water.

Bottled water, often advertised as a “pure” and “natural” alternative to tap water, is generally safe. But it’s actually less regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) than municipal water supplies. Bottled-water makers aren’t required to disclose where their water comes from, how it was treated, or what contaminants it might contain. Disclosure is purely voluntary (except in California). And the bottled stuff is subject to a less stringent safety standard than tap water.

In fact, purified tap water is the source of 49 percent of bottled water produced in the U.S., according to industry data. Many consumers could cut out the middleman (and produce far less plastic waste) by investing in a water filtration system and a reusable water bottle to tote when they’re on the go. Fortunately, Consumer Reports tests on dozens of the latest water filters found quite a few models suitable for removing many such contaminants.

With so many impurities in your drinking water, it’s about time you invested in a water filtration system!

Since there’s more than one type of water filter, we’ve decided to cover a variety of types to help you find the best water filter for your needs. So without further ado, let’s look at the best water filter products on the market!

The Best Water Filter Pitchers You Can Buy

PUR CR1100CV Classic 11 Cup Pitcher Water Filter

PUR CR1100CV Classic 11 Cup Pitcher Water Filter

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PUR is one of the most well-known brands in the water filtration industry. It has many quality pitcher water filter types for sale, but what makes each of them special is the fact that they accommodate PUR’s own PPF900Z filter. These filters have been rigorously tested, with high certifications from the American National Standards Institute and NSF International.

The results have proven that these filters remove a greater amount of water contaminants than other products on the market.

When used in conjunction with the PUR CR1100CV Classic 11-Cup Pitcher, you’ve got a recipe for success. The pitcher is well-designed, with ergonomic details including a comfortable grip and flip-top lid. It can also hold a high volume of water too and features an integrated LED filter-life indicator.

There are a couple of downsides. The construction of the pitcher feels a little flimsy and could be thicker. And while the filter is fantastic at removing contaminants, it does take a while for it to physically filter the water—which isn’t ideal for those in a hurry.

What we liked: Excellent filtration.

What we didn’t like: The pitcher construction could be stronger.

Specs

Capacity: 11 cups
Filter Life (In Gallons): 40
Replacement Filter Price: $20 for a 2-pack

 

ZeroWater ZP-010 10-Cup Pitcher

ZeroWater ZP-010 10-Cup Water Filtering Pitcher

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ZeroWater’s ZP-010 filtering pitcher is an excellent choice for those looking for high-quality water filtration systems. It’s affordable, hardwearing, and boasts a unique five-stage filtration method. We’re also big fans of it thanks to its BPA-free design.

The five-stage filtration system filters more than just carbon. It also offers Ion Exchange Technology that reduces water contaminants and removes TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) effectively. These filters are NSF-certified, remove lead and heavy metals, and claim to remove more TDS than their competitors. Each filter lasts for approximately 40 gallons of water.

The actual pitcher is tough and sturdy, with enough room to accommodate 10 cups of water at a time. It has a comfortable handle, and the design is excellent – ideal for easy one-handed operation.

One thing that we really like about ZeroWater products is the fact that all of their products ship with a Water Quality Meter to let you test your water quality—with batteries included.

What we liked: Impressive water filtration results.

What we didn’t like: You will go through filters very quickly, so keep that in mind.

Specs

Capacity: 10-cup
Filter Life (In Gallons): 40
Replacement Filter Price: $30 for a 2-pack

 

Brita Stream “Filter as You Pour” Water Pitcher

Brita Stream Filter As You Pour pitcher

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The Brita brand name is arguably the most famous in the drinking water filtration game. It seems like every household has owned a Brita water filter of some kind at least once over the years! Unlike the brand’s regular carafe pitchers, we’ve chosen the Brita Stream Filter As You Pour pitcher for this list. It’s different from many others on the market because it literally filters as you pour, eliminating waiting times!

In terms of filtration, this Brita filter offers limited scope. Unlike the products above, this filter only filters out chlorine and odors. While it lacks in the filtration department it more than makes up for in speed. It’s a fast-filtering pitcher that won’t leave you waiting. However, if you need a filter that can remove contaminants and heavy metals, this won’t do the trick.

Still, it’s a fast and practical filter with an attractive design. Most filters on the market are quite unsightly. This one is pretty stylish. What’s more, it’s made of BPA-free plastic, and the filters are recyclable too. It even has a handy electronic filter change reminder to make sure you’re replacing regularly!

What we liked: Fast and hassle-free filtration water pitcher.

What we didn’t like: It doesn’t filter out a lot of harmful contaminants.

Specs

Capacity: 12 cups
Filter Life (In Gallons): 40
Replacement Filter Price: $18 for a 2-pack

 

The Best Faucet Water Filters You Can Buy

Culligan FM-15A Faucet-Mount Advanced Water Filter

Culligan FM-15A Faucet-Mount Advanced Water Filter

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The Culligan FM-15A is a fantastic faucet-mounted water filter. It’s a regular feature on best lists, and it got a great review from Consumer Reports too. Why? Because it’s a practical, useful, and affordable gadget that can adequately filter your water at an affordable price.

The FM-15A is a compact faucet filter that mounts right on to your tap without any tools required. There’s a small diverter valve that you can engage or disengage, giving you the choice of filtered water or unfiltered water in seconds.

The Culligan FM-15A offers exceptional filtration and can reduce cryptosporidium, giardia cysts, lead, chlorine, azine, lindane, and bad odors and tastes. The result is clean water that you can use for drinking, cooking, and more. It has IAMPO certification and meets ANSI Standard 42 and 53.

In terms of faucet compatibility, it should fit most household faucets with standard nozzle sizes. However, take note that it is not compatible with drop-down faucets.

What we liked: Cheap, affordable, and effective filter.

What we didn’t like:  The flow rate could be faster.

Specs

Faucet Compatibility: All except drop-down types
Filter Life (In Gallons): 200
Replacement Filter Price: $13.50

 

PUR PFM400H Faucet Water Filtration System

PUR PFM400H Faucet Water Filtration System

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The PUR PFM400H is a great addition to any kitchen, especially when you need more volume than a pitcher can muster, and don’t have space for a dedicated under-sink unit. It’s an effective and affordable faucet-mounted water filter that can be installed easily, without the use of any tools. In fact, it’s the ease of installation that makes us rate this filter so highly.

It takes no time at all to install, but it’s also one of the best water filters out there. PUR is one of the best-selling water filer brands, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that the PUR PFM400H removes a lot of contaminants from your water. The shopping list of filtered contaminants includes over 70 materials, including mercury, lead, other heavy metals, chlorine, and pesticides.

According to the folks at PUR, each filter cycle lasts for approximately 100 gallons or between 2 to 3 months depending on your usage. PUR filters are some of the best in the business, but the good thing about this product is that you don’t have to buy their premium replacement filters. Cheaper PUR products are just as compatible…though they won’t filter out as much stuff.

What we liked: It’s easy to attach, without the use of tools.

What we didn’t like: These filters have been known to leak on some faucets.

Specs

Faucet Compatibility: All but handheld or pull-out faucets
Filter Life (In Gallons): 100
Replacement Filter Price: $19 for a 2-pack

 

Brita 35618 Basic Faucet Water Filter System

Brita 35618 Basic Faucet Water Filter System

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Our next recommendation is a Brita. This is the Brita Basic Faucet Water Filter System. It’s an affordable faucet filter that can remove contaminants and improve the quality of your drinking water, with a sleek and stylish hassle-free design.

This filter can remove 99% of lead contaminants, and reduce the taste and odor of chlorine in your water. It also filters out other negative contaminants such as asbestos, Benzene, particulates, and other harmful impurities. It’s an effective filter that’s very, very easy to install.

Curiously, despite the easy installation, it seems that some people still struggle with it, to the point of leaving negative reviews on buying sites. All we say is this: it might be an easy screw-on installation, but if you don’t check that the threads are properly lined up, it will leak. If you do it correctly, you’ll have no problems whatsoever!

Filter replacement is easy, with Brita’s hassle-free 1-click system. This is a great filtration option for those on a budget.

What we liked: Very easy 1-click replacement filters.

What we didn’t like: It will slow the flow rate for unfiltered water.

Specs

Faucet Compatibility: All but pull-out or spray faucets
Filter Life (In Gallons): 100
Replacement Filter Price: $14.99 for a 3-pack

 

The Best Countertop Water Filters You Can Buy

Apex Countertop Drinking Water Filter

Apex Countertop Drinking Water Filter

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If you’ve got the space, a countertop water filter is a great addition to your kitchen. A countertop filter can be expensive, but this one from Apex has an affordable price tag that offers an excellent return for your investment. Unlike other filters listed above, countertops generally have longer-lasting filters that help keeps your water cleaner and purer for longer.

The Apex’s filter is fairly comprehensive. According to the brand, each filter will last for approximately 750 gallons, which is no small amount. It’s successfully able to filter out most of the usual contaminants found in tap water, and more. These include chlorine, sediment, and radon, as well as Cryptosporidium, and Giardia cysts too.

This filter is easy to install and will fit on most standard kitchen faucets. Each pack comes complete with everything you need to get it set up and running. All the products follow NSF and FDA guidelines and meet all National Safety Foundation water filter safety requirements. What’s more, all Apex products are proudly made in the USA!

What we liked: Large filtering capacity

What we didn’t like: It may not achieve its claims of raising your water’s pH.

Specs

Faucet Compatibility: Standard faucets only
Filter Life (In Gallons): 750
Replacement Filter Price: $45 for alkaline version

 

PUR Ultimate Water Dispenser

PUR Ultimate Water Dispenser

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The PUR Ultimate Water Dispenser is essentially a large pitcher that sits on your countertop, with a tap for easy filling. It doesn’t require any kind of faucet attachment or plumbing-in. Like other PUR products, you can trust the quality of this dispenser. It comes equipped with a proven filter that will deliver finely filtered, sweet-tasting drinking water every time.

This high-capacity is designed for the whole house where a standard pitcher isn’t enough, and a full filtration unit might be overkill. With a cup capacity of 18 cups, you can rest assured that there will always be enough water on hand—and if not, it can dispense water as it’s filtering, which is something that most pitchers can’t do.

When using an official PUR filter, this dispense can filter over 22 different types of contaminants. In fact, it’s WQA certified as being able to reduce 99% of lead and other nasty contaminants. Each filter has a life span of around 40 gallons of use or around 1 to 2 months in a typical household.

What we liked: Simple, easy-to-use, large volume dispenser.

What we didn’t like: The filtering process is quite slow.

Specs

Capacity: 18 cup
Filter Life (In Gallons): 40
Replacement Filter Price: $20 for a 2-pack

 

The Best Under-Sink Water Filters You Can Buy

Waterdrop 10UA Under Sink Water Filter System

Waterdrop 10UA Under Sink Water Filter System

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Waterdrop’s 10UA filtering system is ideal for those who need large-volume water filtration but don’t want to deal with faucet mounts or slow-drip reservoirs. This simple filter connects directly to your cold water supply with intuitive push-to-connect fittings. It’s easy to connect and each filter has a lifespan of around 8,000 gallons. That’s about 12 months of water use!

The filter is a BPA-free unit that uses an activated carbon block system, as well as five-stage filtration. The filter can successfully remove 99% of chlorine, heavy metals, lead, mercury, arsenic, sediment, particulate, and other contaminants. The result is great-tasting water directly from your faucet, from a WQA certified product.

Despite being a large filter, your flow rate won’t be compromised. The full flow rate was tested at 2.0 gpm at 60 psi, which is more than enough for your daily needs. It’s fast, efficient, thorough, incredibly long-lasting, and surprisingly affordable. If you need to filter a lot of water, this is worth investing in.

What we liked: Ultra-long life span.

What we didn’t like: Waterdrop’s customer service gets mixed reviews.

Specs

Flow Rate: 2.0 gpm  (gallons per minute)
Filter Life (In Gallons): 8,000
Replacement Filter Price: $29.99 for one

 

Frizzlife 3-Stage Under Sink Water Filter System

Frizzlife 3-Stage Under Sink Water Filter System

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Our next choice for under-sink filters is the Frizzlife 3-stage Under Counter Filter System. Like the Waterdrop filter above, this one connects directly to your home water supply and doesn’t require any fancy plumbing or technical know-how to get it up and running.

This highly-rated filter has been proven to deliver top filtering performance. Using its proprietary 2-stage filtering system it’s able to remove up to 99.99% of all harmful contaminants commonly found in drinking water. These include lead, chlorine, chloramine, fluoride, heavy metals, VOCs, and other contaminants. It’s able to remove these impurities and provide a great water taste, without taking away health-benefiting minerals.

It’s easy to install thanks to clear instructions and included tools. The process is simple and does not require the help of a professional. It’s compatible with both 3/8” and 1/2” cold water tubes, and Frizzlife supplies converters in the box, just in case. Cartridge replacement is fast and easy thanks to its “twist in” nature and should be done roughly every 12 months for optimum filtration.

This filter is excellent value for money and ideal for those looking for high-volume water filtration with a fast flow rate.

What we liked: The filters have a very long lifespan.

What we didn’t like: It’s recommended that you buy the upgraded bottom caps, which aren’t included.

Specs

Flow Rate: 2.0 gpm (gallons per minute)
Filter Life: 12 months
Replacement Filter Price: $49.99 for a 4-pack

 

What Water Filter Do You Need? First, Find Out What’s In Your Water!

One way to find out what type of filter you need is to check your Consumer Confidence Report, or CCR. The EPA requires utilities to provide a CCR to their customers every year. You may also find the CCR printed in your newspaper or posted on your local government website.

Consumer Reports reviewed CCRs from the 13 largest U.S. cities and found that few claimed to have no federal water-quality violations. Though none of the other water systems were consistently unhealthy, all had some samples containing significant quantities of contaminants. In New York City, for example, some samples had lead levels several times the federal limit.

Note that a CCR might indicate safe levels of a contaminant when your water actually has experienced potentially harmful spikes. Also, a CCR tells you about the water in your municipality, but not necessarily about what’s coming out of your particular tap. Only testing your home supply can do that.

Even if the water coming out of the treatment plant is clean, contaminants could get into the water after it leaves the facility. That’s because millions of miles of distribution pipe are nearing their end of life. And household plumbing remains the main cause of lead contamination in homes built before 1986.

Homeowners with a well on their property face even greater uncertainty, because such water isn’t surveyed or reported on in CCRs. If you rely on well water, make sure you invest in a good filter!

To find the names of state-certified testing labs, call the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791), or go to the EPA hotline that is online. Or you can contact your local health authority, which might offer low-cost or free test kits, or check out www.epa.gov/safewater/labs. Ultimately, you might find that you don’t need a water filter.

It’s important to know what contaminants are in your water so you can match the filter to the problem. Claims about contaminant removal vary from product to product, so read the fine print. It’s all good wanting to filter water, but it’s even better if your desired filter removes the contaminant that’s causing you trouble and not just improving your water’s taste.

Also, consider how much water you consume vs. how much effort and disruption to your daily routine you’re willing to tolerate. Generally, the more contaminants you need to remove, the more complicated the filter, though there are trade-offs.

Green recommendations

If you get one of the top-rated water filters recommended by Consumer Reports, you can get odor-free, clearer, better-tasting water, with fewer dangerous contaminants. Fortunately, there are a lot of good choices.

Not surprisingly, more water-filter manufacturers are touting their products’ power to remove impurities, not just improve taste and appearance. In recent tests, Consumer Reports spiked water with lead and chloroform (a surrogate for organic compounds like atrazine and benzene, and for bad taste) to test five different types of filters: carafe, faucet-mounted, undersink, and countertop filters.

Many filters did the job, but some removed less of each contaminant than promised, and even the best can be overwhelmed by sudden surges in contaminants. Undersink and reverse-osmosis models outperformed faucet mounts and carafes, but required professional installation and can be quite expensive.

Be sure to consider the total cost when choosing a filter. Some have very expensive cartridge refills.

Also note: Many refrigerators now have water dispensers with built-in filtration. Though they’re fine at improving taste, in past tests some systems were so-so at removing impurities. Plus replacement cartridges are costly. By installing a recommended under-sink filter to the refrigerator’s water supply line, you can bypass the appliance’s filter and you may get cleaner, more economical results.